Either Buddhism is pure nihilism or dependent origination must be reinterpreted?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
zan
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Re: Either Buddhism is pure nihilism or dependent origination must be reinterpreted?

Post by zan » Fri Dec 13, 2019 3:50 pm

SteRo wrote:
Tue Dec 10, 2019 8:46 am
zan wrote:
Mon Dec 09, 2019 7:17 pm
...

Further this is absolutely not my fabrication. I would never come up with such an extreme idea. This is something that was thought up by Buddhist thinkers millennia ago. I practiced and studied Buddhism for twenty years before I came across this idea and really understood it. I wish I was smart enough to come up with something like this! If I was, maybe I could work my way around it without help too lol!
If you want to leave the area of sutta and refer to "Buddhist thinkers millennia ago" claiming that those expounded nihilism the way you do then you definitely are confusing what you have understood with what these "Buddhist thinkers" have expounded. Why? Because all "Buddhist thinkers" who rejected independent existence equally rejected nihilism. So nihilism following from absence of independent existence is definitely your fabrication.

Back to sutta:
At Savatthī. Then the Venerable Kaccanagotta approached the Blessed One, paid homage to him, sat down to one side, and said to him: “Venerable sir, it is said, ‘right view, right view.’ In what way, venerable sir, is there right view?”

“This world, Kaccana, for the most part depends upon a duality—upon the notion of existence and the notion of nonexistence. But for one who sees the origin of the world as it really is with correct wisdom, there is no notion of nonexistence in regard to the world. And for one who sees the cessation of the world as it really is with correct wisdom, there is no notion of existence in regard to the world.

“This world, Kaccana, is for the most part shackled by engagement, clinging, and adherence. But this one with right view does not become engaged and cling through that engagement and clinging, mental standpoint, adherence, underlying tendency; he does not take a stand about ‘my self.’ He has no perplexity or doubt that what arises is only suffering arising, what ceases is only suffering ceasing. His knowledge about this is independent of others. It is in this way, Kaccana, that there is right view. “‘All exists’: Kaccana, this is one extreme. ‘All does not exist’: this is the second extreme. Without veering towards either of these extremes, the Tathagata teaches the Dhamma by the middle: ‘With ignorance as condition, volitional formations come to be; with volitional formations as condition, consciousness…. Such is the origin of this whole mass of suffering. But with the remainderless fading away and cessation of ignorance comes cessation of volitional formations; with the cessation of volitional formations, cessation of consciousness…. Such is the cessation of this whole mass of suffering.”
https://suttacentral.net/sn12.15/en/bodhi
Thanks. Nagarjuna stated flatly about many things "does not exist", things like the elements. He disproved the existence of everything and used this phrase throughout. Then he said "...the wise do not say 'does not exist.'"

His teachings are called nihilism by many (so, again, not my fabrication). The only way to avoid this purportedly accurate title is to deflect and redirect with statements about the middle way. You cannot prove you're not teaching nihilism while maintaining that nothing exists.

Likewise DO applying to literally everything means nothing exists. That is what his entire school is built on. Just saying it doesn't because it's the middle way doesn't make that not true.

Avoiding nihilism with the two truths method does not work from a sutta perspective either:
The acceptance of this dichotomy between conventional and transcendental language is widespread today, as is the suppositious parallel distinction between conventional and absolute truth, or reality. Therefore some may be surprised to learn that such a distinction (whether with regard to language, truth, or reality) ... is of later invention and is not to be met with in the Suttas. Quite the contrary, it is specifically and repeatedly condemned. At M. 99: ii,202, for instance, the Buddha goes out of his way to lead his listener to acknowledge the superiority of conventional speech (as well as of speech that is well-advised, spoken after reflection, and connected with the goal) over unconventional speech (and also over speech that is ill-advised, etc.). And consistent with this, at M. 139: iii,230 the monks are advised that when teaching they should (among other things) “not deviate from recognized parlance.

The suttas, then, clearly assert that they are to be understood as saying what they mean. They are not to be interpreted, for to do so must result in misunderstanding them.
-Samanera Bodhesako
I believe DO applies only to beings (while anatta applies to all and anicca to all but nibbana), in the sutta above the twelve links certainly do not sound like they include all things. I think this idea of "nothing exists" flatly contradicts the suttas (like SN 22.94) and is incorrect. The suttas do not support nihilistic views.
Last edited by zan on Fri Dec 13, 2019 4:22 pm, edited 3 times in total.
Never read anything I write as an accurate statement about anything whatsoever. First, look to wiser ones than I. Look to wise texts. Unless you can confirm their accuracy from a reliable source, treat my writings like word games, nothing more.

zan
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Re: Either Buddhism is pure nihilism or dependent origination must be reinterpreted?

Post by zan » Fri Dec 13, 2019 3:51 pm

Dan74 wrote:
Fri Dec 13, 2019 3:38 pm
zan wrote:
Fri Dec 13, 2019 3:23 pm
Dan74 wrote:
Mon Dec 09, 2019 8:37 pm


There is no one, nor many. Just processes, doings. It's the tendency to think in terms of nouns that leads to problems, not the actual happenings. You don't need 'a fire' in order to burn, just burning. And burning stands for a nexus of numerous processes, which extend finally to everything.
Thank you. I agree but don't see how there can even be processes or doings if literally everything is DO. If absolutely nothing can self create, no thing can come into existence without a cause, nothing has ever been created, nothing exists. Because there would be no cause for the first thing, or any or many things.

I personally think the elements in the suttas just exist as temporary, not self phenomena and are not part of DO. This avoids the issue entirely. I know of nothing in the suttas that rules this understanding out. I am looking for concensus, support, or to be corrected, or another interpretation that fixes the issue.

Rupa is stated to be DO. Rupa is stated to come from the elements which are not stated as DO to my knowledge but are stated to be not self and temporary as part of "sabbe dhamma anatta" sabbe sankhara anicca". Here conditioned (sankhara) and dependently originated cannot be perfect synonyms.
Well, here we are entering the realm of cosmology. I think the Buddha said "from beginningless ignorance..." and cosmologists postulate no cause of the Big Bang. Since there was no time before, no moment when 'it' started. Time and space were created with the Big Bang. Hawking's A Brief History of Time goes into it a bit. I am not a physicist, but as a mathematician, I guess such things are not too hard to imagine - we have much weirder stuff.
Thanks and no arguments but I'm looking for proof in the form of suttas. My statements about "Rupa is stated to be DO" etc. above are directly from the suttas.

The suttas state that the aggregates are DO but in another sutta, when asked why there is rupa, the Buddha said because there are the elements. He didn't say because there is DO.

Dootdoot made the point, too that there is a delineation between the five aggregates of clinging as DO but none for the five non clinging aggregates.

It is entirely possible that DO does not apply to all.
Never read anything I write as an accurate statement about anything whatsoever. First, look to wiser ones than I. Look to wise texts. Unless you can confirm their accuracy from a reliable source, treat my writings like word games, nothing more.

Dan74
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Re: Either Buddhism is pure nihilism or dependent origination must be reinterpreted?

Post by Dan74 » Fri Dec 13, 2019 4:00 pm

Nagarjuna definitely did not teach nihilism. For the simple reason that nihilism asserts that 'nothing exist'. Whereas Nagarjuna disproved or undermined the assertion that 'something exists'. The confusion comes from believing there are these only two alternatives.

For me, the solutions is to shift the focus from asserting some kind of an objective ontology of 'things' and to the correct, IMO, purpose of the Dhamma, which is to help us relinquish ignorance and delusion. This isn't done through arriving as some kind of a correct ontology, but by releasing craving. Believing in a world of things and beings, one attaches, craves and fears. Relinquishing this belief, one sees that there is nothing to attach to or crave, not even that same 'one' - who is nothing but a bunch of memories and narratives strung together by them.

Nagarjuna teaches to undermine our clinging, IMO. Nothing more, nothing less.
_/|\_

zan
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Re: Either Buddhism is pure nihilism or dependent origination must be reinterpreted?

Post by zan » Fri Dec 13, 2019 4:07 pm

Dan74 wrote:
Fri Dec 13, 2019 4:00 pm
Nagarjuna definitely did not teach nihilism. For the simple reason that nihilism asserts that 'nothing exist'. Whereas Nagarjuna disproved or undermined the assertion that 'something exists'. The confusion comes from believing there are these only two alternatives.

For me, the solutions is to shift the focus from asserting some kind of an objective ontology of 'things' and to the correct, IMO, purpose of the Dhamma, which is to help us relinquish ignorance and delusion. This isn't done through arriving as some kind of a correct ontology, but by releasing craving. Believing in a world of things and beings, one attaches, craves and fears. Relinquishing this belief, one sees that there is nothing to attach to or crave, not even that same 'one' - who is nothing but a bunch of memories and narratives strung together by them.

Nagarjuna teaches to undermine our clinging, IMO. Nothing more, nothing less.
Sorry to reuse a post of mine but it perfectly fits here:

Nagarjuna stated flatly about many things "does not exist", things like the elements. He disproved the existence of everything and used this phrase throughout. Then he said "...the wise do not say 'does not exist.'"

His teachings are called nihilism by many. The only way to avoid this purportedly accurate title is to deflect and redirect with statements about the middle way. You cannot prove you're not teaching nihilism while maintaining that nothing exists.

Likewise DO applying to literally everything means nothing exists. That is what his entire school is built on. Just saying it doesn't because it's the middle way doesn't make that not true.

Avoiding nihilism with the two truths method does not work from a sutta perspective either:
The acceptance of this dichotomy between conventional and transcendental language is widespread today, as is the suppositious parallel distinction between conventional and absolute truth, or reality. Therefore some may be surprised to learn that such a distinction (whether with regard to language, truth, or reality) ... is of later invention and is not to be met with in the Suttas. Quite the contrary, it is specifically and repeatedly condemned. At M. 99: ii,202, for instance, the Buddha goes out of his way to lead his listener to acknowledge the superiority of conventional speech (as well as of speech that is well-advised, spoken after reflection, and connected with the goal) over unconventional speech (and also over speech that is ill-advised, etc.). And consistent with this, at M. 139: iii,230 the monks are advised that when teaching they should (among other things) “not deviate from recognized parlance.

The suttas, then, clearly assert that they are to be understood as saying what they mean. They are not to be interpreted, for to do so must result in misunderstanding them.
-Samanera Bodhesako
I believe DO applies only to beings (while anatta applies to all and anicca to all but nibbana), in the suttas above the twelve links certainly do not sound like they include all things. I think this idea of "nothing exists" flatly contradicts the suttas (like SN 22.94) and is incorrect. The suttas do not support nihilistic views.
Never read anything I write as an accurate statement about anything whatsoever. First, look to wiser ones than I. Look to wise texts. Unless you can confirm their accuracy from a reliable source, treat my writings like word games, nothing more.

Dan74
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Re: Either Buddhism is pure nihilism or dependent origination must be reinterpreted?

Post by Dan74 » Fri Dec 13, 2019 4:13 pm

I think it is a mistranslation or misunderstanding of Nagarjuna that leads one to think that he had asserted such a thing. In Madhyamaka teachings, it is very clear that what is denied is the "thing-ness" or reification - a view of the world as composed of discrete entities. Nothing is in and of itself. Emptiness is not an assertion that there is just vacuum, absolutely nothing, but a fundamental quality of this flux where no-thing is a thing, but all is interrelated.

Perhaps the key lies in your understanding of the term "to exist'. Nagarjuna was at pains to show that existence, as we conceive it, is synonymous with 'thinginess'. That's what he was aiming at. No thing exists isn't the same as nothing exists. This reality, whatever it is, is not a bunch of things.
_/|\_

zan
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Re: Either Buddhism is pure nihilism or dependent origination must be reinterpreted?

Post by zan » Fri Dec 13, 2019 4:14 pm

Dootdoot for the win in this other thread

Thanks everybody. This solves it. Buddhism is not nihilism because DO does not necessarily apply to literally everything.
DooDoot wrote:
Tue Dec 10, 2019 4:38 am
zan wrote:
Mon Dec 09, 2019 4:03 pm
Do any suttas support this view?
In already posted MN 28, which says the five aggregates subject to clinging are dependently originated.

SN 22.48 refers to two types of five aggregates: (i) mere aggregates; and (ii) aggregates subject to clinging.

Therefore, it appears MN 28 says only aggregates subject to clinging are dependently originated.

Regards :smile:
Combine that with the fact that when asked why there is rupa, the Buddha said because there are the elements (MN 109) and he didn't say because there is DO, and it seems perfectly reasonable to assume that not all is DO.

And since it is stated that all, without exception is anatta (SN 44.10) and all but nibbana is anicca (Dhp 277), this causes no contradictions with the dhamma whatsoever. Everything doesn't have to be DO for everything to be anatta nor for everything but nibbana to be anicca.
Last edited by zan on Fri Dec 13, 2019 5:02 pm, edited 9 times in total.
Never read anything I write as an accurate statement about anything whatsoever. First, look to wiser ones than I. Look to wise texts. Unless you can confirm their accuracy from a reliable source, treat my writings like word games, nothing more.

zan
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Re: Either Buddhism is pure nihilism or dependent origination must be reinterpreted?

Post by zan » Fri Dec 13, 2019 4:18 pm

Dan74 wrote:
Fri Dec 13, 2019 4:13 pm
I think it is a mistranslation or misunderstanding of Nagarjuna that leads one to think that he had asserted such a thing. In Madhyamaka teachings, it is very clear that what is denied is the "thing-ness" or reification - a view of the world as composed of discrete entities. Nothing is in and of itself. Emptiness is not an assertion that there is just vacuum, absolutely nothing, but a fundamental quality of this flux where no-thing is a thing, but all is interrelated.

Perhaps the key lies in your understanding of the term "to exist'. Nagarjuna was at pains to show that existence, as we conceive it, is synonymous with 'thinginess'. That's what he was aiming at. No thing exists isn't the same as nothing exists. This reality, whatever it is, is not a bunch of things.
I like you. Thank you for explaining that. I'm not sure I agree but it has helped me see that perhaps it should be considered that maybe there is a misunderstanding. This nihilism reading of Nagarjuna could be completely incorrect. Much appreciate the chat! You're good at explaining things!
Never read anything I write as an accurate statement about anything whatsoever. First, look to wiser ones than I. Look to wise texts. Unless you can confirm their accuracy from a reliable source, treat my writings like word games, nothing more.

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Re: Either Buddhism is pure nihilism or dependent origination must be reinterpreted?

Post by Srilankaputra » Fri Dec 13, 2019 5:24 pm

zan wrote:
Fri Dec 13, 2019 3:12 pm
Srilankaputra wrote:
Tue Dec 10, 2019 4:19 am
zan wrote:
Mon Dec 09, 2019 3:20 pm
As to your second question, I personally don't think this is a tenable position within the suttas, so the question cannot be answered. Once the suttas become interpreted as showing all to be non existent there is literally nothing to discuss.
Hi,
i was not asking about what the suttas says. What do these teachers say who teach that not even Dependant Origination exists. What result do they declare for those who don't realise this?
(I hope you are not trying to avoid this question)
Avoiding?
Sorry. Disregard that part.
O seeing one,we for refuge go to thee!
O mighty sage do thou our teacher be!

Paccuppannañca yo dhammaṃ,
Tattha tattha vipassati

“Yato yato mano nivāraye,
Na dukkhameti naṃ tato tato;
Sa sabbato mano nivāraye,
Sa sabbato dukkhā pamuccatī”ti.

zan
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Re: Either Buddhism is pure nihilism or dependent origination must be reinterpreted?

Post by zan » Fri Dec 13, 2019 6:47 pm

Srilankaputra wrote:
Fri Dec 13, 2019 5:24 pm
zan wrote:
Fri Dec 13, 2019 3:12 pm
Srilankaputra wrote:
Tue Dec 10, 2019 4:19 am


Hi,
i was not asking about what the suttas says. What do these teachers say who teach that not even Dependant Origination exists. What result do they declare for those who don't realise this?
(I hope you are not trying to avoid this question)
Avoiding?
Sorry. Disregard that part.
No worries :smile:
Never read anything I write as an accurate statement about anything whatsoever. First, look to wiser ones than I. Look to wise texts. Unless you can confirm their accuracy from a reliable source, treat my writings like word games, nothing more.

zan
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Re: Either Buddhism is pure nihilism or dependent origination must be reinterpreted?

Post by zan » Fri Dec 13, 2019 7:41 pm

Dan74 wrote:
Fri Dec 13, 2019 4:13 pm
I think it is a mistranslation or misunderstanding of Nagarjuna that leads one to think that he had asserted such a thing. In Madhyamaka teachings, it is very clear that what is denied is the "thing-ness" or reification - a view of the world as composed of discrete entities. Nothing is in and of itself. Emptiness is not an assertion that there is just vacuum, absolutely nothing, but a fundamental quality of this flux where no-thing is a thing, but all is interrelated.

Perhaps the key lies in your understanding of the term "to exist'. Nagarjuna was at pains to show that existence, as we conceive it, is synonymous with 'thinginess'. That's what he was aiming at. No thing exists isn't the same as nothing exists. This reality, whatever it is, is not a bunch of things.
Looked into it further. Purely from a sutta perspective Nagarjuna is teaching nothing exists (nihilism). The suttas state matter exists and is made of the elements (synonymous with dhatus I believe).
Rupa that is impermanent, suffering, and subject to change: this the wise in the world agree upon as existing, and I too say that it exists.
SN 22.94

The four primary elements are the reason why the aggregate of rupa is found.
MN 109
Nagarjuna stated
"...space is not an existent...The other five dhatus are the same as space." -MK 5.7
The suttas also state that mind and matter combined are required for a being.

So if the elements do not exist, neither does rupa and neither does literally anything else, including beings. Not even consciousness which is a dhatu also.

Nagarjuna flatly contradicts the suttas and ends up making literally everything non existant.

His entire argument hinges on DO applying to literally everything. If anything can just appear without cause, his entire thing collapses. So if DO doesn't apply to everything, as shown as possible above, and there are things that exist as temporary, not self phenomena without cause, then these issues are avoided.

He was not an agama/nikaya Buddhist though but a Mahayana so he's not wrong from that perspective and surely they explain it all somehow that it works out, but from a sutta perspective this is nothingness, nihilism.

Unless I misunderstand, which is of course possible. Always keep my signature in mind.
Never read anything I write as an accurate statement about anything whatsoever. First, look to wiser ones than I. Look to wise texts. Unless you can confirm their accuracy from a reliable source, treat my writings like word games, nothing more.

Dan74
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Re: Either Buddhism is pure nihilism or dependent origination must be reinterpreted?

Post by Dan74 » Fri Dec 13, 2019 8:29 pm

Where does it say in the sutta that 'matter exists' and is not subject to DO?
_/|\_

sentinel
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Re: Either Buddhism is pure nihilism or dependent origination must be reinterpreted?

Post by sentinel » Sat Dec 14, 2019 12:43 am

zan wrote:
Fri Dec 13, 2019 7:41 pm
Nagarjuna flatly contradicts the suttas and ends up making literally everything non existant.

He was not an agama/nikaya Buddhist though but a Mahayana so he's not wrong from that perspective and surely they explain it all somehow that it works out, but from a sutta perspective this is nothingness, nihilism.

Unless I misunderstand, which is of course possible. Always keep my signature in mind.

The existence of something is the fact that it is present in the world as a Real thing. Real means what ? Something exists by itself which is an entity of itself , that is not dependent arising .
If one say something not exists that's an annihilation , that is another extreme .
Take rupa as example can rupa alone exists by itself without four elements ? Can four elements exists by itself without support from space ? Can space exists without support from the four elements ?
“Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth.” -Buddha

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Re: Either Buddhism is pure nihilism or dependent origination must be reinterpreted?

Post by SDC » Tue Dec 17, 2019 5:40 am

zan wrote:
Fri Dec 13, 2019 3:34 pm
SDC wrote:
Tue Dec 10, 2019 5:39 pm
Before we continue, I think it is important - even if we don't agree on the specifics of the distinction - to agree that there is a distinction between "the root of all things" (sabbadhammamūlapariyāyaṃ) and "the arising of this whole mass of suffering" (evam etassa kevalassa dukkhakkhandhassa samudayo hoti.) I'm including the Pali so we can agree that different terms have been translated to form these phrases.

In addition, where does this idea of DO being a theory of everything come form? Sounds like physics. Sorry if you already addressed this.
Thank you! Please elaborate.

As far as I know DO applying to literally everything is a common understanding in all schools of Buddhism. It was news to me as the twelve links clearly are talking about a being, not literally everything. So I think there's some confusion or something got passed on wrong.
(Bear with me here, zan. Going to dance through a few suttas. This is a bit haphazard, but if I try to clean it up, I'll never get it where I want it.)

Just to get moving, let's start with a common misconception in order to draw towards what has been explicitly stated. "Life is suffering." The Buddha never said that. He said:
SN 56.11 wrote:Now this, bhikkhus, is the noble truth of suffering: birth is suffering, aging is suffering, illness is suffering, death is suffering; union with what is displeasing is suffering; separation from what is pleasing is suffering; not to get what one wants is suffering; in brief, the five-holding-aggregates are suffering.
Instead of saying "life is suffering", it was that in brief, "the five-holding-aggregates are suffering". I think is pretty clear that the Buddha is emphasizing that when it comes to suffering, it applies to a misunderstanding in regards to things. In the following sutta, the aggregates are tied directly into DO, and rightfully so, the holding-aggregates are suffering and DO describes the origin of it.
SN 22.5 wrote:And what does he understand as it really is? The origin and passing away of matter; the origin and passing away of feeling; the origin and passing away of perception; the origin and passing away of determinations; the origin and passing away of consciousness.

“And what, bhikkhus, is the origin of matter? What is the origin of feeling? What is the origin of perception? What is the origin of determinations? What is the origin of consciousness?

“Here, bhikkhus, one seeks delight, one welcomes, one remains holding. And what is it that one seeks delight in, what does one welcome, to what does one remain holding? One seeks delight in matter, welcomes it, and remains holding to it. As a consequence of this, delight arises. Delight in matter is holding. With one’s holding as condition, existence; with existence as a condition, birth; with birth as condition, aging-and-death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, displeasure, and despair. Such is the origin of this whole mass of suffering.

“One seeks delight in feeling … in perception … in determinations … in consciousness, welcomes it, and remains holding to it. As a consequence of this, delight arises…. Such is the origin of this whole mass of suffering
The front end is the origin of the aggregates and the back end is the origin of suffering! So right there you have the question of the origin of matter and in no way does the sutta venture to discuss matter in terms of physics. The Buddha had his chance and went in a completely different direction. (cf. SN 22.56)

A little more food for thought about the attitude towards things:
AN 6.63 wrote:Thought and lust are a man’s sensuality,
Not the various things in the world;
Thought and lust are a man’s sensuality,
The various things just stand there in the world;
But the wise get rid of desire therein.
And this is in Cūḷavedalla:
MN 44 wrote:“The five holding aggregates, friend Visākha, are not just holding; but neither is there holding apart from the five holding aggregates. That, friend Visākha, in the five holding aggregates which is desire-&-lust, that holding is therein.”
Again, we see the emphasis on the attitude towards the individual experience, not to "all things" in some broader scope than the experience which includes them. What did the Buddha say about "all things"? To Channa:
SN 22.90 wrote:When this was said, the elder bhikkhus said to the Venerable Channa: “Matter, friend Channa, is impermanent, feeling is impermanent, perception is impermanent, determinations are impermanent, consciousness is impermanent. Matter is not-self, feeling is not-self, perception is not-self, determinations are not-self, consciousness is not-self. All determinations are impermanent; all things are not-self.”
Now when it comes to "all things", especially in terms of MN 1, the discussion would have to apply to matter first and foremost. Why? Matter is the first four verses of MN 1, as the four great elements:
SN 12.2 wrote:“The four great elements and the matter derived from the four great elements: this is called matter.
MN 1 wrote: From earth...

From water...

From fire...

From air he has a percept of air; having had from air a percept of air, he conceives (that to be) air, he conceives (that to be) in air, he conceives (that to be apart) from air, he conceives air to be ‘Mine’, he relishes air. Why is that? He has not fully diagnosed it, I say.
And yes, matter (rupa) is one of the aggregates (see above). In MN 1 we see the same wrong attitude that is seen in the DO description of SN 22.5, "He relishes [matter]". The end of MN 1:
MN 1 wrote:From earth he has direct-knowledge of earth; having had from earth direct-knowledge of earth, he does not conceive (that to be) earth, he does not conceive (that to be) in earth, he does not conceive (that to be apart) from earth, he does not conceive earth to be ‘Mine’, he does not relish earth. Why is that? Because of delusionlessness with the exhaustion of delusion.
This is the description of the arahant. He understands, it was not possible for him to ever have "the percept of [matter]". He was only ever able to just know about it. That means that now he has, "direct-knowledge of [matter]". More importantly, what is no longer happening? He does not conceive that [direct-knowledge] of earth to be apart from earth.

(This is why science has third-rate status compared to Dhamma. Science preconceives matter in the exact wrong manner MN 1 describes. There are, no doubt, patterns to be discerned in terms of perception, but the idea that matter is accessed, and can be explained, is exactly what MN 1 says not to do because it is not actually possible. It is wrong to conceive the percept of earth apart from earth. And if DO were are theory of everything, we would have to completely disregard the instruction found in MN 1, and embrace an access to matter; embrace conceived matter to be "out there on its own"; embrace "my percept" of matter apart from the matter. We would have to follow the proliferation and would at the mercy of whatever implications were conceived as a result.)

But does the arahant still have experience? Does he eat? Sleep? Yes to all. Yet, there is no more "mine" in regards to the aggregates. They continue to manifest: they arise, vanish and endure (SN 22.38), whereas the structure of DO, for the arahat is described in terms of nirodha (cessation) only.

----

DO applies to that structure of suffering, for which, yes, everything is affected by that structure: with ignorance, all of those things are mine and for me. Or to be more explicit: with ignorance, the capacity to declare things as mine and for me is assumed to be owned (control of ownership is assumed and must be abandoned):
AN 3.33 wrote:Therefore, Sāriputta, you should train yourselves thus: (1) ‘There will be no I-making, mine-making, and underlying tendency to conceit in regard to this conscious body; (2) there will be no I-making, mine-making, and underlying tendency to conceit in regard to all external objects; and (3) we will enter and dwell in that liberation of mind, liberation by wisdom, through which there is no more I-making, mine-making, and underlying tendency to conceit for one who enters and dwells in it.’ It is in this way, Sāriputta, that you should train yourselves.
SN 35.23 wrote:And what, bhikkhus, is the all? The eye and forms, the ear and sounds, the nose and odours, the tongue and tastes, the body and tactile objects, the mind and mental phenomena. This is called the all.

If anyone, bhikkhus, should speak thus: ‘Having rejected this all, I shall make known another all’—that would be a mere empty boast on his part. If he were questioned he would not be able to reply and, further, he would meet with vexation. For what reason? Because, bhikkhus, that would not be within his domain.”
This sutta is quite explicit. For DO to apply to everything, there would have to be some indication that there is experience that could not include "this conscious body", which seems to be what the Buddha described as "making known another all". Even the notion of experience without it, is imagined with "this conscious body" present. Literally pressed right up against the idea of experience without "this conscious body", i.e. it is there. Every indication is that the suttas are in terms of a distinct situation, even for the arahat, here described distinctly as puggala (individual/person):
AN 3.24 wrote:Again, the person through whom, with the destruction of the taints, another realizes for himself with direct knowledge, in this very life, the taintless liberation of mind, liberation by wisdom, and having entered upon it, dwells in it. This person is helpful to the other person.
Then the coup de grâce of them all (people do not like this sutta):
AN 4.45 wrote:As he was standing there he said to the Blessed One: “Is it possible, lord, by traveling, to know or see or reach a far end of the cosmos where one does not take birth, age, die, pass away or reappear?”
...
“I tell you, friend, that it is not possible by traveling to know or see or reach a far end of the cosmos where one does not take birth, age, die, pass away, or reappear. But at the same time, I tell you that there is no making an end of suffering without reaching the end of the cosmos. Yet it is just within this fathom-long body, with its perception & intellect, that I declare that there is the cosmos, the origination of the cosmos, the cessation of the cosmos, and the path of practice leading to the cessation of the cosmos.”
Everyone likes to pretend this one doesn't say what it does, but, "Yet it is within this fathom-long body..." Again, how could any description of the Dhamma be in reference to a theory of everything that would be broader than this description? It starts to seem inconceivable. Again we have a view that would include all things, yet the behavior of those things "in themselves" is not addressed. Once again, the individual is the primary concern. (That is not to say that one's individuality qualifies as some sort of inherent enlightenment. Indeed, the puthujjana must do the work to discern the right view. This would not remove the point of view, as the above suttas have shown, but it will remove that tendency to assume the possession (ownership) of that capacity to own things.)

Just two more:
SN 35.116 wrote:Friends, when the Blessed One rose from his seat and entered his dwelling after reciting a synopsis in brief without expounding the meaning in detail, that is: ‘Bhikkhus, I say that the end of the world cannot be known, seen, or reached by travelling. Yet, bhikkhus, I also say that without reaching the end of the world there is no making an end to suffering,’ I understand the detailed meaning of this synopsis as follows: That in the world by which one is a perceiver of the world, a conceiver of the world—this is called the world in the Noble One’s Discipline. And what, friends, is that in the world by which one is a perceiver of the world, a conceiver of the world? The eye is that in the world by which one is a perceiver of the world, a conceiver of the world . The ear … The nose … The tongue … The body … The mind is that in the world by which one is a perceiver of the world, a conceiver of the world. That in the world by which one is a perceiver of the world, a conceiver of the world—this is called the world in the Noble One’s Discipline.
On the internal and external element of earth:
MN 62 wrote: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.
Again, we have descriptions where the ownership and conceit is of the utmost concern. No partiality towards an external world any broader than the experience itself. As above, "The ear … The nose … The tongue … The body … The mind is that in the world by which one is a perceiver of the world, a conceiver of the world. That in the world by which one is a perceiver of the world, a conceiver of the world—this is called the world in the Noble One’s Discipline.

----

So, I'm not really sure if you got much from this pebble-skipping I set up, but I sure hope I gave you nothing to support DO as a theory of everything. I hope I was able to emphasize that suffering is in that attitude towards the things in the world and that it is not in the things in the world. I hope I was able to tease the potential that, while the implications of DO would reach all things, it does not, in any way, describe the origin of things themselves (in the way science would), but the origin of why suffering manifests in regards to them. I hope I was able to show that not even suttas about "the all" are a description of everything, but are explicit to show that how any given thing when not understood properly, lends support to the structure of ownership and conceit. And while that ownership and conceit are everything for the puthujjana, I hope I have shown that their destruction does not mean the destruction of experience.

Srilankaputra
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Location: Sri Lanka

Re: Either Buddhism is pure nihilism or dependent origination must be reinterpreted?

Post by Srilankaputra » Tue Dec 17, 2019 10:45 am

SDC wrote:
Tue Dec 17, 2019 5:40 am
:goodpost: :anjali:

The Wise Man and the Fool
At Savatthī. “Bhikkhus, for the fool, hindered by ignorance and fettered by craving, this body has thereby originated. So there is this body and external name-and-form: thus this dyad. Dependent on the dyad there is contact. There are just six sense bases, contacted through which—or through a certain one among them—the fool experiences pleasure and pain.

“Bhikkhus, for the wise man, hindered by ignorance and fettered by craving, this body has thereby originated. So there is this body and external name-and-form: thus this dyad. Dependent on the dyad there is contact. There are just six sense bases, contacted through which—or through a certain one among them—the wise man experiences pleasure and pain. What, bhikkhus, is the distinction here, what is the disparity, what is the difference between the wise man and the fool?”

“Venerable sir, our teachings are rooted in the Blessed One, guided by the Blessed One, take recourse in the Blessed One. It would be good if the Blessed One would clear up the meaning of this statement. Having heard it from him, the bhikkhus will remember it.”

“Then listen and attend closely, bhikkhus, I will speak.”

“Yes, venerable sir,” the bhikkhus replied. The Blessed One said this:

“Bhikkhus, for the fool, hindered by ignorance and fettered by craving, this body has originated. For the fool that ignorance has not been abandoned and that craving has not been utterly destroyed. For what reason? Because the fool has not lived the holy life for the complete destruction of suffering. Therefore, with the breakup of the body, the fool fares on to another body. Faring on to another body, he is not freed from birth, aging, and death; not freed from sorrow, lamentation, pain, displeasure, and despair; not freed from suffering, I say.

“Bhikkhus, for the wise man, hindered by ignorance and fettered by craving, this body has originated. For the wise man that ignorance has been abandoned and that craving has been utterly destroyed. For what reason? Because the wise man has lived the holy life for the complete destruction of suffering. Therefore, with the breakup of the body, the wise man does not fare on to another body. Not faring on to another body, he is freed from birth, aging, and death; freed from sorrow, lamentation, pain, displeasure, and despair; freed from suffering, I say.

“This, bhikkhus, is the distinction, the disparity, the difference between the wise man and the fool, that is, the living of the holy life.”
https://suttacentral.net/sn12.19/en/bodhi
O seeing one,we for refuge go to thee!
O mighty sage do thou our teacher be!

Paccuppannañca yo dhammaṃ,
Tattha tattha vipassati

“Yato yato mano nivāraye,
Na dukkhameti naṃ tato tato;
Sa sabbato mano nivāraye,
Sa sabbato dukkhā pamuccatī”ti.

zan
Posts: 794
Joined: Sun Aug 28, 2016 1:57 pm

Re: Either Buddhism is pure nihilism or dependent origination must be reinterpreted?

Post by zan » Fri Dec 20, 2019 5:06 pm

I think anyone and everyone who sees the Theravada and/or the suttas as authoritative and argues that literally everything, without exception, is dependently originated needs to read Nagarjuna's Mulamadhyamakakarika (aka Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way).

In it, based on this premise, Nagarjuna definitively proves that almost all of Theravada doctrine and almost all of what is taught in the suttas is false (or at least irrelevant, misunderstood, irrational, negated to some degree, presented incorrectly or incompletely, etc.).

For example:

1.) A lot of Theravada and suttas say arising and ceasing occur. Mindfulness of them helps lead to enlightenment.

According to Nagarjuna, nothing has ever arisen, nor ceased.

2.) The aggregates do not exist. Yet in the suttas it is stated that they do

3.) Nibbana and Samsara are identical. In the suttas this is patently false.

4.) There is no end to Samsara. The whole point of the suttas is to escape Samsara.

5.) Vision, the eye and the seen do not exist. Likewise for the other five senses. According to the suttas this would render beings senseless and unconscious as consciousness depends on a sense organ making contact with a sense object. If all three are nonexistent, consciousness cannot occur.

There are a lot more problems than that, this is a short list.

Ultimately he proves that, if everything without exception is dependently originated, aboslutely nothing whatsoever exists.

The Buddha never said any thing even remotely like this. How could it be the full outcome of one of his core teachings (dependent origination), and yet he failed to mention any of the above and set himself up for all of these contradictions? Particularly about nibbana! The ultimate goal doesn't actually exist and is identical with the problem being solved?

There is nothing wrong with this from a Mahayana view and it's surely a wonderful and helpful teaching.

However it utterly invalidates the suttas and the entire Theravada tradition.

I for one find this ridiculous. I believe dependent origination does not apply to literally everything without exception. I feel that the suttas support this view.

The Buddha did not set himself and his entire tradition up to be contradicted, negated and invalidated by a related tradition centuries later.


Side note because I'm sure it will come up:

Someone will say these teachings are in the suttas.

However, the Buddha did not spell it out directly like Nagarjuna. The Buddha spelled things out. A lot. If it was really in the suttas and Nagarjuna is completely correct, why isn't it stated directly, like Nagarjuna did, throughout the suttas like the other teachings?

Now someone may also invoke the two truths method: the Buddha taught the conventional dhamma (all those thousands of teachings that make no sense if Nagarjuna was correct) and also the ultimate truth dhamma (vaguely stated in the suttas and needing to be drawn out and explained by someone with special understanding).

To that we have this as reply:
"I have taught Dhamma, Ananda, making no 'inner' and 'outer': the Tathaagata has no 'teacher's fist' in respect of the doctrines."
DN 12
No hidden teaching, he taught everything up front.
The acceptance of this dichotomy between conventional and transcendental language is widespread today, as is the suppositious parallel distinction between conventional and absolute truth, or reality. Therefore some may be surprised to learn that such a distinction (whether with regard to language, truth, or reality) ... is of later invention and is not to be met with in the Suttas. Quite the contrary, it is specifically and repeatedly condemned. At M. 99: ii,202, for instance, the Buddha goes out of his way to lead his listener to acknowledge the superiority of conventional speech (as well as of speech that is well-advised, spoken after reflection, and connected with the goal) over unconventional speech (and also over speech that is ill-advised, etc.). And consistent with this, at M. 139: iii,230 the monks are advised that when teaching they should (among other things) “not deviate from recognized parlance.

The suttas, then, clearly assert that they are to be understood as saying what they mean. They are not to be interpreted, for to do so must result in misunderstanding them.
-Samanera Bodhesako
If the Buddha meant "Nibbana and Samsara are identical." like Nagarjuna, he would have said it. He also wouldn't have taught flatly that they are different, one being conditioned, the other not. He also wouldn't have made nibbana and samsara being different core components of his teachings and taught on this idea for forty years in hundreds of suttas.

Ditto for all of the other issues.

All that said, if DO does apply to literally everything, it then must be reinterpreted somehow to avoid the suttas and Theravada being mostly invalidated.

Side note two as this will come up:

Nagarjuna didn't say nothing exists.

Well he proved that all the Buddha said existed doesn't exist. He used the phrase "does not exist" throughout the Mulamadhyamakakarika, he only said the wise do not say do not exist to defend against a nihilist interpretation after presenting a debatably nihilistic interpretation of the dhamma.

Try this out: ask someone who believes Nagarjuna is correct:

"Did Nagarjuna teach nothing exists?"

They'll say no, despite his stating many things do not exist, without which the Buddhist world as laid out in the suttas ceases to exist. Like the elements, skhandas, etc.

Now say:

"Oh, ok, so things do exist."

They'll say no.

If nothing else it's a paradox that is self defeating. You can't really practice the dhamma as taught in the suttas from this self contradictory, paradoxical perspective. It wouldn't make any sense whatsoever.

You'd have to go Mahayana, as the suttas have no practices to work with this impossible position.

If that's your goal then good for you! Mahayana is amazing. I'm only speaking from a Theravada and sutta perspective here.

Some will say this isn't true.

Try this: Crack open the suttas and you'll see practices to help one escape samsara by entering nibbana. This is what the suttas are, the whole point of the dhamma.

Now look at them with the idea that nibbana and samsara are identical and you'll see quite the paradox and contradiction. None of it makes any sense any longer. Practicing wouldn't even make sense. The dhamma loses all relevance.

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