tiltbillings wrote:Science is, I suppose, realist, but why is this relevant to Dhamma practice to have to draw this distinction?
By & large, Kaccayanagotta, this world is supported by (takes as its object) a polarity, that of existence & non-existence. But when one sees the origination of the world as it actually is with right discernment, 'non-existence' with reference to the world does not occur to one. When one sees the cessation of the world as it actually is with right discernment, 'existence' with reference to the world does not occur to one.
By & large, Kaccayanagotta, this world is in bondage to attachments, clingings (sustenances), & biases. But one such as this does not get involved with or cling to these attachments, clingings, fixations of awareness, biases, or obsessions; nor is he resolved on 'my self.' He has no uncertainty or doubt that just stress, when arising, is arising; stress, when passing away, is passing away. In this, his knowledge is independent of others. It's to this extent, Kaccayanagotta, that there is right view.
tiltbillings wrote:So, we do not need to pay any attention to anything science says about how the body actually functions, such as memory? Probably not, given that it does not matter, in terms of liberation, if the world is afloat on the back of a giant turtle or is is orbit around a star.
Correct. The ancients were of the erroneous belief for example that the brain was a snot factory that leaked out the nose, but that did not preclude their potential for the attainment of nobility. Mount Meru, sea monsters, rain devas etc.... none of it matters - right or wrong. The Simsapa Sutta tells us what we ought to be concerned with (i.e. dukkha and nirodha), and science is just one big distraction amongst many... a dangerous distraction in fact because it "feels" relevant, and "feels" enlightening (because it helps to counter superstition) but it actually constrains us from seeing things as they are, because it steers us towards unprofitable views of existence and non-existence.
tiltbillings wrote: It just seems to be an odd battle.
It is important because a good many people are investigating the wrong things, not seeing clearly, and becoming fixed in views that pertain to existence and non-existence... often in the name of science, and often on the grounds of realism/ontology. Sometimes even in the name of Abhidhamma (e.g. such-and-such citta ultimately exists). Such views, and incorrect framing, make "seeing things as they really are" (i.e. seeing them as they are experienced, with discernment) unnecessarily difficult. Understanding the radical teaching of SN 12.15 specifically, and the Dhamma more generally, requires such views to be relinquished.
"Then, Bahiya, you should train yourself thus: In reference to the seen, there will be only the seen. In reference to the heard, only the heard. In reference to the sensed, only the sensed. In reference to the cognized, only the cognized. That is how you should train yourself. When for you there will be only the seen in reference to the seen, only the heard in reference to the heard, only the sensed in reference to the sensed, only the cognized in reference to the cognized, then, Bahiya, there is no you in terms of that. When there is no you in terms of that, there is no you there. When there is no you there, you are neither here nor yonder nor between the two. This, just this, is the end of stress."
That is why it matters - it's a matter of right discernment.