DO not depending on avijja and sankhara?

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acinteyyo
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DO not depending on avijja and sankhara?

Post by acinteyyo » Tue Apr 12, 2011 3:54 pm

Nalakalapiyo Sutta: Sheaves of Reeds SN 12.67
"Just now, friend Sariputta, I understood your statement as, 'It's not the case, Kotthita my friend, that name-&-form is self-made, that it is other-made, that it is both self-made & other-made, or that — without self-making or other-making — it arises spontaneously. However, from consciousness as a requisite condition comes name-&-form' But then I understood your statement as, 'It's not the case, Kotthita my friend, that consciousness is self-made, that it is other-made, that it is both self-made & other-made, or that — without self-making or other-making — it arises spontaneously.' However, from name-&-form as a requisite condition comes consciousness.' Now how is the meaning of these statements to be understood?"

"Very well then, Kotthita my friend, I will give you an analogy; for there are cases where it is through the use of an analogy that intelligent people can understand the meaning of what is being said. It is as if two sheaves of reeds were to stand leaning against one another. In the same way, from name-&-form as a requisite condition comes consciousness, from consciousness as a requisite condition comes name-&-form. From name & form as a requisite condition come the six sense media. From the six sense media as a requisite condition comes contact. From contact as a requisite condition comes feeling. From feeling as a requisite condition comes craving. From craving as a requisite condition comes clinging/sustenance. From clinging/sustenance as a requisite condition comes becoming. From becoming as a requisite condition comes birth. From birth as a requisite condition, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair come into play. Such is the origination of this entire mass of suffering & stress.

"If one were to pull away one of those sheaves of reeds, the other would fall; if one were to pull away the other, the first one would fall. In the same way, from the cessation of name-&-form comes the cessation of consciousness, from the cessation of consciousness comes the cessation of name-&-form. From the cessation of name-&-form comes the cessation of the six sense media. From the cessation of the six sense media comes the cessation of contact. From the cessation of contact comes the cessation of feeling. From the cessation of feeling comes the cessation of craving. From the cessation of craving comes the cessation of clinging/sustenance. From the cessation of clinging/sustenance comes the cessation of becoming. From the cessation of becoming comes the cessation of birth. From the cessation of birth, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair all cease. Such is the cessation of this entire mass of suffering & stress."
It seems that the formula presented in this sutta does not depend on avijja and sankhara. It looks like this in short:

nāma-rūpa <-> viññāna <-> nāma-rūpa -> āyatana -> phassa -> vedanā -> tanhā -> upādāna -> bhava -> jāti -> jarā-marana

From nāma-rūpa as requisite condition comes viññāna and from viññāna as requisite condition comes nāma-rūpa. from nāma-rūpa as requisite condition comes all the rest, the entire mass of suffering & stress.
From the cessation of nāma-rūpa comes the cessation of viññāna and from the cessation of viññāna comes the cessation of nāma-rūpa. From the cessation of nāma-rūpa comes the cessation of the entire mass of suffering & stress.

How is this to be understood?

best wishes, acinteyyo
Thag 1.20. Ajita - I do not fear death; nor do I long for life. I’ll lay down this body, aware and mindful.

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Re: DO not depending on avijja and sankhara?

Post by daverupa » Tue Apr 12, 2011 8:48 pm

Nagara Sutta (SN 12.65) may help here:

"Then the thought occurred to me, 'Aging & death exist when what exists? From what as a requisite condition is there aging & death?' From my appropriate attention there came the breakthrough of discernment: 'Aging & death exist when birth exists. From birth as a requisite condition comes aging & death.' Then the thought occurred to me, 'Birth exists when what exists? From what as a requisite condition comes birth?' From my appropriate attention there came the breakthrough of discernment: 'Birth exists when becoming exists. From becoming as a requisite condition comes birth... 'Name-&-form exists when what exists? From what as a requisite condition is there name-&-form?' From my appropriate attention there came the breakthrough of discernment: 'Name-&-form exists when consciousness exists. From consciousness as a requisite condition comes name-&-form.' Then the thought occurred to me, 'Consciousness exists when what exists? From what as a requisite condition comes consciousness?' From my appropriate attention there came the breakthrough of discernment: 'Consciousness exists when name-&-form exists. From name-&-form as a requisite condition comes consciousness.'

"Then the thought occurred to me, 'This consciousness turns back at name-&-form, and goes no farther. It is to this extent that there is birth, aging, death, falling away, & re-arising, i.e., from name-&-form as a requisite condition comes consciousness, from consciousness as a requisite condition comes name-&-form. From name-&-form as a requisite condition come the six sense media..."

The Buddha seems to remark that a conditionless consciousness is impossible, which makes sense given that the Upanisadic quest was for union with just such an eternal consciousness. Thus, his early meditative introspection would have been to seek this eternal thing, and here his breakthrough is that there isn't such (Bhikkhu Bodhi's notes are to this effect).

I've not included the Spk commentary as it's fairly long, but the gist is that avijja and sankhara as the first two links are subsumed under previous links of paticcasamuppada (craving, for example), and so are not explored again here. This explanation sounds strained to me; I expect the swirling interplay of namarupa-vinnana is itself a sankhara, as the Sutta remarks, and that that sankhara is rooted in avijja, and explaining this point evolved into adding two links to paticcasamuppada.
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

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Re: DO not depending on avijja and sankhara?

Post by retrofuturist » Tue Apr 12, 2011 10:44 pm

Greetings Dave,
daverupa wrote:I've not included the Spk commentary as it's fairly long, but the gist is that avijja and sankhara as the first two links are subsumed under previous links of paticcasamuppada (craving, for example), and so are not explored again here. This explanation sounds strained to me; I expect the swirling interplay of namarupa-vinnana is itself a sankhara, as the Sutta remarks, and that that sankhara is rooted in avijja, and explaining this point evolved into adding two links to paticcasamuppada.
Yes. I prefer your explanation to Spk's.

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

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

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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Re: DO not depending on avijja and sankhara?

Post by mikenz66 » Wed Apr 13, 2011 12:11 am

Recall, also, my post a while ago pointing out the theory that the 12 step DO was patched together from two parts and that the first four links are a parody of Vedic Cosmogony:
http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=29&t=7464" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;


:anjali:
Mike

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Re: DO not depending on avijja and sankhara?

Post by retrofuturist » Wed Apr 13, 2011 12:29 am

Greetings mikenz66,

That is a very good point.

In fact, it wasn't until this week that I learned quite how much of the Abhidhamma (and even perhaps the reason for its genesis) was in response to the tradition of Indian Philosophy which asked questions of early Buddhists, many of which the Buddha did not think required an answer - presumably as they did not meet with his teaching standards as outlined in the Simsapa Sutta.

Yet, the questions were asked nonetheless, and the Indian philosophers wouldn't accept noble silence as an 'argument'. The Buddhists would lose face, be accused of not being able to reply (and thereby having their Dhamma "defeated"), and were therefore compelled to frame positive arguments, which they endeavoured to keep consistent with Buddhavacana. It's an interesting thought to consider isn't it - that perhaps the commentarial and Abhidhamma traditions arose not for the purpose of serving the internal interests of Buddhists, but to defend it against irrelevant questioning from outsiders (almost like an extension of the Digha Nikaya). Even in the Buddha's time though, these sectarians were present, and arguments often had to be framed in terms they could understand, in the interests of communication and understanding.

The risk we run is that those whose teachings the Buddha parodied, would later re-infiltrate the teaching as various explanations were imported from the broader Indian Philosophical/Religious tradition (take 'heart-base' as 'mind-base' for an innocuous example, or 'knower of lokas' which ven. Buddhaghosa depicts over several pages as an Indian cosmological understanding... though there are more serious imports, pertaining to matters like consciousness and perception) and the nuanced meanings and explanations of the Buddha get lost in the process under the scaffolding of beliefs, views and explanations.

(And just because I predict someone will accuse me of rampant speculation here, read Ediriwira Sarachchandra's "Buddhist Psychology of Perception" for more details... it traces the evolution of the Buddhist psychology of perception from the earliest suttas through to the latest sub-commentaries, explaining much of what was added, imported or discarded along the way)

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

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

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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Re: DO not depending on avijja and sankhara?

Post by mikenz66 » Wed Apr 13, 2011 1:21 am

Hi Retro,

Of course, nothing is certain about any of the texts we have. The SN, in particular, has a large amount of "lets put in this variation, since all the others seem to be there", and some of the early texts, such as parts of the Sutta Nipata, have little detail about any of what we would consider the main points of the Dhamma (Noble Truths, Eightfold Path, DO).

Getting back to the topic at hand, it's not beyond the realm of possibility that those first few links were "stitched on", and the efforts of those such as Ven Nananada to explain them are unnecessary. Interestingly, Ven Nanananda's interpretation of Nama-Rupa seems closer to the Brahminic interpretation than some of the classical Commentaries:
http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f= ... 64#p118445" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
4. Gombrich: "Pure consciousness is thus at best reflexive, cognizing itself. From this reflexivity, in which there is only one entity, develops an awareness of subject and object; this in turn leads to further individuation, until we reach the multiplicity of our experience: individuation both by name (nama), using a linguistic category, and by appearance (rupa), perceptible to the senses."

Gombrich continues:
"The later Buddhist tradition did not understand how the Buddha had appropriated this term nama-rupa from the Upanishads. ...

:anjali:
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Re: DO not depending on avijja and sankhara?

Post by Sylvester » Wed Apr 13, 2011 2:07 am

retrofuturist wrote:(And just because I predict someone will accuse me of rampant speculation here, read Ediriwira Sarachchandra's "Buddhist Psychology of Perception" for more details... it traces the evolution of the Buddhist psychology of perception from the earliest suttas through to the latest sub-commentaries, explaining much of what was added, imported or discarded along the way)
Shocking! Who would dare lay a charge of speculation against you?

I get the impression that the Theravada elders themselves viewed the twin methodological approaches of bheda (analytic) and sangaha (synthetic) embedded in the Abhidhamma as being specific responses tailored to meet the different Indian minds. At least, that's how Karunadasa views the Commentarial explanation for the methodologies.

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Re: DO not depending on avijja and sankhara?

Post by retrofuturist » Wed Apr 13, 2011 2:09 am

Greetings Sylvester,
Sylvester wrote:Shocking! Who would dare lay a charge of speculation against you?
Some people don't like anything they perceive to be an "attack" on traditional ways, and their rebuke is often dealt ad-hominem. If such unwholesome rebukes can be forestalled, all the better...

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

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

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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Re: DO not depending on avijja and sankhara?

Post by Sylvester » Wed Apr 13, 2011 2:17 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Sylvester,
Sylvester wrote:Shocking! Who would dare lay a charge of speculation against you?
Some people don't like anything they perceive to be an "attack" on traditional ways, and their rebuke is often dealt ad-hominem.

Metta,
Retro. :)

Idamsaccabhinivesa gantha does this to many people, not just the "classical" gotta.

It's an occupational hazard on a forum like this. Lord knows how you Mods and Administrators keep your sanity, confronting our suffering on a daily basis.

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Re: DO not depending on avijja and sankhara?

Post by alan » Wed Apr 13, 2011 2:39 am

Re-read this just this afternoon. http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
And was thinking how nice it is to have shed my earlier doubts. I can accept dropping the question.
Sometimes it does seem the commentaries get hung up answering questions that are not valid.

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Re: DO not depending on avijja and sankhara?

Post by alan » Wed Apr 13, 2011 2:53 am

Hi Mike
It's true there are variations on DO presented in SN, but doesn't that reflect the intended audience, and the subtlety of the argument? I enjoy the fact that he came at it from different angles, rather than always repeating a stock argument. Keeps me nimble.
As for Sn, it's true the big ideas are not addressed. But the beauty seems to be the poetic format. It allows discussion of issues that might not otherwise have been addressed...or would not have fit into the stricter format of the main Suttas.

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Re: DO not depending on avijja and sankhara?

Post by mikenz66 » Wed Apr 13, 2011 3:05 am

Hi Alan,

I'm not sure if I was clear.

Regarding DO, the argument presented by Gombrich and others is that the 12-link set is a later creation. I'm not wedded to that idea, but it would certainly save a lot of complicated discussion (by either the Commentaries or by modern writers...) if it were true... The latter part (contact, feeling, craving...) are basically an expansion of the 4NT, and are therefore quite straightforward.

Regarding the Sutta Nipata, there are some very deep Suttas there, as we see in recent Sutta Study posts, and the fact that Ven Nanandanda refers to them a lot in his Nibbana Sermons. From my limited reading I gather that it is possible that they pre-date many of the so-called "main suttas".

:anjali:
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Re: DO not depending on avijja and sankhara?

Post by Nyana » Wed Apr 13, 2011 3:53 am

mikenz66 wrote:The latter part (contact, feeling, craving...) are basically an expansion of the 4NT, and are therefore quite straightforward.
This is still where the main action is -- where "the rubber meets the road" so to speak. Feeling is the link in the standard forward sequence of conditioned arising where we can readily access and begin to apply the applications of mindfulness in order to begin to understand the four noble truths and orient our practice accordingly (Cf. M i 270, page 360 of MLDB). The writings of Ven. Ñāṇananda are really just a corrective for a few common sidetracks.

All the best,

Geoff

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Re: DO not depending on avijja and sankhara?

Post by Sylvester » Wed Apr 13, 2011 4:18 am

mikenz66 wrote:Regarding DO, the argument presented by Gombrich and others is that the 12-link set is a later creation. I'm not wedded to that idea, but it would certainly save a lot of complicated discussion (by either the Commentaries or by modern writers...) if it were true... The latter part (contact, feeling, craving...) are basically an expansion of the 4NT, and are therefore quite straightforward.
Hi Mike

There's actually a historical reason for the "complicated discussions" by the Commentaries, as pointed out by Ven Payutto.

Apparently, in a fact that has largely gone unnoticed by modern writers (not sure if Ven Payutto was taking a dig at Ven Nanavira or Ven Buddhadasa, or both), the Abhidhamma had actually given 2 expositions on DO, one on a citta basis, and the other on a 3 lives model. Apparently, the Vibhanga drew out the 1st exposition in many reams of ola leaves (72 pages), but gave short shrift to the 3 lives model (only a measly 5 pages). Perhaps Ven Buddhaghosa was simply compensating for the brevity of the Abhidhamma's 3 lives model. :jumping:

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Re: DO not depending on avijja and sankhara?

Post by mikenz66 » Wed Apr 13, 2011 5:06 am

Hi Geoff,
Ñāṇa wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:The latter part (contact, feeling, craving...) are basically an expansion of the 4NT, and are therefore quite straightforward.
This is still where the main action is -- where "the rubber meets the road" so to speak. Feeling is the link in the standard forward sequence of conditioned arising where we can readily access and begin to apply the applications of mindfulness in order to begin to understand the four noble truths and orient our practice accordingly (Cf. M i 270, page 360 of MLDB). The writings of Ven. Ñāṇananda are really just a corrective for a few common sidetracks.
Good to see we agree that that is the important practical bit where one (with luck...) sees through the delusions...

:anjali:
Mike

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