On Thanissaro Bhikkhu's anatta teachings

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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tiltbillings
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Re: On Thanissaro Bhikkhu's anatta teachings

Post by tiltbillings » Sun Jun 16, 2013 1:56 pm

Spiny Norman wrote:
tiltbillings wrote: It is, rather, in dealing with the experiential process of what we are, we find no unchanging metaphysical self/thing within that experience.
Presumably with the exception of the unconditioned, the Deathless?
See my responses in: http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=10569
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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tiltbillings
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Re: On Thanissaro Bhikkhu's anatta teachings

Post by tiltbillings » Sun Jun 16, 2013 1:57 pm

binocular wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:You will have to ask them.
They refuse to answer.
The whole thing would be mostly irrelevant, were it not for the cases when such people hold positions of power and get to decide about the fate of others.

Maybe it was the way you went about it.
I don't think so, given that I was not the only target of such treatment.
These are not issues I can solve for you.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

binocular
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Re: On Thanissaro Bhikkhu's anatta teachings

Post by binocular » Sun Jun 16, 2013 8:13 pm

Alex123 wrote:The Buddha also said that "A beginning point is not evident," while later on, apparently the POV is that samsara is beginning-less.

Buddha refused to comment on "everything is oneness/manyness"-SN12.48 Today it seems to be standard teaching that reality is composed of many dhammas which exist, but the wholes such as self, trees, rocks, do not ultimately exist.

Also, even about past/future lives:
  • "This is how he attends inappropriately: 'Was I in the past? Was I not in the past? What was I in the past? How was I in the past? Having been what, what was I in the past? Shall I be in the future? Shall I not be in the future? What shall I be in the future? How shall I be in the future? Having been what, what shall I be in the future?' Or else he is inwardly perplexed about the immediate present: 'Am I? Am I not? What am I? How am I? Where has this being come from? Where is it bound?'MN2

Then came the Jatakas, and so on...

The various undeclared views the Buddha refused to answer because: "this reflection is not beneficial; it is not concerned with the fundamentals of the holy life; it does not lead to disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation, to peace, to direct knowledge, to enlightenment, to Nibbåna."
Thank you for the examples, I hadn't thought of those then.
There seems to be a tendency to develop a Buddhist ontology in much the same way as other religions or philosophies typically propose their ontologies, listing what exists. And that in the name of this Buddhist ontology, inferences are made in order to arrive at asserting "this exists, that doesn't exist."
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

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Gaoxing
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Re: On Thanissaro Bhikkhu's anatta teachings

Post by Gaoxing » Sun Jun 16, 2013 11:41 pm

Binocular

About Buddhist ontology;

Two blank pages would be a good start but it could end up as the end with a trashcan full of crumbled balls of corrected materials or maybe just one word on the list of what does not exist and that is ontology. :shrug:
Buddhist ontology

Most Buddhists understand that modern philosophy has never answered the question of what is reality? Modern philosophy doesn’t know how the really real or true reality is to be known or what exactly will be known when it does know (if it ever does!). This is a problem of epistemology. It attempts to answer the question, “What is knowing and the known?”

If we assume that ontology is the science of what is ultimately real, it strikes me odd that much of it appears to be conditioned by epistemology and its confusion. One such problem, for example, is how is our knowledge of true reality to be derived? Is it acquired through pure intellection, concepts, sensory consciousness or what we Buddhist call the Five Aggregates? For me this is crucial because if this is the way we approach ontology, by way of epistemology, we are not even close to what Buddhist ontology should be, which should not rely on epistemology.

If a Buddhist ontology is to know or to be directly acquainted with true reality (which has a variety of names in Buddhism such as pure Mind and Buddha-nature) it is not an easy task. To be sure, we cannot do it by way of our intellect, imagination or by means of concepts which leads us back to epistemology with all of its unresolved problems. We can't walk on an epistemological path, in other words, and expect to get to the ontologic Land of Jewels.

Thus we are thrown back on introspection (dhyana) as a proper means of apprehending true reality which is not at all epistemological. By means of introspection we are inwardly seeking true reality, or if you prefer, Buddha Mind, without any epistemological aids such as pure intellection. In this wise, introspection opens up before the immediacy of true reality, of which we are intrinsically, but which, as yet, remains unmediated by us. The strength and depth of introspection, that it should reach ultimate reality, which will then recognize itself, depends on itself, not on epistemology.

This for me is what Buddhist ontology should be about. It's an ontology free of epistemology which relies, instead, on profound introspection. It requires of us that our journey should deepen introspection such that we are, eventually, able to penetrate through the veil of phenomena and come into direct, non-conceptual contact, with ultimate reality.

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Re: On Thanissaro Bhikkhu's anatta teachings

Post by Alex123 » Mon Jun 17, 2013 12:51 am

Buddhist ontology

Most Buddhists understand that modern philosophy has never answered the question of what is reality? Modern philosophy doesn’t know how the really real or true reality is to be known or what exactly will be known when it does know (if it ever does!).
Philosophical arguments have been going on for thousands of years. Even within Buddhism there are many different ideas.
Thus we are thrown back on introspection (dhyana) as a proper means of apprehending true reality which is not at all epistemological.
And in Buddha's time some people (Alara Kalama, Udakka Ramaputta) who reached even arūpa states (that require all 4 Jhāna) could still believe in Atman. Some of the wrong views in DN#1 are about Jhāna. In the suttas it is not Jhāna, but proper attention or wisdom that deals with wrong views.
  • " in the Noble One's discipline they [Jhāna] are called 'abidings in ease here and now"-MN8
"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

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Re: On Thanissaro Bhikkhu's anatta teachings

Post by danieLion » Sat Jun 22, 2013 7:50 am

Gaoxing wrote: Atta = soul = self
Anatta= not-self = no-self
It takes a self to declare there's no self. The Buddha used his self to declare the things that are not self. He knew taht declaring there is no self would be absurd.

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Re: On Thanissaro Bhikkhu's anatta teachings

Post by danieLion » Sat Jun 22, 2013 7:57 am

binocular wrote:
danieLion wrote:I agree with the Buddha and William James about the self that even though the self isn't permanent or a soul it is nonetheless real.
I don't see how the Buddha is saying that.

And I'm not sure about William James either. Can you provide his reasoning that the soul is not permanent, but nevertheless real?
The Buddha did not deny the existence of selves affirming by implication they're real; not ontologically real, buy pragmatically real. James didn't believe in soul, so your question makes me think you misread my sentence.

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Re: On Thanissaro Bhikkhu's anatta teachings

Post by danieLion » Sat Jun 22, 2013 8:00 am

tiltbillings wrote:
danieLion wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:Talking in terms of actual experience, the Buddha: . . .
No, "there is no self" claim here either; likewise, this topic would not exist without ourselves making it happen.
The claim that is being made in these texts -- and I would say the suttas as a whole -- is that the experienced self, however one might imagine it, is a derived construct of our experiential process. A sense of self is an experience we are stuck with until awakening. It is not an issue in these texts of some sort of ontologically self-existing entity. The suttas are really not doing that kind of philosophy. It is, rather, in dealing with the experiential process of what we are, we find no unchanging metaphysical self/thing within that experience.
And? I agree. W. James agrees. And to the OP, Thanissaro agrees.

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Re: On Thanissaro Bhikkhu's anatta teachings

Post by acinteyyo » Wed Jun 26, 2013 12:17 am

binocular wrote:
cooran wrote:Please show us all one Sutta, just one, where the Buddha clearly taught that there was a permanent Self or Soul.
False assumption. Nobody said that the Buddha taught there was a permanent self.
We're saying that "there is no self in the aggregates" is not the same as "there is no ontological self." That is all.
It's only if one proposes that all there is, are the aggregates, that "there is no self in the aggregates" is equivalent to "there is no self."
The reason why the Buddha was only concerned with what is not the self is because he realized that everything within range is not the self and there's simply nothing else to say about it because there is nothing else to say about. To assume anything beyond would be futile because it lies beyond range. There is the tendency to assume that there could be something beyond the all and that could possibly be a self of some kind but if questioned on what exactly might be the grounds for such a statement, one would either have to admit that one is actually considering the aggregates and therefore assuming a self in the aggregates or one would be unable to explain, and furthermore, would be put to grief. Why? Because it lies beyond range.
Sabba Sutta SN35.23 wrote:The Blessed One said, "What is the All? Simply the eye & forms, ear & sounds, nose & aromas, tongue & flavors, body & tactile sensations, intellect & ideas. This, monks, is called the All. Anyone who would say, 'Repudiating this All, I will describe another,' if questioned on what exactly might be the grounds for his statement, would be unable to explain, and furthermore, would be put to grief. Why? Because it lies beyond range."
binocular wrote:But if we are to believe that the aggregates are all there is, then nibbana either doesnt' exist, isn't real, cannot be attained, cannot serve as a goal, or is a mere aggregate.
We are not simply to believe that the aggregates are all there is but we have to understand that anything beyond the aggregates is beyond range and therefore nothing can be said about it. And nibbana isn't a thing like the aggregates and to compare it with the aggregates reveals a misunderstanding. Nibbana is described as the absence of something, generally the absence of greed, hatred and delusion. The absence of something is not a "thing" in itself, it lacks substance or existence of something. Like fire which has simply gone out. It hasn't become any-thing else but is simply absent.

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: On Thanissaro Bhikkhu's anatta teachings

Post by Gaoxing » Wed Jun 26, 2013 2:08 pm

danieLion wrote:
Gaoxing wrote: Atta = soul = self
Anatta= not-self = no-self
It takes a self to declare there's no self. The Buddha used his self to declare the things that are not self. He knew taht declaring there is no self would be absurd.
Where is this self 'you' talk about? What does it consist of? Where did the Buddha say this?

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Re: On Thanissaro Bhikkhu's anatta teachings

Post by Judai » Wed Jun 26, 2013 6:47 pm

Gaoxing wrote:
danieLion wrote:
Gaoxing wrote: Atta = soul = self
Anatta= not-self = no-self
It takes a self to declare there's no self. The Buddha used his self to declare the things that are not self. He knew taht declaring there is no self would be absurd.
Where is this self 'you' talk about? What does it consist of? Where did the Buddha say this?
The Buddha says that whatever is self does does not lead to suffering.
The Buddha also said that whatever is non self leads to suffering.

Then he proceeded to say that which is non self is suffering.

So ask the Buddha where the self is,ask the Buddha why he said that which has a self does not lead to suffering,while he said non self is suffering.
(if you need the quotes I can provide them)just ask.

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Re: On Thanissaro Bhikkhu's anatta teachings

Post by daverupa » Wed Jun 26, 2013 7:30 pm

Judai wrote:The Buddha says that whatever is self does does not lead to suffering.
The Buddha also said that whatever is non self leads to suffering.
Hmm.
MN 22 wrote:“Bhikkhus, you may well cling to that doctrine of self that would not arouse sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, and despair in one who clings to it. But do you see any such doctrine of self, bhikkhus?”—“No, venerable sir.”—“Good, bhikkhus. I too do not see any doctrine of self that would not arouse sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, and despair in one who clings to it.
  • "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: On Thanissaro Bhikkhu's anatta teachings

Post by Alex123 » Wed Jun 26, 2013 8:33 pm

daverupa wrote:
Judai wrote:The Buddha says that whatever is self does does not lead to suffering.
The Buddha also said that whatever is non self leads to suffering.
Hmm.
MN 22 wrote:“Bhikkhus, you may well cling to that doctrine of self that would not arouse sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, and despair in one who clings to it. But do you see any such doctrine of self, bhikkhus?”—“No, venerable sir.”—“Good, bhikkhus. I too do not see any doctrine of self that would not arouse sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, and despair in one who clings to it.

I wonder if "there is no self" fits the doctrine of self.
"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

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Re: On Thanissaro Bhikkhu's anatta teachings

Post by Judai » Wed Jun 26, 2013 8:42 pm

daverupa wrote:
Judai wrote:The Buddha says that whatever is self does does not lead to suffering.
The Buddha also said that whatever is non self leads to suffering.
Hmm.
MN 22 wrote:“Bhikkhus, you may well cling to that doctrine of self that would not arouse sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, and despair in one who clings to it. But do you see any such doctrine of self, bhikkhus?”—“No, venerable sir.”—“Good, bhikkhus. I too do not see any doctrine of self that would not arouse sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, and despair in one who clings to it.
yea the pali canon says many things,how do these passages go with your quote?

SN 22.46 Impermanent (2) pg 885
At Savatthi. "Bhikkhus, form is impermanent.... Feeling is impermanent.... Preception is impermanent.... Volitional formations are impermanent.... Consciousness is impermanent. What is Impermanent is suffering. What is suffering is nonself. What is nonself should be seen as it really is with correct wisdom thus: This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self."
SN 22.68 "Bhikkhu you should abandon desire for whatever is non self"
SN:22.69 "Bhikkhu,you should abandon desire for whatever does not belong to self."

SN 22.59
Anatta-lakkhana Sutta: The Discourse on the Not-self Characteristic
Thus it was heard by me. At one time the Blessed One was living in the deer park of Isipatana near Benares. There, indeed, the Blessed One addressed the group of five monks.
"Form, O monks, is not-self; if form were self, then form would not lead to suffering and it should obtain regarding form: 'May my form be thus, may my form not be thus'; and indeed, O monks, since form is not-self, therefore form leads to suffering and it does not obtain regarding form: 'May my form be thus, may my form not be thus.'
"Feeling, O monks, is not-self; if feeling were self, then feeling would not lead to suffering and it should obtain regarding feeling: 'May my feeling be thus, may my feeling not be thus'; and indeed, O monks, since feeling is not-self, therefore feeling leads to suffering and it does not obtain regarding feeling: 'May my feeling be thus, may my feeling not be thus.'
"Perception, O monks, is not-self; if perception were self, then perception would not lead to suffering and it should obtain regarding perception: 'May my perception be thus, may my perception not be thus'; and indeed, O monks, since perception is not-self, therefore, perception leads to suffering and it does not obtain regarding perception: 'May my perception be thus, may my perception not be thus.'
"Mental formations, O monks, are not-self; if mental formations were self, then mental formations would not lead to suffering and it should obtain regarding mental formations: 'May my perception be thus, may my mental formations not be thus'; and indeed, O monks, since mental formations are not-self, therefore, mental formations lead to suffering and it does not obtain regarding mental formations: 'May my mental formations be thus, may my mental formations not be thus.'
"Consciousness, O monks, is not-self; if consciousness were self, then consciousness would not lead to suffering and it should obtain regarding consciousness: 'May my consciousness be thus, may my consciousness not be thus'; and indeed, O monks, since consciousness is not-self, therefore, consciousness leads to suffering and it does not obtain regarding consciousness: 'May my consciousness be thus, may my consciousness not be thus.'

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Alex123
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Re: On Thanissaro Bhikkhu's anatta teachings

Post by Alex123 » Wed Jun 26, 2013 8:48 pm

Judai wrote:SN 22.46 Impermanent (2) pg 885
At Savatthi. "Bhikkhus, form is impermanent.... Feeling is impermanent.... Preception is impermanent.... Volitional formations are impermanent.... Consciousness is impermanent. What is Impermanent is suffering. What is suffering is nonself. What is nonself should be seen as it really is with correct wisdom thus: This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self."
That and other similar quotes do not state that Atta does not exist. It merely says that 5 aggregates are not Atta and should not be considered to be Atta.
"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

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