Deep Contradiction?

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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vinasp
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Deep Contradiction?

Post by vinasp » Tue Jun 24, 2014 2:01 pm

Hi everyone,

What if the teachings are a contradiction?

I do not mean simply that what is said in one place contradicts what is said in another place.

I mean that what the teachings ask one to do in one place, conflicts with what one is asked to do in another place.

The best example of this is rebirth. On the one hand the teachings talk about rebirth as though it was a fact, but on the other hand there is talk about the cessation of clinging, which includes clinging to views.

Why should the view of rebirth be any different to all the other views?

Perhaps one has to give up the view of (literal) rebirth in order to understand the four noble truths.

Regards, Vincent.

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Mkoll
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Re: Deep Contradiction?

Post by Mkoll » Tue Jun 24, 2014 2:37 pm

MN 117 wrote:
The Blessed One said: "Now what, monks, is noble right concentration with its supports & requisite conditions? Any singleness of mind equipped with these seven factors — right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, & right mindfulness — is called noble right concentration with its supports & requisite conditions.

[1] "Of those, right view is the forerunner. And how is right view the forerunner? One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view. And what is wrong view? 'There is nothing given, nothing offered, nothing sacrificed. There is no fruit or result of good or bad actions. There is no this world, no next world, no mother, no father, no spontaneously reborn beings; no contemplatives or brahmans who, faring rightly & practicing rightly, proclaim this world & the next after having directly known & realized it for themselves.' This is wrong view.

"And what is right view? Right view, I tell you, is of two sorts: There is right view with effluents, siding with merit, resulting in acquisitions [of becoming]; there is right view that is noble, without effluents, transcendent, a factor of the path.

"And what is the right view with effluents, siding with merit, resulting in acquisitions? 'There is what is given, what is offered, what is sacrificed. There are fruits & results of good & bad actions. There is this world & the next world. There is mother & father. There are spontaneously reborn beings; there are contemplatives & brahmans who, faring rightly & practicing rightly, proclaim this world & the next after having directly known & realized it for themselves.' This is the right view with effluents, siding with merit, resulting in acquisitions.

"And what is the right view that is noble, without effluents, transcendent, a factor of the path? The discernment, the faculty of discernment, the strength of discernment, analysis of qualities as a factor for awakening, the path factor of right view[1] in one developing the noble path whose mind is noble, whose mind is without effluents, who is fully possessed of the noble path. This is the right view that is noble, without effluents, transcendent, a factor of the path.

"One makes an effort for the abandoning of wrong view & for entering into right view: This is one's right effort. One is mindful to abandon wrong view & to enter & remain in right view: This is one's right mindfulness.[2] Thus these three qualities — right view, right effort, & right mindfulness — run & circle around right view.
What seems like a contradiction or mystery now may not be so further along in the path of spiritual development. For example, a child may be confused about how the world works and why things happen. But as they get older and gain experience, their confusion is replaced by understanding. It's a natural development along life's path.
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa

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Modus.Ponens
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Re: Deep Contradiction?

Post by Modus.Ponens » Tue Jun 24, 2014 2:59 pm

vinasp wrote:Hi everyone,

What if the teachings are a contradiction?

I do not mean simply that what is said in one place contradicts what is said in another place.

I mean that what the teachings ask one to do in one place, conflicts with what one is asked to do in another place.

The best example of this is rebirth. On the one hand the teachings talk about rebirth as though it was a fact, but on the other hand there is talk about the cessation of clinging, which includes clinging to views.

Why should the view of rebirth be any different to all the other views?

Perhaps one has to give up the view of (literal) rebirth in order to understand the four noble truths.

Regards, Vincent.
Can't it be that arahats have views that they don't cling to?

In the first buddhist council _ at least as is recorded _ the arahats had different opinions on what were the important vinaya rules. They ended up deciding that the best course of action was to mantain all the rules.
"He turns his mind away from those phenomena and, having done so, inclines his mind to the property of deathlessness: 'This is peace, this is exquisite — the resolution of all fabrications; the relinquishment of all acquisitions; the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding.' " - Jhana Sutta

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daverupa
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Re: Deep Contradiction?

Post by daverupa » Tue Jun 24, 2014 3:05 pm

There are a number of woven strands to the Five Nikaya Rope, so some contradiction is bound to be a part of that first century and a half of oral tradition enmeshed within the Indian context of the time, and this is exactly what we find. Very large-scale agreement, some rather subtle differences, some overt ones. Some strictly problematic pieces have been included, and we can rest assured that not all of it is strictly Buddhavacana.

It takes careful study & practice, and for those things one cannot see for oneself and which are inessential, I strongly suggest watching the unpleasant feeling which arises from that confusion-dhamma without engaging with it intellectually, considering if it springs from doubt or some other hindrance... you know, use it to work the Path, rather than using it to ponder the cosmos.
  • "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]

LXNDR
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Re: Deep Contradiction?

Post by LXNDR » Tue Jun 24, 2014 4:10 pm

as far as the concept of rebirth is concerned, i see it as fundamental, its exclusion will invalidate the entire idea of liberation, it's so fundamental that if i'm not mistaken its verity isn't even debated in the suttas, it's just taken for granted

therefore this particular view is indispensable for the system to be able to maintain integrity and thus is better to be held to

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Re: Deep Contradiction?

Post by culaavuso » Tue Jun 24, 2014 6:16 pm

vinasp wrote: The best example of this is rebirth. On the one hand the teachings talk about rebirth as though it was a fact, but on the other hand there is talk about the cessation of clinging, which includes clinging to views.
There is discussion in the suttas of things that may be harmful without learning the Dhamma, that can be used skillfully to further progress with the Dhamma, and that can be abandoned at the appropriate time. This does not necessarily mean there is a contradiction, but that the appropriate action at any given time may vary depending on circumstances. In the specific case of rebirth it may be helpful to consider that asserting that rebirth is false or that it is not meant to be taken literally is itself a view. Understanding what the appropriate action is at any given time is a task to be done with discernment in the context of the four noble truths.
AN 4.159: Bhikkhunī Sutta wrote: This body, sister, comes into being through food. And yet it is by relying on food that food is to be abandoned.
This body comes into being through craving. And yet it is by relying on craving that craving is to be abandoned.
This body comes into being through conceit. And yet it is by relying on conceit that conceit is to be abandoned.
The parable of the raft is helpful to understand in this regard. Abandoning the raft prematurely would have disastrous consequences. It does not appear to be a contradiction to say that first the raft must be held and later, at the appropriate time, the raft must be released.
MN 22: Alagaddūpama Sutta wrote: The Blessed One said: "Suppose a man were traveling along a path. He would see a great expanse of water, with the near shore dubious & risky, the further shore secure & free from risk, but with neither a ferryboat nor a bridge going from this shore to the other. The thought would occur to him, 'Here is this great expanse of water, with the near shore dubious & risky, the further shore secure & free from risk, but with neither a ferryboat nor a bridge going from this shore to the other. What if I were to gather grass, twigs, branches, & leaves and, having bound them together to make a raft, were to cross over to safety on the other shore in dependence on the raft, making an effort with my hands & feet?' Then the man, having gathered grass, twigs, branches, & leaves, having bound them together to make a raft, would cross over to safety on the other shore in dependence on the raft, making an effort with his hands & feet. Having crossed over to the further shore, he might think, 'How useful this raft has been to me! For it was in dependence on this raft that, making an effort with my hands & feet, I have crossed over to safety on the further shore. Why don't I, having hoisted it on my head or carrying it on my back, go wherever I like?' What do you think, monks: Would the man, in doing that, be doing what should be done with the raft?"

"No, lord."

"And what should the man do in order to be doing what should be done with the raft? There is the case where the man, having crossed over, would think, 'How useful this raft has been to me! For it was in dependence on this raft that, making an effort with my hands & feet, I have crossed over to safety on the further shore. Why don't I, having dragged it on dry land or sinking it in the water, go wherever I like?' In doing this, he would be doing what should be done with the raft. In the same way, monks, I have taught the Dhamma compared to a raft, for the purpose of crossing over, not for the purpose of holding onto. Understanding the Dhamma as taught compared to a raft, you should let go even of Dhammas, to say nothing of non-Dhammas."

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Sam Vara
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Re: Deep Contradiction?

Post by Sam Vara » Tue Jun 24, 2014 6:28 pm

The best example of this is rebirth. On the one hand the teachings talk about rebirth as though it was a fact, but on the other hand there is talk about the cessation of clinging, which includes clinging to views.
I'm not quite sure where the contradiction is here. Is it not possible for something to be a fact, and even for a person to know that thing to be a fact, without there being clinging?
the Blessed One said to the monks: "In one who keeps focusing on the allure of clingable phenomena (or: phenomena that offer sustenance = the five aggregates), craving develops. From craving as a requisite condition comes clinging/sustenance...."Now, in one who keeps focusing on the drawbacks of clingable phenomena, craving ceases. From the cessation of craving comes the cessation of clinging/sustenance.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

It would appear that it is possible to stop oneself focusing on the allure of the fact of rebirth (notwithstanding it being a "clingable phenomenon"), and thereby put aside craving, and thence clinging.

vinasp
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Re: Deep Contradiction?

Post by vinasp » Tue Jun 24, 2014 8:44 pm

Hi everyone,

From MN 64.6 [BB, MLDB.]

"Malunkyaputta, if there is the view 'the world is eternal', the holy life cannot be lived; and if there is the view 'the world is not eternal', the holy life cannot be lived."

"What, venerable sir, is the holy life? ... This Noble Eightfold Path, bhikkhu, is the holy life; that is, right view ..... right concentration. ..." [BB, TCDB, part of SN 45.6]

Why would holding the view 'the world is eternal' mean that one cannot enter the noble eightfold path?

Regards, Vincent.

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TheNoBSBuddhist
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Re: Deep Contradiction?

Post by TheNoBSBuddhist » Tue Jun 24, 2014 8:51 pm

I would guess because both views ('Not eternal' and 'Eternal') are limiting.
Either one or the other, is wrong.

Accepting both, is correct.

Rather like Self view being flawed, but also Not-Self view is flawed....
When later asked why, he said that to hold either that there is a self or that there is no self is to fall into extreme forms of wrong view that make the path of Buddhist practice impossible.
:namaste:

You will not be punished FOR your 'emotions'; you will be punished BY your 'emotions'.



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Pay attention, simplify, and (Meditation instruction in a nutshell) "Mind - the Gap."
‘Absit invidia verbo’ - may ill-will be absent from the word. And mindful of that, if I don't respond, this may be why....

culaavuso
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Re: Deep Contradiction?

Post by culaavuso » Tue Jun 24, 2014 8:54 pm

vinasp wrote: Why would holding the view 'the world is eternal' mean that one cannot enter the noble eightfold path?
It might be useful to consider how appropriate attention could result in attending to the view 'the world is eternal', or if it is a form of inappropriate attention and a distraction from the path.
MN 2: Sabbāsava Sutta wrote: He attends appropriately, This is stress... This is the origination of stress... This is the cessation of stress... This is the way leading to the cessation of stress.

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Unrul3r
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Re: Deep Contradiction?

Post by Unrul3r » Tue Jun 24, 2014 8:58 pm

vinasp wrote:Hi everyone,

From MN 64.6 [BB, MLDB.]

"Malunkyaputta, if there is the view 'the world is eternal', the holy life cannot be lived; and if there is the view 'the world is not eternal', the holy life cannot be lived."

"What, venerable sir, is the holy life? ... This Noble Eightfold Path, bhikkhu, is the holy life; that is, right view ..... right concentration. ..." [BB, TCDB, part of SN 45.6]

Why would holding the view 'the world is eternal' mean that one cannot enter the noble eightfold path?

Regards, Vincent.
Because if one sees something as eternal, he will be inclined to attach to it and make no effort to do what should be done & avoid what shouldn't. In other words, since one found something permanent, he wouldn't bother in doing wholesome activities & avoid unwholesome ones.

:anjali:

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TheNoBSBuddhist
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Re: Deep Contradiction?

Post by TheNoBSBuddhist » Tue Jun 24, 2014 9:02 pm

Unrul3r wrote:
vinasp wrote:Hi everyone,

From MN 64.6 [BB, MLDB.]

"Malunkyaputta, if there is the view 'the world is eternal', the holy life cannot be lived; and if there is the view 'the world is not eternal', the holy life cannot be lived."

"What, venerable sir, is the holy life? ... This Noble Eightfold Path, bhikkhu, is the holy life; that is, right view ..... right concentration. ..." [BB, TCDB, part of SN 45.6]

Why would holding the view 'the world is eternal' mean that one cannot enter the noble eightfold path?

Regards, Vincent.
Because if one sees something as eternal, he will be inclined to attach to it and make no effort to do what should be done & avoid what shouldn't. In other words, since one found something permanent, he wouldn't bother in doing wholesome activities & avoid unwholesome ones.

:anjali:
Yes, but in the same teaching, the Buddha also states that by holding the view 'the world is not eternal', the holy life cannot be lived."
:namaste:

You will not be punished FOR your 'emotions'; you will be punished BY your 'emotions'.



Image

Pay attention, simplify, and (Meditation instruction in a nutshell) "Mind - the Gap."
‘Absit invidia verbo’ - may ill-will be absent from the word. And mindful of that, if I don't respond, this may be why....

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Sam Vara
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Re: Deep Contradiction?

Post by Sam Vara » Tue Jun 24, 2014 9:21 pm

Why would holding the view 'the world is eternal' mean that one cannot enter the noble eightfold path?
Because it is holding (i.e. favouring the view and clinging to it as a guide to action) rather then merely being aware of the view as an idea.
"Bhikkhus, there are these two views: the view of being and the view of non-being. Any recluses or brahmans who rely on the view of being, adopt the view of being, accept the view of being, are opposed to the view of non-being. Any recluses or brahmans who rely on the view of non-being, adopt the view of non-being, accept the view of non-being, are opposed to the view of being.[5]

7. "Any recluses or brahmans who do not understand as they actually are the origin, the disappearance, the gratification, the danger and the escape[6] in the case of these two views are affected by lust, affected by hate, affected by delusion, affected by craving, affected by clinging, without vision, given to favoring and opposing, and they delight in and enjoy proliferation. They are not freed from birth, aging and death, from sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief and despair; they are not freed from suffering, I say.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .ntbb.html
The path involves understanding the origin, disappearance, gratification, danger and escape, rather than the generation of craving and clinging which the "holding" incurs. To hold a view means that it becomes "mine", and thereby gives occasion for the generation of a self which does the holding.

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Unrul3r
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Re: Deep Contradiction?

Post by Unrul3r » Tue Jun 24, 2014 9:22 pm

TheNoBSBuddhist wrote: Yes, but in the same teaching, the Buddha also states that by holding the view 'the world is not eternal', the holy life cannot be lived."
Yes, that is true. I should've made explicit that the problem is holding the view. Holding that it is "not eternal" is the same as holding it to be "eternal" because it is the holding that is the problem. Holding implies seeing something as permanent such as "The world is not eternal" or "The world is eternal". So, one holds the view and due to it, doesn't make effort to do what should be done & avoid what shouldn't.

:anjali:

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TheNoBSBuddhist
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Re: Deep Contradiction?

Post by TheNoBSBuddhist » Tue Jun 24, 2014 9:33 pm

Thank you for the clarification. It's kind of what I meant when I gave the example of the 'self/not-self view, not being right either way.
:namaste:

You will not be punished FOR your 'emotions'; you will be punished BY your 'emotions'.



Image

Pay attention, simplify, and (Meditation instruction in a nutshell) "Mind - the Gap."
‘Absit invidia verbo’ - may ill-will be absent from the word. And mindful of that, if I don't respond, this may be why....

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