Deep Contradiction?

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
vinasp
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Re: Deep Contradiction?

Post by vinasp » Sat Jun 28, 2014 8:56 pm

Hi everyone,

From MN 72 [BB, MLDB, with some small alterations and compression.]

My comments in brackets [like this]

"How is it then, Master Gotama? When Master Gotama is asked each of these ten questions, he replies:'I do not hold that view.' What danger does Master Gotama see that he does not take up any of these speculative views?"

"Vacha, the speculative view that the world is eternal is a thicket of views, a wilderness of views, a contortion of views, a vacillation of views, a fetter of views. It is beset by suffering, by vexation, by despair, and by fever, and it does not lead to disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation, to peace, to direct knowledge, to enlightenment, to Nibbana."

[The same is said of the other nine views.]

[We need to bear in mind the original context, this view was held by those who had the view of an eternal self, so the world must also be eternal. All ten views/questions involve self because this was the normal (mis) understanding at that time (it still is today). Also it is the apparent self which desires to know these things - the craving for views.]

"Then does Master Gotama hold any speculative view at all?"
"Vacha, 'speculative view' is something that the Tathagata has put away. For the Tathagata, Vacha, has seen this:'Such is form, such its origin, such its disappearance; [repeat for feeling, ..... consciousness.]
Therefore, I say, with the destruction, fading away, cessation, giving up, and relinquishing of all conceivings, all excogitations, all I-making, mine-making, and the underlying tendency to conceit, the Tathagata is liberated through not clinging."

[This is a description of full enlightenment. What we need is an understanding of how these ten, and the 62 views, are eliminated by a stream-winner (fruition).]

"It is enough to cause you bewilderment, Vacha, enough to cause you confusion. For this Dhamma, Vacha, is profound, hard to see and hard to understand, peaceful and sublime, unattainable by mere reasoning, subtle, to be experienced by the wise."

[Transcendental, beyond conceptual thought or language, beyond all dualisms such as existence/non-existence, nippapanca, inconceivable. And yet ordinary mundane knowledge is still available, when needed, and one can still interact with the external world. It is just that the realm of the transcendental is no longer closed or blocked by false knowledge.]

"The Tathagata is liberated from reckoning in terms of [form, ..... consciousness], Vacha, he is profound, immeasurable, unfathomable like the ocean."

[My opinion is that there are no longer any aggregates, but this is not said here, for the sake of those with a literal understanding of the aggregates.]

[Obviously, views do not include ordinary mundane beliefs or knowledge. What then is a view? Do all views involve the idea of self? Or is it the craving for the view, by the apparent self, which makes it a view? They are MY views.]

Regards, Vincent.

vinasp
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Re: Deep Contradiction?

Post by vinasp » Sat Jun 28, 2014 9:48 pm

Hi culaavuso,

Thank you for the reply to my question.

Thanks also for the interesting Abhidhamma reference.

I find it puzzling, but since I know nothing of the Abhidhamma teaching, I will put it aside for now.

With kind regards, Vincent.

LXNDR
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Re: Deep Contradiction?

Post by LXNDR » Sat Jun 28, 2014 9:55 pm

vinasp wrote:
[Obviously, views do not include ordinary mundane beliefs or knowledge. What then is a view? Do all views involve the idea of self? Or is it the craving for the view, by the apparent self, which makes it a view? They are MY views.]
i believe the last supposition is accurate, here're some pointers
Paramatthaka sutta (KN:Sn 4.5) wrote:"A person who associates himself with certain views, considering them as best and making them supreme in the world, he says, because of that, that all other views are inferior; therefore he is not free from contention (with others). In what is seen, heard, cognized and in ritual observances performed, he sees a profit for himself. Just by laying hold of that view he regards every other view as worthless. Those skilled (in judgment)[1] say that (a view becomes) a bond if, relying on it, one regards everything else as inferior. Therefore a bhikkhu should not depend on what is seen, heard or cognized, nor upon ritual observances. He should not present himself as equal to, nor imagine himself to be inferior, nor better than, another. Abandoning (the views) he had (previously) held and not taking up (another), he does not seek a support even in knowledge. Among those who dispute he is certainly not one to take sides. He does not [have] recourse to a view at all. In whom there is no inclination to either extreme, for becoming or non-becoming, here or in another existence, for him there does not exist a fixed viewpoint on investigating the doctrines assumed (by others). Concerning the seen, the heard and the cognized he does not form the least notion. That brahmana[2] who does not grasp at a view, with what could he be identified in the world?

"They do not speculate nor pursue (any notion); doctrines are not accepted by them. A (true) brahmana is beyond, does not fall back on views."
Kanki sutta (MN 95) wrote:There are five things that can turn out in two ways in the here-&-now. Which five? Conviction, liking, unbroken tradition, reasoning by analogy, & an agreement through pondering views. These are the five things that can turn out in two ways in the here-&-now. Now some things are firmly held in conviction and yet vain, empty, & false. Some things are not firmly held in conviction, and yet they are genuine, factual, & unmistaken. Some things are well-liked... truly an unbroken tradition... well-reasoned... Some things are well-pondered and yet vain, empty, & false. Some things are not well-pondered, and yet they are genuine, factual, & unmistaken. In these cases it isn't proper for a knowledgeable person who safeguards the truth to come to a definite conclusion, 'Only this is true; anything else is worthless."
a criterion by which a notion is defined as a view is applicability of the phrase "Only this is true, anything else is worthless"

Dinsdale
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Re: Deep Contradiction?

Post by Dinsdale » Sun Jun 29, 2014 10:50 am

LXNDR wrote:[
Yamaka Sutta (SN 22.85) wrote:"Do you regard the Tathagata as that which is without form, without feeling, without perception, without fabrications, without consciousness?"
"No, my friend."
am i wrong or does sankhara-khandha cease with attainment of nibbana?
I don't think it does, though there doesn't seem to be a consensus on which bits continue and which bits cease. ;)

I think the sutta passage is just saying that the Tathagata cannot be defined in terms of the aggregates or the absence of the aggregates, or in any intelligible way whatsoever....which isn't much help really!
Buddha save me from new-agers!

vinasp
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Re: Deep Contradiction?

Post by vinasp » Sun Jun 29, 2014 10:55 pm

Hi everyone,

vinasp said:-"As far as I know, we are not told what sakkaya ditthi is in the four Nikayas."

Was I wrong about this?

"Lady, how does identity view come to be?"
"Here, friend Visakha, an untaught ordinary person .... regards material form as self, or ... [complete for the other 19 ways of regarding]. That is how identity view comes to be."462 [BB, MLDB, MN 44.7]

Note 462 shows that BB takes these twenty ways of regarding as the twenty kinds of identity view. This seems to be the usual interpretation.

Was I misled by the wording here? To me, what is something?, and how does it come to be?, are not the same questions.

Ven. Thanissaro on ATI, for the same passage in MN 44 has:

"But, lady, how does self-identification come about?"

"There is the case, friend Visakha, where an uninstructed, run-of-the-mill person — who has no regard for noble ones .... — assumes form (the body) to be the self, or the self as possessing form, or form as in the self, or the self as in form. ..."

Ven. Thanissaro has already used 'self-identification' as a translation of 'sakkaya', now he uses it as a translation of 'sakkaya-ditthi', or is this just an error?

And for an almost identical passage in MN 109 he has:

"Lord, how does self-identity view come about?"

"There is the case, monk, where an uninstructed, run-of-the-mill person — who has no regard for noble ones ..... — assumes form to be the self, or the self as possessing form, or form as in the self, or the self as in form. ...."

This seems to indicate that the MN 44 translation is an error.

Why do they not just ask: What is self-identity-view?

The Abhidhamma does ask this question, and gives the twenty ways of regarding as the answer.

I have now concluded that this is the correct way to understand the matter, but it still leaves an unresolved problem.

The Problem.

Those at a high stage of the path are still being instructed not to regard form, and the rest, as self. Why would this be required if all such regarding has already been eliminated by the stream-winner?

Regards, Vincent.

culaavuso
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Re: Deep Contradiction?

Post by culaavuso » Sun Jun 29, 2014 11:30 pm

vinasp wrote: Those at a high stage of the path are still being instructed not to regard form, and the rest, as self. Why would this be required if all such regarding has already been eliminated by the stream-winner?
There seems to be two answers to this, depending on the stage of the path. Regarding stream-winners, once-returners, and non-returners there is still conceit to be eliminated. Regarding the aggregates in terms of the three characteristics is said to help to eliminate the remaining fetters even after self-identity view has been eliminated. For arahants it is said that this leads to a pleasant abiding and to mindfulness and alertness.
SN 22.89: Khemaka Sutta wrote: "Just like a cloth, dirty & stained: Its owners give it over to a washerman, who scrubs it with salt earth or lye or cow-dung and then rinses it in clear water. Now even though the cloth is clean & spotless, it still has a lingering residual scent of salt earth or lye or cow-dung. The washerman gives it to the owners, the owners put it away in a scent-infused wicker hamper, and its lingering residual scent of salt earth, lye, or cow-dung is fully obliterated.

"In the same way, friends, even though a noble disciple has abandoned the five lower fetters, he still has with regard to the five clinging-aggregates a lingering residual 'I am' conceit, an 'I am' desire, an 'I am' obsession. But at a later time he keeps focusing on the phenomena of arising & passing away with regard to the five clinging-aggregates: 'Such is form, such its origin, such its disappearance. Such is feeling... Such is perception... Such are fabrications... Such is consciousness, such its origin, such its disappearance.' As he keeps focusing on the arising & passing away of these five clinging-aggregates, the lingering residual 'I am' conceit, 'I am' desire, 'I am' obsession is fully obliterated."
SN 22.122: Sīlavanta Sutta wrote: "A virtuous monk, Kotthita my friend, should attend in an appropriate way to the five clinging-aggregates as inconstant, stressful, a disease, a cancer, an arrow, painful, an affliction, alien, a dissolution, an emptiness, not-self. Which five? Form as a clinging-aggregate, feeling... perception... fabrications... consciousness as a clinging-aggregate. A virtuous monk should attend in an appropriate way to these five clinging-aggregates as inconstant, stressful, a disease, a cancer, an arrow, painful, an affliction, alien, a dissolution, an emptiness, not-self. For it is possible that a virtuous monk, attending in an appropriate way to these five clinging-aggregates as inconstant... not-self, would realize the fruit of stream-entry."
... For it is possible that a monk who has attained stream-entry, attending in an appropriate way to these five clinging-aggregates as inconstant... not-self, would realize the fruit of once-returning."
... For it is possible that a monk who has attained once-returning, attending in an appropriate way to these five clinging-aggregates as inconstant... not-self, would realize the fruit of non-returning."
... For it is possible that a monk who has attained non-returning, attending in an appropriate way to these five clinging-aggregates as inconstant... not-self, would realize the fruit of arahantship."

"Then which things should an arahant attend to in an appropriate way?"

"An arahant should attend in an appropriate way to these five clinging-aggregates as inconstant, stressful, a disease, a cancer, an arrow, painful, an affliction, alien, a dissolution, an emptiness, not-self. Although, for an arahant, there is nothing further to do, and nothing to add to what has been done, still these things — when developed & pursued — lead both to a pleasant abiding in the here-&-now and to mindfulness & alertness."

vinasp
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Re: Deep Contradiction?

Post by vinasp » Mon Jun 30, 2014 4:15 am

Hi culaavuso,

SN 22.122 is, for me, a puzzle.

If they say that an Arahant still has the five aggregates subject to clinging, are they not saying that suffering has not ceased, and cannot cease until the end of this life? This is a teaching for the ordinary man, do you not agree?

The only explanation that I can see is that they wish to conceal at which stage the five aggregates subject to clinging do actually cease.

SN 22.89 is also concealing the cessation of the five aggregates subject to clinging. So it is also a teaching for the ordinary man.

If we were to confine ourselves to such teachings, then none of us would ever become noble disciples.

It may be impossible to teach Theravada Buddhism on a public forum. What one says to a noble disciple can be read by every ordinary man.

And we wonder why people are getting confused.

Regards, Vincent.

culaavuso
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Re: Deep Contradiction?

Post by culaavuso » Mon Jun 30, 2014 4:53 am

vinasp wrote: The only explanation that I can see is that they wish to conceal at which stage the five aggregates subject to clinging do actually cease.
Concealment seems to require that there was false speech involved, or that there is a distinction of esoteric and exoteric doctrines, or that the teacher kept some things back.

Perhaps SN 22.122 can be understood through the difference between the full enlightenment with fuel remaining and the final passing away with no fuel remaining. The difference between these two conditions is described in a number of places.
AN 3.70: Uposatha Sutta wrote: As long as they live, the arahants — abandoning false speech — abstain from false speech. They speak the truth, hold to the truth, are firm, reliable, no deceivers of the world.
DN 16: Mahāparinibbāna Sutta wrote: I have set forth the Dhamma without making any distinction of esoteric and exoteric doctrine; there is nothing, Ananda, with regard to the teachings that the Tathagata holds to the last with the closed fist of a teacher who keeps some things back.
DN 16: Mahāparinibbāna Sutta wrote: "There are four places, Ananda, that a pious person should visit and look upon with feelings of reverence. What are the four?

"'Here the Tathagata was born!' This, Ananda, is a place that a pious person should visit and look upon with feelings of reverence.

"'Here the Tathagata became fully enlightened in unsurpassed, supreme Enlightenment!' This, Ananda, is a place that a pious person should visit and look upon with feelings of reverence.

"'Here the Tathagata set rolling the unexcelled Wheel of the Dhamma!' This, Ananda, is a place that a pious person should visit and look upon with feelings of reverence.

"'Here the Tathagata passed away into the state of Nibbana in which no element of clinging remains!' This, Ananda, is a place that a pious person should visit and look upon with feelings of reverence.
DN 16: Mahāparinibbāna Sutta wrote: Then the Blessed One spoke to the Venerable Ananda, saying: "It may come to pass, Ananda, that someone will cause remorse to Cunda the metalworker, saying: 'It is no gain to you, friend Cunda, but a loss, that it was from you the Tathagata took his last alms meal, and then came to his end.' Then, Ananda, the remorse of Cunda should be dispelled after this manner: 'It is a gain to you, friend Cunda, a blessing that the Tathagata took his last alms meal from you, and then came to his end. For, friend, face to face with the Blessed One I have heard and learned: "There are two offerings of food which are of equal fruition, of equal outcome, exceeding in grandeur the fruition and result of any other offerings of food. Which two? The one partaken of by the Tathagata before becoming fully enlightened in unsurpassed, supreme Enlightenment; and the one partaken of by the Tathagata before passing into the state of Nibbana in which no element of clinging remains. By his deed the worthy Cunda has accumulated merit which makes for long life, beauty, well being, glory, heavenly rebirth, and sovereignty."' Thus, Ananda, the remorse of Cunda the metalworker should be dispelled."
Iti 44 wrote: These two proclaimed
by the one with vision,
Unbinding properties the one independent,
the one who is Such:
one property, here in this life
with fuel remaining
from the destruction
of the guide to becoming,
and that with no fuel remaining,
after this life,
in which all becoming
totally ceases.
Iti 112 wrote: From the night the Tathagata fully awakens to the unsurpassed Right Self-awakening to the night he is totally unbound in the Unbinding property with no fuel remaining, whatever the Tathagata has said, spoken, explained is just so (tatha) and not otherwise. Thus he is called the Tathagata.

SarathW
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Re: Deep Contradiction?

Post by SarathW » Mon Jun 30, 2014 5:03 am

Consider the fact that a dead snake can still byte you!

http://www.cracked.com/article_19774_6- ... -dead.html

:shrug:
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

LXNDR
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Re: Deep Contradiction?

Post by LXNDR » Mon Jun 30, 2014 5:14 am

vinasp wrote: And we wonder why people are getting confused.
maybe the inconsistency can be explained by the fact that this is coming from Sariputta and not Buddha?

Dinsdale
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Re: Deep Contradiction?

Post by Dinsdale » Mon Jun 30, 2014 8:14 am

vinasp wrote: SN 22.122 is, for me, a puzzle.
If they say that an Arahant still has the five aggregates subject to clinging, are they not saying that suffering has not ceased, and cannot cease until the end of this life? This is a teaching for the ordinary man, do you not agree?
Isn't it just saying that an Arahant see the aggregates as they really are, and lives detached, free from clinging and the taints?
Buddha save me from new-agers!

culaavuso
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Re: Deep Contradiction?

Post by culaavuso » Mon Jun 30, 2014 3:23 pm

Spiny Norman wrote: Isn't it just saying that an Arahant see the aggregates as they really are, and lives detached, free from clinging and the taints?
This idea of cutting passion and delight and living detached is explained vividly in MN 146:
MN 146: Nandakovāda Sutta wrote: "Just as if a skilled butcher or butcher's apprentice, having killed a cow, were to carve it up with a sharp carving knife so that — without damaging the substance of the inner flesh, without damaging the substance of the outer hide — he would cut, sever, & detach only the skin muscles, connective tissues, & attachments in between. Having cut, severed, & detached the outer skin, and then covering the cow again with that very skin, if he were to say that the cow was joined to the skin just as it had been: would he be speaking rightly?"

"No, venerable sir. Why is that? Because if the skilled butcher or butcher's apprentice, having killed a cow, were to ... cut, sever, & detach only the skin muscles, connective tissues, & attachments in between; and ... having covered the cow again with that very skin, then no matter how much he might say that the cow was joined to the skin just as it had been, the cow would still be disjoined from the skin."

"This simile, sisters, I have given to convey a message. The message is this: The substance of the inner flesh stands for the six internal media; the substance of the outer hide, for the six external media. The skin muscles, connective tissues, & attachments in between stand for passion & delight. And the sharp knife stands for noble discernment — the noble discernment that cuts, severs, & detaches the defilements, fetters, & bonds in between.

vinasp
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Re: Deep Contradiction?

Post by vinasp » Mon Jun 30, 2014 9:27 pm

Hi culaavuso,

Iti 112 wrote:-From the night the Tathagata fully awakens to the unsurpassed Right Self-awakening to the night he is totally unbound in the Unbinding property with no fuel remaining, whatever the Tathagata has said, spoken, explained is just so (tatha) and not otherwise. Thus he is called the Tathagata.

These two nights are one and the same. Two descriptions of the same event on the same night. The usual word-play.

Regards, Vincent.

culaavuso
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Re: Deep Contradiction?

Post by culaavuso » Mon Jun 30, 2014 9:36 pm

vinasp wrote: Iti 112 wrote:-From the night the Tathagata fully awakens to the unsurpassed Right Self-awakening to the night he is totally unbound in the Unbinding property with no fuel remaining, whatever the Tathagata has said, spoken, explained is just so (tatha) and not otherwise. Thus he is called the Tathagata.

These two nights are one and the same. Two descriptions of the same event on the same night. The usual word-play.
So there is no interval for anything to be said, spoken, or explained? The consolation to Cunda the metalworker is a non sequitur? The four places a pious person should visit are actually only three places? The apparent chronological order of the four places is misleading?

vinasp
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Re: Deep Contradiction?

Post by vinasp » Mon Jun 30, 2014 9:54 pm

Hi culaavuso,

culaavuso said:-"Concealment seems to require that there was false speech involved, or that there is a distinction of esoteric and exoteric doctrines, or that the teacher kept some things back."

There are two groups the 'ordinary men' and the noble disciples. They have a completely different understanding of things. The teachings are adjusted to fit the understanding of each group.

Those who have not yet understood the four truths are said to 'stand outside in the ranks of the ordinary men'.

Outside implies inside. Anyone can become an insider, all you have to do is:
"penetrate the four truths with wisdom."

I very much hope that the teacher did 'keep some things back' at least until the recipients were ready for it, the teachings are deep, profound.

Regards, Vincent.

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