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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Re: Deep Contradiction?

Post by vinasp » Tue Jul 01, 2014 1:59 am

Hi everyone,

i thought that you might like to see my corrected version of SN 22.122 so:

"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 aggregates as not 'I am this' would realize the fruit of arahantship."

"Then which things should an arahant attend to in an appropriate way?
Not a fit question, for an arahant, there is nothing further to do, and nothing to add to what has been done. [Note: not a genuine sutta.]

-------------------------------- o O o ----------------------------

This reveals the stage at which the clinging-aggregates cease, but not much else. It is hard to see why there is no sutta like this. It does not even reveal that there are no aggregates for the Arahant.

The problem may be with the ordinary mans understanding of nibbana with and without residue. He takes the residue to be the five aggregates which he thinks that the arahant still has. So while alive the arahant is nibbana with residue. At death the five aggregates cease, this is nibbana without residue.

He assumes that clinging ceases when arahantship is attained, because descriptions of enlightenment speak of the cessation of craving. He does not realize that these descriptions are of the preceding stage, the non-returner.

If this were revealed he would think that the non-returner is already in nibbana with residue. He would then be unable to see what has to cease for a non-returner to become an arahant. And so, for him, the teachings would not make sense. [His problem is the literal understanding of the five aggregates.]

If this is correct it may explain why the cessation of the five clinging aggregates at the stage of the non-returner, is concealed. But it still leaves another problem: Why does SN 22.122 not speak of five aggregates in the case of the arahant?

Could it be that there are intentional mistakes in the teachings? Who is really paying attention, who is trying to understand? They reveal themselves by the mistakes they spot and the questions which they ask.

Even the Commentators have to perform mental gymnastics to 'explain' the last part of SN 22.122

Regards, Vincent.

SarathW
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Re: Deep Contradiction?

Post by SarathW » Tue Jul 01, 2014 2:29 am

Vince said:
"the cessation of the five clinging aggregates at the stage of the non-returner"
=====
Does this mean, last five fetters are not considered as clinging aggregate?
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

vinasp
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Re: Deep Contradiction?

Post by vinasp » Tue Jul 01, 2014 6:11 am

Hi SarathW,

SarathW said:-"Does this mean, last five fetters are not considered as clinging aggregate?"

The teaching on the five lower and five higher fetters makes sense for the ordinary man with his interpretation.

For the noble disciple all ten fetters are broken by the non-returner. He can see for himself what ceases at each stage (from the teachings), and is not dependent on what those teachings intended for the ordinary man say.

For the noble disciple, the first three fetters are accurate when sakkaya-ditthi is correctly understood. These are broken by the stream winner. The remaining seven describe some of what ceases for a non-returner.

The non-returner is spontaneously reborn in 'another world' as soon as the seven remaining fetters are broken. What ceases at this stage?

1. The view of self.
2. Craving.
3. Clinging.
4. This world, the cosmos, all three realms (excluding the pure abodes).
5. The cycle of rebirth ends.
6. All dependent origination items from (and including) the six bases.
7. The five clinging aggregates cease.
8. Some ignorance ceases.
9. The three asava's cease.

This is the completion of the noble eightfold path. Most passages describing enlightenment are speaking of this stage.

What remains?

1. The five aggregates.
2. The conceit 'I am".
3. Ignorance.
4. First four items of dependent origination.

The non-returner, also called an asekha, is on a tenfold path, called supramundane in MN 117 because it is in another world. This leads to the cessation of these four remaining things.

The five higher fetters are only ever listed, never described. A single word without any context has no clear meaning. So they are open to a wide interpretation.

This interpretation requires a non-literal (psychological) understanding of both sets of aggregates, the six bases, name-and-form, and the three realms. They are all just mental fabrications. The actual body, and the actual senses, and the real external world are completely unchanged, even when all 12 items of DO have ceased.

This is work in progress, not yet completed.

Regards, Vincent.

vinasp
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Re: Deep Contradiction?

Post by vinasp » Wed Jul 02, 2014 7:14 pm

Hi everyone,

For the noble disciple, the stock formula for the Four Noble Persons has to be understood in another way. Summarising the formula from MN 118.9:

1. Bhikkhus who are arahants - with asava's destroyed.
2. Bhikkhus who with the destruction of the five lower fetters ...
3. Once-returner - reduction of lust, hate, and delusion ...
4. Stream-enterers - destruction of three fetters ...

In this alternative interpretation the non-returner has broken all ten fetters and destroyed the three asava's. So in the stock formula 1 and 2 are two different descriptions of the same stage.
This means that the non-returner is also called an asekha and an arahant.

Why are the teachings in the form of an extensive puzzle?

What is being concealed, and why? The main difference between the ordinary man and the noble disciple seems to be in the understanding of the aggregates. The ordinary man has a literal understanding, one has acquired this set of aggregates which will last for this life. So, for him, an arahant is only freed from cyclic rebirth after death, and nibbana is an after-death state. This means that suffering only ceases after death.

For the noble disciple the aggregates are created by the mind. The removal of the first set, the clinging aggregates, is the attainment of non-returner status. This is nibbana with residue. The removal of the second set, the five aggregates, is the attainment of tathagata status. This is nibbana without residue. This means that suffering ceases in this life.

Perhaps, in the alternative interpretation, the teachings are never saying anything about any (literal) after death state.

Regards, Vincent.

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daverupa
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Re: Deep Contradiction?

Post by daverupa » Wed Jul 02, 2014 7:25 pm

vinasp wrote:from MN 118.9:

1. Bhikkhus who are arahants - with asava's destroyed.
2. Bhikkhus who with the destruction of the five lower fetters ...
3. Once-returner - reduction of lust, hate, and delusion ...
4. Stream-enterers - destruction of three fetters ...

In this alternative interpretation the non-returner has broken all ten fetters and destroyed the three asava's.
Not so, which eliminates the problem you discuss.

The non-returner has eliminated five lower fetters, not all ten.
  • "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]

vinasp
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Re: Deep Contradiction?

Post by vinasp » Wed Jul 02, 2014 8:13 pm

Hi daverupa,

"Herein the trainee's progress has eight parts (limbs), the arahant's ten." [MN 117 D.W. Evans, 1992]

"And what, bhikkhus, is right view that is noble, taintless, supramundane, a factor of the path? The wisdom, the faculty of wisdom, the power of wisdom, the investigation-of-states enlightenment factor, the path factor of right view in one whose mind is noble, whose mind is taintless, who possesses the noble path and is developing the noble path." [BB, MLDB, MN 117.8]

One whose mind is taintless [free of asava's] .. and is developing the noble path.

Which path is this?

Regards, Vincent.

vinasp
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Re: Deep Contradiction?

Post by vinasp » Wed Jul 02, 2014 9:11 pm

Hi everyone,

What is destroyed on completion of the noble eightfold path?

1. The four floods. [SN 45.171]
2. The four bonds. [SN 45.172]
3. The four kinds of clinging. [SN 45.173]
4. The four knots. [SN 45.174]
5. The seven underlying tendencies. {SN 45.175]
6. The five cords of sensual pleasure. [SN 45.176]
7. The five hindrances. {SN 45.177]
8. The five aggregates subject to clinging. {SN 45.178]
9. The five lower fetters. [SN 45.179]
10. The five higher fetters. [SN 45.180]

The four floods and the four bonds are the same as the four asava's, and therefore include the usual three.

So the noble eightfold path removes all ten fetters, but this is the path of the learner (sekha). What about the asekha on his tenfold path? It seems that there are no asava's or fetters left to be eliminated.

It is clear that the ten fetters relate only to the noble eightfold path, and are therefore incomplete. The same is true of the asava's, and the stock formula of the four noble persons.

Regards, Vincent.

culaavuso
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Re: Deep Contradiction?

Post by culaavuso » Wed Jul 02, 2014 9:26 pm

vinasp wrote: So the noble eightfold path removes all ten fetters, but this is the path of the learner (sekha). What about the asekha on his tenfold path? It seems that there are no asava's or fetters left to be eliminated.
The asekha or arahant has no asavas or fetters left to be eliminated. The tenfold path seems to simply result in a pleasant abiding. The descriptions of this state in the suttas suggest that there is nothing further to do.
vinasp wrote: It is clear that the ten fetters relate only to the noble eightfold path, and are therefore incomplete.
After eliminating the ten fetters there seems to be nothing further to do. Why should this be taken as meaning that the path is incomplete?
SN 22.122: Sīlavanta Sutta wrote: 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.
The last components of the tenfold path, right knowledge and right release, appear to be explained as characteristics of the arahant in MN22. The arahant is one who is unfettered, which seems to refer to the elimination of the ten fetters as the completion of the task.
MN 22: Alagaddūpama Sutta wrote: "Seeing thus, the instructed disciple of the noble ones grows disenchanted with form, disenchanted with feeling, disenchanted with perception, disenchanted with fabrications, disenchanted with consciousness. Disenchanted, he becomes dispassionate. Through dispassion, he is fully released. With full release, there is the knowledge, 'Fully released.' He discerns that 'Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for this world.'

"This, monks, is called a monk whose cross-bar is thrown off, whose moat is filled in, whose pillar is pulled out, whose bolt is withdrawn, a noble one with banner lowered, burden placed down, unfettered.

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daverupa
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Re: Deep Contradiction?

Post by daverupa » Wed Jul 02, 2014 9:44 pm

vinasp wrote: One whose mind is taintless [free of asava's] .. and is developing the noble path.

Which path is this?
So, your understanding is that one who has yet to develop the Path is, at the beginning, already free of taints?

Sounds like the path of "already there before beginning", which makes no sense.
  • "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]

vinasp
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Re: Deep Contradiction?

Post by vinasp » Wed Jul 02, 2014 10:34 pm

Hi culaavuso,

vinasp wrote:-"So the noble eightfold path removes all ten fetters, but this is the path of the learner (sekha). What about the asekha on his tenfold path? It seems that there are no asava's or fetters left to be eliminated."

Culaavuso said:-"The asekha or arahant has no asavas or fetters left to be eliminated. The tenfold path seems to simply result in a pleasant abiding. The descriptions of this state in the suttas suggest that there is nothing further to do."

I do not understand this path on which there is nothing further to do. Does it not include right aim and right effort. A path on which there is nothing further to do, is a self contradiction. Look at the four persons in MN 1, ordinary man, sekha, arahant, tathagata.

vinasp wrote:-"It is clear that the ten fetters relate only to the noble eightfold path, and are therefore incomplete."

culaavuso said:-"After eliminating the ten fetters there seems to be nothing further to do. Why should this be taken as meaning that the path is incomplete?

For me, the noble eightfold path is incomplete, because I see what still remains to be eliminated. And therefore the need for another real path.

As MN 117 says:- One whose mind is taintless [free of asava's] .. and is developing the noble path.

Regards, Vincent.

vinasp
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Re: Deep Contradiction?

Post by vinasp » Wed Jul 02, 2014 10:42 pm

Hi daverupa,

That was a quote from MN 117, which is obviously, at that point, not talking about the noble eightfold path.

Regards, Vincent.

culaavuso
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Re: Deep Contradiction?

Post by culaavuso » Wed Jul 02, 2014 11:00 pm

vinasp wrote: I do not understand this path on which there is nothing further to do. Does it not include right aim and right effort. A path on which there is nothing further to do, is a self contradiction. Look at the four persons in MN 1, ordinary man, sekha, arahant, tathagata.
Was the teaching career of the Tathāgata a product of wrong aim and wrong effort? Was the teaching career a product of resolution on renunciation, freedom from ill will, and harmlessness? Was the teaching career a product of maintaining skillful qualities?
vinasp wrote: For me, the noble eightfold path is incomplete, because I see what still remains to be eliminated. And therefore the need for another real path.
What still remains to be eliminated after an arahant has "reached fulfillment, done the task, laid down the burden, attained the true goal, totally destroyed the fetter of becoming, and is released through right gnosis"?

SarathW
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Re: Deep Contradiction?

Post by SarathW » Wed Jul 02, 2014 11:22 pm

Sotapanna, Sakdhagami and Anagami do not have the right knowledge hence right release.
They have further work to be done.
Arhant has eliminated the ten fetters by following the same path but they have the right knowledge and right relase.
No further work to be done.
:shrug:
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

vinasp
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Re: Deep Contradiction?

Post by vinasp » Wed Jul 02, 2014 11:35 pm

Hi culaavuso,

vinasp wrote:-"Does it not include right aim and right effort. A path on which there is nothing further to do, is a self contradiction. Look at the four persons in MN 1, ordinary man, sekha, arahant, tathagata."

Culaavuso said:-"Was the teaching career of the Tathāgata a product of wrong aim and wrong effort? Was the teaching career a product of resolution on renunciation, freedom from ill will, and harmlessness? Was the teaching career a product of maintaining skillful qualities?"

This is a complete misunderstanding. What does the buddha's teaching career have to do with any path? In the teachings the paths concern the efforts one makes to reach the various stages. One's efforts to bring about one's own enlightenment. What one may do after that is never described in terms of an eightfold or tenfold path.

culaavuso said:-"What still remains to be eliminated after an arahant has "reached fulfillment, done the task, laid down the burden, attained the true goal, totally destroyed the fetter of becoming, and is released through right gnosis"?

I expect that there are descriptions of the completion of the tenfold path. i am not sure if this is one such. Citation please.

Regards, Vincent.

culaavuso
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Re: Deep Contradiction?

Post by culaavuso » Wed Jul 02, 2014 11:56 pm

vinasp wrote:What does the buddha's teaching career have to do with any path?
It seems to be an example of the path factors exemplified by the Tathāgata. It could also be considered that the Blessed One was an arahant and that the ten factored path is attributed to arahants.
Ud 1.10: Bāhiya Sutta wrote: Bāhiya, there is a city in the northern country named Sāvatthī. There the Blessed One — an arahant, rightly self-awakened — is living now. He truly is an arahant and teaches the Dhamma leading to arahantship.
MN 117: Mahācattārīsaka Sutta wrote: Thus the learner is endowed with eight factors, and the arahant with ten.
vinasp wrote:I expect that there are descriptions of the completion of the tenfold path. i am not sure if this is one such. Citation please.
The stock phrase occurs in many suttas, including ones that explicitly say that there is still a dedication to renunciation, which would seem to be classified as Right Resolve. Similarly, dedication to non-deludedness is mentioned which would seem to suggest Right Effort, and a mention is made of being rightly released which would seem to suggest Right Release. In this context which seems to be describing the noble tenfold path, it is explicitly said that there is nothing to be done and nothing to add to what's done.
AN 6.55: Soṇa Sutta wrote: When a monk is an arahant, his fermentations ended, who has reached fulfillment, done the task, laid down the burden, attained the true goal, totally destroyed the fetter of becoming, and is released through right gnosis, he is dedicated to six things: renunciation, seclusion, non-afflictiveness, the ending of craving, the ending of clinging/sustenance, & non-deludedness.
...
When one's awareness is dedicated
to renunciation, seclusion,
non-afflictiveness, the ending of clinging,
the ending of craving, & non-deludedness,
seeing the arising of the sense media,
the mind is rightly released.
For that monk, rightly released,
his heart at peace,
there's nothing to be done,
nothing to add
to what's done.
MN 70: Kīṭāgiri Sutta wrote: Monks who are arahants, whose mental fermentations are ended, who have reached fulfillment, done the task, laid down the burden, attained the true goal, totally destroyed the fetter of becoming, and who are released through right gnosis: I don't say of them that they have work to do with heedfulness. Why is that? They have done their task with heedfulness. They are incapable of being heedless. But as for monks in higher training, who have not yet reached their hearts' goal, who still aspire for the unexcelled freedom from bondage: I say of them that they have a task to do with heedfulness.
Other instances of the same stock phrase can be found in AN 6.49, AN 9.7, SN 51.15, MN 118, etc.

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