Buddhist (& Sarvāstivāda?) Metaphysics

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
binocular
Posts: 2868
Joined: Sat Jan 17, 2009 11:13 pm

Re: Buddhists Metaphysics

Postby binocular » Sat Dec 24, 2016 9:50 am

Mkoll wrote:
Coëmgenu wrote:the modern conception that the Buddha only taught phenomenology, and that metaphysics is foreign to Dhamma.

The Buddha taught of different realms and kinds of beings, rebirth, kamma and its results, etc. These fall under the category of metaphysics as you describe it. That "modern conception" is simply wrong.

It seems that that modern conception of "metaphysics is foreign to Dhamma" was developed in an effort to make Buddhism seem more palatable to people who were disappointed with Abrahamic metaphysics; or perhaps in an effort to escape the problems that usually crop up with metaphysics.

User avatar
Coëmgenu
Posts: 1171
Joined: Mon Jun 13, 2016 10:55 pm

Re: Buddhists Metaphysics

Postby Coëmgenu » Sat Dec 24, 2016 11:25 am

binocular wrote:
Coëmgenu wrote:Is this statement "kosher Dhamma" for a Theravāda Buddhist:
All experiences in the sensory world are in fact expressions of the Dhamma, and therefore contain the key to enlightenment.

This line of thinking seems to imply that in order to reach enlightenment, it's enough to just, basically, sit around and experience, and eventually, one will become enlightened. IOW, that enlightenmnet is inevitable.

There are people who consider themselves Buddhists who believe such things. (Similar to those Christians who believe that everyone will go to heaven.)

As far as I understood, in Theravada, enlightenment is something one reaches by one's own efforts, not something that would happen regardless of what one does.

But the view that eventually, everyone will become enlightened (like that Christian view that everyone will go to heaven) does carry with it a sense of universal, (inter)galactic justice and equality. Such a sense can bring a person a deep feeling of peace and that "evenetually, all will be well" -- things that are very important to not just a few people.
Not necessarily in such an extreme way, after all "containing the key" does not imply entrance to an automatic sliding door. A key does not have agency to "bring" anyone, "automatically" to anything. But it is implying that with the understanding of dependant origination, which, if it is complete, is also knowledge of the four noble truths and the marks of existence, is the key to awakening. Because dependant origination pre-exists the awakening of the Tathāgata. Dependant origination is the metaphysic of Buddhadharma because it is a "first principal", though not a singular first principal.

Where this becomes potentiality problematic for some viewpoints, I can guess, is in the postulation because of this, the nikāya and āgamas citations et al., there is a certain interpretation, one I am in momentary agreement with, that there is an element to the dhammas that has "unchangeable nature, suchness, truth, reality-without-distortion, persistence, stability, fixedness, and specificity of conditionality," to list the qualities listed in the nikāya and āgama. This sounds to me like Sarvāstivāda reasoning/interpretation, but the more I learn about the Sarvāstivāda, the more I think that the entirety of what I know as Mahāyāna Buddhism actually has its foundation a step outrowths from and acrruals onto Sarvāstivāda discourse about the "reality" of Buddhadharma.

That paticcasamuppada is a primary metaphysical principal of Buddhism, I don't think that that should be a controversial, but this element in dhammas is something I have heard polemicized against extensively.
Bhagavā arahaṃ sammasāmbuddho:
Svākkhāto yena bhagavatā dhammo / Supaṭipanno yassa bhagavato sāvakasaṅgho
Tammayaṃ bhagavantaṃ sadhammaṃ sasaṅghaṃ / Imehi sakkārehi yathārahaṃ āropitehi abhipūjayāma.
(Dedication of Offerings)
此等諸法,法住、法空、法如、法爾,法不離如,法不異如,審諦真實、不顛倒。These many dharmāḥ, the residence of these dharmāḥ, the emptiness of these dharmāḥ, these dharmāḥ self-explain, these dharmāḥ are thus, these dharmāḥ do not depart from their self-explaining, these dharmāḥ are not different than their self-explaining, judged as truly real, not delusional. (SA 296, 因緣法)
揭諦揭諦,波羅揭諦,波羅僧揭諦,菩提薩婆訶

binocular
Posts: 2868
Joined: Sat Jan 17, 2009 11:13 pm

Re: Buddhists Metaphysics

Postby binocular » Sat Dec 24, 2016 12:52 pm

Coëmgenu wrote:Where this becomes potentiality problematic for some viewpoints, I can guess, is in the postulation because of this, the nikāya and āgamas citations et al., there is a certain interpretation, one I am in momentary agreement with, that there is an element to the dhammas that has "unchangeable nature, suchness, truth, reality-without-distortion, persistence, stability, fixedness, and specificity of conditionality," to list the qualities listed in the nikāya and āgama. /.../

What are the implications of thinking of the dhammas in that way (that they have unchangeable nature, suchness, etc.)?
To what needs, interests, and concerns do those implications relate?

User avatar
Coëmgenu
Posts: 1171
Joined: Mon Jun 13, 2016 10:55 pm

Re: Buddhists Metaphysics

Postby Coëmgenu » Sat Dec 24, 2016 1:40 pm

binocular wrote:
Coëmgenu wrote:Where this becomes potentiality problematic for some viewpoints, I can guess, is in the postulation because of this, the nikāya and āgamas citations et al., there is a certain interpretation, one I am in momentary agreement with, that there is an element to the dhammas that has "unchangeable nature, suchness, truth, reality-without-distortion, persistence, stability, fixedness, and specificity of conditionality," to list the qualities listed in the nikāya and āgama. /.../

What are the implications of thinking of the dhammas in that way (that they have unchangeable nature, suchness, etc.)?
To what needs, interests, and concerns do those implications relate?
They relate to methodologies of meditation on dhammas, and how "proper view" of the dhammas is framed by practitioners.

Is proper view of the dhammas conducive of good practice? Buddhist discourse I have been exposed to argues so.
Bhagavā arahaṃ sammasāmbuddho:
Svākkhāto yena bhagavatā dhammo / Supaṭipanno yassa bhagavato sāvakasaṅgho
Tammayaṃ bhagavantaṃ sadhammaṃ sasaṅghaṃ / Imehi sakkārehi yathārahaṃ āropitehi abhipūjayāma.
(Dedication of Offerings)
此等諸法,法住、法空、法如、法爾,法不離如,法不異如,審諦真實、不顛倒。These many dharmāḥ, the residence of these dharmāḥ, the emptiness of these dharmāḥ, these dharmāḥ self-explain, these dharmāḥ are thus, these dharmāḥ do not depart from their self-explaining, these dharmāḥ are not different than their self-explaining, judged as truly real, not delusional. (SA 296, 因緣法)
揭諦揭諦,波羅揭諦,波羅僧揭諦,菩提薩婆訶

User avatar
Javi
Posts: 363
Joined: Thu Nov 22, 2012 5:40 pm
Location: Miami, Florida

Re: Buddhists Metaphysics

Postby Javi » Sat Dec 24, 2016 2:24 pm

Coëmgenu wrote:Where this becomes potentiality problematic for some viewpoints, I can guess, is in the postulation because of this, the nikāya and āgamas citations et al., there is a certain interpretation, one I am in momentary agreement with, that there is an element to the dhammas that has "unchangeable nature, suchness, truth, reality-without-distortion, persistence, stability, fixedness, and specificity of conditionality," to list the qualities listed in the nikāya and āgama. This sounds to me like Sarvāstivāda reasoning/interpretation, but the more I learn about the Sarvāstivāda, the more I think that the entirety of what I know as Mahāyāna Buddhism actually has its foundation a step outrowths from and acrruals onto Sarvāstivāda discourse about the "reality" of Buddhadharma.

That paticcasamuppada is a primary metaphysical principal of Buddhism, I don't think that that should be a controversial, but this element in dhammas is something I have heard polemicized against extensively.


You're right that this element has been widely polemicized against, because as philosophers like Nagarjuna and Vasubandhu saw, what they called 'svabhava' is almost like a self in miniature, it is dangerously close to treating dhammas as having a little self and this creates all sorts of philosophical problems as outlined extensively in the Mulamadhyamikakarika. They saw that the Buddha's critique of self goes all the way down, ontologically speaking. It's not just that people don't have selves, don't have an unchanging core, but nothing has a self, even dhammas.

Anyways, where exactly are you getting the idea that the early sutta material promotes the view that dhammas have a an element that is "unchangeable nature, suchness, truth, reality-without-distortion, persistence, stability, fixedness, and specificity of conditionality,"
Vayadhammā saṅkhārā appamādena sampādethā — All things decay and disappoint, it is through vigilance that you succeed — Mahāparinibbāna Sutta

Tārakā timiraṃ dīpo māyāvaśyāya budbudaḥ supinaṃ vidyud abhraṃ ca evaṃ draṣṭavya saṃskṛtam — A shooting star, a clouding of the sight, a lamp, An illusion, a drop of dew, a bubble, A dream, a lightning’s flash, a thunder cloud — This is the way one should see the conditioned — Vajracchedikā Prajñāpāramitā

I have seen all things that are done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a chase after wind — Ecclesiastes 1.14

User avatar
SDC
Posts: 3466
Joined: Mon Dec 14, 2009 11:08 pm

Re: Buddhists Metaphysics

Postby SDC » Sat Dec 24, 2016 3:38 pm

Coëmgenu wrote:Where this becomes potentiality problematic for some viewpoints, I can guess, is in the postulation because of this, the nikāya and āgamas citations et al., there is a certain interpretation, one I am in momentary agreement with, that there is an element to the dhammas that has "unchangeable nature, suchness, truth, reality-without-distortion, persistence, stability, fixedness, and specificity of conditionality," to list the qualities listed in the nikāya and āgama. This sounds to me like Sarvāstivāda reasoning/interpretation, but the more I learn about the Sarvāstivāda, the more I think that the entirety of what I know as Mahāyāna Buddhism actually has its foundation a step outrowths from and acrruals onto Sarvāstivāda discourse about the "reality" of Buddhadharma.


Take a look at SN 22.38. In regards to the five aggregates: "an arising is manifest, a ceasing is manifest, and a persisting while changing is manifest."

Of course there are going to be a variety of interpretations to go along with the many renderings of this line, but those of the existential/phenomenological vein interpret this verse to be a description of the manifestation of the general and particular layers of experience. That while an arising and a ceasing may be discernible on a particular level, in general there is a persisting. For example, I may build a house, and over the years I may make changes to the house on the particular level, i.e. I may add a porch, update the kitchen, change the roof. So a particular level the house may be totally different after 30 years, but in the end still remains "house" --- changing on one level, persisting as "house" on another.

If you are up for some fun (and a challenge) take a look at Ven. Ñāṇavīra's Fundamental Structure. He renders "persisting while changing" as "invariance under transformation". From Ñāṇavīra:"[Fundamental Structure] is offered as an instrument of thought to those who are looking for something on these [existential] lines, and such people will probably find it self-explanatory. The fact that it is unfinished is of no great consequence, since anyone who succeeds in following what there is of it will be able to continue it for himself as far as he pleases. Those who are unable to understand what it is all about would be best advised to ignore it altogether: not everybody needs this kind of apparatus in order to think effectively." A companion by Ven. N. Ñāṇamoli: A Note on Fundamental Structure.

This is a dump and run btw. Family/holiday obligations may keep me away for the next day or so. Sorry.

User avatar
Coëmgenu
Posts: 1171
Joined: Mon Jun 13, 2016 10:55 pm

Re: Buddhists Metaphysics

Postby Coëmgenu » Mon Dec 26, 2016 2:03 pm

Javi wrote:Anyways, where exactly are you getting the idea that the early sutta material promotes the view that dhammas have a an element that is "unchangeable nature, suchness, truth, reality-without-distortion, persistence, stability, fixedness, and specificity of conditionality,"
Well I don't have the prideful conceit to go out on a limb and make a silly statement like "all early Buddhist literature subscribes to svabhāva theories of dhamma", but I do think that it is an interpretation that rises without incoherency out of some of the Buddhavacana, thats why the svabhāva heresy was so widespread and popular at one point. I posed a question about the nikāya-literature in question, the Paccayasutta (SN 12.20), here in the Classical Theravāda subforum and one of the posters revealed that the ambiguity that is causing the svabhāva reading to seem suggested by the text may actually be an error in translation in the English-language version of the Paccayasutta hosted on SuttaCentral.
Moreover, it is more likely that here dhamma means the principle or law-fulness that holds sway over phenomena, not the phenomena subject to that principle.
(Ven Bodhi, quoted by santa100 here)


As we will see from the āgama, however, the notion of paṭiccasamuppāda is absent as a self-entity. There is no process called paṭiccasamuppāda present, or rather, no one set of things is called paṭiccasamuppāda in SA 296. Instead, the āgama describes paṭiccasamuppāda as a series of "self-explaining" (如 ) dharmas. The difference isn't extreme, but it is enough to give a different slant on the matter. The phenomena themselves are discussed in SA 296, but "the principle or law-fulness that holds sway over phenomena" is discussed instead in SN 12.20, to quote Ven Bodhi again. With this in mind I'm currently entertaining two main possibilities with regards to how the āgamas treat dhammas.

1) The āgamas actually do subscribe to svabhāva dhamma theory (this makes sense, the Saṃyuktāgama comes to us from the Buddhavacana-retention of the Sarvāstivāda)

and/or:

2) The āgamas are simply extremely ambiguous and lack the scholastic refinement and harmonization of the nikāyas.

Either one of these, or both, could be the case (or neither).

Javi wrote:"unchangeable nature, suchness, truth, reality-without-distortion, persistence, stability, fixedness, and specificity of conditionality,"
This is a compiled list of the qualities given to dependant origination in the Paccayasutta SN 12.20 (or "Dharmas arisen by causal condition" in Saṃyuktāgama 296). It is a harmonization of this lists from the nikāya:
Uppādā vā tathāgatānaṃ anuppādā vā tathāgatānaṃ, ṭhitāva sā dhātu dhammaṭṭhitatā dhammaniyāmatā idappaccayatā.
Whether there is an arising of Tathagatas or no arising of Tathagatas, that element still persists, the stableness of the Dhamma, the fixed course of the Dhamma, specific conditionality.
(SN 12.20)


and this list from the āgama, with an interlinear gloss (Chinese, Pīnyīn, my own direct-yet-cumbersome translation, translation posted at SuttaCentral), obviously the SuttaCentral translation, even though I think it isn't the best, should be treated as more authoritative than mine:
云何緣生法?謂無明、行。
yúnhé yuán shēng fǎ? wèi wúmíng, xíng.
How [does] predestination develop [in the] dharmas? That-is-to-say, ignorance [leading to] capabilities.
What are the dharmas arisen by causal condition? “This is to say: Ignorance, activities …

若佛出世,若未出世,此法真如常住,法住法界,
ruò fó chūshì, ruò wèi chūshì, cǐ fǎ zhēnrú chángzhù, fǎ zhù fǎjiè,
If Buddha [is] born, if not yet born, these dharmas' inherent-likeness [is] permanence, [these] dharmas dwell [in the] Dharma-realm [ie dharmadhātu]
Whether or not a Buddha arises in the world, this is the unchangeable nature of dharma, the status of dharma, the element of dharma.

彼如來自所覺知,成等正覺,為人演說,開示顯發,謂緣無明有行,乃至緣生有老死。
bǐ Rúlái zì suǒ juézhī, chéng děng zhèngjué, wéirén yǎnshuō, kāishì xiǎn fā, wèi yuán wúmíng yǒu xíng, nǎizhì yuán shēng yǒu lǎo sǐ.
This Tathāgata from it [ie the permanence] [has] awareness, accomplishes [the] rank [of] samyaksaṃbodhi***, conducts his speech [from it], expresses[,] shows[, and] cultivates [from it], that-is-to-say [the] predestination [of] ignorance [to] becoming [ie bhāva] [of] capability, and-furthermore [the] predestination [of] becoming [to] age and death.
The Tathāgata, who has by himself become enlightened with regard to this, who has attained the highest enlightenment, declares it for humankind, teaches it, reveals it, namely: Conditioned by ignorance are activities, and so on …, conditioned by birth are aging and death.

若佛出世,若未出世,此法真如常住,法住法界,
ruò fó chūshì, ruò wèi chūshì, cǐ fǎ zhēnrú chángzhù, fǎ zhù fǎjiè
If Buddha [is] born, if not yet born, these dharmas' inherent-likeness [is] permanence, [these] dharmas dwell [in the] Dharma-realm [ie dharmadhātu]
Whether or not a Buddha arises in the world, this is the unchangeable nature of dharma, the status of dharma, the element of dharma.

彼如來自覺知,成等正覺,為人演說,開示顯發,謂緣生故,
bǐ Rúlái zìjué zhī, chéng děng zhèngjué, wéirén yǎnshuō, kāishì xiǎn fā, wèi yuán shēng gù,
This Tathāgata on his own initiative is aware, accomplishes [the] rank [of] samyaksaṃbodhi, conducts his speech, expresses, shows, cultivates, that-is-to-say [the] predestined development of causes,
The Tathāgata, who has by himself become enlightened of this, who has attained the highest enlightenment, declares it for humankind, teaches it, reveals it, namely:

有老、病、死、憂、悲、惱、苦。
yǒu lǎo, bìng, sǐ, yōu, bēi, nǎo, kŭ.
becoming aging, sickening, dying, worrying, grieving, becoming-angry, and suffering.
Conditioned by birth, there exist aging-sickness-death-sorrow-affliction-suffering.

此等諸法,法住、法空、法如、法爾,法不離如,法不異如,審諦真實、不顛倒。
cǐ děng zhū fǎ, fǎ zhū, fǎ kōng, fǎ rú, fǎ ěr, fǎ bù lí rú, fǎ bù yì rú, shěn dì zhēnshí, bù diāndǎo.
These many dharmas, the residence of dharmas, the emptiness of dharmas, the dharmas self-explain [ie their nature is self-evident], the dharmas [are] thus, the dharmas do not depart from their self-explaining, the dharmas are not different than their self-explaining, judged as truly real, not delusional.
“All these dharmas are the status of dharma, the standing of dharma, the suchness of dharma; the dharma neither departs from things-as-they-are, nor differs from things-as-they-are; it is the truth, reality, without distortion.

如是隨順緣起,是名緣生法。
rúshì suí shùn yuánqǐ, shì míng yuán shēng fǎ.
Thus following obeisance [to] causes [of] arisings, this [is] named [the] development [of the] predestination [of the] dharmas.
Such conformity to conditioned genesis is called the dharmas arisen by causal condition,

謂無明、行、識、名色、六入處、觸、受、愛、取、有、生、老、病、死、憂、悲、惱、苦,
wèi wúmíng, xíng, shí, míng sè, liù rù chù, chù, shòu, ài, qǔ, yǒu, shēng, lǎo, bìng, sǐ, yōu, bēi, nǎo, kŭ,
That-is-to-say ignorance, capability, knowing, naming [and] forming, the six senses' touching, touching, receiving, lusting, taking, becoming, developing, aging, sickening, dying, worrying, grieving, [becoming-]angry, suffering,
namely: Ignorance, activities, consciousness, name-and-form, the six sense-spheres, contact, feeling, craving, attachment, becoming, birth, aging-sickness-death-sorrow-affliction-suffering.

是名緣生法。
shì míng yuán shēng fǎ.
this [is] named [the] development [of the] predestination [of the] dharmas.
This is called the dharmas arisen by causal condition.


So to shortly answer the question I took far too long to answer:
Javi wrote:Anyways, where exactly are you getting the idea that the early sutta material promotes the view that dhammas have a an element that is "unchangeable nature, suchness, truth, reality-without-distortion, persistence, stability, fixedness, and specificity of conditionality,"
These terms come from SN 12.20 and SA 296.

***samyaksaṃbodhi and samādhi, in the āgama-literature, are often represented by the same word, 正覺 zhèngjué, lit. "Pure Awakening", so there is frequently no real way to tell, aside from context, if samyaksaṃbodhi or samādhi is meant at any given time.
Last edited by Coëmgenu on Mon Dec 26, 2016 4:32 pm, edited 4 times in total.
Bhagavā arahaṃ sammasāmbuddho:
Svākkhāto yena bhagavatā dhammo / Supaṭipanno yassa bhagavato sāvakasaṅgho
Tammayaṃ bhagavantaṃ sadhammaṃ sasaṅghaṃ / Imehi sakkārehi yathārahaṃ āropitehi abhipūjayāma.
(Dedication of Offerings)
此等諸法,法住、法空、法如、法爾,法不離如,法不異如,審諦真實、不顛倒。These many dharmāḥ, the residence of these dharmāḥ, the emptiness of these dharmāḥ, these dharmāḥ self-explain, these dharmāḥ are thus, these dharmāḥ do not depart from their self-explaining, these dharmāḥ are not different than their self-explaining, judged as truly real, not delusional. (SA 296, 因緣法)
揭諦揭諦,波羅揭諦,波羅僧揭諦,菩提薩婆訶

User avatar
Coëmgenu
Posts: 1171
Joined: Mon Jun 13, 2016 10:55 pm

Re: Buddhists Metaphysics

Postby Coëmgenu » Mon Dec 26, 2016 2:04 pm

SDC wrote:This is a dump and run btw. Family/holiday obligations may keep me away for the next day or so. Sorry.
If one need dump, let it be a dhamma dump. :sage:
Bhagavā arahaṃ sammasāmbuddho:
Svākkhāto yena bhagavatā dhammo / Supaṭipanno yassa bhagavato sāvakasaṅgho
Tammayaṃ bhagavantaṃ sadhammaṃ sasaṅghaṃ / Imehi sakkārehi yathārahaṃ āropitehi abhipūjayāma.
(Dedication of Offerings)
此等諸法,法住、法空、法如、法爾,法不離如,法不異如,審諦真實、不顛倒。These many dharmāḥ, the residence of these dharmāḥ, the emptiness of these dharmāḥ, these dharmāḥ self-explain, these dharmāḥ are thus, these dharmāḥ do not depart from their self-explaining, these dharmāḥ are not different than their self-explaining, judged as truly real, not delusional. (SA 296, 因緣法)
揭諦揭諦,波羅揭諦,波羅僧揭諦,菩提薩婆訶

User avatar
SDC
Posts: 3466
Joined: Mon Dec 14, 2009 11:08 pm

Re: Buddhists Metaphysics

Postby SDC » Mon Dec 26, 2016 2:07 pm

Coëmgenu wrote:
SDC wrote:This is a dump and run btw. Family/holiday obligations may keep me away for the next day or so. Sorry.
If one need dump, let it be a dhamma dump. :sage:


Ha! Well played. I just feel bad posting and then signing off for two days. Back now though.

davidbrainerd
Posts: 912
Joined: Fri Jul 01, 2016 3:12 am

Re: Buddhists Metaphysics

Postby davidbrainerd » Tue Dec 27, 2016 7:30 pm

binocular wrote:
Mkoll wrote:
Coëmgenu wrote:the modern conception that the Buddha only taught phenomenology, and that metaphysics is foreign to Dhamma.

The Buddha taught of different realms and kinds of beings, rebirth, kamma and its results, etc. These fall under the category of metaphysics as you describe it. That "modern conception" is simply wrong.

It seems that that modern conception of "metaphysics is foreign to Dhamma" was developed in an effort to make Buddhism seem more palatable to people who were disappointed with Abrahamic metaphysics; or perhaps in an effort to escape the problems that usually crop up with metaphysics.


It is in fact impossible to escape metaphysics. This is why in their quest to finally destroy religion once and for all, atheists have put all their energy into metaphysics. "Everything is made of energy" is not actually physics but a metaphysical claim. Lawrence Kraus's attempt to prove the universe to be a zero sum game snd then argue that nothing turned into something without God is another deviation from real physics into metaphysical claims. Modern Buddhism is just the rival atheist metaphysics to standard pseudo-science "theoretical physics" [i.e. metaphysics]. If the one fails the atheists hope that smucks will buy the other. Its rather obvious from the Pali texts that Buddha's Buddhism rested on a metaphysics unacceptible to the sqeekiest wheels in Buddhism today.

User avatar
mikenz66
Posts: 14899
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: Buddhists Metaphysics

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Dec 27, 2016 9:18 pm

davidbrainerd wrote:Lawrence Kraus's attempt to prove the universe to be a zero sum game snd then argue that nothing turned into something without God is another deviation from real physics into metaphysical claims.

Yes Lawrence writes some amusing stuff (The Physics of Star Trek was his first big seller), but it's best to take with a grain of salt any of these popular science rumination that claims to prove something, or have the key to the universe, or wahtever. And that would include, in my opinion, ruminations by much more accomplished scientists such as Einstein, Hawking, and so on. The recent movie The Theory of Everything http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2980516/ captures very well the naive confidence that if they can just get the right equation they will have the Truth.

That's not a putdown of Stephen Hawking, or scientists in general. It's what keeps scientists working so hard. If we didn't think at least a little like that we'd give up and work on something easier...

:anjali:
Mike

User avatar
Javi
Posts: 363
Joined: Thu Nov 22, 2012 5:40 pm
Location: Miami, Florida

Re: Buddhists Metaphysics

Postby Javi » Tue Dec 27, 2016 10:19 pm

Coëmgenu wrote:So to shortly answer the question I took far too long to answer:
Javi wrote:Anyways, where exactly are you getting the idea that the early sutta material promotes the view that dhammas have a an element that is "unchangeable nature, suchness, truth, reality-without-distortion, persistence, stability, fixedness, and specificity of conditionality,"
These terms come from SN 12.20 and SA 296.


Thanks for the Dhamma dump! Quite interesting stuff indeed. It seems to be saying that the 'nature' of paticcasamuppada - ie - that which arises passes away due to causal conditions - is something which is unchanging.

Seems totally compatible with my understanding of the Dhamma. I also do not think that this early use of the term svabhava is the same thing people like Nagarjuna were arguing against. They were arguing more against the view of svabhava which saw it as a type of substance metaphysics, which was quite common in India at the time, due to the influence of the Nyaya school.

But here svabhava is being used not as an inner essence of dhammas, but just as if saying this is a feature of paticcasamuppada, that its patterns are law-like, almost like a law of physics, and that does not change
Vayadhammā saṅkhārā appamādena sampādethā — All things decay and disappoint, it is through vigilance that you succeed — Mahāparinibbāna Sutta

Tārakā timiraṃ dīpo māyāvaśyāya budbudaḥ supinaṃ vidyud abhraṃ ca evaṃ draṣṭavya saṃskṛtam — A shooting star, a clouding of the sight, a lamp, An illusion, a drop of dew, a bubble, A dream, a lightning’s flash, a thunder cloud — This is the way one should see the conditioned — Vajracchedikā Prajñāpāramitā

I have seen all things that are done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a chase after wind — Ecclesiastes 1.14

User avatar
Coëmgenu
Posts: 1171
Joined: Mon Jun 13, 2016 10:55 pm

Re: Buddhists Metaphysics

Postby Coëmgenu » Tue Dec 27, 2016 10:28 pm

Javi wrote:But here svabhava is being used not as an inner essence of dhammas, but just as if saying this is a feature of paticcasamuppada, that its patterns are law-like, almost like a law of physics, and that does not change
I think that the āgama, but not necessarily the nikāya, might actually be arguing for an "inner essence" of dhammas though, given its origins as a Sarvāstivāda retension of Buddhavacana. After all, there is a reason the Sarvāstivāda thought what they thought. They didn't "make up" their svabhāva heresy. The legitimately believed it to be supported by the Buddhavacana. I am somewhat swayed by their arguments, but not to the point where I would base my practice on them.

The Nikāya is more ambiguous, the "dhamma" used in the quote from SN 12.20:
whether there is an arising of Tathagatas or no arising of Tathagatas, that element still persists, the stableness of the Dhamma, the fixed course of the Dhamma, specific conditionality. A Tathagata awakens to this and breaks through to it. Having done so, he explains it, teaches it, proclaims it, establishes it, discloses it, analyses it, elucidates it.
is legitimately ambiguous as to if it refers to "dhammas" or "Buddhadhamma". The commentarial tradition clears that up, as well as Bhikkhu Bodhi's commentarially-informed opinion, but devoid of commentarial tradition the text is ambiguous.

I think the āgama actually does argue for a svabhāva theory of dhammas, or at the very least is incompetently translated-into-classical-Chinese from a Buddhist POV informed by the Pali retentions of Buddhavacana. The Sarvāstivāda are called the "everything exists school" for a reason right?
Bhagavā arahaṃ sammasāmbuddho:
Svākkhāto yena bhagavatā dhammo / Supaṭipanno yassa bhagavato sāvakasaṅgho
Tammayaṃ bhagavantaṃ sadhammaṃ sasaṅghaṃ / Imehi sakkārehi yathārahaṃ āropitehi abhipūjayāma.
(Dedication of Offerings)
此等諸法,法住、法空、法如、法爾,法不離如,法不異如,審諦真實、不顛倒。These many dharmāḥ, the residence of these dharmāḥ, the emptiness of these dharmāḥ, these dharmāḥ self-explain, these dharmāḥ are thus, these dharmāḥ do not depart from their self-explaining, these dharmāḥ are not different than their self-explaining, judged as truly real, not delusional. (SA 296, 因緣法)
揭諦揭諦,波羅揭諦,波羅僧揭諦,菩提薩婆訶

User avatar
Javi
Posts: 363
Joined: Thu Nov 22, 2012 5:40 pm
Location: Miami, Florida

Re: Buddhists Metaphysics

Postby Javi » Tue Dec 27, 2016 11:17 pm

Coëmgenu wrote:
Javi wrote:But here svabhava is being used not as an inner essence of dhammas, but just as if saying this is a feature of paticcasamuppada, that its patterns are law-like, almost like a law of physics, and that does not change
I think that the āgama, but not necessarily the nikāya, might actually be arguing for an "inner essence" of dhammas though, given its origins as a Sarvāstivāda retension of Buddhavacana. After all, there is a reason the Sarvāstivāda thought what they thought. They didn't "make up" their svabhāva heresy. The legitimately believed it to be supported by the Buddhavacana. I am somewhat swayed by their arguments, but not to the point where I would base my practice on them.

The Nikāya is more ambiguous, the "dhamma" used in the quote from SN 12.20:
whether there is an arising of Tathagatas or no arising of Tathagatas, that element still persists, the stableness of the Dhamma, the fixed course of the Dhamma, specific conditionality. A Tathagata awakens to this and breaks through to it. Having done so, he explains it, teaches it, proclaims it, establishes it, discloses it, analyses it, elucidates it.
is legitimately ambiguous as to if it refers to "dhammas" or "Buddhadhamma". The commentarial tradition clears that up, as well as Bhikkhu Bodhi's commentarially-informed opinion, but devoid of commentarial tradition the text is ambiguous.

I think the āgama actually does argue for a svabhāva theory of dhammas, or at the very least is incompetently translated-into-classical-Chinese from a Buddhist POV informed by the Pali retentions of Buddhavacana. The Sarvāstivāda are called the "everything exists school" for a reason right?


Well it is the Sarvastivada version so I can see why it would if that was the case, though with zero knowledge of Chinese, it's hard to say from my point what the best translation of 'inherent-likeness' here is and exactly what the means in context.

My understanding is that the Sarvastivada school was quite large and diverse, and that not all of their svabhava theories were essentialist in the sense of the type of essence that Nagarjuna was attacking.
Vayadhammā saṅkhārā appamādena sampādethā — All things decay and disappoint, it is through vigilance that you succeed — Mahāparinibbāna Sutta

Tārakā timiraṃ dīpo māyāvaśyāya budbudaḥ supinaṃ vidyud abhraṃ ca evaṃ draṣṭavya saṃskṛtam — A shooting star, a clouding of the sight, a lamp, An illusion, a drop of dew, a bubble, A dream, a lightning’s flash, a thunder cloud — This is the way one should see the conditioned — Vajracchedikā Prajñāpāramitā

I have seen all things that are done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a chase after wind — Ecclesiastes 1.14

Bakmoon
Posts: 618
Joined: Sat Mar 10, 2012 3:14 pm

Re: Buddhists Metaphysics

Postby Bakmoon » Wed Dec 28, 2016 12:49 am

Coëmgenu wrote:I think that the āgama, but not necessarily the nikāya, might actually be arguing for an "inner essence" of dhammas though, given its origins as a Sarvāstivāda retension of Buddhavacana. After all, there is a reason the Sarvāstivāda thought what they thought. They didn't "make up" their svabhāva heresy. The legitimately believed it to be supported by the Buddhavacana. I am somewhat swayed by their arguments, but not to the point where I would base my practice on them.

I think I'm missing something. Even going over the Agama version, the surrounding context of the passage seems to be equating this inherent likeness with dependent origination rather than equating it with some kind of essence, although the wording isn't quite as clear as in the Nikaya version.
The non-doing of any evil,
The performance of what's skillful,
The cleansing of one's own mind:
This is the Buddhas' teaching.

User avatar
Javi
Posts: 363
Joined: Thu Nov 22, 2012 5:40 pm
Location: Miami, Florida

Re: Buddhists Metaphysics

Postby Javi » Wed Dec 28, 2016 1:26 pm

Bakmoon wrote:
Coëmgenu wrote:I think that the āgama, but not necessarily the nikāya, might actually be arguing for an "inner essence" of dhammas though, given its origins as a Sarvāstivāda retension of Buddhavacana. After all, there is a reason the Sarvāstivāda thought what they thought. They didn't "make up" their svabhāva heresy. The legitimately believed it to be supported by the Buddhavacana. I am somewhat swayed by their arguments, but not to the point where I would base my practice on them.

I think I'm missing something. Even going over the Agama version, the surrounding context of the passage seems to be equating this inherent likeness with dependent origination rather than equating it with some kind of essence, although the wording isn't quite as clear as in the Nikaya version.


It could also just be due to the fact that you're taking quite a technical text that was translated into Chinese from an indic language and then translated into English

I mean, try translating any simple phrase to Chinese and then translating it back on Google translate...
Vayadhammā saṅkhārā appamādena sampādethā — All things decay and disappoint, it is through vigilance that you succeed — Mahāparinibbāna Sutta

Tārakā timiraṃ dīpo māyāvaśyāya budbudaḥ supinaṃ vidyud abhraṃ ca evaṃ draṣṭavya saṃskṛtam — A shooting star, a clouding of the sight, a lamp, An illusion, a drop of dew, a bubble, A dream, a lightning’s flash, a thunder cloud — This is the way one should see the conditioned — Vajracchedikā Prajñāpāramitā

I have seen all things that are done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a chase after wind — Ecclesiastes 1.14

User avatar
rachmiel
Posts: 18
Joined: Wed Jan 16, 2013 12:08 am

Re: Buddhists Metaphysics

Postby rachmiel » Wed Dec 28, 2016 4:52 pm

binocular wrote:
Coëmgenu wrote:Is this statement "kosher Dhamma" for a Theravāda Buddhist:
All experiences in the sensory world are in fact expressions of the Dhamma, and therefore contain the key to enlightenment.

This line of thinking seems to imply that in order to reach enlightenment, it's enough to just, basically, sit around and experience, and eventually, one will become enlightened. IOW, that enlightenmnet is inevitable.

Experiences require an experiencer. To say that all sensory experiences contain the key is to say that the *experiencer* (of all these experiences) contains the key. Or that the key resides in the relationship between experiencer and experience. In either case, there is no implication that the key will reveal itself just by sitting around and experiencing.
“Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid.” Frederick Buechner

Bakmoon
Posts: 618
Joined: Sat Mar 10, 2012 3:14 pm

Re: Buddhists Metaphysics

Postby Bakmoon » Wed Dec 28, 2016 8:32 pm

Javi wrote:It could also just be due to the fact that you're taking quite a technical text that was translated into Chinese from an indic language and then translated into English

I mean, try translating any simple phrase to Chinese and then translating it back on Google translate...

Good point. I remember listening to Ajahn Sujato give a lecture on the Mulapariyaya, and he mentioned that it is hard to tell if the differences between the Agama version and the Nikaya version of the text were due to a difference in the original, or in the fact that the Chinese translators would have had to improvise to render the text to have it make any sense.
The non-doing of any evil,
The performance of what's skillful,
The cleansing of one's own mind:
This is the Buddhas' teaching.

User avatar
Javi
Posts: 363
Joined: Thu Nov 22, 2012 5:40 pm
Location: Miami, Florida

Re: Buddhists Metaphysics

Postby Javi » Wed Dec 28, 2016 11:03 pm

Bakmoon wrote:
Javi wrote:It could also just be due to the fact that you're taking quite a technical text that was translated into Chinese from an indic language and then translated into English

I mean, try translating any simple phrase to Chinese and then translating it back on Google translate...

Good point. I remember listening to Ajahn Sujato give a lecture on the Mulapariyaya, and he mentioned that it is hard to tell if the differences between the Agama version and the Nikaya version of the text were due to a difference in the original, or in the fact that the Chinese translators would have had to improvise to render the text to have it make any sense.


Yea, luckily there are fragments of the Agamas in Gāndhārī, Sanskrit and other Prakrits. But most of the comparative scholarship with those and the Pali is still in its infancy I believe.
Vayadhammā saṅkhārā appamādena sampādethā — All things decay and disappoint, it is through vigilance that you succeed — Mahāparinibbāna Sutta

Tārakā timiraṃ dīpo māyāvaśyāya budbudaḥ supinaṃ vidyud abhraṃ ca evaṃ draṣṭavya saṃskṛtam — A shooting star, a clouding of the sight, a lamp, An illusion, a drop of dew, a bubble, A dream, a lightning’s flash, a thunder cloud — This is the way one should see the conditioned — Vajracchedikā Prajñāpāramitā

I have seen all things that are done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a chase after wind — Ecclesiastes 1.14

User avatar
Coëmgenu
Posts: 1171
Joined: Mon Jun 13, 2016 10:55 pm

Re: Buddhists Metaphysics

Postby Coëmgenu » Thu Dec 29, 2016 12:10 am

Javi wrote:Yea, luckily there are fragments of the Agamas in Gāndhārī, Sanskrit and other Prakrits. But most of the comparative scholarship with those and the Pali is still in its infancy I believe.
I'm actually having a friend of mine who knows more Sanskrit than I look at the passage from SF 163, another pratītyasamutpādasūtra āgama-parallel, to see what the relevant passage says there:
avidyāpratyayāḥ saṃskārā ity utpādād vā tathāgatānām anutpādād vā sthitā eveyaṃ dharmatā dharmasthitaye dhātuḥ | taṃ tathāgataḥ svayam abhijñāyābhi­saṃ­buddhyākhyāti prajñapayati prasthāpayati vibhajati vivaraty uttānīkaroti deśayati saṃprakāśayati yadutāvidyāpratyayāḥ saṃskārāḥ |
(SF 163, bolding mine)

I only know enough to know that what is bolded is the phrase in question that lists qualities. Its similar enough to the Pali. Do we have any good Sanskritists here?

The word "element" (dhātu) in the phrase in question is rendered in the plural here, it was singular in the Pali. The plural rendition is odd, to say the least. Anymore I can't say ATM.
Bhagavā arahaṃ sammasāmbuddho:
Svākkhāto yena bhagavatā dhammo / Supaṭipanno yassa bhagavato sāvakasaṅgho
Tammayaṃ bhagavantaṃ sadhammaṃ sasaṅghaṃ / Imehi sakkārehi yathārahaṃ āropitehi abhipūjayāma.
(Dedication of Offerings)
此等諸法,法住、法空、法如、法爾,法不離如,法不異如,審諦真實、不顛倒。These many dharmāḥ, the residence of these dharmāḥ, the emptiness of these dharmāḥ, these dharmāḥ self-explain, these dharmāḥ are thus, these dharmāḥ do not depart from their self-explaining, these dharmāḥ are not different than their self-explaining, judged as truly real, not delusional. (SA 296, 因緣法)
揭諦揭諦,波羅揭諦,波羅僧揭諦,菩提薩婆訶


Return to “Connections to Other Paths”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: an_user, R1111 and 33 guests

Google Saffron, Theravada Search Engine