Theravāda & Nāgārjuna

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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SDC
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Re: Theravāda & Nāgārjuna

Post by SDC » Wed Jan 11, 2017 11:49 pm

Discussion about the DN and propaganda now here: http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=28634

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SDC
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Re: Theravāda & Nāgārjuna

Post by SDC » Thu Jan 12, 2017 1:09 am

Let us all keep the OP in mind as we go forward as many of us have wandered a bit off topic.

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Mkoll
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Re: Theravāda & Nāgārjuna

Post by Mkoll » Thu Jan 12, 2017 4:27 am

:offtopic:
CecilN wrote:Unlike craving, earth element cannot vanish. Its destruction cannot be observed.
SN 35.245 wrote:“When, friend, a bhikkhu understands as they really are the origin and the passing away of the four great elements, in this way his vision is well purified.”
:focus:
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa

CecilN
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Re: Theravāda & Nāgārjuna

Post by CecilN » Thu Jan 12, 2017 5:10 am

Mkoll wrote:
CecilN wrote:Unlike craving, earth element cannot vanish. Its destruction cannot be observed.
SN 35.245 wrote:“When, friend, a bhikkhu understands as they really are the origin and the passing away of the four great elements, in this way his vision is well purified.”
Its on-topic because the topic is Nagarjuna's idea about "no inherent existence".

Now, the Pali quoted in SN 35.245, which is a view of a certain monk, is as follows:
“Yato kho, āvuso, bhikkhu pañcannaṃ upādā­nak­khan­dhā­naṃ samudayañca atthaṅgamañca yathābhūtaṃ pajānāti, ettāvatā kho, āvuso, bhikkhuno dassanaṃ suvisuddhaṃ hotī”ti
'Atthaṅgama' refers to a temporary cessation, such as each day & night are subject to atthaṅgama. It does not mean 'nirodha' nor does it mean 'final destruction'. It is found in the vipassana teachings, such as:
There is the case where a monk remains focused on arising & falling away with reference to the five clinging-aggregates: 'Such is form, such its origination, such its passing away (atthaṅgamo). Such is feeling, such its origination, such its passing away. Such is perception, such its origination, such its passing away. Such are fabrications, such their origination, such their passing away. Such is consciousness, such its origination, such its disappearance.' AN 4.41
The Lord Buddha himself ends SN 35.245 as follows:
‘The city’: this is a designation for this body consisting of the four great elements, originating from mother and father, built up out of boiled rice and gruel, subject to impermanence, to being worn and rubbed away, to breaking apart and dispersal.
Nothing in SN 35.235 refers to the four great elements ceasing without remainder or destroyed. Only impermanence, change, decay, deformation, transformation, etc. Basic Pali. :roll:
“And why, bhikkhus, do you call it form? ‘It is deformed,’ bhikkhus, therefore it is called form. Deformed by what? Deformed by cold, deformed by heat, deformed by hunger, deformed by thirst, deformed by contact with flies, mosquitoes, wind, sun, and serpents. ‘It is deformed,’ bhikkhus, therefore it is called form. SN 22.79
Then a certain monk went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As he was sitting there, he said to the Blessed One: "'The world, the world' it is said. In what respect does the word 'world' apply?

"Insofar as it disintegrates, monk, it is called the 'world.' Now what disintegrates?..The body disintegrates...

SN 35.82

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Mkoll
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Re: Theravāda & Nāgārjuna

Post by Mkoll » Thu Jan 12, 2017 5:47 am

Your conception of the elements and your understanding of what the passage is saying is different from mine. I should have expected that and if I had, I wouldn't have responded, knowing how it would turn out.

Also, the "view of a certain monk" you're referring to as at least a stream-enterer.

And the definition of atthaṅgama is annihilation, disappearance (Cone's Pali dictionary).
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa

chownah
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Re: Theravāda & Nāgārjuna

Post by chownah » Thu Jan 12, 2017 6:46 am

CecilN wrote:
chownah wrote:The element of earth is a concept and it can cease without remainder just like the self concept can cease without remainder.
MN 62 does not sound like a "concept".
And what is the earth property? The earth property can be either internal or external. What is the internal earth property?} Anything internal, within oneself, that's hard, solid, & sustained: head hairs, body hairs, nails, teeth, skin, flesh, tendons, bones, bone marrow, kidneys, heart, liver, membranes, spleen, lungs, large intestines, small intestines, contents of the stomach, feces, or anything else internal, within oneself, that's hard, solid and sustained [by nutriment]...
Indeed the quote you brought talks about earth as being a property. Properties are concepts...attributes...things that arise and fall based on the arising and falling of perceptions..
chownah

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Re: Theravāda & Nāgārjuna

Post by Bakmoon » Thu Jan 12, 2017 10:25 pm

CecilN wrote:
Mkoll wrote:
CecilN wrote:Unlike craving, earth element cannot vanish. Its destruction cannot be observed.
SN 35.245 wrote:“When, friend, a bhikkhu understands as they really are the origin and the passing away of the four great elements, in this way his vision is well purified.”
Its on-topic because the topic is Nagarjuna's idea about "no inherent existence".

Now, the Pali quoted in SN 35.245, which is a view of a certain monk, is as follows:
“Yato kho, āvuso, bhikkhu pañcannaṃ upādā­nak­khan­dhā­naṃ samudayañca atthaṅgamañca yathābhūtaṃ pajānāti, ettāvatā kho, āvuso, bhikkhuno dassanaṃ suvisuddhaṃ hotī”ti
'Atthaṅgama' refers to a temporary cessation, such as each day & night are subject to atthaṅgama. It does not mean 'nirodha' nor does it mean 'final destruction'. It is found in the vipassana teachings, such as:
There is the case where a monk remains focused on arising & falling away with reference to the five clinging-aggregates: 'Such is form, such its origination, such its passing away (atthaṅgamo). Such is feeling, such its origination, such its passing away. Such is perception, such its origination, such its passing away. Such are fabrications, such their origination, such their passing away. Such is consciousness, such its origination, such its disappearance.' AN 4.41
The Lord Buddha himself ends SN 35.245 as follows:
‘The city’: this is a designation for this body consisting of the four great elements, originating from mother and father, built up out of boiled rice and gruel, subject to impermanence, to being worn and rubbed away, to breaking apart and dispersal.
Nothing in SN 35.235 refers to the four great elements ceasing without remainder or destroyed. Only impermanence, change, decay, deformation, transformation, etc. Basic Pali. :roll:
“And why, bhikkhus, do you call it form? ‘It is deformed,’ bhikkhus, therefore it is called form. Deformed by what? Deformed by cold, deformed by heat, deformed by hunger, deformed by thirst, deformed by contact with flies, mosquitoes, wind, sun, and serpents. ‘It is deformed,’ bhikkhus, therefore it is called form. SN 22.79
Then a certain monk went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As he was sitting there, he said to the Blessed One: "'The world, the world' it is said. In what respect does the word 'world' apply?

"Insofar as it disintegrates, monk, it is called the 'world.' Now what disintegrates?..The body disintegrates...

SN 35.82
It doesn't matter in the slightest whether or not the earth element ceases temporarily or permanently. In either case, the earth element is demonstrated to be impermanent because by definition, permanent things remain the same and do not arise and cease.
The non-doing of any evil,
The performance of what's skillful,
The cleansing of one's own mind:
This is the Buddhas' teaching.

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Re: Theravāda & Nāgārjuna

Post by CecilN » Thu Jan 12, 2017 11:19 pm

Bakmoon wrote:It doesn't matter in the slightest whether or not the earth element ceases temporarily or permanently. In either case, the earth element is demonstrated to be impermanent because by definition, permanent things remain the same and do not arise and cease.
I agree fully here. However, when Nāgārjunaites use the phrase: "no inherent existence", it sounds different to me than "impermanence". The Buddha taught about impermanence.

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Twilight
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Re: Theravāda & Nāgārjuna

Post by Twilight » Thu Jan 12, 2017 11:23 pm

Honestly I do not understand what exactly you guys mean by "inherent". Can somebody explain this to me so I can take part in the discussion too ? Things do exist but they are impermanent. Sounds pretty simple to me. I really don't understand what you mean by "inherent"
You'll have a better chance finding a moderate rebel in Ildib than finding a buddhist who ever changed his views. Views are there to be clung to. They are there to be defended with all one's might. Whatever clinging one will removed in regards to sense pleasures by practicing the path - that should be compensated with increased clinging to views. This is the fundamental balance of the noble 8thfold path. The yin and yang.
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Consciousness and no-self explained in drawings: link
How stream entry is achieved. Mahasi / Zen understanding vs Sutta understanding: link

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Re: Theravāda & Nāgārjuna

Post by Coëmgenu » Thu Jan 12, 2017 11:38 pm

Twilight wrote:Honestly I do not understand what exactly you guys mean by "inherent". Can somebody explain this to me so I can take part in the discussion too ? This do exist but they are impermanent. Sounds pretty simple to me. I really don't understand what you mean by "inherent"
The way that we talk about existence in English in these conversations that deal with odd questions like "Is a rock arisen due to ignorance?" is in a de facto ontological sense, which, when paired with notions such as "Cars exist independent of a perciever", indicate that "existence" is being framed in a cosmological manner.

Cosmology is refuted via the fourfold negation, in SN 12.48, but it is not refuted on the grounds that reality/cosmos does not exist, or that cosmology "doesn't exist" in any ways, it is refuted because extreme cosmological positions are unrelated to the teaching ("Avoiding these two extremes, the Tathágata teaches the Dhamma via the middle").

Nágárjuna is not a cosmologer. When Madhyamika philosophy negates "inherent existence" they are negating the heretical notion that any reality, real or perceived, is unconditioned, save for Nibbána, views about which, themselves, are conditioned. Arguing against "inherent existence" is arguing that Nibbána and complete perfect realization thereof (samyaksambodhi) is the only thing that is unconditioned. All else lacks "inherency", including form, which is arisen from causal conditions. Note that this does not mean that all form is arisen via dependent origination, it simply means that forms (any forms) are arisen by causal conditions.

Existence is de facto established on metaphysical grounds by statements like "There is, monks, an unborn" (Ud 8.3) as well as numerous other times the Buddha establishes something as existing, and neither Theraváda nor Madhyamika are interested in refuting that.

The notion that anything is uncaused and unconditioned save for Nibbána, like for instance "form", is a very ancient heresy in Buddhist and no contemporary schools of Buddhism (arguably) subscribe to svabháva theories of dharmas other than svabháva of Nibbána.

Yet the Múlamadhyamakakáriká and Nágárjuna's work discrediting the svabháva heresy is still relevant in modern Buddhism because there are still people who claim to be Buddhists who believe that things other than Nibbána are stable, permanent, and unchanging, whether due to reconstructionist arrogance or simply being poorly informed as to the Buddhavacava.

The Múlamadhyamakakáriká is designed to be a litmus test of the alleged permanence of anything other than Nibbána, including most views of/about Nibbána. Everything is denied the status of unconditioned save for Nibbána itself.
Last edited by Coëmgenu on Fri Jan 13, 2017 12:50 am, edited 6 times in total.

CecilN
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Re: Theravāda & Nāgārjuna

Post by CecilN » Thu Jan 12, 2017 11:56 pm

Coëmgenu wrote:The way that we talk about existence in English in these conversations that deal with odd questions like "Is a rock arisen due to ignorance?"
The answer to this question is "no". Rocks do not arise due to ignorance. Rocks arise due to volcanic eruptions & other geological phenomena. What arises due to ignorance is suffering & other unskilful mental states. :roll:
The four great elements, bhikkhu, are the cause and condition for the manifestation of the form aggregate.

22.82
The Blessed One said, "Monks, ignorance is the leader in the attainment of unskillful qualities, followed by lack of conscience & lack of concern.

SN 45.1

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Re: Theravāda & Nāgārjuna

Post by Coëmgenu » Fri Jan 13, 2017 12:45 am

I'm taking the liberty of quoting you here, Twilight, rather than in the thread "No Creator in Buddhism", where this quote is from, because I think it is relevant to some misconceptions about "inherent existence" that have been voiced in response to the statements that negate "inherent existence", not necessarily because I think or don't think that you hold such misconceptions:
Twilight wrote:The 5 aggregates that constitute what we conventionally call "a being" exist since forever.
No one is disputing that the 5 aggregates exist, or that they constitute what is called a "being". This is a common criticism leveled at teachings that negate "inherent existence", because it is common to see these Buddhist discourses as nihilistic, or negating existence on a metaphysical level.

The aggregates, though beginingless (but not uncaused), are arisen due to causal conditions and are therefore conditioned, and being conditioned they lack "inherent existence", what they have is a dependent existence, dependent on their conditions.

Like Javi said earlier, if a given Buddhist is informed as to the Buddhavacana and does not ascribe unchanging permanence to anything other than Nibbána, then the Múlamadhyamakakáriká is an unnecessary and possibly redundant text, which merely goes over what is already in the Buddhavacana via the suttas and rearranges the material into a new presentation designed to refute unconditioned existences aside from Nibbána, which was a contemporary heresy of Nágárjuna's time, which was not believed by Buddhists before then, hence why the svabháva heresy is not explicitly mentioned or condemned in the Buddhavacana.

However if a given Buddhist subscribes unchanging permanence to anything other than Nibbána than the Múlamadhyamakakáriká is designed to refute their notions.

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Basically, the entire text is an essay against hypostatization/reification/objectification of any and all things, including Nibbána. Nibbána is uncaused, yet the conceptual framing of Nibbána as "opposite" of samsara is itself arisen via causal conditions, specifically the causal condition of samsara itself, thus hypostatizations/"mental proliferations" of Nibbána in relation to samsara are conditioned and are not, themselves, Nibbána. This is the context of the saying
There is no distinction whatsoever between saṃsāra and nirvāṇa.
There is no distinction whatsoever between nirvāṇa and saṃsāra.

What is the limit of nirvāṇa, that is the limit of saṃsāra.
There is not even the finest gap to be found between the two.

The views concerning what is beyond cessation, the end of the world, and the eternality of the world are dependent [respectively] on nirvāṇa, the future life, and the past life.
(Mūlamadhyamakakārikā XXV, Nirvānaparīkṣā section)

It is talking about views/hypostatizations of Nibbána. Hypostatizations of Nibbána are identical, it argues, to hypostatizations of samsara, they are both mere hypostatizations. As hypostatizations arisen via causal conditions, they are dependant on Nibbána, the uncaused/unconditioned, but those hypostatizations are themselves not unconditioned, in fact, they are implied, by Nágárjuna, to also be conditioned by pernicious self-view (What will I be in the future? What was my past self?) ("The views concerning what is beyond cessation, the end of the world, and the eternality of the world are dependent [respectively] on nirvāṇa, the future life, and the past life"). Nágárjuna labels such views as samsaric.
Last edited by Coëmgenu on Fri Jan 13, 2017 1:23 am, edited 2 times in total.
世尊在靈山會上拈華示眾眾皆默然唯迦葉破顏微笑世尊云
The Lord dwelt at the Vulture Peak with the assembly and plucked a flower as a teaching. The myriad totality were silent, save for Kāśyapa, whose face cracked in a faint smile. The Lord spoke.
吾有正法眼藏涅槃妙心實相無相微妙法門不立文字教外別傳付囑摩訶迦葉。
I have the treasure of the true dharma eye, I have nirvāṇa as wondrous citta, I know signless dharmatā, the subtle dharma-gate, which is not standing on written word, which is external to scriptures, which is a special dispensation, which is entrusted to Mahākāśyapa.

नस्वातोनापिपरतोनद्वाभ्यांनाप्यहेतुतः

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Re: Theravāda & Nāgārjuna

Post by CecilN » Fri Jan 13, 2017 1:16 am

Coëmgenu wrote: it is common to see these Buddhist discourses as nihilistic, or negating existence on a metaphysical level.
The term 'nihilistic' in Buddhism refers to the belief a 'self' ends at 'death' (DN 1; Iti 49) or 'another' causes suffering to 'oneself' (SN 12.17). It is a self-view. Buddha-Dhamma only sounds 'nihilistic' to believers in 'self' (as occurred in MN 22, where non-Buddhists accused the Buddha of being a nihilist).
Coëmgenu wrote:The aggregates, though beginingless (but not uncaused), are arisen due to causal conditions and are therefore conditioned, and being conditioned they lack "inherent existence", what they have is a dependent existence, dependent on their conditions.
MN 38 states there is no arising of consciousness without sense organs & sense organs. SN 22.53 states no arising of consciousness without the other aggregates. SN 22.82 states the cause of consciousness is nama-rupa. So which is "beginningless"? Consciousness or the sense bases? Or nama-rupa? Or four aggregates?

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Re: Theravāda & Nāgārjuna

Post by Coëmgenu » Fri Jan 13, 2017 1:28 am

CecilN wrote:
Coëmgenu wrote: it is common to see these Buddhist discourses as nihilistic, or negating existence on a metaphysical level.
The term 'nihilistic' in Buddhism refers to the belief a 'self' ends at 'death' (DN 1; Iti 49) or 'another' causes suffering to 'oneself' (SN 12.17). It is a self-view. Buddha-Dhamma only sounds 'nihilistic' to believers in 'self' (as occurred in MN 22, where non-Buddhists accused the Buddha of being a nihilist).
When Buddhism is accused to being nihilistic by non-Buddhists they are making such accusations on the grounds that they believe that Buddhism teaches metaphysical nothingness, ie nothing exists. Nihilism, in the suttas, ucchedaváda, is a self-view arisen concept, but Buddhism is criticized as being nihilistic by thinkers who are not using the Buddhist term "ucchedaváda", they are using nihilism in a Western sense.
CecilN wrote:
Coëmgenu wrote:The aggregates, though beginingless (but not uncaused), are arisen due to causal conditions and are therefore conditioned, and being conditioned they lack "inherent existence", what they have is a dependent existence, dependent on their conditions.
MN 38 states there is no arising of consciousness without sense organs & sense organs. SN 22.53 states no arising of consciousness with the other aggregates. SN 22.82 states the cause of consciousness is nama-rupa. So which is "beginningless"? Consciousness or the sense bases? Or nama-rupa? Or four aggregates?
Samsara is begingingless.
世尊在靈山會上拈華示眾眾皆默然唯迦葉破顏微笑世尊云
The Lord dwelt at the Vulture Peak with the assembly and plucked a flower as a teaching. The myriad totality were silent, save for Kāśyapa, whose face cracked in a faint smile. The Lord spoke.
吾有正法眼藏涅槃妙心實相無相微妙法門不立文字教外別傳付囑摩訶迦葉。
I have the treasure of the true dharma eye, I have nirvāṇa as wondrous citta, I know signless dharmatā, the subtle dharma-gate, which is not standing on written word, which is external to scriptures, which is a special dispensation, which is entrusted to Mahākāśyapa.

नस्वातोनापिपरतोनद्वाभ्यांनाप्यहेतुतः

CecilN
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Re: Theravāda & Nāgārjuna

Post by CecilN » Fri Jan 13, 2017 1:34 am

Coëmgenu wrote:When Buddhism is accused to being nihilistic by non-Buddhists they are making such accusations on the grounds that they believe that Buddhism teaches metaphysical nothingness, ie nothing exists. Nihilism, in the suttas, ucchedaváda, is a self-view arisen concept, but Buddhism is criticized as being nihilistic by thinkers who are not using the Buddhist term "ucchedaváda", they are using nihilism in a Western sense.
What is the point of raising non-Buddhist concerns on a Buddhist forum? Is our role here to put on a good public face for non-Buddhists that might be reading so we can convert them unwittingly?
Coëmgenu wrote:Samsara is begingingless.
You did not answer the questions put to you about your view that the aggregates are beginingless. That said, samsara is not "beginningless". It only has no knowable beginning, i.e., its beginning cannot be known.

You seem to be stating samsara is the aggregrates; that the aggregates & samsara are one & the same thing. :shrug:

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