something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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Sobeh
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Re: something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval

Post by Sobeh » Wed Oct 27, 2010 11:42 pm

I'm unpacking Nanavira's thought for you on account of your question.

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Prasadachitta
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Re: something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval

Post by Prasadachitta » Wed Oct 27, 2010 11:43 pm

Sobeh wrote:"Pleasant, unpleasant, neither pleasant nor unpleasant": such are feelings, and when persisting in experience, they endure as a discreet percept such that we can differentiate which of the three we are experiencing. With anger, for example, we may readily identify "I am getting angry", "i am angry", and "i am calming down (etc.)". "I am angry" is, precisely, just such a "-thing which endures unchanged for at least an interval" because we understand "I am still angry" - in other words, "the anger has persisted for a time now, it has remain unchanged for a certain interval".

The point of anicca is to say that all experiences are comprised of all three aspects, not that all three aspects are experienced at the same time (which is what "flux" describes).
Perception is only one kind of experience the way I understand it. We perceive, we experience and perception is a type of experience but not the only one. Arising sustaining and passing away are types of perception. There is experience which simply changes without perception.



Metta

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"Beautifully taught is the Lord's Dhamma, immediately apparent, timeless, of the nature of a personal invitation, progressive, to be attained by the wise, each for himself." Anguttara Nikaya V.332

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Sobeh
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Re: something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval

Post by Sobeh » Wed Oct 27, 2010 11:45 pm

I don't care to argue Nanavira's point, I only hope to clarify what the point is.

:heart:

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BlackBird
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Re: something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval

Post by BlackBird » Wed Oct 27, 2010 11:57 pm

Sobeh wrote:I don't care to argue Nanavira's point, I only hope to clarify what the point is.

:heart:
Should make it clear that that's all my efforts were about also. I'm coming to feel that this effort is directed to no obvious end goal and that those who are interested in understanding Ven. Nyanavira, whether for debating and refutation, or for personal concern, should read the book (available online). This is because it would give a much fuller and complete picture than drip feeding bits and pieces through here.
"For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher's message & lives to penetrate it, what accords with the Dhamma is this:
'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta

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Re: something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval

Post by Nyana » Wed Oct 27, 2010 11:59 pm

Sobeh wrote:"Pleasant, unpleasant, neither pleasant nor unpleasant": such are feelings, and when persisting in experience, they endure as a discreet percept such that we can differentiate which of the three we are experiencing.
But a pleasant feeling (sukha vedanā) or a painful feeling (dukkha vedanā) alters even while it is being experienced. It doesn't remain static. And also the thought, "This is painful." There is no stasis that can be experientially discerned when these phenomena are occurring. And when one refines one's perception (saññā) to where one is aware of this alteration, then the alteration of perception is also discernible.
Sobeh wrote:The point of anicca is to say that all experiences are comprised of all three aspects, not that all three aspects are experienced at the same time.
Of course.
Sobeh wrote:(which is what "flux" describes)
Is it? I'm certainly interested in finding the most appropriate designations for phenomenological description (i.e. the bracketed description of lived experience). In this context, English designations which accurately describe alteration while persisting (ṭhitassa aññathatta). Any suggestions are welcome.

All the best,

Geoff

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Sherab
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Re: something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval

Post by Sherab » Thu Oct 28, 2010 12:26 am

tiltbillings wrote:
beeblebrox wrote: OK, I apologize. (No insincere stuck-out-tongue smiley stuff here.) I didn't really intend to make this personal... only to give some insights into this thing the best I can. (Even if it turns out to be mistaken.)
I accept your apology.

Basically, I am asking what could Nanavira possibly mean by this: something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval?
According to my understanding of Nanavira, the answer is no. In fact, it seems to me that the whole point of his short note on paticcasamuppada was to refute the idea of time in paticcasamuppada. In order to refute that, he has to refute the idea that flux is something really there. To present his argument against flux, he started with Poincare's definition of continuity and then goes to explain why that don't work. For Nanavira, precedence in paticcasamuppada is structural and not temporal.

Personally, I think his argument have profound implications on what reality really is.

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Re: something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval

Post by Nyana » Thu Oct 28, 2010 1:39 am

Sherab wrote:Personally, I think his argument have profound implications on what reality really is.
Hi Sherab,

The dhamma is concerned with soteriology not ontology. All of the practice injunctions included in the three aggregations of ethical conduct, meditation, and discernment have the four noble truths as their underlying thematic structure. In MN 28 (M i 184) Mahāhatthipadopama Sutta we find Venerable Sāriputta comparing the four noble truths to an elephants footprint. He says:
  • Friends, just as the footprints of all walking animals can be placed within an elephants footprint, and the elephants footprint is declared as foremost amongst them in terms of its large size; in the same way, all skillful dhamma-s are included within the four noble truths.
Specifically, all practices lead towards and culminate in the full realization of the third noble truth: the cessation of unsatisfactoriness. As SN 45.91 (S v 38) Pācīnaninna Sutta states:
  • Monks, just as the Ganges river flows, slopes, and inclines to the east; in the same way, a monk who develops and cultivates the noble eightfold path flows towards nibbāna, slopes towards nibbāna, inclines towards nibbāna.
Moreover, these noble truths are epistemic. They are the undeceptive knowledge of unmistaken cognitions. They are not ontological realities. There is no need for ontological commitments, i.e. there is no need to establish phenomena as truly existing. All such proofs and refutations are quite irrelevant and are rooted in unskillful adherence to views.

All the best,

Geoff

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Sherab
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Re: something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval

Post by Sherab » Thu Oct 28, 2010 1:49 am

Thanks Nana, while I have my own views, I try to remind myself not to be attached to them, because in the end, it is only direct knowledge that matters.

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tiltbillings
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Re: something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval

Post by tiltbillings » Thu Oct 28, 2010 1:54 am

Sobeh wrote:I don't care to argue Nanavira's point, I only hope to clarify what the point is.

:heart:
But what is the point?
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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tiltbillings
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Re: something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval

Post by tiltbillings » Thu Oct 28, 2010 1:57 am

Sobeh wrote:I'm unpacking Nanavira's thought for you on account of your question.
That is what I get for trying to read msgs between dealing with a heavy duty wind-storm trying to blow my roof away.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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tiltbillings
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Re: something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval

Post by tiltbillings » Thu Oct 28, 2010 2:10 am

Sobeh wrote:"arising, persisting, ceasing": such are feelings, and when persisting in experience, they endure as a discreet percept such that we can differentiate which of the three we are experiencing. With anger, for example, we may readily identify "I am getting angry", "i am angry", and "i am calming down (etc.)". "I am angry" is, precisely, just such a "-thing which endures unchanged for at least a certain interval" because we understand "I am still angry" - in other words, "the anger has persisted for a time now, it has remain unchanged for a certain interval".
This whole paragraph makes sense, to some dgree, on a conventional level. The descrete perceptions even on a conventional level are not really so descrete, it would seem.
The point of anicca is to say that all conditioned experiences are comprised of all three percepts, not that all three percepts are experienced at the same time (which is what "experiencing flux" describes).
Who teaches this?
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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beeblebrox
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Re: something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval

Post by beeblebrox » Thu Oct 28, 2010 2:20 am

Ñāṇa wrote: There is no need to suggest that feelings, perceptions, or thoughts "endure unchanged for at least a certain interval." AN 3.47:
  • Monks, these three are fabricated characteristics of what is fabricated. Which three? Arising is discernible, passing away is discernible, alteration (literally, other-ness) while staying is discernible.
"Other-ness" gets translated as "alteration"? Seems like a stretch to me... what is the exact Pāli word here?
Ñāṇa wrote: SN 35.93:
  • In dependence on the eye & forms there arises eye-consciousness. The eye is inconstant, changeable, of a nature to become otherwise. Forms are inconstant, changeable, of a nature to become otherwise. Thus this pair is both wavering & fluctuating — inconstant, changeable, of a nature to become otherwise.
Why "changeable" and not "changing"? The latter would be more direct. Also why "of a nature to become otherwise"? This phrasing also seems pretty indirect. None of what you stated above are really saying (or at least explicitly) that a thing is changing while it is standing.

I apologize for the off-topic request for some clarification here.
Last edited by beeblebrox on Thu Oct 28, 2010 2:23 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval

Post by BlackBird » Thu Oct 28, 2010 2:21 am

tiltbillings wrote:This whole paragraph makes sense, to some dgree, on a conventional level. The descrete perceptions even on a conventional level are not really so descrete, it would seem.
This is another point that Ven Nyanavira raises, that what you see is what you get so to speak. If you will excuse me for posting yet another long quote, I think you might find it profitable:
Ven. Nyanavira wrote: It is quite possible that the notion of paramattha sacca, 'truth in the highest, or ultimate, or absolute, sense' was in existence before the time of the Milindapañha; but its use there (Pt. II, Ch. 1) is so clear and unambiguous that that book is the obvious point of departure for any discussion about it. The passage quotes the two lines (5 & 6) containing the simile of the chariot. They are used to justify the following argument. The word 'chariot' is the conventional name given to an assemblage of parts; but if each part is examined individually it cannot be said of any one of them that it is the chariot, nor do we find any chariot in the parts collectively, nor do we find any chariot outside the parts. Therefore, 'in the highest sense', there exists no chariot. Similarly, an 'individual' (the word puggala is used) is merely a conventional name given to an assemblage of parts (parts of the body, as well as khandhá), and, 'in the highest sense', there exists no individual. That is all.

9. Let us first consider the validity of the argument. If a chariot is taken to pieces, and a man is then shown the pieces one by one, each time with the question 'Is this a chariot?', it is obvious that he will always say no. And if these pieces are gathered together in a heap, and he is shown the heap, then also he will say that there is no chariot. If, finally, he is asked whether apart from these pieces he sees any chariot, he will still say no. But suppose now that he is shown these pieces assembled together in such a way that the assemblage can be used for conveying a man from place to place; when he is asked he will undoubtedly assert that there is a chariot, that the chariot exists. According to the argument, the man was speaking in the conventional sense when he asserted the existence of the chariot, and in the highest sense when he denied it. But, clearly enough, the man (who has had no training in such subtleties) is using ordinary conventional language throughout; and the reason for the difference between his two statements is to be found in the fact that on one occasion he was shown a chariot and on the others he was not. If a chariot is taken to pieces (even in imagination) it ceases to be a chariot; for a chariot is, precisely, a vehicle, and a heap of components is not a vehicle -- it is a heap of components. (If the man is shown the heap of components and asked 'Is this a heap of components?', he will say yes.) In other words, a chariot is most certainly an assemblage of parts, but it is an assemblage of parts in a particular functional arrangement, and to alter this arrangement is to destroy the chariot. It is no great wonder that a chariot cannot be found if we have taken the precaution of destroying it before starting to look for it. If a man sees a chariot in working order and says 'In the highest sense there is no chariot; for it is a mere assemblage of parts', all he is saying is 'It is possible to take this chariot to pieces and to gather them in a heap; and when this is done there will no longer be a chariot'. The argument, then, does not show the non-existence of the chariot; at best it merely asserts that an existing chariot can be destroyed. And when it is applied to an individual (i.e. a set of pañcakkhandhá) it is even less valid; for not only does it not show the non-existence of the individual, but since the functional arrangement of the pañcakkhandhá cannot be altered, even in imagination, it asserts an impossibility, that an existing individual can be destroyed. As applied to an individual (or a creature) the argument runs into contradiction; and to say of an individual 'In the highest sense there is no individual; for it is a mere asemblage of khandhá' is to be unintelligible.

10. What, now, is the reason for this argument? Why has this notion of 'truth in the highest sense' been invented? We find the clue in the Visuddhimagga. This work (Ch. XVIII) quotes the last four lines (5, 6, 7, & 8) and then repeats in essence the argument of the Milindapañha, using the word satta as well as puggala. It goes on, however, to make clear what was only implicit in the Milindapañha, namely that the purpose of the argument is to remove the conceit '(I) am' (asmimána): if it is seen that 'in the highest sense', paramatthato, no creature exists, there will be no ground for conceiving that I exist. This allows us to understand why the argument was felt to be necessary. The assutavá puthujjana identifies himself with the individual or the creature, which he proceeds to regard as 'self'. He learns, however, that the Buddha has said that 'actually and in truth neither self nor what belongs to self are to be found' (see the second Sutta passage in §4). Since he cannot conceive of the individual except in terms of 'self', he finds that in order to abolish 'self' he must abolish the individual; and he does it by this device. But the device, as we have seen, abolishes nothing. It is noteworthy that the passage in the Milindapañha makes no mention at all of 'self': the identification of 'self' with the individual is so much taken for granted that once it is established that 'in the highest sense there is no individual' no further discussion is thought to be necessary. Not the least of the dangers of the facile and fallacious notion 'truth in the highest sense' is its power to lull the unreflecting mind into a false sense of security. The unwary thinker comes to believe that he understands what, in fact, he does not understand, and thereby effectively blocks his own progress.
P.S. Best of luck with your roof and the wind.
"For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher's message & lives to penetrate it, what accords with the Dhamma is this:
'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta

alan
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Re: something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval

Post by alan » Thu Oct 28, 2010 2:44 am

Smackdown!
But Milindapana seems to be an easy target.

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Sherab
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Re: something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval

Post by Sherab » Thu Oct 28, 2010 2:46 am

Combining what BlackBird has just posted with Ven Nanavira refutation of flux, what we end up with is that experiences are nothing other than atemporal structural interrelationships. Good grief, I can't understand what I just wrote. :rolleye:

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