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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Re: something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval

Post by Spiny O'Norman » Thu Oct 28, 2010 11:28 am

tiltbillings wrote:But the question of the OP: what is Nanavira referring to as something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval?
What I've experienced is that nothing endures unchanged. Sometimes things change more slowly, which gives the illusion of persistence. And of course it depends on the timescale we apply.

Spiny

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Re: something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval

Post by tiltbillings » Thu Oct 28, 2010 1:08 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:The Buddha's focus was soteriology, not ontology.
Yeah. As I indicated in a previous reply to Sobeh, I think that if we are to draw any comparisons between the dhamma and western philosophy the most appropriate comparison might be with some aspects of first-person phenomenological description. That is, Husserl's method of phenomenological description where one attends to the contents of one's conscious experience while setting aside (i.e. bracketing) the question of the ontological existence of the contents of this experience altogether. Of course, there's no need for any further comparison beyond this general methodological framework. I'm not suggesting that we attempt to read Husserl or Merleau-Ponty into the dhamma....

All the best,

Geoff
I agree. I knew there was something I forgot.
>> 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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Re: something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval

Post by beeblebrox » Thu Oct 28, 2010 1:40 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:Do you practice satipaṭṭhāna? Specifically, either mindfulness of breathing (ānāpānassati), or observation of feelings (vedanānupassanā), or observation of dhammas (dhammānupassanā) pertaining to the mind sensory sphere and mental phenomena sensory sphere?
Yes (but not anapanasati). I'm pretty sure that Ven. Ṭhānissaro does all of the above, though:
Ñāṇa wrote:
beeblebrox 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.
The above excerpt is Ven. Ṭhānissaro's translation.
It seems like the confusion (in this thread) primarily comes from trying to equate either momentariness or flux, either one or other, with the concept of anicca itself. I view this as a fallacy.

Maybe the following analogy might help: (Just stay with it till the end... it is really relevant to understanding the topic at hand):
The Buddha: "O, Bhikkhus! This bread is impermanent, liable to become moldy, of a nature to become moldy."

Uninstructed Run-of-Mill Person #1 (even though he's already been instructed a million of times within the cycles of saṃsāra): "So, he's basically saying that we might as well say that the bread is always moldy?"

Trainee (a person who has maybe 7 years, at most, before he finally stops identifying himself with the bread): "No, he's not saying that."

The clueless Ascetic: "I've been practicing vipassana [sic] for years. I've honed my senses down to the point where I can see the mold growing on a loaf of bread the moment it comes out of the oven... so, it's true: The bread is always becoming moldy!"

Trainee: *facepalms*
The Buddha: "The Dhamma is subtle, and difficult to see."

Uninstructed Run-of-Mill Person #1: "No wonder I can't always see the mold."

The clueless Ascetic: "See! The mold itself (at times) is very subtle, and difficult to see. That is why you need to train in vipassana [sic]."

Trainee: *facepalms*
Now, some pointers about the above:

Anicca ≠ mold.
Anicca = impermanence.

Mold = a sign of impermanence (of something).

Bread = impermanent. Why? Because it gets moldy. This mold is a sign of impermanence, but not the concept of anicca itself.

So then it follows:

Anicca ≠ moments nor flux.
Anicca = impermanence.

Moments or flux = signs of impermanence.

Perceiving these moments or flux (via sañña) = impermanent. Why? Because the moments turn into flux, and the flux turn into moments. (Therefore the sañña is impermanent, neither perfect nor reliable, and not to be clung to as a self)... hope that clears up my position for some of you.

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Re: something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval

Post by piotr » Thu Oct 28, 2010 2:32 pm

Hi Ñāṇa,
I think that if we are to draw any comparisons between the dhamma and western philosophy the most appropriate comparison might be with some aspects of first-person phenomenological description.
Ñāṇavīra would agree with you.
Bhagavaṃmūlakā no, bhante, dhammā...

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Re: something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval

Post by Sobeh » Thu Oct 28, 2010 8:10 pm

Perhaps this will be of some use:

[L(etter) 08]
2 May 1964 to Mr. Wijerama
Written by Ven. Ñanavira

"You ask for Sutta references of passages where the Buddha has 'explained in specific terms the structure of change'. Beyond the two uppāda/vaya/thitassa aññathattam references (both given in ANICCA), I do not know of any at all. Perhaps this will astonish you; but the fact that the Buddha does not seem to have discussed the structure of change beyond this is, I think, not hard to understand. The point is this: provided a person does not have any preconceived ideas about the structure of change, an understanding of this structure is not necessary for the attainment of nibbāna."

continued here...

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Re: something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval

Post by Alex123 » Thu Oct 28, 2010 9:58 pm

5heaps wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:if a thing were not momentary I have no idea of what you are talking about.
do you not accept dependent arising? do you not accept characteristic natures? do you not accept that they perform functions?

if you do, you have to accept that they exist in some substantial manner. if you dont accept that they do, what then does 'they' refer to? what is it that functions if a thing is already gone simultaneous with its production?

"there are no things, only processes" makes no sense, since processes are by definition made up of parts (things).

5 Heaps, it sounds like you are right.

Things like causality do remain at least for a long while. Laws of nature do so as well (laws of gravity for example doesn't really change every second). Same for meaning of letters and words. If letters, words, ideas, etc lost meaning immeadetely then this text would not make any sense the next instant.


Anicca and momentariness are probably different phenomena all together.
"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

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Re: something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval

Post by tiltbillings » Thu Oct 28, 2010 10:19 pm

Alex123 wrote:5 Heaps, it sounds like you are right.

Things like causality do remain at least for a long while.
Was Nanavira talking about the laws of causality?
>> 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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Re: something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval

Post by Alex123 » Thu Oct 28, 2010 10:24 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
Alex123 wrote:5 Heaps, it sounds like you are right.

Things like causality do remain at least for a long while.
Was Nanavira talking about the laws of causality?

I've answered your question about a thing that is not momentary. Furthermore, remember the quote about the body?
Because this body composed of the four great elements is seen standing for a year, two years, three, four, five, ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, a hundred years or more.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Also, meaning and convention lasts for some time. This is why the given meaning to every letter stays the same, at least for some while. This makes reading and comprehension possible.
Last edited by Alex123 on Thu Oct 28, 2010 10:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval

Post by tiltbillings » Thu Oct 28, 2010 10:32 pm

Alex123 wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
Alex123 wrote:5 Heaps, it sounds like you are right.

Things like causality do remain at least for a long while.
Was Nanavira talking about the laws of causality?

I've answered your question about a thing that is not momentary. Furthermore, remember the quote about the body?
Because this body composed of the four great elements is seen standing for a year, two years, three, four, five, ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, a hundred years or more.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
You are not answering my question: You talk about causality, but is that what Nanavira is referring to in this quote: http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f= ... 863#p94863" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

And body quote does not support a notion of an unchanging something, as has been clearly and repeatedly pointed out, so what is Nanavaria talking about?
>> 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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Re: something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval

Post by Alex123 » Thu Oct 28, 2010 10:37 pm

tiltbillings wrote: And body quote does not support a notion of an unchanging something, as has been clearly and repeatedly pointed out, so what is Nanavaria talking about?
Are you saying that one moment you have the body, and it is gone the next? Does John become Jane the next moment and Mark then 3rd moment? Of course some things persist for a while.


A little child has a body, then as an adult has a body, and as an old 99 year old man - he still has a body and had it for all those years. So in human realm, the body, as a body, remains.

Because it remains, it can change (and change can bring lots of unpleasant things). A super discreet model that denies the whole and only affirms particles of 0 duration seems to reject the change at all - because then NOTHING changes, wholes do not exist and 0 duration particles do not change themselves. Change requires time, and if something doesn't last long enough to change, how can it change?

Change also requires somethings to last longer then others. Body cannot age until it lasts long enough to age. Elements appearing for almost 0 duration, one after another, and without a shape of the body lasting for a while, aging would never be seen.


Ven Nanivara says it well:

Now the Pali texts say that the Buddha taught anicca/dukkha/anattā, and the average Theravādin, monk or layman, seems to take for granted that aniccatā, or impermanence, means that things are perpetually changing, that they do not remain the same for two consecutive moments. Failing to make the necessary distinctions (see PATICCASAMUPPĀDA [c]), they understand this as implying perpetual flux of everything all the time. This, of course, destroys the principle of self-identity, 'A is A'; for unless something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval of time you cannot even make the assertion 'this is A' since the word 'is' has lost its meaning. http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f= ... 863#p94863" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
If things don't remain the same for two consequent moments, then meaning of letters would not remain the same for two consequent moments and the meaning of sentences would never exist/last.
Last edited by Alex123 on Thu Oct 28, 2010 10:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval

Post by retrofuturist » Thu Oct 28, 2010 10:49 pm

Greetings,

I apologise I haven't got the headspace to get too deeply into this conversation, but this point made me think.
Alex123 wrote:Change requires time, and if something doesn't last long enough to change, how can it change?
Maybe a purpose of Nanavira's analysis is to demonstrate that the classical Theravada notion of paramattha dhammas, and the orthodox Theravada notions of flux, are mutually exclusive frameworks even though both are regarded within the tradition as "ultimately" true?

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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Re: something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval

Post by Alex123 » Thu Oct 28, 2010 11:11 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

I apologise I haven't got the headspace to get too deeply into this conversation, but this point made me think.
Alex123 wrote:Change requires time, and if something doesn't last long enough to change, how can it change?
Maybe a purpose of Nanavira's analysis is to demonstrate that the classical Theravada notion of paramattha dhammas, and the orthodox Theravada notions of flux, are mutually exclusive frameworks even though both are regarded within the tradition as "ultimately" true?

Metta,
Retro. :)
I have read on one board that apparently some do seem to hold this view that cittas/cetasikas themselves do not change, and since wholes do not exist, what really can change?

Change on one level can only be seen in comparison to something on a layer higher than it. Just like slow has to be compared to fast, and fast to slow, in order for these words to have any meaning.

A motion is measured in comparison with some other point of reference. If all things move in one direction at the same speed, then there isn't really motion when comparing those things against each other. But if those things are compared to a stationary background, then we can talk about motion.
Last edited by Alex123 on Thu Oct 28, 2010 11:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval

Post by Individual » Thu Oct 28, 2010 11:13 pm

The confusion arises because of language.

"A is A" is an assumption that's made intrinsically when using language.

Language involves making distinctions in order to communicate to others:

1. Language involves making distinctions. If you are not making distinctions when using language, why are you speaking? Even if you say, "I agree," that, too, is a distinction. Because you are saying, "I am a person who agrees with you (which is distinguished from those who may disagree with you)". If the listener already understands what you know, what is the function of language?

2. Language involves the assumption of self & other. If you do not make this assumption, what is the function of language? If there is no such self\other distinction, when speaking this means either you are talking to yourself, somebody else is talking to themselves, or you are talking to nobody, or there is no communication going on at all because there are no selves and others to communicate.

3. Language involves the assumption that things endure for a given interval. Specifically, the use of terms involves the assumption that these terms reflect things which endure. Otherwise, if everything is "total flux," as one person put it, what is the function of terms? Why are terms even being used if they don't reflect independently enduring realities?

This is the nature of language; it is not necessarily the nature of reality. It may be true in reality that the highest knowledge that can be attained through language is false, or at least not as true as the highest knowledge that can be attained by other means. And this is not something that can be understood only through using language, because language is only capable of clarifying the logical relationships between pre-existing definitions. It does nothing to establish the validity of given terms and phrases, or the validity of their stated relationships.

Therefore, it may be true that in reality the most logical distinctions are actually false ones, and therefore: no self\other, universal impermanence, "total flux", etc.. These things can be extraordinarily intuitive, useful, and powerful objects of truth in the mind. But when it's put into words, it sounds like bad philosophy. But it's something we discover from right concentration and right mindfulness.

This is how the apparently exclusive frameworks of paramatha dhammas and "total flux" fit together. The paramatha dhammas are the clearest way of expressing ultimate knowledge (rationally) conventionally, while flux is an irrational term because it contradicts the law of identity and the paramatha-dhammas too, but being irrational doesn't make it wrong, as it is actually more reflective of ultimate reality than the so-called paramatha-dhammas. But to call flux "paramatha," would render the entire expression inconsistent and would therefore not be conducive to others' liberation. It would not be conducive to others' liberation, because they would simply say, "That's bad philosophy," unless they have Mahayana-like minds, in which case it seems it could be useful. :)
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Re: something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval

Post by Nyana » Thu Oct 28, 2010 11:58 pm

beeblebrox wrote:Anicca ≠ mold.
Anicca = impermanence.

Mold = a sign of impermanence (of something).

Bread = impermanent. Why? Because it gets moldy. This mold is a sign of impermanence, but not the concept of anicca itself.

So then it follows:

Anicca ≠ moments nor flux.
Anicca = impermanence.

Moments or flux = signs of impermanence.
Impermanence has no soteriological utility except as this concept relates to impermanent phenomena (as phenomena are experienced). Apperception/recognition of impermanence (aniccasaññā) involves attending to an appearance of impermanence (aniccākāra). This appearance of impermanence is recognized via a sign/representation (nimitta).

All the best,

Geoff

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Re: something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval

Post by Nyana » Fri Oct 29, 2010 1:08 am

Alex123 wrote:
5heaps wrote:do you not accept dependent arising? do you not accept characteristic natures? do you not accept that they perform functions?

if you do, you have to accept that they exist in some substantial manner. if you dont accept that they do, what then does 'they' refer to? what is it that functions if a thing is already gone simultaneous with its production?

"there are no things, only processes" makes no sense, since processes are by definition made up of parts (things).
5 Heaps, it sounds like you are right.
Phenomena arise according to specifically assignable conditionality (idappaccayatā):
  • When this is, that is.
    From the arising of this comes the arising of that.
Therefore, phenomena aren't utterly non-existent.

Phenomena cease according to specifically assignable conditionality (idappaccayatā):
  • When this isn't, that isn't.
    From the cessation of this comes the cessation of that.
Therefore, phenomena aren't ultimately existent.

Moreover, the individuation of phenomena requires apperceptive memory recognition (saññā) and conceptual designation (paññatti) for differentiation. All such individuation is fabricated, relational, and conventional, and therefore phenomena cannot be established as ultimately existent. Ven. Ñāṇananda, The Magic of the Mind (p. 63):
  • It would indeed appear strange to us that in Buddhist psychology even contact and feeling – with which we are so intimate – are treated as ‘designations’ (paññatti). We might feel that this is an intrusion of the ‘designation’ into the jealously guarded recesses of the psyche. Yet this is not the case, for, in the very act of apperception contacts and feelings are reckoned, evaluated, defined, and designated on the basis of one’s latencies (i.e. the aggregates). Thus there is hardly any justification for regarding them as ‘the given’, though we are accustomed to take them for granted. In other words, what we are wont to treat as ‘the given,’ turns out to be ‘synthetic’ and ‘composite’ (saṅkhata).
Noa Ronkin, Early Buddhist Metaphysics: The Making of a Philosophical Tradition (p. 247):
  • “Neither conceptualizing, nor conceptualizing wrongly, nor lacking conceptualization, nor conceptualizing nothing – in one who has achieved this state sensory recognizable experience (rupa) ceases, for what is called ‘verbal proliferation’ (papañca) has its origin in conceptualization.”

    What comes to a halt according to this description is but namarupa: nama referring to all that is conceived of, thus providing an abstract, conceptual identity for the person, rupa designating the physically (though not necessarily visibly) recognizable data, that is, all that lends itself to apperception and that is given shape by means of sensory impression. Covering the range of whatever is either conceived or apperceived, namarupa therefore signifies the entirety of what is cognizable.
All the best,

Geoff

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Re: something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval

Post by retrofuturist » Fri Oct 29, 2010 1:14 am

:goodpost:
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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Re: something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval

Post by Individual » Fri Oct 29, 2010 1:35 am

I liked Geoff's post too. :)
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Re: something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval

Post by tiltbillings » Fri Oct 29, 2010 2:24 am

Alex123 wrote:
tiltbillings wrote: And body quote does not support a notion of an unchanging something, as has been clearly and repeatedly pointed out, so what is Nanavaria talking about?
Are you saying that one moment you have the body, and it is gone the next? Does John become Jane the next moment and Mark then 3rd moment? Of course some things persist for a while.
And why would I say something as stupid as that? I have not even remotely implied it. Anicca does require something as stupid as that.

A little child has a body, then as an adult has a body, and as an old 99 year old man - he still has a body and had it for all those years. So in human realm, the body, as a body, remains.
The body seemingly remains, but every bit of has changed over the course of the years, and it is constantly in motion at any particular moment, but that hardly implies something as silly as this caricature: that one moment you have the body, and it is gone the next? Does John become Jane the next moment and Mark then 3rd moment .
Because it remains
What does that mean? Remains how?
A super discreet model that denies the whole and only affirms particles of 0 duration
I am not advocating any such thing.
Change requires time, and if something doesn't last long enough to change, how can it change?
Don't ask me; ask someone who holds such a view.
Change also requires somethings to last longer then others.
Nanavira is talking about something that does not change for a period. What is that something?.

Ven Nanivara says it well:

Now the Pali texts say that the Buddha taught anicca/dukkha/anattā, and the average Theravādin, monk or layman, seems to take for granted that aniccatā, or impermanence, means that things are perpetually changing, that they do not remain the same for two consecutive moments.
Damdifino who these "average Theravadins are, but that is a caricature of the Buddha's teachings.
If things don't remain the same for two consequent moments, then meaning of letters would not remain the same for two consequent moments and the meaning of sentences would never exist/last.
Huh?
>> 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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Re: something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval

Post by Prasadachitta » Fri Oct 29, 2010 2:41 am

Individual wrote:I liked Geoff's post too. :)
:thumbsup:
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Re: something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval

Post by Individual » Fri Oct 29, 2010 3:06 am

tiltbillings wrote:
If things don't remain the same for two consequent moments, then meaning of letters would not remain the same for two consequent moments and the meaning of sentences would never exist/last.
Huh?
When you say, "Huh?" do you mean the same confusion shared by all people when they make that utterance, or is your "Huh?" an entirely new form of confusion?
Last edited by Individual on Fri Oct 29, 2010 3:15 am, edited 1 time in total.
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