Conventional and Ultimate reality

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paul
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Conventional and Ultimate reality

Post by paul » Wed Nov 01, 2017 10:08 pm

Conventional reality is a reality, the problem is it purports to be ultimate, so it's a matter of changing perspective:

“According to the Abhidhamma philosophy, there are two kinds of realities- the conventional (sammuti) and the ultimate (paramatttha). Conventional realities are the referents of ordinary conceptual thought (panatti) and conventional modes of expression (vohara). They include such entities as living beings, persons, man, woman, animals, and the apparently stable persisting objects that constitute our unanalysed picture of the world. The Abhidhamma philosophy maintains that these notions do not possess ultimate validity, for the objects which they signify do not exist in their own right as irreducible realities. Their mode of being is conceptual, not actual. They are the products of mental construction (parikappana), not realities existing by reason of their own nature.
Ultimate realities, in contrast, are things that exist by reason of their own intrinsic nature (sabhava). These are the dhammas: the final irreducible components of existence, the ultimate entities which result from a correctly performed analysis of experience. Such existents admit of no further reduction, but are themselves the final terms of analysis, the true constituents of the complex manifold of experience. Hence the word paramattha is applied to them, which is derived from parama= ultimate, highest, final, and attha= reality, thing.
The ultimate realities are characterised not only from the ontological angle as the ultimate existents, but also from the epistemological angle as the ultimate objects of right knowledge. As one extracts oil from sesame seed, so one can extract the ultimate realities from the conventional realities. For example “being” and “man” and “woman” are concepts suggesting that the things they signify possess irreducible ultimate unity. However when we wisely investigate these things with the analytical tools of the Abhidhamma, we find they do not possess the ultimacy implied by the concepts, but only a conventional reality as an assemblage of impermanent factors, of mental and physical processes. Thus by examining the conventional realities with wisdom, we eventually arrive at the objective actualities that lie behind our conventional constructs. It is these objective actualities- the dhammas, which maintain their intrinsic natures independently of the mind’s constructive functions- that form the ultimate realities of the Abhidhamma.
Although ultimate realities exist as the concrete essence of things, they are so subtle and profound that an ordinary person who lacks training cannot perceive them. Such a person cannot perceive the ultimate realities because his mind is obscured by concepts, which shape reality into conventionally defined appearance. Only by means of wise or thorough attention to things (yoniso manasikara) can one see beyond the concepts and take the ultimate realities as one’s object of knowledge. Thus paramattha is described as that which belongs to the domain of ultimate or supreme Knowledge.” —-“A Comprehensive Manual of Abhidhamma”, Bikkhu Bodhi.
Last edited by paul on Thu Nov 02, 2017 5:40 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Pondera
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Re: Conventional and Ultimate reality

Post by Pondera » Wed Nov 01, 2017 10:52 pm

Sabba Sutta: The All
translated from the Pali by
Thanissaro Bhikkhu
© 2001
"Monks, I will teach you the All. Listen & pay close attention. I will speak."

"As you say, lord," the monks responded.

The Blessed One said, "What is the All? Simply the eye & forms, ear & sounds, nose & aromas, tongue & flavors, body & tactile sensations, intellect & ideas. This, monks, is called the All. [1] Anyone who would say, 'Repudiating this All, I will describe another,' if questioned on what exactly might be the grounds for his statement, would be unable to explain, and furthermore, would be put to grief. Why? Because it lies beyond range."
A wise man once asked an audience, "why do the ignorant shrug their shoulders?"

No one in the audience knew. They shrugged their shoulders, however the wise man only laughed and shook his head. He didn't explain any further.

DooDoot
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Re: Conventional and Ultimate reality

Post by DooDoot » Thu Nov 02, 2017 12:40 am

paul wrote:
Wed Nov 01, 2017 10:08 pm
According to the Abhidhamma philosophy, there are two kinds of realities- the conventional (sammuti) and the ultimate (paramatttha). Conventional realities are the referents of ordinary conceptual thought (panatti) and conventional modes of expression (vohara). They include such entities as living beings, persons, man, woman, animals, and the apparently stable persisting objects that constitute our unanalysed picture of the world. The Abhidhamma philosophy maintains that these notions do not possess ultimate validity, for the objects which they signify do not exist in their own right as irreducible realities. Their mode of being is conceptual, not actual. They are the products of mental construction (parikappana), not realities existing by reason of their own nature.
The above seems well-described in SN 5.10, as follows:
Why now do you assume 'a being'?
Mara, have you grasped a view?
This is a heap of sheer constructions:
Here no being is found.

Just as, with an assemblage of parts,
The word 'chariot' is used,
So, when the aggregates are present,
There's the convention (sammuti) 'a being.'

It's only suffering that comes to be,
Suffering that stands and falls away.
Nothing but suffering comes to be,
Nothing but suffering ceases.

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .bodh.html
:candle:
paul wrote:
Wed Nov 01, 2017 10:08 pm
Ultimate realities, in contrast, are things that exist by reason of their own intrinsic nature (sabhava).
SN 22.79 seems to described this 'sabhava', as follows:
And why, bhikkhus, do you call it form? ‘It is deformed,’ bhikkhus, therefore it is called form.

And why, bhikkhus, do you call it feeling? ‘It feels,’ bhikkhus, therefore it is called feeling.

And why, bhikkhus, do you call it perception? ‘It perceives,’ bhikkhus, therefore it is called perception.

And why, bhikkhus, do you call them formations? ‘They construct the conditioned,’ bhikkhus, therefore they are called formations.

And why, bhikkhus, do you call it consciousness? ‘It cognizes, ’ bhikkhus, therefore it is called consciousness

https://suttacentral.net/en/sn22.79
:candle:
paul wrote:
Wed Nov 01, 2017 10:08 pm
These are the dhammas: the final irreducible components of existence, the ultimate entities which result from a correctly performed analysis of experience. Such existents admit of no further reduction, but are themselves the final terms of analysis, the true constituents of the complex manifold of experience. Hence the word paramattha is applied to them, which is derived from parama= ultimate, highest, final, and attha= reality, thing. The ultimate realities are characterised not only from the ontological angle as the ultimate existents, but also from the epistemological angle as the ultimate objects of right knowledge.
I find the above paragraph at times problematic due to is choice of words, particularly the use the words "existence", "entities", "ontological" & "existents", because these words can impute "selfhood' onto mere phenomena. If these words do not have direct equivalents in the Pali of Abhdidhamma then my impression is choosing these words by Bhikkhu Bodhi is like sabotaging the Abhidhamma. I would guess choosing the word "ontological" is Bhikkhu Bodhi's own idea & imputation rather than the true meaning of the relevant Abhidhamma. I think care should be taken to not misrepresent Abhidhamma by using ill-defined terms from Western philosophy to describe it.

I think the important point of the above paragraph is these 'sabhava dhamma' are the most basic & untainted elements of experience, namely, aggregates, sense spheres, elements & the like, as described in SN 5.10 & SN 22.79, quoted above. The important point is "experience" rather than intellectualizing. By intellectualizing, I am referring to intellectually breaking down aggregates into smaller & smaller atoms, which is only an intellectual exercise rather than the experience of meditation.
paul wrote:
Wed Nov 01, 2017 10:08 pm
As one extracts oil from sesame seed, so one can extract the ultimate realities from the conventional realities. For example “being” and “man” and “woman” are concepts suggesting that the things they signify possess irreducible ultimate unity. However when we wisely investigate these things with the analytical tools of the Abhidhamma, we find they do not possess the ultimacy implied by the concepts, but only a conventional reality as an assemblage of impermanent factors, of mental and physical processes. Thus by examining the conventional realities with wisdom, we eventually arrive at the objective actualities that lie behind our conventional constructs. It is these objective actualities- the dhammas, which maintain their intrinsic natures independently of the mind’s constructive functions- that form the ultimate realities of the Abhidhamma.
Difficult paragraph to read because the words "conventional" & "ultimacy" appear mixed up. To the puthujjhana (unenlightened ordinary person), yes, "being", "man" & "woman" are "ultimacy" rather than "convention" but to the enlightened it is the opposite; as the paragraph concludes in its reference to "objective actualities", "intrinsic natures" and "ultimate realities of the Abhidhamma".
paul wrote:
Wed Nov 01, 2017 10:08 pm
Although ultimate realities exist as the concrete essence of things, they are so subtle and profound that an ordinary person who lacks training cannot perceive them. Such a person cannot perceive the ultimate realities because his mind is obscured by concepts, which shape reality into conventionally defined appearance. Only by means of wise or thorough attention to things (yoniso manasikara) can one see beyond the concepts and take the ultimate realities as one’s object of knowledge. Thus paramattha is described as that which belongs to the domain of ultimate or supreme Knowledge.” —-“A Comprehensive Manual of Abhidhamma”, Bikkhu Bodhi.
Very good. Well-spoken. :)

Saengnapha
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Re: Conventional and Ultimate reality

Post by Saengnapha » Thu Nov 02, 2017 2:47 am

paul wrote:
Wed Nov 01, 2017 10:08 pm
As one extracts oil from sesame seed, so one can extract the ultimate realities from the conventional realities. For example “being” and “man” and “woman” are concepts suggesting that the things they signify possess irreducible ultimate unity. However when we wisely investigate these things with the analytical tools of the Abhidhamma, we find they do not possess the ultimacy implied by the concepts, but only a conventional reality as an assemblage of impermanent factors, of mental and physical processes. Thus by examining the conventional realities with wisdom, we eventually arrive at the objective actualities that lie behind our conventional constructs. It is these objective actualities- the dhammas, which maintain their intrinsic natures independently of the mind’s constructive functions- that form the ultimate realities of the Abhidhamma.
Although ultimate realities exist as the concrete essence of things, they are so subtle and profound that an ordinary person who lacks training cannot perceive them. Suca a person cannot perceive the ultimate realities because his mind is obscured by concepts, which shape reality into conventionally defined appearance. Only by means of wise or thorough attention to things (yoniso manasikara) can one see beyond the concepts and take the ultimate realities as one’s object of knowledge. Thus paramattha is described as that which belongs to the domain of ultimate or supreme Knowledge.” —-“A Comprehensive Manual of Abhidhamma”, Bikkhu Bodhi.
To be sure, there are various schools who agree and disagree with this view. For myself, this seems to be an attempt to reduce things to an essence, Svabhava (Sanskrit: svabhāva; Pali: sabhāva; Chinese: 自性; pinyin: zìxìng; Tibetan: རང་བཞིན, Wylie: rang-bzhin) literally means "own-being" or "own-becoming". How is this different from Vedanta and the reduction of everything to an ultimate reality? This seems to not be what the Buddha taught, yet there are Mahayana sutras which teach Tathagatagarbha, the seed of Buddhanature, which sounds suspiciously like Brahman but which is said to be empty, without an existing self.

The Two Truths of Mahayana are comprehensible up to a certain point. That point is when conventional truth is said to be not ultimate. But no ultimate truth can ever be found and pointed to except a philosophical statement which is based on deduction. Essence can easily be mistaken for a kind of thing, an ultimate thing which is impossible to apprehend with the conventional and not what the Buddha taught, IMO. To me, the ending of all views comes into play.

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Re: Conventional and Ultimate reality

Post by DooDoot » Thu Nov 02, 2017 4:05 am

Saengnapha wrote:
Thu Nov 02, 2017 2:47 am
To be sure, there are various schools who agree and disagree with this view. For myself, this seems to be an attempt to reduce things to an essence, Svabhava (Sanskrit: svabhāva; Pali: sabhāva; Chinese: 自性; pinyin: zìxìng; Tibetan: རང་བཞིན, Wylie: rang-bzhin) literally means "own-being" or "own-becoming".
This is wrong to take a Pali word translated into Chinese then to assert the distorted Chinese meaning. 'Sabhava' does not mean "own being" in Abhidhamma. It means "own intrinsic nature", as BB said. The term "own being" has no logical meaning in Buddhism thus would not be used by Indian Buddhists. For example, as was quoted from SN 22.79, feeling (vedana) has the nature to feel (vedayatī), which is why it is called "feeling". To feel is the intrinsic nature of feeling. Your point of view & use of Chinese appears to be sabotaging & misrepresenting the Abhidhamma.
Saengnapha wrote:
Thu Nov 02, 2017 2:47 am
The Two Truths of Mahayana are comprehensible up to a certain point.
The Mahayana two truths is not the same as this. Mahayana has no relevance to this matter.
Saengnapha wrote:
Thu Nov 02, 2017 2:47 am
That point is when conventional truth is said to be not ultimate.
The idea of "convention" (sammuti) is well-explained in the suttas & by BB above. The difference between conventional & ultimate truth is black & white. What is the point of entering into a discussion when not even knowing what the Pali point of view is on this matter?
Saengnapha wrote:
Thu Nov 02, 2017 2:47 am
But no ultimate truth can ever be found and pointed to except a philosophical statement which is based on deduction. Essence can easily be mistaken for a kind of thing, an ultimate thing which is impossible to apprehend with the conventional and not what the Buddha taught, IMO. To me, the ending of all views comes into play.
It appears the Buddha did not teach the ending of all views given the Buddha obviously praised & encouraged Right View. Regardless, to assert what the Buddha taught at least requires a quote or reference.

Saengnapha
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Re: Conventional and Ultimate reality

Post by Saengnapha » Thu Nov 02, 2017 5:55 am

We might as well all pack it in and only listen to Doo Doot explain things to us. Life would be much simpler in a Doo Doot world. We could even say Doo Doot is the ultimate reality, glossary, view, and realization. This man knows everything. :jawdrop: :rolleye: ;)

DooDoot
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Re: Conventional and Ultimate reality

Post by DooDoot » Thu Nov 02, 2017 6:07 am

Saengnapha wrote:
Thu Nov 02, 2017 5:55 am
This man knows everything.
Thank you for the kind words. :hug:
Last edited by DooDoot on Thu Nov 02, 2017 10:25 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Conventional and Ultimate reality

Post by Spiny Norman » Thu Nov 02, 2017 9:14 am

paul wrote:
Wed Nov 01, 2017 10:08 pm

“Ultimate realities, in contrast, are things that exist by reason of their own intrinsic nature (sabhava). These are the dhammas: the final irreducible components of existence, the ultimate entities which result from a correctly performed analysis of experience. Such existents admit of no further reduction, but are themselves the final terms of analysis, the true constituents of the complex manifold of experience. Hence the word paramattha is applied to them, which is derived from parama= ultimate, highest, final, and attha= reality, thing.
—-“A Comprehensive Manual of Abhidhamma”, Bikkhu Bodhi.
What do you make of this comment in the Wiki article?

Theravāda

"In the Pāli Canon, sabhāva is absent from what are generally considered to be the earliest texts. When found in later texts (e.g., the paracanonical Milindapañha), it generically refers to state (of mind), character or truth.

In the post-canonical Abhidhamma literature, sabhāva is used to distinguish an irreducible, dependent, momentary phenomenon (dhamma) from a conventionally constructed object. Thus, a collection of visual and tactile phenomena might be mentally constructed into what is conventionally referred to as a "table"; but, beyond its constituent elements, a construct such as "table" lacks intrinsic existence (sabhāva).

"According to Peter Harvey, svabhava in the Theravada Abhidhamma is something conditional and interdependent:
"They are dhammas because they uphold their own nature [sabhaava]. They are dhammas because they are upheld by conditions or they are upheld according to their own nature" (Asl.39). Here 'own-nature' would mean characteristic nature, which is not something inherent in a dhamma as a separate ultimate reality, but arise due to the supporting conditions both of other dhammas and previous occurrences of that dhamma. This is of significance as it makes the Mahayana critique of the Sarvastivadin's notion of own-nature largely irrelevant to the Theravada.[5]"


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Svabhava
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Re: Conventional and Ultimate reality

Post by justindesilva » Fri Nov 03, 2017 5:23 am

Conventional truth being sammuti sacca , absolute truth is paramatta sacca.
Water , earth, air , light are all sammuti sacca along with all other phenomena that we experience with our six senses. With ignorance we will never overcome the experience of sammuti sacca. With Loba Dosa moha we find that sammuti sacca cannot be penetrated.
From agganna sutta we can understand that the sammuti sacca as water air etc. exist in a form as world transform in stages until another change of the earth occurs.
But Lord budda with his wisdom of 3rd eye or dibba cakku ganna explained the transformation of ultimate realities to apo tejo vayo patavi and it's combination as form (rupa) with mind (a non form energy) to create a being that is part of the earth.
Yet this combination of being keeps suffering as long as it escaped Loba Dosa moha. The ultimate reality which is nirvana is the absolute truth and the being explained with paticca samuppada with its connected phenomena are sammuti sacca.

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Re: Conventional and Ultimate reality

Post by justindesilva » Fri Nov 03, 2017 5:25 am

Conventional truth being sammuti sacca , absolute truth is paramatta sacca.
Water , earth, air , light are all sammuti sacca along with all other phenomena that we experience with our six senses. With ignorance we will never overcome the experience of sammuti sacca. With Loba Dosa moha we find that sammuti sacca cannot be penetrated.
From agganna sutta we can understand that the sammuti sacca as water air etc. exist in a form as world transform in stages until another change of the earth occurs.
But Lord budda with his wisdom of 3rd eye or dibba cakku ganna, explained the transformation of ultimate realities to apo tejo vayo patavi and it's combination as form (rupa) with mind (a non form energy) to create a being that is part of the earth.
Yet this combination of being keeps suffering as long as it escaped Loba Dosa moha. The ultimate reality which is nirvana is the absolute truth and the being explained with paticca samuppada with its connected phenomena are sammuti sacca.

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