Pali term: samsāra

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Pali term: samsāra

Post by retrofuturist »

Greetings,

I couldn't find an existing topic on "samsāra" so I've created this one. (Will happily merge, if someone finds an older topic.)
cappuccino wrote:
Sat Jun 15, 2019 2:33 am
Saṃsāra is a Sanskrit word that means "wandering" … In short, it is the cycle of death and rebirth. Saṃsāra is sometimes referred to with terms or phrases such as transmigration, karmic cycle, reincarnation, and "cycle of aimless drifting, wandering or mundane existence"
From Wikipedia
Alternatively...

sam = (together) with
sāra - essence

Thus, samsāra is the deluded state of thinking that things we put together (i.e. fabricate, sankhara) have "essence", thus, that they exist.

Thus, the end of paticcasamuppada (dependent arising), is the end of samsāra (regarding put-together things as having essence).

See SN 12.15 below, for a detailed account of how such delusion is abandoned.
Staying near Sāvatthī … Then Ven. Kaccāna Gotta approached the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down, sat to one side. As he was sitting there he said to the Blessed One: “Lord, ‘Right view, right view,’ it is said. To what extent is there right view?”

“By & large, Kaccāna, this world1 is supported by [takes as its object] a polarity, that of existence & non-existence. But when one sees the origination2 of the world as it has come to be with right discernment, ‘non-existence’ with reference to the world does not occur to one. When one sees the cessation of the world as it has come to be with right discernment, ‘existence’ with reference to the world does not occur to one.3

“By & large, Kaccāna, this world is in bondage to attachments, clingings [sustenances], & biases. But one such as this does not get involved with or cling to these attachments, clingings, fixations of awareness, biases, or obsessions; nor is he resolved on ‘my self.’ He has no uncertainty or doubt that mere stress, when arising, is arising; stress, when passing away, is passing away.4 In this, his knowledge is independent of others. It’s to this extent, Kaccāna, that there is right view.

“‘Everything exists’: That is one extreme. ‘Everything doesn’t exist’: That is a second extreme.5 Avoiding these two extremes, the Tathāgata teaches the Dhamma via the middle: From ignorance as a requisite condition come fabrications.

From fabrications as a requisite condition comes consciousness.

From consciousness as a requisite condition comes name-&-form.

From name-&-form as a requisite condition come the six sense media.

From the six sense media as a requisite condition comes contact.

From contact as a requisite condition comes feeling.

From feeling as a requisite condition comes craving.

From craving as a requisite condition comes clinging/sustenance.

From clinging/sustenance as a requisite condition comes becoming.

From becoming as a requisite condition comes birth.

From birth as a requisite condition, then aging-&-death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair come into play. Such is the origination of this entire mass of stress & suffering.

“Now from the remainderless fading & cessation of that very ignorance comes the cessation of fabrications. From the cessation of fabrications comes the cessation of consciousness. From the cessation of consciousness comes the cessation of name-&-form. From the cessation of name-&-form comes the cessation of the six sense media. From the cessation of the six sense media comes the cessation of contact. From the cessation of contact comes the cessation of feeling. From the cessation of feeling comes the cessation of craving. From the cessation of craving comes the cessation of clinging/sustenance. From the cessation of clinging/sustenance comes the cessation of becoming. From the cessation of becoming comes the cessation of birth. From the cessation of birth, then aging-&-death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair all cease. Such is the cessation of this entire mass of stress & suffering.”
Metta,
Paul. :)
"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"It is natural that one who knows and sees things as they really are is disenchanted and dispassionate." (AN 10.2)

“Truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.” (Flannery O'Connor)

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Re: Pali term: samsāra

Post by DooDoot »

The suttas appear to offer different perspectives on 'samsāra'. I like the following sutta:
At Savatthi. “Bhikkhus, this saṃsara (saṃsāro) is without discoverable beginning. A first point is not discerned of beings (sattānaṃ) roaming (sandhāvataṃ) and wandering (saṃsarataṃ) on hindered by ignorance and fettered by craving.

“There comes a time, bhikkhus, when the great ocean dries up and evaporates and no longer exists, but still, I say, there is no making an end of suffering for those beings roaming and wandering on hindered by ignorance and fettered by craving.

“There comes a time, bhikkhus, when Sineru, the king of mountains, burns up and perishes and no longer exists, but still, I say, there is no making an end of suffering for those beings roaming and wandering on hindered by ignorance and fettered by craving.

“There comes a time, bhikkhus, when the great earth burns up and perishes and no longer exists, but still, I say, there is no making an end of suffering for those beings roaming and wandering on hindered by ignorance and fettered by craving.

“Suppose, bhikkhus, a dog tied up on a leash was bound to a strong post or pillar: it would just keep on running (anuparidhāvati) and revolving around (anuparivattati) that same post or pillar. So too, the uninstructed worldling … regards form as self … feeling as self … perception as self … volitional formations as self … consciousness as self…. He just keeps running and revolving around form, around feeling, around perception, around volitional formations, around consciousness. As he keeps on running and revolving around them, he is not freed from form, not freed from feeling, not freed from perception, not freed from volitional formations, not freed from consciousness. He is not freed from birth, aging, and death; not freed from sorrow, lamentation, pain, displeasure, and despair; not freed from suffering, I say.

“But the instructed noble disciple … does not regard form as self … nor feeling as self … nor perception as self … nor volitional formations as self … nor consciousness as self…. He no longer keeps running and revolving around form, around feeling, around perception, around volitional formations, around consciousness. As he no longer keeps running and revolving around them, he is freed from form, freed from feeling, freed from perception, freed from volitional formations, freed from consciousness. He is freed from birth, aging, and death; freed from sorrow, lamentation, pain, displeasure, and despair; freed from suffering, I say.”

https://suttacentral.net/sn22.99/en/bodhi
Also:
“This generation is intent on the I-maker, connected to the other-maker,
Some did not know that, and did not see: ‘this is a dart’.

“But seeing that dart is the cause,
There is no more ‘I am the maker’ for him,
There is no more ‘Another is the maker’ for him.

“This generation is possessed by conceit, tied by conceit, bound by conceit,
Talking impetuously in regard to their views,
Saṃsāra has not been transcended.”

https://suttacentral.net/ud6.6/en/anandajoti
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Re: Pali term: samsāra

Post by Volo »

retrofuturist wrote:
Tue Aug 06, 2019 3:56 am
Alternatively...

sam = (together) with
sāra - essence
Where is this derivation coming from?

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Re: Pali term: samsāra

Post by retrofuturist »

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

"It is natural that one who knows and sees things as they really are is disenchanted and dispassionate." (AN 10.2)

“Truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.” (Flannery O'Connor)

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Re: Pali term: samsāra

Post by Volo »

retrofuturist wrote:
Tue Aug 06, 2019 8:22 am
Greetings Volo,

sam = (together) with
https://dsalsrv04.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/ ... rchhws=yes

sāra - essence
https://dsalsrv04.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/ ... rchhws=yes
You cannot simply break the word the way you like and combine the parts to get the meaning. The words are derived from certain roots. Some words might sound or be written similarly/same, but it doesn't mean they are related. "Bark" as dog's sound and "bark" from a tree are written identically but they are coming from different roots, and therefore cannot be defined through one another. It's always important to know etymology. PED derives saṃsāra from saṃsarati, and then saṃ + sarati (to go, flow, run, move along).

Secondly, even when we find the correct etymology it doesn't mean we can define word through it. Sometimes it's indeed informative (in case of saṃsāra saṃsarati it seems to be okay), but sometimes word can change its meaning from the original. This is also something to keep in mind.

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Re: Pali term: samsāra

Post by retrofuturist »

Greetings Volo,
Volo wrote:
Tue Aug 06, 2019 8:45 am
... This is also something to keep in mind.
Sure, but when the result is something actually in keeping with the definition of both the prefix and the word, and actually yields a definition that reflects the falsity (i.e. cognitive distortion) of samsāra , then maybe the traditional etymology (most likely sourced from the commentaries) shouldn't be held as beyond question - especially in light of the myriad alternative etymologies (obviously not all simultaneously legitimate) that they are prone to provide (think the Vsm treatment of nibbana, for example).

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

"It is natural that one who knows and sees things as they really are is disenchanted and dispassionate." (AN 10.2)

“Truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.” (Flannery O'Connor)

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Re: Pali term: samsāra

Post by mikenz66 »

retrofuturist wrote:
Tue Aug 06, 2019 9:15 am
Sure, but when the result is something actually in keeping with the definition of both the prefix and the word, and actually yields a definition that reflects the falsity (i.e. cognitive distortion) of samsāra , then maybe the traditional etymology (most likely sourced from the commentaries) shouldn't be held as beyond question - especially in light of the myriad alternative etymologies (obviously not all simultaneously legitimate) that they are prone to provide (think the Vsm treatment of nibbana, for example).
Well I'm no expert, but if it appears that the meaning predates the Buddha and is shared by other religions.

I'm also not sure how "together-essence" would fit into passages such as this:
“Mendicants, transmigration has no known beginning.
“Anamataggoyaṃ, bhikkhave, saṃsāro.

No first point is found of sentient beings roaming and transmigrating, hindered by ignorance and fettered by craving.
Pubbā koṭi na paññāyati avijjānīvaraṇānaṃ sattānaṃ taṇhāsaṃyojanānaṃ sandhāvataṃ saṃsarataṃ.
https://suttacentral.net/sn15.3/en/sujato
I presume that sandhāvataṃ is "roaming", there is some nice wordplay there...

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Re: Pali term: samsāra

Post by retrofuturist »

Greetings Mike,
mikenz66 wrote:
Tue Aug 06, 2019 9:45 am
Well I'm no expert, but if it appears that the meaning predates the Buddha and is shared by other religions.
Yes, as are other terms that he put his own spin on, to bring them in conformity to the Dhamma.
mikenz66 wrote:
Tue Aug 06, 2019 9:45 am
I'm also not sure how "together-essence" would fit into passages such as this:
“Mendicants, transmigration has no known beginning.
“Anamataggoyaṃ, bhikkhave, saṃsāro.

No first point is found of sentient beings roaming and transmigrating, hindered by ignorance and fettered by craving.
Pubbā koṭi na paññāyati avijjānīvaraṇānaṃ sattānaṃ taṇhāsaṃyojanānaṃ sandhāvataṃ saṃsarataṃ.
https://suttacentral.net/sn15.3/en/sujato
Actually, I think this sutta shows the strength of the "together(with) essence" interpretation.

As per the sutta quoted, there is no first point to ignorance, so everything that has ever followed has falsely assumed essence or "existence", when in reality, everything that one might regard as self, or relating to a self, is dependently originated. It is worth remembering that in this Dhamma, even "birth" and "death" themselves are fabrications dependent upon ignorance, so IMHO, it would be folly to place too much stock in them. "Transmigration" itself is a fallacious concept, for what is it that transmigrates (other than the falsely perceived "essence" that one erroneously feels "together with")?

:shrug:

Thus, maybe it's a difference in the "phenomenological / atemporal" and "naive-realist / temporal" approaches to the Dhamma (akin to the two most common models of paticcasamuppada)? Either way, it's been presented as an "alternative" definition, rather than the Classical orthodox interpretation, and on that basis I'm perfectly happy for people to choose to apply it or set it aside, as they see fit.

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

"It is natural that one who knows and sees things as they really are is disenchanted and dispassionate." (AN 10.2)

“Truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.” (Flannery O'Connor)

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Re: Pali term: samsāra

Post by mikenz66 »

It's interesting to look at Ven Ñāṇananda's translation of
Sutta Nipata verse 746, in The Law of Dependent Arising, Sermon 17. https://seeingthroughthenet.net/books/
“Taṇhādutiyo puriso,
Dīghamaddhāna saṃsaraṃ;
Itthabhāvaññathābhāvaṃ,
Saṃsāraṃ nātivattati.
Sujato Translation wrote: Craving is a man’s partner,
In this long journey of transmigration;
In this form of existence or some other,
One does not escape transmigration.
https://suttacentral.net/snp3.12/en/sujato#sc44
Ñāṇananda Translation wrote: The man wandering long, with craving as his partner
Does not transcend this saṁsāra which is an alternation
between ‘thisness’ and ‘otherwiseness’.
He translates the first saṃsaraṃ as "wandering" and leaves the second untranslated...

And, of course the Sermon revolves around picking apart Itthabhāvaññathābhāvaṃ, which he, obviously, gives his own spin to:
I would like to discuss this topic from yet another angle,
using another expression in the same verse, since I am very
particular that you understand it clearly. “Taṇhā dutiyo puriso
dīghamaddhāna saṁsaraṁ itthabhāvaññathābhāvaṁ saṁsāraṁ
nātivattati.” The true nature of this saṁsāra is summarized as
something found between ‘thisness’ and ‘otherwiseness’. Let me
explain it. Think of a being taking birth here from somewhere, let
us say from the animal world. This baby seeing things, hearing
sounds around him, he develops the notion ‘here’ followed by the
idea of ‘thisness’ or itthabhāva. From the moment thisness is
established, it keeps changing into ‘otherwiseness’, or
aññathābhāva. ...
However this interpretation still does play out over time:
... This process is referred to as tatratatrābhinandinī,
the fact that the beings wander in saṁsāra between ‘thisness’ and
‘otherwiseness’. This happens not only from life to life and birth
to birth but also within a lifetime. This change is extremely
subtle. I have given you these details to enable you to understand
itthabhāva and aññathābhāva.
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Re: Pali term: samsāra

Post by retrofuturist »

Greetings Mike,

Thanks for bringing Ven. Nanananda into the conversation. 8-)
Nanananda wrote: ... This process is referred to as tatratatrābhinandinī,
the fact that the beings wander in saṁsāra between ‘thisness’ and
‘otherwiseness’. This happens not only from life to life and birth
to birth but also within a lifetime. This change is extremely
subtle. I have given you these details to enable you to understand
itthabhāva and aññathābhāva.
mikenz66 wrote:
Tue Aug 06, 2019 10:19 am
However this interpretation still does play out over time
Indeed, or rather, perceived as such due to falsely perceiving ‘thisness’ and ‘otherwiseness', when in actuality there is mere 'tathata' (such-ness).

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

"It is natural that one who knows and sees things as they really are is disenchanted and dispassionate." (AN 10.2)

“Truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.” (Flannery O'Connor)

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Re: Pali term: samsāra

Post by mikenz66 »

retrofuturist wrote:
Tue Aug 06, 2019 10:26 am
Indeed, or rather, perceived as such due to falsely perceiving ‘thisness’ and ‘otherwiseness', when in actuality there is mere 'tathata' (such-ness).
Thank you for your interesting interpretation.

However my point was to focus on the "long journey" of the second line of the verse, which seemed relevant to the topic of this thread.

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Re: Pali term: samsāra

Post by retrofuturist »

Greetings Mike,
mikenz66 wrote:
Tue Aug 06, 2019 10:40 am
However my point was to focus on the "long journey" of the second line of the verse, which seemed relevant to the topic of this thread.
Yes, both interpretations are truly beginningless - the traditional one in terms of the cycle of transmigration, and the "(together) with essence" one in terms of there not having been a time when avijja did not create false perceptions of existence of a self, or of that which related to a self.

Similarly, both enable samsara to be transcended through the cessation of avijja, so neither is prohibitive in terms of realisation.

:buddha1:

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

"It is natural that one who knows and sees things as they really are is disenchanted and dispassionate." (AN 10.2)

“Truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.” (Flannery O'Connor)

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Re: Pali term: samsāra

Post by DooDoot »

mikenz66 wrote:
Tue Aug 06, 2019 9:45 am
Well I'm no expert... I presume that sandhāvataṃ is "roaming", there is some nice wordplay there...
Hi Mike. Why do you refer to a "wordplay" here? Thanks. The term 'saṃ + dhāv + a' appears to contain 'dhāv', which is found in MN 65, referring to a horse "galloping" or "racing". Surely the common secular phrase "busily racing around" is an apt literal description for "samsara". Or do you believe "samsara" literally means "reincarnation" or "transmigration"? :shrug:
https://www.pinterest.com.au/pin/754282637561988574/
While kids are busy racing around, they can keep their stuff together in this sturdy, stylish rolling backpack featuring Lightning McQueen and Cruz Ramirez from...

mikenz66 wrote:
Tue Aug 06, 2019 9:45 am
....
Well I'm no expert... sentient beings ... sattānaṃ
Hi, again, Mike. Why do you post the word "sentient" (beings) when the sutta appears to not contain a Pali word equivalent for "sentinent"? Thanks. If your reply is you are merely posting Bhikkhu Sujato's translation then he, obviously, gives his own spin to "satta".
mikenz66 wrote:
Tue Aug 06, 2019 10:19 am
Well I'm no expert... And, of course the Sermon revolves around picking apart Itthabhāvaññathābhāvaṃ, which he, obviously, gives his own spin to:
Hi Mike. If Ven Nanananda is giving this his own "spin", as you claim, in your (non-expert) opinion, what is the real deal here, i.e., what is the unspun meaning? Thanks
mikenz66 wrote:
Tue Aug 06, 2019 10:19 am
Well I'm no expert... the Sermon revolves around... Itthabhāvaññathābhāvaṃ... ‘thisness’ and ‘otherwiseness’... tatratatrābhinandinī... I have given you these details to enable you to understand itthabhāva and aññathābhāva.
Hi Mike. I am struggle to identify your (non-expert) "issue" here. The compound "Itthabhāvaññathābhāvaṃ" appears to refer to "this becoming & that/another becoming". The phrase "tatratatrābhinandinī" is found in the 2nd noble truth, which is not only about craving but also about becoming. Importantly, the "tatratatrābhinandinī" appears to be about in the here-&-now, as translated:
yāyaṃ taṇhā ponobbhavikā nandirāgasahagatā tatratatrābhinandinī, seyyathidaṃ—

Now this, bhikkhus, is the noble truth of the origin of suffering: it is this craving which leads to renewed existence, accompanied by delight and lust, seeking delight here and there; that is, craving for sensual pleasures, craving for existence, craving for extermination.

https://suttacentral.net/sn56.11/en/bodhi

tatra
adverb

there; in that place; to that place.
as loc. of ta(d): in that; in those; in regard to that; in that case; on that occasion.
(repeated): in that and that place, here and there; on this and that.

https://suttacentral.net/define/tatra
While I am no expert, obviously Bhikkhu Sujato also gives his own spin to "tatratatrābhinandinī", translating it as "taking pleasure in various different realms". I once heard "tatratatrābhinandinī" simply means "complete infatuation with this & that".

So what exactly is your issue or point of conflict here, with Venerable Nanananda? My impression is you seem to believe, similar to Bhikkhu Sujato, the word "bhava" means "rebirth" or "reincarnation" rather than the mental sense that "I exist" or "they exist"; as found in a sutta I already posted about "samsara", as follows:
“This generation is intent on the I-maker, connected to the other-maker,
Some did not know that, and did not see: ‘this is a dart’.

“But seeing that dart is the cause,
There is no more ‘I am the maker’ for him,
There is no more ‘Another is the maker’ for him.

“This generation is possessed by conceit, tied by conceit, bound by conceit,
Talking impetuously in regard to their views,
Saṃsāra has not been transcended.”

https://suttacentral.net/ud6.6/en/anandajoti
Last edited by DooDoot on Tue Aug 06, 2019 1:00 pm, edited 11 times in total.
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Re: Pali term: samsāra

Post by Volo »

retrofuturist wrote:
Tue Aug 06, 2019 9:15 am
Sure, but when the result is something actually in keeping with the definition of both the prefix and the word, and actually yields a definition that reflects the falsity (i.e. cognitive distortion) of samsāra , then maybe the traditional etymology (most likely sourced from the commentaries) shouldn't be held as beyond question

I assume etymology from PED or MW Sanskrit dictionary are mainly based on linguistic studies rather than religious texts.
especially in light of the myriad alternative etymologies (obviously not all simultaneously legitimate) that they are prone to provide (think the Vsm treatment of nibbana, for example).
In the suttas we can also occasionally find cases when Buddha defines a word through similarly sounding but linguistically not related words. But he knew what definition is legitimate. If we take Buddhaghosa and those on whose works he based his writings to be ordinary individuals like us, and who had access to more or less the same original texts as we have, then "yes": we can come with whatever etymology we want. But I think it's dangerous approach.

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Re: Pali term: samsāra

Post by mikenz66 »

DooDoot wrote:
Tue Aug 06, 2019 11:57 am
mikenz66 wrote:
Tue Aug 06, 2019 9:45 am
Well I'm no expert... I presume that sandhāvataṃ is "roaming", there is some nice wordplay there...
Hi Mike. Why do you refer to a "wordplay" here? Thanks.
Try reading it alout:
... sandhāvataṃ saṃsarataṃ.
roaming and transmigrating
It's relatively common to find wordplay such as this, with similar-sounding words.
DooDoot wrote:
Tue Aug 06, 2019 11:57 am
The term 'saṃ + dhāv + a' appears to contain 'dhāv', which is found in MN 65, referring to a horse "galloping" or "racing". Surely the common secular phrase "busily racing around" is an apt literal description for "samsara". Or do you believe "samsara" literally means "reincarnation" or "transmigration"? :shrug:
This thread is about the meaning of the language.
DooDoot wrote:
Tue Aug 06, 2019 11:57 am
Hi, again, Mike. Why do you post the word "sentient"?
I quoted a translation.

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Mike

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