Meditation, conditionality, and anatta

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.
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Re: Meditation, conditionality, and anatta

Post by Spiny O'Norman » Fri Nov 12, 2010 11:17 am

Alex123 wrote: If one cannot stop a thought or a mental image from arising, this means that one really can't stop wholesome thought or unwholesome thought from arising.
I think the choice comes in deciding whether to indulge these thoughts/feelings/images, or to let them pass. But the ability to make this choice depends on seeing clearly how mental events arise, which is not atall easy.

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Re: Meditation, conditionality, and anatta

Post by Alex123 » Fri Nov 12, 2010 3:34 pm

Hello Spiny O'Norman,
Spiny O'Norman wrote:I think the choice comes in deciding whether to indulge these thoughts/feelings/images, or to let them pass.
What is the cause for indulging in bad thoughts? Decision of the Self?

As I understand it, it is ultimately ignorance that conditions sankharas and thoughts/feelings/images tainted by defilements.

But the ability to make this choice depends on seeing clearly how mental events arise, which is not atall easy.
Spiny
And can a worldling wish "let me see clearly!" or Arahant will "let me be deluded!" No. Bare process flows in cause-effect stream of conditionality.
"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: Meditation, conditionality, and anatta

Post by Alex123 » Fri Nov 12, 2010 3:42 pm

tiltbillings wrote: None of these things, but there is still choice, intention, will.
Based on what does it arise? Or does it arise all due to itself being the cause?

tiltbillings wrote:
Thought happens due to impersonal causes and conditions (mano + dhamma), and not due to some Self. It is all fully conditioned and happens because that is the only way it could happen.
Don't need a "Self" for there to be willed action, choice.
But what the Self also means is the unitary controller that is outside of conditions. The Buddha has refuted such Self.
tiltbillings wrote:
Not even the Buddha could have it 'Let my consciousness be thus, let my consciousness be not thus.' Same goes for other khandhas.
Give us the full context of that, please.
Buddha couldn't think in a deluded way. One limitation. And another limitation was that His thought process still depended on aggregates, elements and sense-bases - all of them are conditioned are within conditionality (just without 3 unwholesome roots).
"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: Meditation, conditionality, and anatta

Post by Spiny O'Norman » Fri Nov 12, 2010 3:54 pm

Alex123 wrote:As I understand it, it is ultimately ignorance that conditions sankharas and thoughts/feelings/images tainted by defilements.
Yes, I think that's right. Ignorance in the sense of not seeing things clearly.

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Re: Meditation, conditionality, and anatta

Post by Alex123 » Fri Nov 12, 2010 4:17 pm

Hello Tilt, all,

Considering that the Buddha has said:
When this is, that is. From the arising of this comes the arising of that. When this isn't, that isn't. From the cessation of this comes the cessation of that. imasmiṃ sati idaṃ hoti, imassūppādā idaṃ uppajjati, imasmiṃ asati idaṃ na hoti, imassa nirodhā idaṃ nirujjhati
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Where does it leave the possibility of a choice that arises independent of causes? When there is X, this choice arises. When there is Y, that choice arises.

And if the choice is fully conditioned, then it is not really a free will choice as we imagine it. Certain deliberation does occur, but so is its outcome, fully determined by the causes & conditions.
"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: Meditation, conditionality, and anatta

Post by tiltbillings » Fri Nov 12, 2010 9:08 pm

Alex123 wrote:Hello Tilt, all,

Considering that the Buddha has said:
When this is, that is. From the arising of this comes the arising of that. When this isn't, that isn't. From the cessation of this comes the cessation of that. imasmiṃ sati idaṃ hoti, imassūppādā idaṃ uppajjati, imasmiṃ asati idaṃ na hoti, imassa nirodhā idaṃ nirujjhati
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Where does it leave the possibility of a choice that arises independent of causes? When there is X, this choice arises. When there is Y, that choice arises.

And if the choice is fully conditioned, then it is not really a free will choice as we imagine it. Certain deliberation does occur, but so is its outcome, fully determined by the causes & conditions.
So, there is no choice of any sort, is that what you are saying? How goes differ from what Makkhali Gosala taught?
>> 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: Meditation, conditionality, and anatta

Post by tiltbillings » Fri Nov 12, 2010 9:17 pm

Alex123 wrote:
tiltbillings wrote: None of these things, but there is still choice, intention, will.
Based on what does it arise? Or does it arise all due to itself being the cause?
Because a choice/intention is conditioned does not mean there is no choice.

tiltbillings wrote:
Thought happens due to impersonal causes and conditions (mano + dhamma), and not due to some Self. It is all fully conditioned and happens because that is the only way it could happen.
Don't need a "Self" for there to be willed action, choice.
But what the Self also means is the unitary controller that is outside of conditions. The Buddha has refuted such Self.
Don't need an atman for there to be choice. I think you have been reading way too much of Sujin's fatalistic stuff.
Not even the Buddha could have it 'Let my consciousness be thus, let my consciousness be not thus.' Same goes for other khandhas.
To repeat: Give us the full context of that, please. Quote actual texts to support this.
Buddha couldn't think in a deluded way. One limitation. And another limitation was that His thought process still depended on aggregates, elements and sense-bases - all of them are conditioned are within conditionality (just without 3 unwholesome roots).
But none of that means that he did not have choice in how he acted.
>> 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: Meditation, conditionality, and anatta

Post by Alex123 » Fri Nov 12, 2010 9:51 pm

tiltbillings wrote: So, there is no choice of any sort, is that what you are saying? How goes differ from what Makkhali Gosala taught?
There is no Free Agent that can freely chose regardless of his wholesome or unwholesome roots, past development, fetters and things heard externally.

Are you saying to mean that choice is totally random? Unconditioned? What would even be desirable in a choice that is random and not based on past development or understanding? Don't we chose in accordance with desires or wisdom? That alone is already conditioned! There is what appears to be a choice, for sure. But choice, as all else, arises due to conditions and not randomly.


Makkhali Gosala's view starts with these heavy statements that go counter to Buddha's teaching
there is no cause, no requisite condition, for the defilement of beings. Beings are defiled without cause, without requisite condition. There is no cause, no requisite condition, for the purification of beings. Beings are purified without cause, without requisite condition.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
According to the Buddha there are causes for defilements and causes for purification. There are wholesome and unwholesome roots (hetu). There is kamma and result of kamma.
"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: Meditation, conditionality, and anatta

Post by Alex123 » Fri Nov 12, 2010 9:57 pm

tiltbillings wrote: Because a choice/intention is conditioned does not mean there is no choice.
Choice occurs, but it is fully conditioned and its outcome is fully conditioned. You can't squeeze oil out of a sand particle.

tiltbillings wrote: Don't need an atman for there to be choice. I think you have been reading way too much of Sujin's fatalistic stuff.
What I think is fatalistic is the whole notion that choice, willing, thoughts, are not causally dependent on the past. If that was the case, Arhat could revert to being a worldling since his choice wouldn't in that case be dependent on certain causes & conditions.
tiltbillings wrote:
Not even the Buddha could have it 'Let my consciousness be thus, let my consciousness be not thus.' Same goes for other khandhas.
To repeat: Give us the full context of that, please. Quote actual texts to support this.
Anatta-Lakkhana sutta is found here
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .nymo.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

The point it repeatedly states is that one can't command any of the aggregates to "let it be this, let it not be this". Choice, will, intention, kamma, is one of those aggregates.
tiltbillings wrote:
Buddha couldn't think in a deluded way. One limitation. And another limitation was that His thought process still depended on aggregates, elements and sense-bases - all of them are conditioned are within conditionality (just without 3 unwholesome roots).
But none of that means that he did not have choice in how he acted.

Buddha couldn't choose wrong actions. He couldn't think in language He didn't know. His thought process still dependent on the mind-base+mental object.
Dependent on the mind & mental objects there arises consciousness at the mind. Manañca paṭicca dhamme ca uppajjati manoviññāṇaṃ.
MN148


Not due to "Buddha wished and it arose". It would actually beg the question, "Why did the Buddha wish this as opposed to that way. Why did he wish at all?". If it arose due to a specific set of causes, then it was not due to Free Will. If the thought arose randomly, then it is not free will either.
Last edited by Alex123 on Fri Nov 12, 2010 10:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Meditation, conditionality, and anatta

Post by tiltbillings » Fri Nov 12, 2010 10:02 pm

Alex123 wrote:
tiltbillings wrote: So, there is no choice of any sort, is that what you are saying? How goes differ from what Makkhali Gosala taught?
There is no Free Agent that can freely chose regardless of his wholesome or unwholesome roots, past development, fetters and things heard externally.
Did I ever say there was a "free agent? as you define it?
Are you saying to mean that choice is totally random? Unconditioned? What would even be desirable in a choice that is random and not based on past development or understanding? Don't we chose in accordance with desires or wisdom? That alone is already conditioned! There is what appears to be a choice, for sure. But choice, as all else, arises due to conditions and not randomly.
To repeat myself for the zillionth time, choice is conditioned and conditioning, but that does not mean there is no choice. The word kamma means action and the Buddha defined kamma as intention, which then is to say acting based upon intention, choice. It is what the Buddha taught.

Makkhali Gosala's view starts with these heavy statements that go counter to Buddha's teaching
there is no cause, no requisite condition, for the defilement of beings. Beings are defiled without cause, without requisite condition. There is no cause, no requisite condition, for the purification of beings. Beings are purified without cause, without requisite condition.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
According to the Buddha there are causes for defilements and causes for purification. There are wholesome and unwholesome roots (hetu). There is kamma and result of kamma.
If there is kamma there is choice, but if you saying there is no choice, then in effect your position in the end is no different from Makkhali Gosala's view. So, do we have choice in our actions or not?
>> 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: Meditation, conditionality, and anatta

Post by Alex123 » Fri Nov 12, 2010 10:10 pm

tiltbillings wrote: Did I ever say there was a "free agent? as you define it?
For free-will there has to be a hypothetical agent that can choose regardless of conditions. But even in that hypothetical situation, the idea of free choice is flawed. In what way "free"? Independent from any previous causes? Then it is what we call random.
tiltbillings wrote:To repeat myself for the zillionth time, choice is conditioned and conditioning, but that does not mean there is no choice. The word kamma means action and the Buddha defined kamma as intention, which then is to say acting based upon intention, choice. It is what the Buddha taught.
Events that we call "a choice does arise". But it arises due to causes and conditions. Same with what was chosen. It is not random. It is fully conditioned.

If there is kamma there is choice, but if you saying there is no choice, then in effect your position in the end is no different from Makkhali Gosala's view. So, do we have choice in our actions or not?
Whats pali word for "choice"?

In any case

"Intention (Cetanā), I tell you, is kamma. Intending, one does kamma by way of body, speech, & intellect.
"And what is the cause by which kamma comes into play? Contact is the cause by which kamma comes into play...
..."And what is the cessation of kamma? From the cessation of contact is the cessation of kamma;
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

The six classes of contact should be known.' Thus was it said. In reference to what was it said? Dependent on the eye & forms there arises consciousness at the eye. The meeting of the three is contact. Dependent on the ear & sounds there arises consciousness at the ear. The meeting of the three is contact. Dependent on the nose & aromas there arises consciousness at the nose. The meeting of the three is contact. Dependent on the tongue & flavors there arises consciousness at the tongue. The meeting of the three is contact. Dependent on the body & tactile sensations there arises consciousness at the body. The meeting of the three is contact. Dependent on the intellect & ideas there arises consciousness at the intellect. The meeting of the three is contact.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
contact -> kamma

No space for unconditioned kamma being freely chosen. The contact is not what someone can control either. Contact depends on internal sense faculty + external object + consciousness. No control here as well.
Last edited by Alex123 on Fri Nov 12, 2010 10:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Meditation, conditionality, and anatta

Post by tiltbillings » Fri Nov 12, 2010 10:12 pm

Alex123 wrote:
tiltbillings wrote: Because a choice/intention is conditioned does not mean there is no choice.
Choice occurs, but it is fully conditioned and its outcome is fully conditioned. You can't squeeze oil out of a sand particle.
So, you do agree that there is choice. I may be confronted with the option to this or do that, I can choose what to do. So, what is the problem here?

tiltbillings wrote: Don't need an atman for there to be choice. I think you have been reading way too much of Sujin's fatalistic stuff.
What I think is fatalistic is the whole notion that choice, willing, thoughts, are not causally dependent on the past. If that was the case, Arhat could revert to being a worldling since his choice wouldn't in that case be dependent on certain causes & conditions.
And have I ever said choice is not conditioned? Nope, but the neat thing is that we can alter our conditioning by the choices we make, otherwise awakening would not be possible.
The point it repeatedly states is that one can't command any of the aggregates to "let it be this, let it not be this". Choice, will, intention, kamma, is one of those aggregates.
No, one cannot command it, but via choice one can alter the conditions by the conditioning nature of choice.
Buddha couldn't choose wrong actions. He couldn't think in language He didn't know. His thought process still dependent on the mind-base+mental object.
That is because via the choices he made he is not longer conditioned by greed, hatred, and delusion. They do not condition his choices.
>> 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: Meditation, conditionality, and anatta

Post by Alex123 » Fri Nov 12, 2010 10:23 pm

tiltbillings wrote:So, you do agree that there is choice. I may be confronted with the option to this or do that, I can choose what to do. So, what is the problem here?
That all the thoughts, all the deliberations, and the final outcome of deliberation is fully conditioned. When there is this set of conditions, this result follow and never anything else. When there is another set of conditions, that result follow and never anything else.



And have I ever said choice is not conditioned? Nope, but the neat thing is that we can alter our conditioning by the choices we make, otherwise awakening would not be possible.
Us altering our conditioning is conditioned itself. Awakening occurs because of many conditioning factors beyond anyone's control such as "hearing true Dhamma, associating with wise people, seeing danger in samsara, not being so deluded at the time of hearing the dhamma so not to understand it at all, etc"


Just like there is no control over 5 aggregates, there is no control over what causes are put to condition them in the first place. Some say that "OK, you can't wish for the plant to magically appear. There is no free will, no control there. But you can put in required conditions to make it grow". But even putting in conditions (water, seed, proper soil, proper amount of sunlight, etc, etc) is fully conditioned.

Trying to control the causes one sets for future result is still trying to control, just on a different scale.
That is because via the choices he made he is not longer conditioned by greed, hatred, and delusion. They do not condition his choices.
Buddha's functional intentions were not conditioned by greed/anger/delusion, but they were conditioned by non-greed/non-hate/non-delusion and all other qualities (such as 10 paramis). A superb conditioning, but still conditioning. He couldn't revert to becoming a worldling, no free choice there, and that is great!

He couldn't become Angry, Greedy or Deluded - no matter what. Where is free choice (to be deluded or wise) for the Buddha? Ultimately there isn't free choice.
Last edited by Alex123 on Fri Nov 12, 2010 10:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Meditation, conditionality, and anatta

Post by tiltbillings » Fri Nov 12, 2010 10:24 pm

Alex123 wrote:
tiltbillings wrote: Did I ever say there was a "free agent? as you define it?
For free-will there has to be a hypothetical agent that can choose regardless of conditions. But even in that hypothetical situation, the idea of free choice is flawed. In what way "free"? Independent from any previous causes? Then it is what we call random.
Fine, but I am not agruing free-will. I am arguing choice, albeit conditioned and conditiong choice, but choice nonetheless.
tiltbillings wrote:To repeat myself for the zillionth time, choice is conditioned and conditioning, but that does not mean there is no choice. The word kamma means action and the Buddha defined kamma as intention, which then is to say acting based upon intention, choice. It is what the Buddha taught.
Events that we call "a choice does arise". But it arises due to causes and conditions. Same with what was chosen. It is not random. It is fully conditioned.
So? That does not mean there is no chopice, which means I can alter my conditioning. You keep arguing againsat free will. Fine, but am I advocating free - unconditioned - will? Not in the least. Choice - that is, kamma - is conditioned and conditioning, which is to say, I can alter my condition by the choices I make, otherwise awakening would not be possdible.
No space for unconditioned kamma being freely chosen. The contact is not what someone can control either.
So? That does not negate a thing I said.

And just to be clear, when I say choice, I mean intentional/willed action - kamma: Volition [cetanaa; intention, volition, choice], Monks, is what I call kamma [kamma; action]. -- A. VI 63.
>> 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: Meditation, conditionality, and anatta

Post by tiltbillings » Fri Nov 12, 2010 10:32 pm

Alex123 wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:So, you do agree that there is choice. I may be confronted with the option to this or do that, I can choose what to do. So, what is the problem here?
That all the thoughts, all the deliberations, and the final outcome of deliberation is fully conditioned. When there is this set of conditions, this result follow and never anything else. When there is another set of conditions, that result follow and never anything else.
So? That is my point. By the choices I make, I alter the conditioning. That is the way to awakening.



And have I ever said choice is not conditioned? Nope, but the neat thing is that we can alter our conditioning by the choices we make, otherwise awakening would not be possible.
Us altering our conditioning is conditioned itself.
So?
Awakening occurs because of many conditioning factors beyond anyone's control such as "hearing true Dhamma, associating with wise people, seeing danger in samsara, not being so deluded at the time of hearing the dhamma so not to understand it at all, etc"
If one accepts kamma as an actual teaching of the Buddha, and I wonder if you do, then how I choose to act will determine whether any of these conditions arise for me.
Just like there is no control over 5 aggregates, there is no control over what causes are put to condition them in the first place. Some say that "OK, you can't wish for the plant to magically appear. There is no free will, no control there. But you can put in required conditions to make it grow". But even putting in conditions (water, seed, proper soil, proper amount of sunlight, etc, etc) is fully conditioned.
Are you reading what I write? You are just arguing with someone - not me - who believes in a free- unconditioned - will, which is not my position. So, why don't you actually engage what I am saying. That would be novel.
>> 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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