A Review of Ven. Ñānavīra's "Notes on Dhamma"

Exploring modern Theravāda interpretations of the Buddha's teaching.
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Re: A Review of Ven. Ñānavīra's "Notes on Dhamma"

Postby SDC » Tue Jul 21, 2015 1:35 pm

mikenz66 wrote:As I said, that sort of attitude is hardly likely to engender sympathy for the ideas of Nanavira or you and is diametrically opposed to the request SDC made at the start of this thread.


This thread is not about 'winning over' those opposed to, or unsure about, this work. This is here to discuss these writings plain and simple. There will be declared no victor in end - victory will come if one is able to personally benefit from it in practice. While some weak attempts have been made to sabotage this discussion, it has for the most part gone well and I hope those who are still unsure will continue to ask questions.

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Re: A Review of Ven. Ñānavīra's "Notes on Dhamma"

Postby SDC » Wed Jul 22, 2015 12:47 am

mikenz66 wrote:This definition of sankhāra as "something that something else depends on" seems, on the face of it, to miss at least half of the meaning, since sankhāra's depend on other things.


Another sankhāra. If a thing is, it depends on something else. If that "something else" is the thing, it too depends on something else.

Although it is a difficult read, Ven. N. Ñāṇamoli wrote a very unique essay about this. A word of caution from the footnotes:

Ven. N. Ñāṇamoli wrote:Now is probably the time to mention that none of this, nor paragraphs to follow, can be grasped intellectually by the reader. Things that are described here are not to be made sense of in a rationally or philosophically satisfying way, but to be seen in a certain order that they arise in one’s experience. Hence the deliberate repetitive style which aligns things in the order they are to be understood (which is also the reason why the Suttas are in that form). Also, refraining from a too particular and established terminology was intentional, since that would most likely lead a reader to assume that he already knows what those terms refer to.


A teaser:

Ven. N. Ñāṇamoli wrote:One determines one’s determinations through assuming that because of which determinations are there.

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Re: A Review of Ven. Ñānavīra's "Notes on Dhamma"

Postby SDC » Mon Jul 27, 2015 1:05 am

Please refer to this post for information on the purpose of this thread.

Shorter Notes - 11th Excerpt
Previous Excerpts - 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10

Saññā

Ven. Ñāṇavīra wrote:Saññā and viññāna (perception and consciousness) may be differentiated as follows. Saññā (defined in Anguttara VI,vi,9 <A.iii,413>) is the quality or percept itself (e.g. blue), whereas viññāna (q.v) is the presence or consciousness of the quality or percept—or, more strictly, of the thing exhibiting the quality or percept (i.e. of nāmarūpa). (A quality, it may be noted, is unchanged whether it is present or absent—blue is blue whether seen or imagined --, and the word saññā is used both of five-base experience and of mental experience.)

It would be as wrong to say 'a feeling is perceived' as it would 'a percept is felt' (which mix up saññā and vedanā); but it is quite in order to say 'a feeling, a percept, (that is, a felt thing, a perceived thing) is cognized', which simply means that a feeling or a percept is present (as, indeed, they both are in all experience—see Majjhima v,3 <M.i,293>[15]). Strictly speaking, then, what is cognized is nāmarūpa, whereas what is perceived (or felt) is saññā (or vedanā), i.e. only nāma. This distinction can be shown grammatically. Vijānāti, to cognize, is active voice in sense (taking an objective accusative): consciousness cognizes a phenomenon (nāmarūpa); consciousness is always consciousness of something. Sañjānāti, to perceive, (or vediyati, to feel) is middle voice in sense (taking a cognate accusative): perception perceives [a percept] (or feeling feels [a feeling]). Thus we should say 'a blue thing (= a blueness), a painful thing (= a pain), is cognized', but 'blue is perceived' and 'pain is felt'. (In the Suttas generally, due allowance is to be made for the elasticity in the common usage of words. But in certain passages, and also in one's finer thinking, stricter definition may be required.)

At Dīgha i,9 <D.i,185>, Potthapāda asks the Buddha whether perception arises before knowledge, or knowledge before perception, or both together. The Buddha gives the following answer: Saññā kho Potthapāda pathamam uppajjati, pacchā ñānam; saññ'uppādā ca pana ñān'uppādo hoti. So evam pajānāti, Idapaccayā kira me ñānam udapādí ti. ('Perception, Potthapāda, arises first, knowledge afterwards; but with arising of perception there is arising of knowledge. One understands thus: 'With this as condition, indeed, knowledge arose in me.'') Saññā thus precedes ñāna, not only temporally but also structurally (or logically). Perception, that is to say, is structurally simpler than knowledge; and though perception comes first in time, it does not cease (see CITTA) in order that knowledge can arise. [a] However many stories there are to a house, the ground floor is built first; but it is not then removed to make way for the rest. (The case of vitakkavicārā and vācāA NOTE ON PATICCASAMUPPĀDA §5—is parallel.)

The temptation must be resisted (into which, however, the Visuddhimagga [Ch. XIV] falls) to understand viññāna, in the primitive context of the khandhā, as a more elaborate version of saññā, thus approximating it to ñāna. But, whereas there is always consciousness when there is perception (see above), there is not always knowledge (which is preceded by perception). The difference between viññāna and saññā is in kind, not in degree. (In looser contexts, however,—e.g. Majjhima v,7 <M.i,317>viññāna does tend to mean 'knowing', but not in opposition to saññā. In Majjhima xv,1 <M.iii,259-60>[16] & xiv,8 <227-8>[17] viññāna occurs in both senses, where the second is the complex consciousness of reflexion, i.e. the presence of a known phenomenon—of an example of a universal, that is to say.)


This concludes the Shorter Note on "Saññā".

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Re: A Review of Ven. Ñānavīra's "Notes on Dhamma"

Postby SDC » Mon Aug 03, 2015 10:13 pm

Please refer to this post for information on the purpose of this thread.

Shorter Notes - 12th Excerpt
Previous Excerpts - 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11

VIÑÑĀṆA

Ven. Ñāṇavīra wrote:Consciousness (viññāna) can be thought of as the presence of a phenomenon, which consists of nāma and rūpa. Nāmarūpa and viññāna together constitute the phenomenon 'in person'—i.e. an experience (in German: Erlebnis). The phenomenon is the support (ārammana—see first reference in [c] below) of consciousness, and all consciousness is consciousness of something (viz, of a phenomenon). Just as there cannot be presence without something that is present, so there cannot be something without its being to that extent present—thus viññāna and nāmarūpa depend on each other (see A NOTE ON PATICCASAMUPPĀDA §17). 'To be' and 'to be present' are the same thing.[a] But note that 'being' as bhava, involves the existence of the (illusory) subject, and with cessation of the conceit (concept) '(I) am', asmimāna, there is cessation of being, bhavanirodha. With the arahat, there is just presence of the phenomenon ('This is present'), instead of the presence (or existence) of an apparent 'subject' to whom there is present an 'object' ('I am, and this is present to [or for] me', i.e. [what appears to be] the subject is present ['I am'], the object is present ['this is'], and the object concerns or 'belongs to' the subject [the object is 'for me' or 'mine']—see PHASSA & ATTĀ); and consciousness is then said to be anidassana, 'non-indicative' (i.e. not pointing to the presence of a 'subject'), or niruddha, 'ceased' (see A NOTE ON PATICCASAMUPPĀDA §22). Viññānanirodha refers indifferently to anidassana viññāna (saupādisesa nibbānadhātu, which refers to the living arahat: Itivuttaka II,ii,7 <Iti.38>[12]) and to cessation, at the arahat's death, of all consciousness whatsoever (anupādisesa nibbānadhātu).[b] Viññānanirodha, strictly speaking, is cessation of viññān'upādānakkhandha as bhavanirodha is cessation of pañc'upādānakkhandhā (i.e. sakkāyanirodha), but it is extended to cover the final cessation of viññānakkhandha (and therefore of pañcakkhandhā) at the breaking up of the arahat's body.

Consciousness, it must be noted, is emphatically no more 'subjective' than are the other four upādānakkhandhā (i.e. than nāmarūpa). (This should be clear from what has gone before; but it is a commonly held view that consciousness is essentially subjective, and a slight discussion will be in place.) It is quite wrong to regard viññāna as the subject to whom the phenomenon (nāmarūpa), now regarded as object, is present (in which case we should have to say, with Sartre, that consciousness as subjectivity is presence to the object). Viññāna is negative as regards essence (or 'what-ness'): it is not part of the phenomenon, of what is present, but is simply the presence of the phenomenon.[c] Consequently, in visual experience (for example), phenomena are seen, eye-consciousness is not seen (being negative as regards essence), yet there is eye-consciousness (eye -consciousness is present reflexively).[d] In this way consciousness comes to be associated with the body (saviññānaka kāya), and is frequently identified as the subject, or at least as subjectivity (e.g. by Husserl [see CETANĀ [b]] and Sartre [op. cit., p. 27]). (To follow this discussion reference should be made to PHASSA, particularly [c], where it is shown that there is a natural tendency for subjectivity to be associated with the body. Three distinct pairs of complementaries are thus seen to be superimposed: eye & forms (or, generally: six-based body & externals); consciousness & phenomena; subject & objects. To identify consciousness and the subject is only too easy. With attainment of arahattā all trace of the subject-&-objects duality vanishes. Cf. also ATTĀ [c].)


This concludes the Shorter Note on "Viññāna".

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Re: A Review of Ven. Ñānavīra's "Notes on Dhamma"

Postby SDC » Mon Aug 10, 2015 4:44 pm

Please refer to this post for information on the purpose of this thread.

Shorter Notes - 13th Excerpt
Previous Excerpts - 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12

ANICCA

Ven. Ñāṇavīra wrote:Aniccatā or 'impermanence', in the Buddha's Teaching, is sometimes taken as a 'doctrine of universal flux', or continuous change of condition. This is a disastrous over-simplification—see PATICCASAMUPPĀDA [c].

In the Khandha Samyutta (iv,6 <S.iii,38>) it is said of rūpa, vedanā, saññā, sankhārā, and viññāna: uppādo paññāyati; vayo paññāyati; thitassa aññathattam paññāyati. ('Arising (appearance) is manifest; disappearance is manifest; change while standing is manifest. (Cf. Anguttara III,v,7, at the head of FUNDAMENTAL STRUCTURE.)')[a] These three sankhatassa sankhatalakkhanāni (Anguttara III,v,7 <A.i,152> ), or characteristics whereby what is determined (i.e. a sankhata dhamma) may be known as such (i.e. as sankhata), concisely indicate the fundamental structure in virtue of which things are things—in virtue of which, that is to say, things are distinct, one from another. It is also in virtue of this structure that all experience, including the arahat's, is intentional (see CETANĀ) or teleological (i.e. that things are significant, that they point to other, possible, things—e.g. a hammer is a thing for hammering, and what it is for hammering is nails; or, more subtly, a particular shade of a particular colour is just that shade by pointing to all the other distinct shades that it might be, while yet remaining the same colour, but actually is not [cf. Spinoza's dictum 'Omnis determinatio est negatio']).[b] The arahat's experience, as stated above, is teleological, as is the puthujjana's; but with the arahat things no longer have the particular significance of being 'mine'. This special significance, dependent upon avijjā, is not of the same kind as a thing's simple intentional or teleological significances, but is, as it were, a parasite upon them. Detailed consideration of this structure and its implications seems to lead to the solution of a great many philosophical problems, but these are no more than indirectly relevant to the understanding of the Buddha's Teaching.[c] Some people, however, may find that a description of this structure provides a useful instrument for thinking with. (See FUNDAMENTAL STRUCTURE.)

For a discussion of sabbe sankhārā aniccā see DHAMMA.


This concludes the Shorter Note on "Anicca".

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Re: A Review of Ven. Ñānavīra's "Notes on Dhamma"

Postby SDC » Mon Aug 17, 2015 10:05 pm

Please refer to this post for information on the purpose of this thread.

Shorter Notes - 14th Excerpt
Previous Excerpts - 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13

ATAKKĀVACARA

Ven. Ñāṇavīra wrote:Sometimes translated as 'unattainable by reasoning' or 'not accessible to doubt'. But the Cartesian cogito ergo sum is also, in a sense, inaccessible to doubt; for I cannot doubt my existence without tacitly assuming it. This merely shows, however, that one cannot get beyond the cogito by doubting it. And the Dhamma is beyond the cogito. The cogito, then, can be reached by doubt—one doubts and doubts until one finds what one cannot doubt, what is inaccessible to doubt, namely the cogito. But the Dhamma cannot be reached in this way. Thus the Dhamma, though certainly inaccessible to doubt, is more than that; it is altogether beyond the sphere of doubt. The rationalist, however, does not even reach the inadequate cogito, or if he does reach it[a] he overshoots the mark (atidhāvati—Itivuttaka II,ii,12 <Iti. 43>); for he starts from the axiom that everything can be doubted (including, of course, the cogito). Cf. also Majjhima xi,2 <M.ii,232-3> & i,2 <M.i,8>. See NIBBĀNA.


This concludes the Shorter Note on "Atakkāvacara".

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Re: A Review of Ven. Ñānavīra's "Notes on Dhamma"

Postby SDC » Thu Aug 20, 2015 9:32 pm

Please refer to this post for information on the purpose of this thread.

Shorter Notes - 15th Excerpt
Previous Excerpts - 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14

ATTĀ

Ven. Ñāṇavīra wrote:In the arahat's reflexion what appears reflexively is only pañcakkhandhā, which he calls 'myself' simply for want of any other term. But in the puthujjana's reflexion what appears reflexively is pañc'upādānakkhandhā, or sakkāya; and sakkāya (q.v.), when it appears reflexively, appears (in one way or another) as being and belonging to an extra-temporal changeless 'self' (i.e. a soul). The puthujjana confuses (as the arahat does not) the self-identity of simple reflexion—as with a mirror, where the same thing is seen from two points of view at once ('the thing itself', 'the selfsame thing')—with the 'self' as the subject that appears in reflexion—'my self' (i.e. 'I itself', i.e. 'the I that appears when I reflect'). For the puthujjana the word self is necessarily ambiguous, since he cannot conceive of any reflexion not involving reflexive experience of the subject—i.e. not involving manifestation of a soul. Since the self of self-identity is involved in the structure of the subject appearing in reflexion ('my self' = 'I itself'), it is sometimes taken (when recourse is not had to a supposed Transcendental Being) as the basic principle of all subjectivity. The subject is then conceived as a hypostasized play of reflexions of one kind or another, the hypostasis itself somehow deriving from (or being motivated by) the play of reflexions. The puthujjana, however, does not see that attainment of arahattā removes all trace of the desire or conceit '(I) am', leaving the entire reflexive structure intact—in other words, that subjectivity is a parasite on experience. Indeed, it is by his very failure to see this that he remains a puthujjana.

The question of self-identity arises either when a thing is seen from two points of view at once (as in reflexion,[a] for example; or when it is at the same time the object of two different senses—I am now both looking at my pen and touching it with my fingers, and I might wonder if it is the same pen in the two simultaneous experiences [see RŪPA]), or when a thing is seen to endure in time, when the question may be asked if it continues to be the same thing (the answer being, that a thing at any one given level of generality is the invariant of a transformation—see ANICCA [a] & FUNDAMENTAL STRUCTURE—, and that 'to remain the same' means just this).[b] With the question of a thing's self-identity (which presents no particular difficulty) the Buddha's Teaching of anattā has nothing whatsoever to do: anattā is purely concerned with 'self' as subject. (See PATICCASAMUPPĀDA [c].)

'Self' as subject can be briefly discussed as follows. As pointed out in PHASSA [b], the puthujjana thinks 'things are mine (i.e. are my concern) because I am, because I exist'. He takes the subject ('I') for granted; and if things are appropriated, that is because he, the subject, exists. The ditthisampanna (or sotāpanna) sees, however, that this is the wrong way round. He sees that the notion 'I am' arises because things (so long as there is any trace of avijjā) present themselves as 'mine'. This significance (or intention, or determination), 'mine' or 'for me'—see A NOTE ON PATICCASAMUPPĀDA [e]—, is, in a sense, a void, a negative aspect of the present thing (or existing phenomenon), since it simply points to a subject; and the puthujjana, not seeing impermanence (or more specifically, not seeing the impermanence of this ubiquitous determination), deceives himself into supposing that there actually exists a subject—'self'—independent of the object (which latter, as the ditthisampanna well understands, is merely the positive aspect of the phenomenon—that which is 'for me'). In this way it may be seen that the puthujjana's experience, pañc'upādānakkhandhā, has a negative aspect (the subject) and a positive aspect (the object). But care is needed; for, in fact, the division subject/object is not a simple negative/positive division. If it were, only the positive would be present (as an existing phenomenon) and the negative (the subject) would not be present at all—it would simply not exist. But the subject is, in a sense, phenomenal: it (or he) is an existing phenomenal negative, a negative that appears; for the puthujjana asserts the present reality of his 'self' ('the irreplaceable being that I am'). The fact is, that the intention or determination 'mine', pointing to a subject, is a complex structure involving avijjā. The subject is not simply a negative in relation to the positive object: it (or he) is master over the object, and is thus a kind of positive negative, a master who does not appear explicitly but who, somehow or other, nevertheless exists.[c] It is this master whom the puthujjana, when he engages in reflexion, is seeking to identify—in vain![d] This delusive mastery of subject over object must be rigorously distinguished from the reflexive power of control or choice that is exercised in voluntary action by puthujjana and arahat alike.

For a discussion of sabbe dhammā anattā see DHAMMA.

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Re: A Review of Ven. Ñānavīra's "Notes on Dhamma"

Postby SDC » Tue Aug 25, 2015 10:00 pm

Please refer to this post for information on the purpose of this thread.

Shorter Notes - 16th Excerpt
Previous Excerpts - 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15

BALA

Ven. Ñāṇavīra wrote:The distinction between indriya and bala seems to be that indriya, 'faculty', means a qualitative range of capacity or extent of dominion in a given province, whereas bala, 'power', implies rather a quantitative superiority of endowment. As faculties the five items, saddhā, viriya, sati, samādhi, and paññā, are, in the ariyasāvaka, either effective or latent all at once (see Indriya Samy. vi,2 <S.v,228>) and are totally absent from the puthujjana (ibid. ii,8 <S.v,202>). As powers they are the strength of the ariyasāvaka, who has equipment for practice of the Dhamma that is lacking in the puthujjana. Katamañ ca bhikkhave bhāvanābalam. Tatra bhikkhave yam idam bhāvanābalam sekhānam etam balam sekhamhi. ('And which, monks, is the development-power? Herein, monks, as to the development-power, this is the trainers' power, in trainers.') (Anguttara II,ii,1 <A.i,52>) It is sometimes supposed that a puthujjana possesses these faculties and powers, at least in embryo, and that his task is to develop them. This is a misunderstanding. It is the puthujjana's task to acquire them. It is for the sekha, who has acquired them, to develop them.

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Re: A Review of Ven. Ñānavīra's "Notes on Dhamma"

Postby mal4mac » Wed Aug 26, 2015 10:28 am

Ven. Ñāṇavīra wrote:Phassa, 'contact', is defined ... as the coming together of the eye, forms, and eye-consciousness...


I'm not sure I get this.

According to modern science "a collection of photons" (form?) collides with the retina ( eye?). Then, nerve impulses are conducted to the brain and "consciousness" (eye-consciousness?) arises.

OK, maybe I do get this.

'Contact' is a combination of (i) the collection of photons emanating from the tree ('form'), (ii) the photons impact on the retina ('eye') (iii) consciousness of the tree (eye consciousness.

If any of these steps are missing we don't have contact - if the photons aren't emitted then obviously there's nothing to see, if the eye doesn't see them then no contact can take place, and if the guy's sleeping then the tree doesn't arise in consciousness, so no real contact has taken place.

Am I on the right track here?
- Mal

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Re: A Review of Ven. Ñānavīra's "Notes on Dhamma"

Postby SarathW » Wed Aug 26, 2015 10:51 am

Only the eye and the object should be there.
Consciousness is in the middle. (consciousness arise as a result)
If the person is sleeping or dead, it is considered that there is no eye.
It may helpful, If you read the operation of seventeen thought moment as per Abhidhamma.
Last edited by SarathW on Wed Aug 26, 2015 10:52 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: A Review of Ven. Ñānavīra's "Notes on Dhamma"

Postby mal4mac » Wed Aug 26, 2015 10:51 am

Ven. Ñāṇavīra wrote: But it is probably wrong to suppose that we must therefore understand the word phassa, primarily at least, as contact between these three things.[a]


Yes that makes sense in my model - how can the photons be contacting the eye-consciousness directly! "Contact", as I see it, is simply those three things happening close together in time.


Ven. Ñāṇavīra wrote: phassa is understood as 'contact between subject and object'.


Fair enough - if you (subject) see a tree (object) then obviously it makes sense to say there is contact between you and the tree.

Ven. Ñāṇavīra wrote: The ditthisampanna ... sees that ... with perception of impermanence ... 'things are mine' gives place to just 'things are' ... and 'I am' vanishes ... then, there continue to be 'objects' in the sense of 'things'; but if 'objects' are understood as necessarily correlative to a 'subject', then 'things' can no longer be called 'objects'...


Consider our tree to be such an object. Then why would we consider the tree as "necessarily correlative to a subject"? If I drag Fred into the garden and say, "What's that?" He will say, "a tree". So the tree is not correlative to me, the subject, but to two subjects, Fred and me. Therefore, the tree is an *objective* fact. So I can't see how, or why, I should accept Nanavira's demand to understand 'objects' "as necessarily correlative to a 'subject'".
- Mal

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Re: A Review of Ven. Ñānavīra's "Notes on Dhamma"

Postby mal4mac » Wed Aug 26, 2015 11:00 am

SarathW wrote:Only the eye and the object should be there.


So I'm not allowed to think of photons? :(

Consciousness is in the middle...


?

How about this 'no photon' model - the tree has a 'form' "taken in" by the 'eye', and 'eye consciousness' of the tree arises.

Can I imagine that 'taken in' happens through photons, light rays, or light waves? Just for ease of understanding? I mean forms have to have some kind of physical existence to make contact, don't they?
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Re: A Review of Ven. Ñānavīra's "Notes on Dhamma"

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Aug 26, 2015 7:45 pm

I don't think that photons were part of the ancient Indian vocabulary. In fact, I think that until relatively recently sight was thought of as a "contact", much like touch.

However, I think this may be a useful insight into what Ven N was trying to get across:
mal4mac wrote:
Ven. Ñāṇavīra wrote: But it is probably wrong to suppose that we must therefore understand the word phassa, primarily at least, as contact between these three things.[a]


Yes that makes sense in my model - how can the photons be contacting the eye-consciousness directly! "Contact", as I see it, is simply those three things happening close together in time.

:anjali:
Mike

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Re: A Review of Ven. Ñānavīra's "Notes on Dhamma"

Postby mal4mac » Wed Aug 26, 2015 8:17 pm

mikenz66 wrote:I don't think that photons were part of the ancient Indian vocabulary.


Of course, I'm just trying to capture the concept in a model that I understand.

In fact, I think that until relatively recently sight was thought of as a "contact", much like touch.


How could they think of it as being 'like touch'? I mean how do they explain not being able to see the tree at night? How does the sun get involved in this 'sight-touch' mechanism? Are you not perhaps reading too much into the term 'contact' as applied to sight? Could it be that the Buddha just didn't go into the physical mechanism? Or is there a sutta which explains his theory of light?

Wikipedia:

"In ancient India, the philosophical schools of Samkhya and Vaisheshika, from around the 6th–5th century BC, developed theories on light... Light rays are taken to be a stream of high velocity tejas (fire) atoms."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_optics

Sounds a bit like photons...
- Mal

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Re: A Review of Ven. Ñānavīra's "Notes on Dhamma"

Postby acinteyyo » Wed Aug 26, 2015 8:24 pm

mal4mac wrote:Can I imagine that 'taken in' happens through photons, light rays, or light waves? Just for ease of understanding? I mean forms have to have some kind of physical existence to make contact, don't they?

It would be better not to mix up different approaches. Here, especially with the writings of Ven. Ñānavīra, you are supposed to try to understand the issues by applying it to your direct experience, i.e. phenomenologically. Imagining what happens, by deduction, is not the right approach.
Have you ever seen a photon? A photon is a scientific concept, valid in a scientific frame of reference only.
With respect to "phassa", photons as a scientific concept do not play a significant role.
As long as you are trying to imagine this process, "just for ease of understanding", you are actually not observing your experience, you rather ponder an imagination of how experience might happen and if you go on trying to understand things like that you will most probably miss the point.

best wishes, acinteyyo
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Re: A Review of Ven. Ñānavīra's "Notes on Dhamma"

Postby mal4mac » Wed Aug 26, 2015 8:57 pm

acinteyyo wrote:... try to understand the issues by applying it to your direct experience, i.e. phenomenologically.


So using Nanavira's terminology (contact, eye, form, eye consciousness...) how would you describe the experience of seeing a tree?
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Re: A Review of Ven. Ñānavīra's "Notes on Dhamma"

Postby acinteyyo » Wed Aug 26, 2015 9:16 pm

mal4mac wrote:
acinteyyo wrote:... try to understand the issues by applying it to your direct experience, i.e. phenomenologically.


So using Nanavira's terminology (contact, eye, form, eye consciousness...) how would you describe the experience of seeing a tree?

In general terms, as "natures" (dhammā) of the experience, seeing a tree is simply the eye and form, eye consciousness, the coming together of the three is contact, feeling and perception, with contact accompanied by ignorance there is craving and so on. This is the description of the experience. Anything else is a deviation from the nature of the experience.

What has to be done is to apply this description to one's own experience, let it be "seeing a tree" or anything else, the nature of it is all the same, and to directly see it, meaning understanding what happens.

Any attempt to understand this by imagining an explanation, however coherent it may be, is a deviation from the actual experience and will not lead to discernment.

best wishes, acinteyyo
Thag 1.20. Ajita - I do not fear death; nor do I long for life. I’ll lay down this body, aware and mindful.

mal4mac
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Re: A Review of Ven. Ñānavīra's "Notes on Dhamma"

Postby mal4mac » Thu Aug 27, 2015 9:28 am

acinteyyo wrote:In general terms, as "natures" (dhammā) of the experience, seeing a tree is simply the eye and form, eye consciousness, the coming together of the three is contact, feeling and perception, with contact accompanied by ignorance there is craving and so on.


So what is the "form". Would using Kantian terminology, and transcendental idealism, help at all in understanding this material? Is the "form of the tree" the "tree as noumenal object". That is is the "form of the tree" the tree "out there" that we can say nothing about because we haven't, and cannot, experience it?
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Re: A Review of Ven. Ñānavīra's "Notes on Dhamma"

Postby Himasat » Thu Aug 27, 2015 10:58 am

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acinteyyo
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Re: A Review of Ven. Ñānavīra's "Notes on Dhamma"

Postby acinteyyo » Thu Aug 27, 2015 11:13 am

mal4mac wrote:So what is the "form".

"Form" (rūpa) is the four great elements, according to the Buddha, but I'm sure that will not help you any further, because you seem to be looking for an explanation you can grasp intellectually. "Form" cannot be understood that way, this is what I'm trying to point out to you. You've come to a point where more words won't bring you clearer understanding, you have to search for the answer what "form" is within your experience. There it is.

mal4mac wrote:Would using Kantian terminology, and transcendental idealism, help at all in understanding this material?

I don't know. Maybe it is useful as a hint.

mal4mac wrote:Is the "form of the tree" the "tree as noumenal object". That is is the "form of the tree" the tree "out there" that we can say nothing about because we haven't, and cannot, experience it?

You approach it from the wrong side. There is no "form of the tree" and there is no tree "out there".
Form does not belong to the tree, but the tree belongs to form. The tree is derived from the experience of form (among other experiences).

I'll try to give you a hint that points to that part in experience where you have to take a closer look at.
The four great elements (mahā bhūta) are earth, water, fire and wind. These elements describe certain experiences. Earth for example is a description for an experience of hardness or resistence one could say. If you experience hardness (earth) as a tactile sensation and examine the whole experience further also taking information of the other senses into account, you may arrive at the conclusion of touching a tree.
BUT it is not a "real tree out there" you are touching, to think that exceeds beyond the sphere of experience, where actually no statement can be made, what you DO know is the experience of form (here earth) and anything derived from form is also nothing but form.

I hope you can follow my poor attempt to give you a hint.
And I hope I don't deviate too far from the topic.

best wishes, acinteyyo
Thag 1.20. Ajita - I do not fear death; nor do I long for life. I’ll lay down this body, aware and mindful.


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