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

Exploring modern Theravāda interpretations of the Buddha's teaching.
mal4mac
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Re: A Review of Ven. Ñānavīra's "Notes on Dhamma"

Post by mal4mac » Thu Aug 27, 2015 12:10 pm

Thanks acinteyyo, your points are interesting, even though I struggle to understand, not having much knowledge in this area.

Would it be correct to say, "A form is a particular experience"? Or is the usage "a form" just plain wrong here. That is should I be saying, "I experience form, and that particular experience of form, leads to the conclusion 'tree'".
- Mal

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

Post by acinteyyo » Thu Aug 27, 2015 1:57 pm

mal4mac wrote:Would it be correct to say, "A form is a particular experience"? Or is the usage "a form" just plain wrong here.
"A form" is not plain wrong, but yes, it can lead to confusion if it is regarded as an absolute or independent "thing" somehow.
Any form, internal or external is just form. I recommend getting acquainted with the meaning of rūpa, nāma and the compound nāmarūpa.
Here some links to the shorter notes on rūpa and nāma. Maybe the shorter notes on dhamma are also helpful.

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

Post by SDC » Sat Aug 29, 2015 1:57 am

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

Shorter Notes - 17th Excerpt
Previous Excerpts - 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16

DHAMMA
Ven. Ñāṇavīra wrote:The word dhamma, in its most general sense, is equivalent to 'thing'—i.e. whatever is distinct from anything else (see ANICCA). More precisely it is what a thing is in itself, as opposed to how it is;[a] it is the essence or nature of a thing—that is, a thing as a particular essence or nature distinct from all other essences or natures. Thus, if a thing is a solid pleasant shady tree for lying under that I now see, its nature is, precisely, that it is solid, that it is pleasant, that it is shady, that it is a tree for lying under, and that it is visible to me. The solid pleasant shady tree for lying under that I see is a thing, a nature, a dhamma. Furthermore, each item severally—the solidity, the pleasantness, the shadiness, and so on—is a thing, a nature, a dhamma, in that each is distinct from the others, even though here they may not be independent of one another. These dhammā, in the immediate experience, are all particular. When, however, the reflexive attitude is adopted (as it is in satisampajañña, the normal state of one practising the Dhamma), the particular nature—the solid pleasant shady tree for lying under that I see—is, as it were, 'put in brackets' (Husserl's expression, though not quite his meaning of it), and we arrive at the nature of the particular nature. Instead of solid, pleasant, shady, tree for lying under, visible to me, and so on, we have matter (or substance), feeling, perception, determinations, consciousness, and all the various 'things' that the Suttas speak of. These things are of universal application—i.e. common to all particular natures (e.g. eye- consciousness is common to all things that have ever been, or are, or will be, visible to me)—and are the dhammā that make up the Dhamma. The Dhamma is thus the Nature of Things. And since this is what the Buddha teaches, it comes to mean also the Teaching, and dhammā are particular teachings. The word matter—'I will bear this matter in mind'—sometimes expresses the meaning of dhamma (though it will not do as a normal rendering).

Sabbe sankhārā aniccā; Sabbe sankhārā dukkhā; Sabbe dhammā anattā. ('All determinations are impermanent; All determinations are unpleasurable (suffering); All things are not-self.') Attā, 'self', is fundamentally a notion of mastery over things (cf. Majjhima iv,5 <M.i,231-2> & Khandha Samy. vi,7 <S.iii,66>[7]). But this notion is entertained only if it is pleasurable,[c] and it is only pleasurable provided the mastery is assumed to be permanent; for a mastery—which is essentially a kind of absolute timelessness, an unmoved moving of things—that is undermined by impermanence is no mastery at all, but a mockery. Thus the regarding of a thing, a dhamma, as attā or 'self' can survive for only so long as the notion gives pleasure, and it only gives pleasure for so long as that dhamma can be considered as permanent (for the regarding of a thing as 'self' endows it with the illusion of a kind of super-stability in time). In itself, as a dhamma regarded as attā, its impermanence is not manifest (for it is pleasant to consider it as permanent); but when it is seen to be dependent upon other dhammā not considered to be permanent, its impermanence does then become manifest. To see impermanence in what is regarded as attā, one must emerge from the confines of the individual dhamma itself and see that it depends on what is impermanent. Thus sabbe sankhārā (not dhammā) aniccā is said, meaning 'All things that things (dhammā) depend on are impermanent'. A given dhamma, as a dhamma regarded as attā, is, on account of being so regarded, considered to be pleasant; but when it is seen to be dependent upon some other dhamma that, not being regarded as attā, is manifestly unpleasurable (owing to the invariable false perception of permanence, of super-stability, in one not free from asmimāna), then its own unpleasurableness becomes manifest. Thus sabbe sankhārā (not dhammā) dukkhā is said. When this is seen—i.e. when perception of permanence and pleasure is understood to be false --, the notion 'This dhamma is my attā' comes to an end, and is replaced by sabbe dhammā anattā. Note that it is the sotāpanna who, knowing and seeing that his perception of permanence and pleasure is false, is free from this notion of 'self', though not from the more subtle conceit '(I) am' (asmimāna);[d] but it is only the arahat who is entirely free from the (false) perception of permanence and pleasure, and 'for him' perception of impermanence is no longer unpleasurable. (See also A NOTE ON PATICCASAMUPPĀDA §12 & PARAMATTHA SACCA.)

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

Post by mikenz66 » Sun Aug 30, 2015 8:00 am

Sabbe sankhārā aniccā; Sabbe sankhārā dukkhā; Sabbe dhammā anattā. ('All determinations are impermanent; All determinations are unpleasurable (suffering); All things are not-self.') Attā, 'self', is fundamentally a notion of mastery over things (cf. Majjhima iv,5 <M.i,231-2> & Khandha Samy. vi,7 <S.iii,66>[7]). ...
I think this is important. Discussions of attā often focus on discussions of what other traditions might take as self (which presumably wouldn't have much relevance to Ven N's expositions), whereas these suttas clearly see attā/anattā in terms of controllability/non-controllability.

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

Post by SDC » Sun Aug 30, 2015 9:00 pm

Mike, here is a very short essay from Ven. N. Ñāṇamoli - influenced (partially at least) by the line you quoted above.

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

Post by Sam Vara » Sun Aug 30, 2015 9:29 pm

SDC wrote:Mike, here is a very short essay from Ven. N. Ñāṇamoli - influenced (partially at least) by the line you quoted above.
Thanks for this - it's an extremely interesting little essay, and the association of selfhood with control or mastery seems very fruitful. Can anyone help with this bit? Venerable Nanamoli says that
One who is not free from upādāna, and the Self-view, confuses the fact that the five-aggregates (or in this case the
five-holding-aggregates) can be modified or affected once they arise, with the notion that they are controlled
This presumably means that there is a difference, in reality, between modifying or affecting the aggregates, and controlling them. What is this difference? Presumably, few puthujjanas believe they have complete control over the entire scope of even one aggregate. Few also believe that they created them. Given this, is not modifying or affecting a form of control? Is he merely saying that the control is less than the puthujjana imagines? Or does it mean that it never works out in exactly the way the puthujjana wants?

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

Post by SDC » Mon Aug 31, 2015 1:39 am

Sam Vara wrote:
One who is not free from upādāna, and the Self-view, confuses the fact that the five-aggregates (or in this case the
five-holding-aggregates) can be modified or affected once they arise, with the notion that they are controlled
This presumably means that there is a difference, in reality, between modifying or affecting the aggregates, and controlling them. What is this difference? Presumably, few puthujjanas believe they have complete control over the entire scope of even one aggregate. Few also believe that they created them.
Ven. N. N. mentions that the nature of the aggregates to is to 'arise, cease and change while standing' (SN 22.38). What it seems he is saying is that the puthujjana can only modify this 'already given state of affairs'. This 'ability' to modify, so to speak, is mistaken for having control of their arising, ceasing and changing while standing - though it is merely the ability to 'interfere' with that given state of affairs (thereby modifying). But since they will always 'cease', whatever level of interference can never measure up to not being able to make it permanent. Hence control is never complete.

As far as 'complete control' over any one aggregate, all I can say is that while the notion of control will vary within the experience - since it is there at all - it will give the impression that control can be either further acquired or perhaps lost altogether; whichever the impression favored in the experience will be equally damaging for the puthjjana since he/she will keep trying to maintain/balance things.

Just my take.
Sam Vara wrote:Is he merely saying that the control is less than the puthujjana imagines? Or does it mean that it never works out in exactly the way the puthujjana wants?
Regarding 'pleasant as preferable' (from the Shorter Note on Cetanā and Dhamma respectively):
Ven. Ñāṇavīra wrote:Intentions are the significance of the actual aspect; they are every possible aspect, and therefore the thing-as-a-whole. In intentional intention the possible aspects show themselves as possible, and the actual aspect, consequently, appears as optional. There is now exercise of preference (with the pleasant preferred to the unpleasant),[e] and this is volition in its simplest form.
Ven. Ñāṇavīra wrote:Sabbe sankhārā aniccā; Sabbe sankhārā dukkhā; Sabbe dhammā anattā. ('All determinations are impermanent; All determinations are unpleasurable (suffering); All things are not-self.') Attā, 'self', is fundamentally a notion of mastery over things (cf. Majjhima iv,5 <M.i,231-2> & Khandha Samy. vi,7 <S.iii,66>[7]). But this notion is entertained only if it is pleasurable,[c] and it is only pleasurable provided the mastery is assumed to be permanent; for a mastery—which is essentially a kind of absolute timelessness, an unmoved moving of things—that is undermined by impermanence is no mastery at all, but a mockery. Thus the regarding of a thing, a dhamma, as attā or 'self' can survive for only so long as the notion gives pleasure, and it only gives pleasure for so long as that dhamma can be considered as permanent (for the regarding of a thing as 'self' endows it with the illusion of a kind of super-stability in time). In itself, as a dhamma regarded as attā, its impermanence is not manifest (for it is pleasant to consider it as permanent); but when it is seen to be dependent upon other dhammā not considered to be permanent, its impermanence does then become manifest.

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

Post by Sam Vara » Mon Aug 31, 2015 8:55 am

SDC wrote:...
Many thanks, SDC, this is both clear and helpful.

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

Post by SDC » Tue Sep 01, 2015 12:27 am

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

Shorter Notes - 18th Excerpt
Previous Excerpts - 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17

KAMMA
Ven. Ñāṇavīra wrote:Verses 651, 652, and 653, of the Suttanipāta are as follows:

651 Kassako kammanā hoti, sippiko hoti kammanā,
vānijo kammanā hoti, pessiko hoti kammanā.

By action is one a farmer, by action a craftsman,
By action is one a merchant, by action a servant,

652 Coro pi kammanā hoti, yodhājīvo pi kammanā,
yājako kammanā hoti, rājā pi hoti kammanā.

By action is one a thief, by action a soldier,
By action is one a priest, by action a king.

653 Evam etam yathābhūtam kammam passanti panditā
paticcasamuppādadasā kammavipākakovidā.

In this way the wise see action as it really is,
Seeing dependent arising, understanding result of action.

Verse 653 is sometimes isolated from its context and used to justify the 'three-life' interpretation of the twelve-factored formulation of paticcasamuppāda as kamma/kammavipāka—kamma/kammavipāka, an interpretation that is wholly inadmissible (see PATICCASAMUPPĀDA and A NOTE ON PATICCASAMUPPĀDA). When the verse is restored to its context the meaning is clear: kammam paticca kassako hoti, sippiko hoti, and so on; in other words, what one is depends on what one does. And the result (vipāka) of acting in a certain way is that one is known accordingly. For vipāka used in this sense see Anguttara VI,vi,9 <A. iii,413>: Vohāravepakkāham bhikkhave saññā vadāmi; yathā yathā nam sañjānāti tathā tathā voharati, Evam saññī ahosin ti. Ayam vuccati bhikkhave saññānam vipāko. ('Perceptions, monks, I say result in description; according as one perceives such-and-such, so one describes: 'I was perceptive thus'. This, monks, is called the result of perceptions.') (For the usual meaning of kammavipāka as the more or less delayed retribution for ethically significant actions, see e.g. Anguttara III,iv,4 <A.i,134-6> [The P.T.S. numbering has gone astray here].)

The question of kamma or 'action'—'What should I do?'—is the ethical question;; for all personal action—all action done by me—is either akusala or kusala, unskilful or skilful. Unskilful action is rooted in lobha (rāga), dosa, moha, or lust, hate, and delusion, and (apart from resulting in future dukkha or unpleasure) leads to arising of action, not to cessation of action—tam kammam kammasamudayāya samvattati na tam kammam kammanirodhāya samvattati. ('That action leads to arising of action, that action does not lead to ceasing of action.') Skilful action is rooted in non-lust, non-hate, and non-delusion, and leads to cessation of action, not to arising of action. (Anguttara III,xi,7&8 <A.i,263>) The puthujjana does not understand this, since he sees neither arising nor cessation of action;[a] the ditthisampanna does understand this, since he sees both arising and cessation of action—Yato kho āvuso ariyasāvako akusalañ ca pajānāti akusalamūlañ ca pajānāti, kusalañ ca pajānāti kusalamūlañ ca pajānāti, ettāvatā pi kho āvuso ariyasāvako sammāditthi hoti ujugatā'ssa ditthi, dhamme aveccappasādena samannāgato, āgato imam saddhammam ('In so far, friend, as a noble disciple understands unskill and understands the root of unskill, understands skill and understands the root of skill, so far too, friend, the noble disciple has right view, his view is correct, he is endowed with tried confidence in the Teaching, he has arrived at this Good Teaching') (Majjhima i,9 <M.i,46>)—; the arahat not only understands this, but also has reached cessation of action, since for him the question 'What should I do?' no more arises. To the extent that there is still intention in the case of the arahat—see CETANĀ [f]—there is still conscious action, but since it is neither unskilful nor skilful it is no longer action in the ethical sense. Extinction, nibbāna, is cessation of ethics—Kullūpamam vo bhikkhave ājānantehi dhammā pi vo pahātabbā pageva adhammā ('Comprehending the parable of the raft, monks, you have to eliminate ethical things too, let alone unethical things') (Majjhima iii,2 <M.i,135>). See MAMA [a].

For a brief account of action see NĀMA; for a definition see RŪPA .

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

Post by SarathW » Tue Sep 01, 2015 1:06 am

The way I understand Arahants do only ethical thing not the unethical things.
However they are called Kiriya Citta. (since they are neither wholesome nor unwholesome)
They act on compassion.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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

Post by SDC » Thu Sep 03, 2015 12:02 am

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

===================================================================================================================

While I've been leaving out the footnotes as of late, the only one for this note contains a quite fascinating exposition of the always mysterious Mūlapariyāya sutta (MN1).

===================================================================================================================

Shorter Notes - 19th Excerpt
Previous Excerpts - 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18

MAMA
Ven. Ñāṇavīra wrote:Cakkhum, Etam mama, eso'ham asmi, eso me attā ti samanupassati. Cakkhum, N'etam mama, n'eso'ham asmi, n'eso me attā ti samanupassati. Majjhima xv,6 <M.iii,284>
'This is mine; this am I; this is my self'—so he regards the eye. 'Not, this is mine; not, this am I; not, this is my self'—so he regards the eye.

If N'etam mama is translated 'This is not mine' the implication is that something other than this is mine, which must be avoided. These three views (of which the sotāpanna is free) correspond to three degrees or levels of appropriation. Etam mama is the most fundamental, a rationalization (or at least a conceptual elaboration) of the situation described in the Mūlapariyāyasutta (Majjhima i,1 <M.i,1-6>) and in the Salāyatana Samyutta iii,8 <S.iv,22-3>. Eso'ham asmi is a rationalization of asmimāna. Eso me attā is a rationalization of attavāda—it is full-blown sakkāyaditthi. Though the sotāpanna is free of these views, he is not yet free of the maññanā of the Mūlapariyāyasutta (which is fundamental in all bhava) or of asmimāna, but he cannot be said to have attavāda.[a] See DHAMMA [d] & PHASSA. The sotāpanna (and the other two sekhā), in whom asmimāna is still present, know and see for themselves that notions of 'I' and 'mine' are deceptions. So they say N'etam mama, n'eso'ham asmi, n'eso me attā ti. The arahat is quite free from asmimāna, and, not having any trace of 'I' and 'mine', does not even say N'etam mama, n'eso'ham asmi, n'eso me attā ti.
Footnote [a] wrote:The Mūlapariyāyasutta is as follows. (i) The puthujjana 'perceives X as X; perceiving X as X, he conceives X, he conceives In X, he conceives From X, he conceives "X is mine"; he delights in X...'. (ii) The sekha 'recognizes X as X; recognizing X as X, he should not conceive X, he should not conceive In X, he should not conceive From X, he should not conceive "X is mine"; he should not delight in X...'. (iii) The arahat 'recognizes X as X; recognizing X as X, he does not conceive X, he does not conceive In X, he does not conceive From X, he does not conceive "X is mine"; he does not delight in X...'. This tetrad of maññanā, of 'conceivings', represents four progressive levels of explicitness in the basic structure of appropriation. The first, 'he conceives X', is so subtle that the appropriation is simply implicit in the verb. Taking advantage of an extension of meaning (not, however, found in the Pali maññati), we can re-state 'he conceives X' as 'X conceives', and then understand this as 'X is pregnant'—pregnant, that is to say, with subjectivity. And, just as when a woman first conceives she has nothing to show for it, so at this most implicit level we can still only say 'X'; but as the pregnancy advances, and it begins to be noticeable, we are obliged to say 'In X'; then the third stage of the pregnancy, when we begin to suspect that a separation is eventually going to take place, can be described as 'From X'; and the fourth stage, when the infant's head makes a public appearance and the separation is on the point of becoming definite, is the explicit 'X is mine (me, not mama)'. This separation is first actually realized in asmimāna, where I, as subject, am opposed to X, as object; and when the subject eventually grows up he becomes the 'self' of attavāda, face to face with the 'world' in which he exists. (In spite of the simile, what is described here is a single graded structure all implicated in the present, and not a development taking place in time. When there is attavāda, the rest of this edifice lies beneath it: thus attavāda requires asmimāna (and the rest), but there can be asmimāna without attavāda.) Note that it is only the sekha who has the ethical imperative 'should not': the puthujjana, not 'recognizing X as X' (he perceives X as X, but not as impermanent), does not see for himself that he should not conceive X; while the arahat, though 'recognizing X as X', no longer conceives X. See KAMMA.

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

Post by pulga » Thu Sep 03, 2015 3:06 pm

I think Ven. Ñāṇamoli's translation of the Mūḷapariyāya Sutta is worthy of some consideration, particularly in the way he interprets the ablative in the opening main line:
Paṭhaviṃ pathavito sañjānāti – from earth he has a percept of earth’: This presents the first of the many problems, most of which seems to be ontological. This ablative construction would normally be freely renderable by ‘he perceives earth as earth’ (ie. perceives it ‘for what it really is’); but that takes the ablative in a different sense to the one that follows (pathavito maññati – he conceives (that to be apart) from earth), which seems hard to justify, and perhaps not necessary. The strongest argument against this is that ‘perceives’ (sañjānāti) is used only of the ordinary man. Consequently it must be taken that in the act of perceiving a basic slight distortion takes place (cf. definition of saññā=perception in Vis: ch 14 and abhinivesa=interpretation), which is absent in abhiññā=direct-knowledge. The perceiving has already made an interpretation from the bare object of viññāṇa (bahiddhāyatana). Perceiving has the utraquistic sense of the act of perceiving and the percept, and that is deliberately implied here, apparently.
It has an interesting parallel in Michael Polanyi's "From-to" structure as described by Drew Leder, cf. his book The Absent Body, pp. 15-17.

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

Post by SDC » Thu Sep 03, 2015 5:49 pm

Great stuff from Ven. Ñāṇamoli, pulga. Thanks!

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

Post by pulga » Thu Sep 03, 2015 6:39 pm

SDC wrote:Great stuff from Ven. Ñāṇamoli, pulga. Thanks!
I notice that Ven. Ninoslav Ñāṇamoli uses the elder Ven. Ñāṇamoli's translation in his Resistance and Designation (Notes on DN 15).

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

Post by SDC » Thu Sep 03, 2015 8:20 pm

pulga wrote:I notice that Ven. Ninoslav Ñāṇamoli uses the elder Ven. Ñāṇamoli's translation in his Resistance and Designation (Notes on DN 15).
Indeed, I believe in a few of his other essays as well.

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

Post by SDC » Wed Sep 09, 2015 10:17 pm

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

Shorter Notes - 20th Excerpt
Previous Excerpts - 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19

MANO
Ven. Ñāṇavīra wrote:Much mental activity (imagination) is to some extent reflexive (in a loose sense);[a] and reflexion brings to light not merely things (as does the unreflexive attitude) but also the nature of things (see DHAMMA). Thus dhammā, as the external counterpart of mano, can often be understood as 'universals'. This does not mean, of course, that the mind will necessarily choose to attend to these universal things that appear; it may prefer to enjoy the images as the eye enjoys visible forms; nevertheless, it is reflexively withdrawn from the immediate world. See NĀMA .

Note that just as the eye, as cakkhāyatana or cakkhudhātu, is that yena lokasmim lokasaññī hoti lokamānī ('[that] by which, in the world, one is a perceiver and conceiver of the world') (Salāyatana Samy. xii,3 <S.iv,95>), i.e. that thing in the world dependent upon which there is perceiving and conceiving of the world, namely a spherical lump of flesh set in my face; so the mind, as manāyatana or manodhātu, also is that yena lokasmim lokasaññī hoti lokamānī, i.e. that thing in the world dependent upon which there is perceiving and conceiving of the world, namely various ill-defined parts of my body, but principally a mass of grey matter contained in my head (physiological and neurological descriptions are strictly out of place—see PHASSA).[c] This is in agreement with the fact that all five khandhā arise in connexion with each of the six āyatanāni—see NĀMA & PHASSA [a]. For 'perceiving and conceiving' see MAMA [a].

More loosely, in other contexts, the mind (mano) is simply 'imagination' or 'reflexion', which, strictly, in the context of the foregoing paragraph, is manoviññāna, i.e. the presence of images. See NĀMA [c]. The Vibhanga (of the Abhidhamma Pitaka) introduces chaos by supposing that manodhātu and manoviññānadhatu are successive stages of awareness, differing only in intensity (and perhaps also, somehow, in kind). See CITTA.

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

Post by pulga » Thu Sep 10, 2015 1:08 pm

Ven. Ñāṇavīra wrote:Much mental activity (imagination) is to some extent reflexive (in a loose sense);[a] and reflexion brings to light not merely things (as does the unreflexive attitude) but also the nature of things (see DHAMMA). Thus dhammā, as the external counterpart of mano, can often be understood as 'universals'.


From Ven. Ñanavira's Maginalia to Stebbings' A Modern Introduction to Logic:

p. 140/1-5
[a Chinese philosopher...is reported to have said that if there is a dun cow and a bay horse, then there are three things; for the dun cow is one thing, and the bay horse is another thing, and the two together are a third. We must inquire wherein precisely lies the absurdity of this statement.] : Far from being absurd, this statement is of fundamental ontological importance. (If there is a bowl and a stem, is the pipe that comes of taking the two together simply a class? If so, then the bowl and stem are also classes, since different parts of them can be distinguished.)


Thus the 'pipe' would be the 'universal' of the bowl and stem when the two are taken together, cf. the literal, etymological meaning of saṅkhata -- the prefix sam (together) plus the past participle of √kṛ (to do, to make), i.e. united. The bowl and stem themselves would be 'universals' of a lesser order, while the 'pipe' would be a 'particular' of some 'universal' of a greater order. As I take it, the ontological importance is that a 'universal' cannot 'be', i.e. it cannot be present when the particulars that manifest it are not, cf. MN 18. Whereas what a thing is -- its meaning -- is determined contextually from the top down as it were, its existence is founded upon the presence of the particular beneath it, i.e. from the bottom up.

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

Post by SDC » Thu Sep 10, 2015 2:25 pm

pulga wrote:As I take it, the ontological importance is that a 'universal' cannot 'be', i.e. it cannot be present when the particulars that manifest it are not, cf. MN 18. Whereas what a thing is -- its meaning -- is determined contextually from the top down as it were, its existence is founded upon the presence of the particular beneath it, i.e. from the bottom up.
And this would be the 'indirect' approach, correct? Seeing the impermanence of the determination as opposed to 'dealing' with the determined thing itself?

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

Post by pulga » Fri Sep 11, 2015 3:05 am

SDC wrote: And this would be the 'indirect' approach, correct? Seeing the impermanence of the determination as opposed to 'dealing' with the determined thing itself?
I would say yes, but there may be more to it than just that.

It would seem to me that the hierarchy of generality Ven. Ñanavira refers to in footnote b in his Shorter Note on Dhamma would generate a horizon (cf. Ven. Ñanananda's 'vortex') in which layers of consciousness (or presence) would align vertically as each particular supports the universal above it. In his preface to Notes on Dhamma he refers to the need for a vertical view, straight down into the 'abyss' of one's own personal existence to apprehend the Buddha's Teaching, a view most find too vertiginous to sustain. I think he might be alluding to this aspect of such a structure in some marginalia that he left in his copy of Kierkegaard’s Concluding Unscientific Postscript pointing out the need for samatha bhāvana:
[If God were to reveal himself in human form and grant a direct relationship, by giving Himself, for example, the figure of a man six yards tall, then our hypothetical society man and captain of the hunt would doubtless have his attention aroused. But the spiritual relationship to God in truth, when God refuses to deceive, requires precisely that there be nothing remarkable about the figure, so that the society man would have to say: 'There is nothing whatever to see'. When God has nothing obviously remarkable about Him, the society man is perhaps deceived by not having his attention at all aroused. But this is not God's fault, and the actuality of such a deception is at the same time the constant possibility of the truth. But if God had anything obviously remarkable, He deceives men because they have their attention called to what is untrue, and this direction of attention is at the same time the impossibility of the truth. In paganism, the direct relationship is idolatry; in Christendom, everyone knows that God cannot so reveal Himself. But this knowledge is by no means inwardness, and in Christendom it may well happen to one who knows everything by rote that he is left altogether 'without God in the world', in a sense impossible in paganism, which did have the untrue relationship of paganism. Idolatry is indeed a sorry substitute, but that the item God should be entirely omitted is still worse.]: Here, when applied to the Buddha's Teaching, is what or where the position of samatha bhavanā comes in. It is ONLY with the initiation and development of samatha bh. that a puthujjana can even develop any anulomikāya khantiyā samannāgato (see SN, SAKKĀYA ). With the increase of samatha bh. towards the samādhi degree these paṭisotagāmi vertiginous views of the nature of existence can be developed and held longer and steadier finally with the possibility of culmination at first jhāna, that is if anulomikāya khantiyā samannāgato has been developed. Without it samādhi guarantees nothing as far as attainment. It is only the necessary 'allower' for the mind to have such views if it wants. In short, ONLY samatha bh. allows anulomikāya khantiyā samannāgato ; only samādhi allows the ambiguity to subside once for all, tout court.

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

Post by pulga » Fri Sep 11, 2015 4:22 pm

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Last edited by pulga on Sat Sep 19, 2015 1:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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