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

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

Post by acinteyyo » Mon Sep 21, 2015 5:37 pm

mikenz66 wrote:
acinteyyo wrote: I'm somewhat puzzled that you seem to insist on bringing up the being here as if there was a need for an explanation about or a justification for how conditionality carries on from life to life apart from the discourses on paṭiccasamuppāda given by the Buddha.
Of course it's about DO. In my view, Nagasena is simply illuminating that with similes, as the Buddha did with various concepts, such as in MN 72.

:anjali:
Mike
Only that Nagasena does it in an improper way, in my eyes... but let us leave that as it is for now. I agree that we disagree on certain points. :toast:

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 » Mon Sep 21, 2015 9:24 pm

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

Shorter Notes - 22nd Excerpt
Previous Excerpts - 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19,20,21

NĀMA
Ven. Ñāṇavīra wrote:In any experience (leaving out of account arūpa) there is a phenomenon that is present (i.e. that is cognized). The presence, or cognition, or consciousness, of the phenomenon is viññāna (q.v.). The phenomenon has two characteristics, inertia and designation (patigha and adhivacana). The inertia of a phenomenon is rūpa ('matter' or 'substance'), which may be seen also as its behaviour; and this presents itself only in the passage of time (however short). (These four mahābhūtā are the general modes of behaviour or matter: earthy, or persistent and resistant, or solid; watery, or cohesive; fiery, or ripening, or maturing; airy, or tense, or distended, or moving. See RŪPA.) The designation of a phenomenon is nāma ('name'), which may be seen also as its appearance (the form or guise adopted by the behaviour, as distinct from the behaviour itself).[a] Nāma consists of the following (Majjhima i,9 <M.i,53>[1]): whether (the experience is) pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral (vedanā or 'feeling'); shape, colour, smell, and so on (saññā [q.v.] or 'perception [percepts]'); significance or purpose (cetanā [q.v.] or 'intention[s]'); engagement in experience (phassa [q.v.] or 'contact'); and (intentional) direction of emphasis (manasikāra or 'attention'). Phassa is included in nāma since nāma, in specifying saññā, necessarily specifies the pair of āyatanāni ('bases') and kind of viññāna involved (e.g. perception of sourness specifies tongue, tastes, and tongue-consciousness), whereas rūpa does not (inertia or behaviour does not specify its mode of appearance, visual, auditory, and so on): nāma, in other words, entails (but does not include) viññāna, whereas rūpa is simply 'discovered' by viññāna (see RŪPA). Manasikāra is included in nāma since, whereas rūpa precedes manasikāra (logically, not temporally: behaviour takes place whether it is attended to or not—the clock, for example, does not stop when I leave the room), nāma involves manasikāra: experience is always particular or selective, one thing to the fore at once and the rest receding in the background. Rūpa, in other words, in order to appear—i.e. in order to be phenomenal as nāmarūpa—, must be oriented: a phenomenon cannot present all aspects at once with equal emphasis, but only in a perspective involving manasikāra. (Manasikāra is involved as an intentional modification of the perspective or direction of emphasis that is given at the most immediate level. Cf. CETANĀ [e] & Bradley, op. cit. (Logic) , III/I, vi, §13.)

To be present is to be here-and-now; to be absent is to be here-and-then (then = not now; at some other time) or there-and-now (there = not here; at some other place) or there-and-then. Attention is (intentional) difference between presence and absence, i.e. between varying degrees of presence, of consciousness ('Let this be present, let that be absent!'). Consciousness is the difference between presence (in any degree) and utter non-presence (i.e. non- existence). (An image may be present or absent, but even if present it is always absent reality. Mind-consciousness, manoviññāna, is the presence of an image or, since an image can be absent, of an image of an image.) Intention is the absent in relation to the present. Every present is necessarily accompanied by a number of absents—the present is singular, the absent is plural. Each absent is a possibility of the present, and the ordered total of the present's absents is the significance of the present (i.e. what it points to, or indicates, beyond itself), which is also its intention. (In general, no two absents—even of the same order—are of exactly the same 'weight'.) Volition (which is what is more commonly understood by 'intention') is really a double intention (in the sense used here), i.e. it is intentional intention. This simply means that certain of the absents (or possibles) are intentionally emphasized at the expense of the others. When, in the course of time, one absent comes wholly to predominate over the others (often, but not necessarily, the one preferred), the present suddenly vanishes, and the absent takes its place as the new present. (The vanished present—see ANICCA [a] —is now to be found among the absents.) This is a description of action (kamma) in its essential form, but leaving out of account the question of kammavipāka, which is acinteyya (Anguttara IV,viii,7 <A.ii,80>[8]), and therefore rather beyond the scope of these Notes. See also a definition of action in RŪPA , and an ethical account in KAMMA.

The passage at Dīgha ii,2 <D.ii,62-3>[9] is essential for an understanding of nāmarūpa, and it rules out the facile and slipshod interpretation of nāmarūpa as 'mind-&- matter'—rūpa is certainly 'matter' (or 'substance'), but nāma is not 'mind'.[c] The passage at Majjhima iii,8 <M.i,190-1>[10] makes it clear that all five upādānakkhandhā, and therefore viññāna with nāmarūpa, are present both in five-base experience and in mental experience. Thus, a visible (real) stone persists (or keeps its shape and its colour—i.e. is earthy) visibly (or in reality); an imagined stone persists in imagination. Both the actual (real) taste of castor oil and the thought of tasting it (i.e. the imaginary taste) are unpleasant. Both matter and feeling (as also perception and the rest) are both real and imaginary.[d] See PHASSA [a]. Nāmarūpa at Dīgha ii,2 <D.ii,63,§21>[9] may firstly be taken as one's own cognized body. Cf. Nidāna/Abhisamaya Samy. ii,9 <S.ii,24>: Avijjānīvaranassa bhikkhave bālassa/panditassa tanhāya sampayuttassa evam ayam kāyo samudāgato. Iti ayam c'eva kāyo bahiddhā ca nāmarūpam, itth'etam dvayam. ('A stupid/intelligent man, monks, constrained by nescience and attached by craving, has thus acquired this body. So there is just this body and name-&-matter externally: in that way there is a dyad.') This passage distinguishes between nāmarūpa that is external and one's own body. Together, these make up the totality of nāmarūpa at any time. The body, as rūpa, is independent of its appearance; but together with its appearance, which is how we normally take it, it is nāmarūpa. Nāmarūpa that is external is all cognized phenomena apart from one's own body. Cf. Majjhima xi,9 <M.iii,19>: ...imasmiñ ca saviññānake kāye bahiddhā ca sabbanimittesu... ('...in this conscious body and externally in all objects...') Though, as said above, we may firstly understand nāmarūpa in the Dīgha passage as one's own cognized body, properly speaking we must take nāmarūpa as the total cognized phenomena (which may not be explicitly formulated), thus: (i) 'I-[am]-lying-in-the- mother's-womb'; (ii) 'I-[am]-being-born-into-the-world'; (iii) 'I-[am]-a-young-man-about-town'. In other words, I am ultimately concerned not with this or that particular phenomenon in my experience but with myself as determined by my whole situation.

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

Post by SDC » Tue Sep 29, 2015 10:25 pm

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

Shorter Notes - 23nd Excerpt
Previous Excerpts - 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19,20,21,22

NIBBĀNA
Ven. Ñāṇavīra wrote:See Itivuttaka II,ii,7 <Iti.38>.[12]

The opinion has been expressed (in the P.T.S. Dictionary) that nibbāna is not transcendental. If by 'transcendental' is meant 'mystical', either in the sense of having to do with a (supposed) Divine Ground or simply of being by nature a mystery, then nibbāna (or 'extinction') is not transcendental: indeed, it is anti-transcendental; for mystification is the state, not of the arahat (who has realized nibbāna), but of the puthujjana (who has not).[a] For the arahat, all sense of personality or selfhood has subsided, and with it has gone all possibility of numinous experience; and a fortiori the mystical intuition of a trans-personal Spirit or Absolute Self—of a Purpose or an Essence or a Oneness or what have you—can no longer arise. Cf. Preface (m). Nor, for one who sees, is the nature of nibbāna a mystery at all. When a fire becomes extinguished (nibbuta) we do not suppose that it enters a mysterious 'transcendental state': neither are we to suppose such a thing of the person that attains nibbāna. See Majjhima viii,2 & PARAMATTHA SACCA [a].

But if 'transcendental' means 'outside the range of investigation of the disinterested scholar or scientist', then nibbāna is transcendental (but so are other things). And if 'transcendental' means 'outside the range of understanding of the puthujjana'—though the dictionary hardly intends this—, then again it is transcendental. Only this last meaning corresponds to lokuttara. (i) Existence or being (bhava) transcends reason (takka, which is the range of the scholar or scientist), and (ii) extinction (nibbāna) transcends existence (which is the range of the puthujjana):

(i) There is no reason why I am, why I exist. My existence cannot be demonstrated by reasoning since it is not necessary, and any attempt to do so simply begs the question. The Cartesian cogito ergo sum is not a logical proposition—logically speaking it is a mere tautology. My existence is beyond reason.

(ii) I can assert my existence or I can deny it, but in order to do either I must exist; for it is I myself who assert it or deny it. Any attempt I may make to abolish my existence tacitly confirms it; for it is my existence that I am seeking to abolish. Ye kho te bhonto samanabrāhmanā sato sattassa ucchedam vināsam vibhavam paññāpenti te sakkāyabhayā sakkāyaparijegucchā sakkāyam yeva anuparidhāvanti anuparivattanti. Seyyathāpi nāma sā gaddūlabaddho dalhe thambhe vā khīle vā upanibaddho tam eva thambham vā khīlam vā anuparidhāvati anuparivattati, evam ev'ime bhonto samanabrāhmanā sakkāyabhayā sakkāyaparijegucchā sakkāyam yeva anuparidhāvanti anuparivattanti. ('Those recluses and divines who make known the annihilation, perishing, and un-being, of the existing creature,—they, through fear of perssonality, through loathing of personality, are simply running and circling around personality. Just, indeed, as a dog, tied with a leash to a firm post or stake, runs and circles around that same post or stake, so these recluses and divines, through fear of personality, through loathing of personality, are simply running and circling around personality.') (Majjhima xi,2 <M.ii,232>) Cessation of 'my existence' (which is extinction— bhavanirodho nibbānam ('Extinction is cessation of being.') [Anguttara X,i,7 <A.v,9>]) is beyond my existence. See ATAKKĀVACARA.

The idea of nibbāna as the ultimate goal of human endeavour will no doubt strike the common man, innocently enjoying the pleasures of his senses, as a singularly discouraging notion if he is told that it is no more than 'cessation of being'. Without actually going so far (overtly, at least) as to hope for Bradley's Absolute ('It would be experience entire, containing all elements in harmony. Thought would be present as a higher intuition; will would be there where the ideal had become reality; and beauty and pleasure and feeling would live on in this total fulfilment. Every flame of passion, chaste or carnal, would still burn in the Absolute unquenched and unabridged, a note absorbed in the harmony of its higher bliss.' [Op. cit. (A.&R.), Ch. XV]),—without perhaps going quite so far as this, even a thoughtful man may like to expect something a little more positive than 'mere extinction' as the summum bonum. We shrink before the idea that our existence, with its anguishes and its extasies, is wholly gratuitous, and we are repelled by the suggestion that we should be better off without it; and it is only natural that the puthujjana should look for a formula to save something from (as he imagines) the shipwreck.[c]

In the Udāna (viii,3 <Ud.80>) nibbāna is spoken of by the Buddha in these terms: Atthi bhikkhave ajātam abhūtam akatam asankhatam, no ce tam bhikkhave abhavissa ajātam abhūtam akatam asankhatam na yidha jātassa bhūtassa katassa sankhatassa nissaranam paññāyetha. ('There is, monks, a non-born, non-become, non-made, non-determined; for if, monks, there were not that non-born, non-become, non-made, non-determined, an escape here from the born, become, made, determined, would not be manifest.') 'Such a positive assertion of the existence of the Unconditioned' it is sometimes urged 'must surely imply that nibbāna is not simply annihilation.' Nibbāna, certainly, is not 'simply annihilation'—or rather, it is not annihilation at all: extinction, cessation of being, is by no means the same thing as the (supposed) annihilation of an eternal 'self' or soul. (See Majjhima xi,2, above.) And the assertion of the existence of nibbāna is positive enough—but what, precisely, is asserted? In the Asankhata Samyutta (i,1 & ii,23<S.iv,359&371>) we read Yo bhikkhave rāgakkhayo dosakkhayo mohakkhayo, idam vuccati bhikkhave asankhatam/nibbānam; ('The destruction, monks, of lust, of hate, of delusion—this, monks, is called (the) non-determined/extinction.') and we see that, if we do not go beyond the Suttas, we cannot derive more than the positive assertion of the existence here of the destruction of lust, hate, and delusion. And this is simply a statement that to get rid, in this very life, of lust, hate, and delusion, is possible (if it were not, there would be no escape from them, and therefore—Anguttara X,viii,6 <A.v,144>—no escape from birth, ageing, and death). And the arahat has, in fact, done so. But if, in our stewing minds, we still cannot help feeling that nibbāna really ought, somehow, to be an eternity of positive enjoyment, or at least of experience, we may ponder these two Sutta passages:

Tisso imā bhikkhu vedanā vuttā mayā, sukhā vedanā dukkhā vedanā adukkhamasukhā vedanā, imā tisso vedanā vuttā mayā. Vuttam kho pan' etam bhikkhu mayā, Yam kiñci vedayitam tam dukkhasmin ti. Tam kho pan'etam bhikkhu mayā sankhārānam yeva aniccatam sandhāya bhāsitam... ('There are, monk, these three feelings stated by me: pleasant feeling, unpleasant feeling, neither-unpleasant-nor-pleasant feeling—these three feelings have been stated by me. But this, monk, has been stated by me: 'Whatever is felt counts as unpleasure (suffering)'. That, however, monk, was said by me concerning the impermanence of determinations...' (See Vedanā Samy. i,9, quoted at A NOTE ON PATICCASAMUPPĀDA §17.)) Vedanā Samy. ii,1 <S.iv,216>

Āyasmā Sāriputto etad avoca. Sukham idam āvuso nibbānam, sukham idam āvuso nibbānan ti. Evam vutte āyasmā Udāyi āyasmantam Sāriputtam etad avoca. Kim pan'ettha āvuso Sāriputta sukham, yad ettha n'atthi vedayitan ti. Etad eva khv ettha āvuso sukham, yad ettha n'atthi vedayitam. ('The venerable Sāriputta said this:—It is extinction, friends, that is pleasant! It is extinction, friends, that is pleasant! When this was said, the venerable Udāyi said to the venerable Sāriputta,—But what herein is pleasant, friend Sāriputta, since herein there is nothing felt?—Just this is pleasant, friend, that herein there is nothing felt.') Anguttara IX,iv,3 <A.iv,414>

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

Post by SDC » Sun Oct 04, 2015 1:49 pm

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

Shorter Notes - 24th Excerpt
Previous Excerpts - 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19,20,21,22,23

CITTA
Ven. Ñāṇavīra wrote:Cittavīthi, 'mental process, cognitive series'. Visuddhimagga, Ch. XIV etc. It is, perhaps, not superfluous to remark that this doctrine, of which so much use is made in the Visuddhimagga (and see also the Abhidhammatthasangaha), is a pure scholastic invention and has nothing at all to do with the Buddha's Teaching (or, indeed, with anything else). It is, moreover, a vicious doctrine, totally at variance with paticcasamuppāda, setting forth the arising of experience as a succession of items each coming to an end before the next appears (imassa nirodhā idam uppajjati—cf. A NOTE ON PATICCASAMUPPĀDA §7). The decay first seems to set in with the Vibhanga and Patthāna of the Abhidhamma Pitaka. (See SAÑÑĀ, and refer to The Path of Purification [Visuddhimagga translation by the Ven. Ñānamoli Bhikkhu], Semage, Colombo 1956, Ch. IV, note 13.)

Connected with this doctrine is the erroneous notion of anuloma-gotrabhu-magga-phala, supposed to be the successive moments in the attainment of sotāpatti. It is sometimes thought that the word akālika as applied to the Dhamma means that attainment of magga is followed 'without interval of time' by attainment of phala; but this is quite mistaken.[a] Akālika dhamma has an entirely different meaning (for which see PATICCASAMUPPĀDA). Then, in the Okkantika Samyutta <S.iii, 225> it is stated only that the dhammānusārī and the saddhānusārī (who have reached the magga leading to sotāpatti) are bound to attain sotāpattiphala before their death; and other Suttas—e.g. Majjhima vii,5&10 <M.i,439 & 479>—show clearly that one is dhammānusārī or saddhanusārī for more than 'one moment'. For gotrabhu see Majjhima xiv,12 <M.iii,256>, where it says that he may be dussīla pāpadhamma. In Sutta usage it probably means no more than 'a member of the bhikkhusangha'. For anuloma see SAKKĀYA .

See NĀMA [c] and the Glossary for meanings of citta. For cittasankhāra as opposed to manosankhāra see A NOTE ON PATICCASAMUPPĀDA §§5 & 16.

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

Post by mikenz66 » Mon Oct 05, 2015 6:04 am

It's interesting that Ven Nanavira rejects the possibility that what was described in the Commentaries was experiential, (dismissing it as "purely scholastic"), whereas his older colleague, Ven Nyanaponika, studied with Mahasi Sayadaw, described his approach in detail in The Heart of Buddhist Meditation in 1954, and translated Mahasi Sayadaw's The Progress of Insight, which summarised the accumulated experience of practitioners of that approach.

It seems that Ven Nanavira's practice was interrupted by illness. It would have been interesting to know how he might have regarded some of these experiential issues if he had been able to continue.
Nanavira wrote:I myself have practised fairly continuously for one year, and then (after amoebiasis had crippled my capacity for practice) spasmodically for about fourteen years, and I am quite familiar with the low-level results of this practice. There is a gradual and increasing experience of calm and tranquillity as the object of meditation (in my case, the in- and out-breaths) becomes clearer and more definite, and at the same time distracting thoughts about other matters become less. (If one does turn one's attention to such matters, they are seen much more clearly and steadily than at normal times.) As one proceeds, one's capacity for practice increases, and one may be able to continue (with interruptions for meals, etc.) for many hours;[e] and also one positively dislikes any outside interruption, and necessary breaks are most unwelcome.

In all this there is, right from the start, no sign at all of elation and depression (or expansion and contraction—Zaehner, pp. 85ff.), and no experience of 'one-ness' (with nature, with Self, with God, or with anything else). There is nothing one could possibly call 'ecstatic' about it—it is pleasurable, and the more so the more one does it, but that is all. To begin with, certainly, one may be attacked either by sleepiness or by mental agitation (i.e. about other matters), but with persistence, and particularly when the object of meditation begins to appear clearly, these things no longer arise; but sleepiness is not depression and mental distraction is not manic exultation.

About the higher states (called jhānas), I am, unfortunately, unable to give you any personal account, since I have never reached them (though my motive in coming to Ceylon in the first place was to obtain them); but I am perfectly satisfied that they are attainable (given good health, persistence, and so on). In any case, in the descriptions of these attainments in the Suttas there is, once again, nothing that corresponds to what Zaehner describes; and, in particular, these practices alone do not lead to 'liberation' in the highest sense—nibbāna—though Zaehner seems to assume that they do (pp. 155-6). Moreover, it is by no means necessary to reach the highest stages of concentration in order to attain nibbāna—first jhāna (minimum) is sufficient.
http://www.nanavira.org/letters/post-so ... 6-may-1964
:anjali:
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Re: A Review of Ven. Ñānavīra's "Notes on Dhamma"

Post by tiltbillings » Mon Oct 05, 2015 6:27 am

mikenz66 wrote:It's interesting that Ven Nanavira rejects the possibility that what was described in the Commentaries was experiential, (dismissing it as "purely scholastic"), whereas his older colleague, Ven Nyanaponika, studied with Mahasi Sayadaw, described his approach in detail in The Heart of Buddhist Meditation in 1954, and translated Mahasi Sayadaw's The Progress of Insight, which summarised the accumulated experience of practitioners of that approach.
This bit from the commentary to the Path of Purifican strikes me as more than mere scholastic muttering. It speaks of experience:
  • The thread on illusion got me thinking about something I read a long time ago in a the footnote in The Path of Purification, but have never been able to find it since. Now that the PoP is in PDF, one can search it in minute detail, but it helps to have the accurate terms for the search. I had been looking for the word foam, when what I needed was the word froth.

    This is what I was looking for:
    But when they are seen after resolving them by means of knowledge into these elements, they disintegrate like froth subjected to compression by the hand. They are mere states (dhamma) occurring due to conditions and void. In this way the characteristic of not-self becomes more evident” (Vism-mhþ 824). PoP pg 668.
    Which comes a commentary to the PoP.

    Here is the whole passage, written in the dense and difficult commentarial style, that Ven Nanamoli quotes, PoP 667-8:

    “‘When continuity is disrupted’ means when continuity is exposed by observing the perpetual otherness of states as they go on occurring in succession. For it is not through the connectedness of states that the characteristic of impermanence becomes apparent to one who rightly observes rise and fall, but rather the characteristic becomes more thoroughly evident through their disconnectedness, as if they were iron darts.

    When the postures are exposed’ means when the concealment of the pain that is actually inherent in the postures is exposed. For when pain arises in a posture, the next posture adopted removes the pain, as it were, concealing it. But once it is correctly known how the pain in any posture is shifted by substituting another posture for that one, then the concealment of the pain that is in them is exposed because it has become evident that formations are being incessantly overwhelmed by pain.

    Resolution of the compact’ is effected by resolving [what appears compact] in this way, ‘The earth element is one, the water element is another’ etc., distinguishing each one; and in this way, ‘Contact is one, feeling is another’ etc., distinguishing each one. ‘When the resolution of the compact is effected’ means that what is compact as a mass and what is compact as a function or as an object has been analyzed. For when material and immaterial states have arisen mutually steadying each other, [mentality and materiality, for example,] then, owing to misinterpreting that as a unity, compactness of mass is assumed through failure to subject formations to pressure.

    And likewise compactness of function is assumed when, although definite differences exist in such and such states’ functions, they are taken as one. And likewise compactness of object is assumed when, although differences exist in the ways in which states that take objects make them their objects, those objects are taken as one. But when they are seen after resolving them by means of knowledge into these elements, they disintegrate like froth subjected to compression by the hand. They are mere states (dhamma) occurring due to conditions and void. In this way the characteristic of not-self becomes more evident” (Vism-mhþ 824).

    They are mere states (dhamma) occurring due to conditions and void. Sometime the Visuddhimagga, the Path of Purifications, gets a bum rap
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... 75#p157451
>> 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: A Review of Ven. Ñānavīra's "Notes on Dhamma"

Post by mikenz66 » Mon Oct 05, 2015 6:30 pm

In contrast to Ven Nanavira, Ven Nanananda teaches a meditation practice based on the Mahasi approach, and seems to have no problem with the idea of the breaking up of experience.

Seeing Through: A Guide to Insight Meditation:
http://www.seeingthroughthenet.net/file ... hrough.pdf
Unfortunately, this is a scan, so the following is just some short extracts from page 16:
Nanananda wrote:As this contemplation of impermanence deepens, as he sees the incessant process of arising and passing away all the more rapidly, the latter aspect, namely the aspect of passing away, becomes more prominent to him. Just as the case of one trying to look at at mark in a rapidly turning wheel, the meditator becomes more aware of the falling aspect.
...
Now when the rapid process of destruction and breaking up becomes more prominent, dispassion sets in. ...
See also: http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=41&t=15664

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

Post by SDC » Thu Oct 08, 2015 9:52 pm

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

Shorter Notes - 25th and Final Excerpt
Previous Excerpts - 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19,20,21,22,23,24

PAṬICCASAMUPPĀDA
Ven. Ñāṇavīra wrote:For a fuller discussion of some of this, see A NOTE ON PATICCASAMUPPĀDA.

In spite of the venerable tradition, starting with the Patisambhidāmagga (or perhaps the Abhidhamma Pitaka) and continued in all the Commentaries (see Anguttara V,viii,9 <A.iii,107,§4>), paticcasamuppāda has nothing to do with temporal succession (cause-and-effect). Precedence in paticcasamuppāda is structural, not temporal: paticcasamuppāda is not the description of a process. For as long as paticcasamuppāda is thought to involve temporal succession (as it is, notably, in the traditional 'three-life' interpretation), so long is it liable to be regarded as some kind of hypothesis (that there is re-birth and that it is caused by avijjā) to be verified (or not) in the course of time (like any hypothesis of the natural sciences), and so long are people liable to think that the necessary and sufficient criterion of a 'Buddhist'[a] is the acceptance of this hypothesis on trust (for no hypothesis can be known to be certainly true, since upon the next occasion it may fail to verify itself). But the Buddha tells us (Majjhima iv,8 <M.i,265>) that paticcasamuppāda is sanditthiko akāliko ehipassiko opanayiko paccattam veditabbo viññūhi. ('immediate, timeless, evident, leading, to be known privately by the wise.') What temporal succession is akālika? (See CITTA [a].) For an ariyasāvaka, paticcasamuppāda is a matter of direct reflexive certainty: the ariyasāvaka has direct, certain, reflexive knowledge of the condition upon which birth depends. He has no such knowledge about re-birth, which is quite a different matter. He knows for himself that avijjā is the condition for birth; but he does not know for himself that when there is avijjā there is re-birth. (That there is re-birth, i.e. samsāra, may remain, even for the ariyasāvaka, a matter of trust in the Buddha.) The ariyasāvaka knows for himself that even in this very life the arahat is, actually, not to be found (cf. Khandha Samy. ix,3 <S.iii,109-15> and see PARAMATTHA SACCA [a]), and that it is wrong to say that the arahat 'was born' or 'will die'. With sakkāyanirodha there is no longer any 'somebody' (or a person—sakkāya, q.v.) to whom the words birth and death can apply. They apply, however, to the puthujjana, who still 'is somebody'. But to endow his birth with a condition in the past—i.e. a cause—is to accept this 'somebody' at its face value as a permanent 'self'; for cessation of birth requires cessation of its condition, which, being safely past (in the preceding life), cannot now be brought to an end; and this 'somebody' cannot therefore now cease. Introduction of this idea into paticcasamuppāda infects the samudayasacca with sassataditthi and the nirodhasacca with ucchedaditthi. Not surprisingly, the result is hardly coherent. And to make matters worse, most of the terms—and notably sankhāra (q.v.) —have been misconceived by the Visuddhimagga.

It is sometimes thought possible to modify this interpretation of paticcasamuppāda, confining its application to the present life. Instead of temporal succession we have continuous becoming, conceived as a flux, where the effect cannot be clearly distinguished from the cause—the cause becomes the effect. But this does not get rid of the temporal element, and the concept of a flux raises its own difficulties.[c]

The problem lies in the present, which is always with us; and any attempt to consider past or future without first settling the present problem can only beg the question—'self' is either asserted or denied, or both, or both assertion and denial are denied, all of which take it for granted (see NA CA SO). Any interpretation of paticcasamuppāda that involves time is an attempt to resolve the present problem by referring to past or future, and is therefore necessarily mistaken. The argument that both past and future exist in the present (which, in a certain sense, is correct) does not lead to the resolution of the problem.

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

Post by SDC » Thu Oct 08, 2015 9:58 pm

This concludes the review. Thank you to each and every member who has participated (or just read) over the last few months. It was a pleasure. :smile:

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

Post by SDC » Thu Oct 08, 2015 10:04 pm

For those who are curious, Fundamental Structure was not included in this review both due to its density and the associated diagrams which were going to be difficult to include in the thread. I do however encourage this portion of Notes on Dhamma to be explored.

Thank you again.

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

Post by aflatun » Sat Aug 26, 2017 2:49 am

SDC wrote:
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). 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 , 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.


:bow: :bow: :bow:

Sorry to necropost on this wonderful thread, but...not really. It seems I forgot how brilliant and incisive this particular note was, and foraging through here reminded me of it. Everyone should read this note a few times before bedtime :tongue:
"People often get too quick to say 'there's no self. There's no self...no self...no self.' There is self, there is focal point, its not yours. That's what not self is."

Ninoslav Ñāṇamoli
Senses and the Thought-1, 42:53

"Those who create constructs about the Buddha,
Who is beyond construction and without exhaustion,
Are thereby damaged by their constructs;
They fail to see the Thus-Gone.

That which is the nature of the Thus-Gone
Is also the nature of this world.
There is no nature of the Thus-Gone.
There is no nature of the world."

Nagarjuna
MMK XXII.15-16

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