Phenomenology question - view about the world

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

Witch view is correct ?

Option 1
3
21%
Option 2
11
79%
 
Total votes: 14

Meggo
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Re: Phenomenology question - view about the world

Post by Meggo » Sun Sep 11, 2016 5:24 pm

Option 1 with the limitation that i don't know what "existence" is and i will never be able to know.

Janalanda
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Re: Phenomenology question - view about the world

Post by Janalanda » Sun Sep 11, 2016 5:42 pm

I'm not claiming to have a reconciliation here, but it is knowable i.e. there can exist the thought of "independent objects", but that thought is not independent of experience nor can any objects therein be granted such independence either. But the question is, can we suffer in regard to such thoughts and the objects therein through assuming an independent existence? Obviously the answer is yes. So you would want a view which would allow this situation to be relevant in order for an understanding of suffering to be possible.
That thought is just a thought been thought from an internal, phenomenological perspective. It's just a thing that appeared in the world you can experience, witch is a "internal", phenomenological world.

But how about your parents ? Do they exist or not ? My opinion is they do exist independent of me. They do exist in the "external world" but for me, for what I can experience (only internal, phenomenological world) - they represent just a condition for the arising of certain phenomenons like: me seen them, me thinking about them, me talking with them etc. If you parents are nothing more than a condition for phenomenons that appear in your internal world, with nothing "behind", then they do not exist and you shouldn't care about them.

So what do you think about this ?

This view is not only supported by suttas but also by science. It's generally known that there is something that makes up this world (be it matter, energy etc.) but we can never "touch it". This "external world" manifest in the form of conditions that make phenomenons appear in our "internal world". If our brain would be wired to a computer pumping stimulus into it, we would never know that. Everything would look the same.

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SDC
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Re: Phenomenology question - view about the world

Post by SDC » Sun Sep 11, 2016 7:10 pm

Janalanda wrote:
I'm not claiming to have a reconciliation here, but it is knowable i.e. there can exist the thought of "independent objects", but that thought is not independent of experience nor can any objects therein be granted such independence either. But the question is, can we suffer in regard to such thoughts and the objects therein through assuming an independent existence? Obviously the answer is yes. So you would want a view which would allow this situation to be relevant in order for an understanding of suffering to be possible.
That thought is just a thought been thought from an internal, phenomenological perspective. It's just a thing that appeared in the world you can experience, witch is a "internal", phenomenological world.
Hi Janalanda,

When you quote without the name there is no notification to the member. No big deal but I almost missed that you had quoted me.

There is a subtle difference in perspective here, and again I am not claiming to have it right. Firstly, I would not distinguish internal and external "phenomenological world". Both internal and external are available as part of a whole. Emphasizing a difference between internal and external determines one to have priority over the other. It demands the answer of whether things exist or do not exist which I feel in not necessary. Again, that is just my take.
Janalanda wrote:But how about your parents ? Do they exist or not ? My opinion is they do exist independent of me. They do exist in the "external world" but for me, for what I can experience (only internal, phenomenological world) - they represent just a condition for the arising of certain phenomenons like: me seen them, me thinking about them, me talking with them etc. If you parents are nothing more than a condition for phenomenons that appear in your internal world, with nothing "behind", then they do not exist and you shouldn't care about them.

So what do you think about this ?

This view is not only supported by suttas but also by science. It's generally known that there is something that makes up this world (be it matter, energy etc.) but we can never "touch it". This "external world" manifest in the form of conditions that make phenomenons appear in our "internal world". If our brain would be wired to a computer pumping stimulus into it, we would never know that. Everything would look the same.
Did you have MN 117 in mind? Right view affected by the taints? "There is what is given and what is offered...there is mother and father..."

My comments were in regard to things "existing independently" of experience, but I am not denying that these things are valid as experience. They are. This is not about trying to deny, but trying to acknowledge that they arise as such and that my suffering is in regard to these things. There is no point trying to deny that my parents have a valid existence in my life. Whether they are right there immediately in front of me or, they are not there and I am thinking about them, it does not change that I have an experience of my parents. I just see no point in going the extra step to say they are there independent of me, because that thought will always be right there in my experience, not independent of me.

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mikenz66
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Re: Phenomenology question - view about the world

Post by mikenz66 » Sun Sep 11, 2016 7:25 pm

SamKR wrote: This view is based on suttas - my interpretation of suttas just like everyone has their own interpretations. Your interpretation might be that they teach basic common-sense view of external things. My opinion is that the Buddha did not teach a uniform teaching to everyone; he taught and talked about different level of things based on the level of the understanding of the audience. The suttas also contain a broad spectrum of teachings -- all of which could be relatively true based on particular situation, context, and level of understanding of people. When certain suttas talk about a basic common-sense view of external things, I am not saying that is absolutely incorrect. In my personal life too when I have to deal with other people I use the common-sense view of the world - that is relatively true in most of the contexts and situations; when I am alone I see the world is substanceless.
OK, thanks for the clarification. What about suttas that look quite advanced, like MN28 discussed above by Sylvester, which contains the common pericope:
“What, friends, is the earth element? The earth element may be either internal or external. What is the internal earth element? Whatever internally, belonging to oneself, is solid, solidified, and clung-to; that is, head-hairs, body-hairs, nails, teeth, skin, flesh, sinews, bones, bone-marrow, kidneys, heart, liver, diaphragm, spleen, lungs, intestines, mesentery, contents of the stomach, feces, or whatever else internally, belonging to oneself, is solid, solidified, and clung-to: this is called the internal earth element. Now both the internal earth element and the external earth element are simply earth element. And that should be seen as it actually is with proper wisdom thus: ‘This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self.’ When one sees it thus as it actually is with proper wisdom, one becomes disenchanted with the earth element and makes the mind dispassionate toward the earth element.
https://suttacentral.net/en/mn28/7
https://suttacentral.net/mn62
https://suttacentral.net/en/mn140/21
This seems to be emphasising that there is no difference between the properties of what is internal and what is external, as a way to explain the not-self nature of the elements.

MN 28 goes on to discuss this is detail:
“Now there comes a time when the external water element is disturbed. It carries away villages, towns, cities, districts, and countries. There comes a time when the waters in the great ocean sink down a hundred leagues, two hundred leagues, three hundred leagues, four hundred leagues, five hundred leagues, six hundred leagues, seven hundred leagues. There comes a time when the waters in the great ocean stand seven palms deep, six palms deep…two palms deep, only a palm deep. There comes a time when the waters in the great ocean stand seven fathoms deep, six fathoms deep…two fathoms deep, only a fathom deep. There comes a time when the waters in the great ocean stand half a fathom deep, only waist deep, only knee deep, only ankle deep. There comes a time when the waters in the great ocean are not enough to wet even the joint of a finger. When even this external water element, great as it is, is seen to be impermanent, subject to destruction, disappearance, and change, what of this body, which is clung to by craving and lasts but a while? There can be no considering that as ‘I’ or ‘mine’ or ‘I am.’
https://suttacentral.net/en/mn28/14
It seems complex to me to read such passages as some sort of "relative truth" (especially if we temporarily forget about later philosophical layers, such as the Abhidhamma model, or modern Philosophical models).

:anjali:
Mike

Janalanda
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Re: Phenomenology question - view about the world

Post by Janalanda » Sun Sep 11, 2016 8:01 pm

SDC wrote: I just see no point in going the extra step to say they are there independent of me, because that thought will always be right there in my experience, not independent of me.
Yes, that thought will always be part of that "internal", phenomenological world that you experience. All you will ever experience is this phenomenological world. In this world, they represent just conditions influencing phenomenons that appear.

But... They do exist independent of this. If you die, they will still exist. It doesn't matter what they are made out of, they do exist. They are inconstant, of course, but they do exist.

What do you think about my placebo example ? If there is no "substance", no "external world to manifest as a condition for things that appear in the phenomenological world" - then everything should be fixed through placebo.

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SDC
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Re: Phenomenology question - view about the world

Post by SDC » Sun Sep 11, 2016 9:11 pm

Janalanda wrote:
SDC wrote: I just see no point in going the extra step to say they are there independent of me, because that thought will always be right there in my experience, not independent of me.
Yes, that thought will always be part of that "internal", phenomenological world that you experience. All you will ever experience is this phenomenological world. In this world, they represent just conditions influencing phenomenons that appear.

But... They do exist independent of this. If you die, they will still exist. It doesn't matter what they are made out of, they do exist. They are inconstant, of course, but they do exist.
None of that changes the fact that things are there in the experience. No matter how you dress it up, the fact remains that it is there and "there" is where it is valid with regard to suffering. That is why to go further and say "exist", "not exist", both "exist and not exist" or "neither exist nor not exist" is an extra step that changes nothing.
Janalanda wrote:If there is no "substance", no "external world to manifest as a condition for things that appear in the phenomenological world" - then everything should be fixed through placebo.
It is not my position whatsoever that there is no substance or an external world. I did not say that anywhere. I just do not see how it makes any sense to try to position anything as being independent of experience. This placebo example is some strain of idealism and I think you and I would both agree it is not a very strong position.

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Re: Phenomenology question - view about the world

Post by Janalanda » Sun Sep 11, 2016 10:14 pm

None of that changes the fact that things are there in the experience. No matter how you dress it up, the fact remains that it is there and "there" is where it is valid with regard to suffering.
I agree with this.
That is why to go further and say "exist", "not exist", both "exist and not exist" or "neither exist nor not exist" is an extra step that changes nothing.
If you die, the "internal", the phenomenological world that makes up your experience will be no more. Your parents will be no more in this phenomenological world that makes up your experience. They will not manifest there.

But will they continue to exist despite the fact that they are not part of your phenomenological, "internal" world anymore ? Will they exist and manifest themselves in the phenomenological world of other people ? Will they continue to act as a cause for the appearance of certain phenomenons in the phenomenological world of other people ?

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Re: Phenomenology question - view about the world

Post by SDC » Mon Sep 12, 2016 1:12 am

Janalanda wrote:If you die, the "internal", the phenomenological world that makes up your experience will be no more. Your parents will be no more in this phenomenological world that makes up your experience. They will not manifest there.

But will they continue to exist despite the fact that they are not part of your phenomenological, "internal" world anymore ? Will they exist and manifest themselves in the phenomenological world of other people ? Will they continue to act as a cause for the appearance of certain phenomenons in the phenomenological world of other people ?
Your questions would only apply to those "other people" you are referring to and not at all to the one who died. There is no longer a relationship to speak of because there is no longer a POV of the one who died. Even a hypothetical relationship for discussion purposes allows for a temporary after death POV and for me that makes no sense. When people pass, when their aggregates break apart, that knowledge is from the perspective of those who have not yet passed, who have not gone through the nature of death. So while the living can relate in the direction of the dead, there cannot even be a discussion of the dead relating in the direction of the living; and no matter how I look at it, that is what this question assumes.

Obviously I do not see how this is relevant to suffering, but I hope you see that I did my best not to dodge your question.

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Re: Phenomenology question - view about the world

Post by Janalanda » Mon Sep 12, 2016 1:19 am

So you agree with me ? The living parents will continue to exist and manifest as a condition for phenomenons that appear in other living persons phenomenological world ?

They will continue to exist independent of your own phenomenological world. Only that, as you said, they won't manifest as a condition for things that appear in your phenomenological world, you been no more.

Just as Buddha continued to teach, continued to exist and manifest even after some of his disciples died. His existence was independent of other persons and their phenomenological worlds dying.

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Re: Phenomenology question - view about the world

Post by Sylvester » Mon Sep 12, 2016 3:50 am

Hi Nicolas
Nicolas wrote:What does it mean for something to "exist"? Does it matter?
Yes, in fact the ability to describe a dhamma as "it exists" and "it does not exist" is central to the EBT presentation of Dependent Arising and Cessation. If one entertains scruples about asserting that a thing atthi (exists), there is absolutely no possibility of applying idappaccayatā -
Imasmiṃ sati idaṃ hoti, imassuppādā idaṃ uppajjati. Imasmiṃ asati idaṃ na hoti, imassa nirodhā idaṃ nirujjhati

When this exists, that comes to be; with the arising of this, that arises. When this does not exist, that does not come to be; with the cessation of this, that ceases.

(using BB's translation of SN 12.49 for convenience)
Embedded within idappaccayatā is the ontic commitment to the things that are "causes" and "conditions" for the arising of each type of suffering that is envisaged by the First Noble Truth. Sati = locative of santa. Santa (existing) = present participle of atthi (it exists).

BB's translation is adequate, provided one does not assume that it is a temporal "when" that operates on a momentary basis or as being concurrent with the consequence (ie as assumed in the interpretations of Dependent Co-arising). The answer as to how to translate "imasmiṃ sati" is actually to be found in the question that led to this answer, ie -
kiṃ nu kho—kismiṃ sati kiṃ hoti?

If what exists does what come to be?
Here, I am following Wijesekara's very literal explanation of the existential locative absolute. It may be ugly, but it is perfectly in line with how another sutta gives an expanded analysis of the meaning of imasmiṃ sati -
Vedanāpaccayā taṇhā’ti iti kho panetaṃ vuttaṃ, tadānanda, imināpetaṃ pariyāyena veditabbaṃ, yathā vedanāpaccayā taṇhā. Vedanā ca hi, ānanda, nābhavissa sabbena sabbaṃ sabbathā sabbaṃ kassaci kimhici, seyyathidaṃ— cak­khu­samphas­sajā vedanā sota­samphas­sajā vedanā ghāna­samphas­sajā vedanā jivhā­samphas­sajā vedanā kāya­samphas­sajā vedanā mano­samphas­sajā vedanā, sabbaso vedanāya asati vedanānirodhā api nu kho taṇhā paññāyethā”ti? “No hetaṃ, bhante”. “Tasmātihānanda, eseva hetu etaṃ nidānaṃ esa samudayo esa paccayo taṇhāya, yadidaṃ vedanā.

It was said: ‘With feeling as condition there is craving.’ How that is so, Ānanda, should be understood in this way: If there were absolutely and utterly no feeling of any kind anywhere—that is, no feeling born of eye-contact, feeling born of ear-contact, feeling born of nose-contact, feeling born of tongue-contact, feeling born of body-contact, or feeling born of mind-contact—then, in the complete absence of feeling, with the cessation of feeling, would craving be discerned?”
“Certainly not, venerable sir.”
“Therefore, Ānanda, this is the cause, source, origin, and condition for craving, namely, feeling.

DN 15
The part in red is the standard 3rd Noble Truth portion within idappaccayatā, ie the Cessation series "Imasmiṃ asati idaṃ na hoti".

I think it's time we confront the ontic commitments made in Dependent Arising by recognising that "imasmiṃ sati" does not mean "when this exists", but "only if this exists".

The way I see it, the external world exists in a way and doesn't exist in another way. When something is experienced, it is "there" for a moment, it "exists". But that something is also insubstantial and only comes into experience through consciousness, through that experience, and only temporarily; in that sense it doesn't "exist".
Certainly, the external world can only ever be experienced through the Aggregates, eg as "a consciousness of the form of a cup". But, is there actually any EBT that says that the cup does not exist independently of consciousness? MN 28 posits only a unidirectional dependency of consciousness on the internal and external sense bases with attention; I have not seen any sutta posit a bidirectional dependency between consciousness and the external sense bases. I certainly don't think that SN 12.67 supports such a reading, as "form" there could easily be understood to refer to the Form Aggregate, which is itself dependent on the 4 Great Properties -
What is the cause and condition, venerable sir, for the manifestation of the form aggregate? What is the cause and condition for the manifestation of the feeling aggregate?… for the manifestation of the perception aggregate?… for the manifestation of the volitional formations aggregate?… for the manifestation of the consciousness aggregate?”

“The four great elements, bhikkhu, are the cause and condition for the manifestation of the form aggregate. Contact is the cause and condition for the manifestation of the feeling aggregate. Contact is the cause and condition for the manifestation of the perception aggregate. Contact is the cause and condition for the manifestation of the volitional formations aggregate. Name-and-form is the cause and condition for the manifestation of the consciousness aggregate.

SN 22.82

My view is that the Middle Way is to go beyond these ideas of "existence" or "non-existence", which are meaningless terms in a sense, and to look at things from a phenomenological perspective, paṭiccasamuppāda.
It looks like you're thinking of SN 12.15. Perhaps this bit?
This world, Kaccana, for the most part depends upon a duality—upon the notion of existence and the notion of nonexistence.
I would draw attention to how this sentence is actually framed in the Pali -
Dvayanissito khvāyaṃ, kaccāna, loko yebhuyyena—atthitañceva natthitañca.
I think BB may have been reluctant in acknowledging it, but what is discussed are not the simple abstract nouns atthitā (existence) or natthitā (non-existence). The text clearly says "atthitaṃ" and "natthitaṃ" (the nasal being transformed to ñ when it is in sandhi with a consonant).

When these 2 words have been declined like this, they are no longer simple nouns. The nasal transforms the simple nouns into proper nouns. "Atthitaṃ" and "natthitaṃ" are known as nominatives of label, and should be translated as "Existence" and "Non-Existence".

So, SN 12.15 would not be dismissing "existence" and "non-existence" as being unfit perspectives; had it done so, the Buddha would be contradicting Himself by implying that idappaccayatā is an unfit perspective. What SN 12.15 is criticising is the Upanisadic notions of Existence and Non-Existence tied to the cosmogony of selfhood. SN 12.48 records a fuller account of this Upanisadic debate, and helps us locate the debate to the one recorded in the Chandogya Upanisad 6.2.


:anjali:

PS - let it not be said that I'm going the full gamut into 'substance' and 'essence'. I'm only pointing out the simple existential predication that runs throughout Dependent Arising.
Last edited by Sylvester on Mon Sep 12, 2016 4:23 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Phenomenology question - view about the world

Post by Sylvester » Mon Sep 12, 2016 4:04 am

SDC wrote:
Sylvester wrote:
If, friends, internally the eye is intact but no external forms come into its range, and there is no corresponding conscious engagement (tajja samannāhāra = attention), then there is no manifestation of the corresponding section of consciousness. If internally the eye is intact and external forms come into its range, but there is no corresponding conscious engagement, then there is no manifestation of the corresponding section of consciousness. But when internally the eye is intact and external forms come into its range and there is the corresponding conscious engagement, then there is the manifestation of the corresponding section of consciousness.

MN 28
Strange, but it appears that external sense objects can exist independently of consciousness and attention...
But does that constitute being independent of mind especially in regards to Dhp 1? Where is this "range" located?
Hi SDC

As for the "range" (āpātha), pls check out its formulaic usage in eg-
Bhikkhus, in regard to forms cognizable by the eye, if in any bhikkhu or bhikkhunī lust still exists and has not been abandoned, if hatred still exists and has not been abandoned, if delusion still exists and has not been abandoned, then even trifling forms that enter into range (āpātha) of the eye obsess the mind, not to speak of those that are prominent. For what reason? Because lust still exists and has not been abandoned, hatred still exists and has not been abandoned, delusion still exists and has not been abandoned. The same in regard to sounds cognizable by the ear ... mental phenomena cognizable by the mind.

SN 35.231


As for Dhp 1, I go for the prosaic interpretation that ties it back to SN 22.79 -
And why, bhikkhus, do you call them volitional formations? ‘They construct the conditioned,’ bhikkhus, therefore they are called volitional formations. And what is the conditioned that they construct? They construct conditioned form as form; they construct conditioned feeling as feeling; they construct conditioned perception as perception; they construct conditioned volitional formations as volitional formations; they construct conditioned consciousness as consciousness. ‘They construct the conditioned,’ bhikkhus, therefore they are called volitional formations.
Certainly, it seems difficult to map "mind" directly to "volitional formations", but I treat verse as being more liberal than formal suttas.

:anjali:

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Re: Phenomenology question - view about the world

Post by chownah » Mon Sep 12, 2016 4:25 am

SamKR wrote:
chownah wrote:
chownah wrote:I think it is impossible to know which view is correct....knowing this is out of range. If someone has found a way to know this I would like to hear it.
chownah
Its the same old arguements again and again. All conjecture, all construal. Impossible to know. If it was possible to know it would be known and the arguements would cease. The continuation of the argument keeps reaffirming that it is impossible to know.
chownah
One approach (and I think that would be the best approach) is to drop all conjectures and construing (which by nature are uncertain) and have certainty only about that which can be directly known as they are without any need of any interpretations. Both options in the OP can not be directly known, and are mere conjectures/construing (except the part "The "external world" has no substance").
I think the approach you describe is good....but you don't even need to go that far. If people want to conjecture and construe it is probably ok if they do as long as they remember that they are just conjecturinlg and construeing. If they keep this in mind then the path is still open for them to discern how this arises and so they then have a path to perhaps discern the aggregates in action. If they don't accept that it is conjecture and construal then I think the path will lead them to "only this is truth and all else is false" and to wrong view at least as I see wrong view.
My approach is that in this type of discussion that people begin and end their post with a disclaimer that re-affirms that the six sense bases are not adequate to discern and that all that is to be said or has been said is just conjecture and construal or something to that effect or similar.......then just go ahead and conjecture and construe to you hearts content.
chownah

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Re: Phenomenology question - view about the world

Post by Dinsdale » Mon Sep 12, 2016 4:48 am

Nicolas wrote:My view is that the Middle Way is to go beyond these ideas of "existence" or "non-existence", which are meaningless terms in a sense, and to look at things from a phenomenological perspective, paṭiccasamuppāda.
Sure, dependent arising and conditionality. But that requires the presence of sense-objects, and sense-objects imply something "out there".

For example in the Sabba Sutta, the All is described as the sense-bases and their objects. But without visible form, sounds, smells etc there would be no experience.

The Blessed One said, "What is the All? Simply the eye & forms, ear & sounds, nose & aromas, tongue & flavors, body & tactile sensations, intellect & ideas. This, monks, is called the All. "
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

And in the Loka Sutta contact arises in dependence on sense-base, sense-object and sense-consciousness. But there would be no contact without sense-objects, and sense-objects imply something "out there".

The Blessed One said: "And what is the origination of the world? Dependent on the eye & forms there arises eye-consciousness. The meeting of the three is contact...."
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
Buddha save me from new-agers!

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Re: Phenomenology question - view about the world

Post by acinteyyo » Mon Sep 12, 2016 6:15 am

Janalanda wrote:Witch view is correct ?

1) The "external world" [...] does not really exist.

2) The "external world" exists [...]
Both views are examples of wrong view.
SN12.15 wrote:By & large, Kaccayana, this world is supported by (takes as its object) a polarity, that of existence & non-existence. But when one sees the origination of the world as it actually is with right discernment, 'non-existence' with reference to the world does not occur to one. When one sees the cessation of the world as it actually is with right discernment, 'existence' with reference to the world does not occur to one.
There is an arising of an external world and a cessation of an external world in dependence on conditions.

The view "the external world exists" as well as its opposite view is based on conceit, on the false believe that "I am this here and that is the world there", in whatever way this may manifest. It somehow assumes permanence in what is impermanent.

With me arises my world so to say, but anyhow to jump from this to the conclusion of absolute non-existence of the world when "I am" not is denying how the world arises. And on the other hand to believe the world exists when "I am" not denies how the world ceases. The same principle applies for the other two possible combinations of existence and non-existence of the world and being.

So "when one sees the origination of the world as it actually is with right discernment, 'non-existence' with reference to the world does not occur to one. When one sees the cessation of the world as it actually is with right discernment, 'existence' with reference to the world does not occur to one".

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: Phenomenology question - view about the world

Post by acinteyyo » Mon Sep 12, 2016 6:30 am

Spiny Norman wrote: Sure, dependent arising and conditionality. But that requires the presence of sense-objects, and sense-objects imply something "out there".

And in the Loka Sutta contact arises in dependence on sense-base, sense-object and sense-consciousness. But there would be no contact without sense-objects, and sense-objects imply something "out there".
This neatly supports what I tried to point out in my earlier post.

Instead of considering and giving emphasise on the implication of "out there" (of which I agree that there seems in fact to be such an implication) have you considered that along with it there comes the implication of "in here"? Has anyone given attention to the mutual dependence of these views (in here/out there) and how they play a role in the fabrication of the world and more important maybe how they represent a subject/object relationship which is nothing else but "I-making" par excellence?

What would happen or which view would arise in one who sees that relationship and how it plays out with respect to the notions of existence and non-existence?

Would there still occure the view the world exists or the view the world does not exist?

I don't think it would.

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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