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

SamKR
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Re: Phenomenology question - view about the world

Post by SamKR » Sun Sep 11, 2016 2:57 pm

mikenz66 wrote:Hi Sam,
SamKR wrote:
Spiny Norman wrote:
Personally I go for option (2) and assume something "out there". Sp when crossing a busy "road" I do make a point of avoiding moving "cars" and "buses". ;)
Are you implying that not having a view about something "out there" means when crossing a road one would not avoid cars? Perhaps not.

I strongly (I can not emphasize more) do not believe in option (2) :). But still when crossing a busy road I also avoid moving cars and buses which are appearing and are present as they appear.
Is this a view based on the suttas, or on your personal philosophy? I'm interested in how people view this. The suttas seem to me to mostly take a pretty basic common-sense view of external things, though some seem to be open to a range of interpretations...

:anjali:
Mike
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.

SamKR
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Re: Phenomenology question - view about the world

Post by SamKR » Sun Sep 11, 2016 3:08 pm

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").

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Re: Phenomenology question - view about the world

Post by L.N. » Sun Sep 11, 2016 3:14 pm

What is meant by "external," and how is this distinguished from "not external"?

What is meant by "world," and how is this distinguished from "not world"?

I'm not sure it really matters as to one's progress along the path. We work with what presents itself. I think it is less helpful to puzzle through the various theoretical/conceptual overlays which we, as human beings, naturally are inclined to create, as part of our survival instinct.
Sire patitthitā Buddhā
Dhammo ca tava locane
Sangho patitthitō tuiham
uresabba gunākaro


愿众佛坐在我的头顶, 佛法在我的眼中, 僧伽,功德的根源, 端坐在我的肩上。

SamKR
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Re: Phenomenology question - view about the world

Post by SamKR » Sun Sep 11, 2016 3:20 pm

pulga wrote:
... In of itself the eye as rūpa is a non-relational void. One might say that it "exists" in a non-sensual way, but such an existence would have no meaning, i.e. it would be outside the pathways the Buddha speaks of. To postulate the "existence" of such a non-relational whole would be an act of speculative realism not relevant to our suffering. Yet the eye does exist due to its appearance within the duality of the saḷāyatana. (Mutatis mutandis, in the absence of the eye the same can be said of external visible forms.)
I agree, especially the part I emphasized.
pulga wrote: The nature of rūpa is important to the Buddha's teaching because of its independence from nāma. It is beyond our control and thus lies at the root of our suffering. All we can do is to make sense of it through its manifestation as nāmarūpa.
I have difficulty having the view that rūpa is independent. Both nāma and rūpa are certainly beyond our control, but both are also not independent. Anything being independent does not make sense to me at all.

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Re: Phenomenology question - view about the world

Post by SamKR » Sun Sep 11, 2016 3:45 pm

Janalanda wrote:I too am in favor of option 2. The "external world" exists, it has some sort of substance but what we get to experience is entirely phenomenological. Phenomenons that "appear" every second and get experienced by us are determined to an extent by this "external world" witch acts as a condition for the appearence of one phenomenon or another.
While this view sounds the most logical (as a sort of middle way) to most people in modern world, all I can say is that this is nothing more than a speculation; it can never be found true directly.
Janalanda wrote: The placebo effect:

There are things that can be fixed through placebo, others that can't. Some illnesses require physical operations, some require pills with real substances not just suggar pills. When I had the view that "external world is phenomenological, it does not exist, it does not have substance" - it would have meant that everything should be able to get fixed through palcebo. But there are things that require physical medical intervention. The external world does exist, no matter what it's actually made of, but what we are able to percieve is only a phenomenological world. The physical world acts as a condition for the manifestation of phenomenons that appear in the phenomenological world that we are experiencing. For example if you lose your sight, you'll percieve different phenomenons. Different phenomenons will become manifest because of that condition created by the "external world". If one gains sight again through a medical intervention, that agains is a condition for different phenomenons to appear in the phenomenological world we are experiencing. (or "internal world"). In the view described at option 1, everything should be able to get fixed through placebo.
I don't see how this argument supports your option 2.
Janalanda wrote: Acording to science, the external world is not made of hard matter but of mainly nothing and just a small amount of energy. As the double slide experiment shows, the observer has a role, interacts, acts as a condition for things that appear (in our phenomenological world that represents our experience). But nevertheless, there is something of substance out there that acts as an influence, as a thing that creates conditions for one thing or another to appear and manifest in the phenomenological wolrd experienced by us.
External world is mainly nothing but small amount of "energy"? What is this "energy"? Is the nature of this concept "energy" any different from "matter"?

We should be careful while relating quantum mechanics (including the most abused double-slit experiment) with the Dhamma; it usually sounds like a pseudoscience without having any scientific credibility (Although there could be connection between some interpretations of quantum mechanics and some spiritual teachings; in fact certain interpretations of quantum mechanics support option 1 more than option 2).

The view that "there is something of substance out there that acts as an influence" is a view which entangles in such a way that no escape or necessity of escape from that entanglement is ever noticed. That's just my view.
Last edited by SamKR on Sun Sep 11, 2016 7:03 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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Re: Phenomenology question - view about the world

Post by DNS » Sun Sep 11, 2016 3:55 pm

Sound is not a thing that dwells inside the conch-shell and comes out from time to time, but due to both, the conch-shell and the man that blows it, sound comes to arise: Just so, due to the presence of vitality, heat and consciousness, this body may execute the acts of going, standing, sitting and lying down, and the 5 sense-organs and the mind may perform their various functions. (DN 23).

Just as a wooden puppet though unsubstantial, lifeless and inactive may by means of pulling strings be made to move about, stand up, and appear full of life and activity; just so are mind and body, as such, something empty, lifeless and inactive; but by means of their mutual working together, this mental and bodily combination may move about, stand up, and appear full of life and activity.

Bhante Madawela Punnaji has translated Nama as "label" and Rupa as "Image" which is more compatible to the anatta doctrine as there is no permanence in either nama or rupa.

I'd say a middle way position is best as everything is dependent on each other and option 2 does appear to be a mostly middle way stance with the proviso and caveats listed. I heard once existence described as: "Life is illusory, but the dukkha is real." By convention in the mundane world, there is a being, who suffers.

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Re: Phenomenology question - view about the world

Post by SDC » Sun Sep 11, 2016 3:58 pm

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?

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.

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Re: Phenomenology question - view about the world

Post by SamKR » Sun Sep 11, 2016 4:04 pm

David N. Snyder wrote:Sound is not a thing that dwells inside the conch-shell and comes out from time to time, but due to both, the conch-shell and the man that blows it, sound comes to arise: Just so, due to the presence of vitality, heat and consciousness, this body may execute the acts of going, standing, sitting and lying down, and the 5 sense-organs and the mind may perform their various functions. (DN 23).

Just as a wooden puppet though unsubstantial, lifeless and inactive may by means of pulling strings be made to move about, stand up, and appear full of life and activity; just so are mind and body, as such, something empty, lifeless and inactive; but by means of their mutual working together, this mental and bodily combination may move about, stand up, and appear full of life and activity.
Which is, of course true ('relatively'). Talking about conch-shell and anything does not mean it has a substance of its own.
David N. Snyder wrote: Bhante Madawela Punnaji has translated Nama as "label" and Rupa as "Image" which is more compatible to the anatta doctrine as there is no permanence in either nama or rupa.
Which I agree, and that's my understanding too. I did not know any Buddhist teacher teaching that.
David N. Snyder wrote: I'd say a middle way position is best as everything is dependent on each other and option 2 does appear to be a middle way stance with the proviso and caveats listed. I heard once existence described as: "Life is illusory, but the dukkha is real." By convention in the mundane world, there is a being, who suffers.
Option 2 is not the middle position, it is an extreme position (based on the Buddha's teachings) since it views 'external things' (whatever that means) as full of substance, independent and non-empty.

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Re: Phenomenology question - view about the world

Post by DNS » Sun Sep 11, 2016 4:21 pm

SamKR wrote: Option 2 is not the middle position, it is an extreme position (based on the Buddha's teachings) since it views 'external things' (whatever that means) as full of substance, independent and non-empty.
I think you're right. Since you put it that way, then perhaps my position is more towards option 1.

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Re: Phenomenology question - view about the world

Post by Nicolas » Sun Sep 11, 2016 4:23 pm

What does it mean for something to "exist"? Does it matter?

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".

When I am in the world, the world exists to me. But this "existence" is not fundamental, not ultimate, a sham of the defiled mind in a sense. The world appears to our senses, that's what matters, not whether or not the world is "real". In effect, it is "real" in the sense that it is happening to us through experience and matters to us in the sense that we generate kamma based on our relationship with it.

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.
Naḷakalāpa Sutta (SN 12.67) wrote:Just as two sheaves of reeds might stand leaning against each other, so too, with name-and-form as condition, consciousness comes to be; with consciousness as condition, name-and-form comes to be.
PS: I voted for option 1 in a certain interpretation of it, but have the same reservations as SamKR regarding it.

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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.

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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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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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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

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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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