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

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acinteyyo
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Re: Phenomenology question - view about the world

Post by acinteyyo » Tue Sep 13, 2016 11:30 am

Spiny Norman wrote: "In the seen, just the seen" suggests that there is something to be seen.

It's as if the subject has gone ( "no you there" ) but the object remains ( "the seen" ).
What if you assume that it was always this way, “objects“ only and that the mistake is to consider one or more “objects“ to be more than just “objects“. To regard them as being me, mine or what I am for example?

Do you then still see a problem in “in the seen, just the seen“?

The particular “subject“ actually never was something more than an object among others, only that it appears in form of the point of view from where all other objects are experienced.

It is funny to see how this point of view, when tried to be observed directly, becomes an object itself, but then there arises simoultaneously a new point of view or a new subject or “me“, if you like, that cannot be observed directly, because objects always appear in front of a subject but a particular subject cannot be its own object.

It's a bit like a mirror. A mirror by its own cannot mirror itself. It can only mirror itself with another mirror and when this happens a completely new perspective arises which doesn't equal the usual images of a single mirror.

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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mikenz66
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Re: Phenomenology question - view about the world

Post by mikenz66 » Tue Sep 13, 2016 7:35 pm

acinteyyo wrote:
Spiny Norman wrote: "In the seen, just the seen" suggests that there is something to be seen.

It's as if the subject has gone ( "no you there" ) but the object remains ( "the seen" ).
What if you assume that it was always this way, “objects“ only and that the mistake is to consider one or more “objects“ to be more than just “objects“. To regard them as being me, mine or what I am for example?

Do you then still see a problem in “in the seen, just the seen“?
Not particularly. If I understand the rest of your post, it is the assumption of a self in the process of seeing, not assumptions about external reality. However, I'm not sure I completely grasped it...

:anjali:
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SDC
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Re: Phenomenology question - view about the world

Post by SDC » Wed Sep 14, 2016 12:12 am

Sylvester wrote:
SDC wrote: Sorry for being vague, but by "located" I meant literally "where is it?" Could we say that attention in the direction of mind is the "range"? And despite that liberal treatment of Dhp 1 :tongue: could "things in mind" precede experience without the assertion that they "exist" independent of experience?

I'm not sure I can afford to invest time on the study of Indian theories of cognition that the Buddha may have had to work with, if I am to answer your query. But I would say that attention is unlikely to be the "range" being referred to, as that would mean that attention is mentioned twice in the MN 28 explanation for how contact arises. This would entail reading the passage as -
If, friends, internally the eye is intact but no external forms come into its range (attention), and there is no corresponding conscious engagement (attention), then ...
:anjali:
Much appreciated, Sylvester.

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Re: Phenomenology question - view about the world

Post by chownah » Wed Sep 14, 2016 2:37 am

Spiny Norman wrote:
acinteyyo wrote:
Spiny Norman wrote: Interesting point. I wonder if the Bahiya Sutta passage is relevant here, it seems to describe liberation from the assumption of "me" as a subject, the assumption of an "in here" as opposed to an "out there".

But there is then the question of how we interpret "in the seen, just the the seen".
http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f= ... hiya+sutta
The Bahiya Sutta goes even further when it states
When there is no you in connection with that, there is no you there. When there is no you there, you are neither here nor yonder nor between the two.
No "in here", no "out there", no “inbetween“.
However I cannot follow your line of thought why you think there is then a question on how to interpret the "in the seen, just the seen" passage.

What is the problem you see?
"In the seen, just the seen" suggests that there is something to be seen.

It's as if the subject has gone ( "no you there" ) but the object remains ( "the seen" ).
"In the object, just the object"???
or
"In the phenomena of seeing, just the phenomena of seeing"???
chownah

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Re: Phenomenology question - view about the world

Post by SamKR » Wed Sep 14, 2016 3:30 am

mikenz66 wrote:
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).
This sutta and similar other suttas are also directed to particular groups of people - the specific instructions might not be suitable for all people at different levels of realization/understanding. These suttas are emphasizing no-self, based on the knowledge about common world-view/knowledge of that time (five elements). I think that no-self realization is indeed more important (and it usually comes first) than realizing emptiness of everything, but still the latter is more advanced or a super-set of the former. One who sees emptiness of everything automatically sees no self/being/person.

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Re: Phenomenology question - view about the world

Post by SamKR » Wed Sep 14, 2016 3:34 am

Spiny Norman wrote:
acinteyyo wrote:
Spiny Norman wrote: Interesting point. I wonder if the Bahiya Sutta passage is relevant here, it seems to describe liberation from the assumption of "me" as a subject, the assumption of an "in here" as opposed to an "out there".

But there is then the question of how we interpret "in the seen, just the the seen".
http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f= ... hiya+sutta
The Bahiya Sutta goes even further when it states
When there is no you in connection with that, there is no you there. When there is no you there, you are neither here nor yonder nor between the two.
No "in here", no "out there", no “inbetween“.
However I cannot follow your line of thought why you think there is then a question on how to interpret the "in the seen, just the seen" passage.

What is the problem you see?
"In the seen, just the seen" suggests that there is something to be seen.

It's as if the subject has gone ( "no you there" ) but the object remains ( "the seen" ).
No. the "object" that you are talking about is the cognized! It is not the seen. This is subtle to recognize. The seen is precisely the seen - vividly, directly, and undoubtedly present without need of any mediation/assistance of the cognized. In the seen there should be only the seen, not the superposition of the cognized. In the cognized there should be only the cognized, not the superposition of another cognized. The sense of self falls under the cognized - when there is only the particular cognized in that cognized, the sense of self cannot bind us.

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Re: Phenomenology question - view about the world

Post by mikenz66 » Wed Sep 14, 2016 3:42 am

SamKR wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:...
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).
This sutta and similar other suttas are also directed to particular groups of people - the specific instructions might not be suitable for all people at different levels of realization/understanding. These suttas are emphasizing no-self, based on the knowledge about common world-view/knowledge of that time (five elements). I think that no-self realization is indeed more important (and it usually comes first) than realizing emptiness of everything, but still the latter is more advanced or a super-set of the former. One who sees emptiness of everything automatically sees no self/being/person.
Do the suttas discuss the "emptiness of everything"? I thought it was a later idea, but I might be wrong.

:anjali:
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Re: Phenomenology question - view about the world

Post by SamKR » Wed Sep 14, 2016 3:48 am

mikenz66 wrote: Do the suttas discuss the "emptiness of everything"? I thought it was a later idea, but I might be wrong.
I don't care whether suttas use the exact word "emptiness of everything". :) By reading the suttas and doing some contemplation I notice that the Buddha is indeed pointing towards emptiness of everything. But perhaps your definition of "everything" and my definition of it could be different. To me everything means all - the seen, the heard, the sensed, and the cognized, nothing more than that.

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Re: Phenomenology question - view about the world

Post by mikenz66 » Wed Sep 14, 2016 4:00 am

OK, thanks, I thought you might have been talking about Mahayana-style emptiness. But does that sutta emptiness mean any more than that all experience as analysed according to aggregates or sense bases is empty of self?

:anjali:
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Re: Phenomenology question - view about the world

Post by SamKR » Wed Sep 14, 2016 4:41 am

I have not read much Mahayana stuff (like I did suttas) except some quotes and many articles here and there. Some of the stuff are true gems while many things in Mahayana sects seem pretty useless and absurd to me (no offence to Mahayanists, but that's just how I feel).

So, what does emptiness exactly mean? Does it mean anything more than "empty of self"? But before we answer this question first we need to define "self". What is "self"? Do only humans/animals have self, or do objects that we see in the world (other people, animals, plants, stones, mountains, cars, etc) also have self? Now, we might perhaps be leaving the domain of the Dhamma and entering the domain of Philosophy, but I think these questions are interesting to ponder (I am not defining "self" here, as it can lead to unnecessary philosophical discussion :). But we can feel sense of "self" already, right?).

The reality is that we cannot find any self in 'ourselves' as well as objects (other people and physical things). But what we are doing unknowingly is that we are cognizing our sense of self-of-ours and our sense of self-of-objects. Our personal self and and the object's self both arise simultaneously in our mind; they are two sides of the same coin. By an object's self I mean the sense that an object exists inherently as a discrete unit and has its own individuality or a core (as if we can pinpoint, identify or name a particular discrete object/particle with its well defined boundary - just like we think we can pinpoint, identify and name ourselves). So, emptiness is not just the emptiness regarding your sense of your self, but also the emptiness regarding your sense of the object's self (both senses are your senses). Objects don't say "I am", we are saying objects' "I am" on their behalf (I mean we are creating their selves). Once this is seen, it is easy to understand that what we call object is nothing but a result of our sense of self!

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Re: Phenomenology question - view about the world

Post by Polar Bear » Wed Sep 14, 2016 6:30 am

I think it is patently untenable to uphold the notion that the Sabba Sutta is rigidly laying out the limits of knowledge. By this I mean that if one decides to interpret it to mean that all that is knowable are merely sights as sights, sounds as sounds, etc. then one could not possibly be a buddhist. For the result would be epistemological solipsism and one would have no reason to believe in other beings, or that someone now known as the Buddha ever existed, or that he ever detailed a path to liberation, or that the teachings on this path to liberation were memorized and passed down generation to generation until happenstance you stumbled across them and began rightly following that path (or perhaps unwittingly became an epistemological solipsist).

It seems to me that the Buddha left plenty of room for knowledge by inference, although given what I've gathered from the suttas the most important kind of knowledge, salvific knowledge, may more aptly be described as direct, i.e. not based on inference.

But then, I'm not sure it is fair to say that my assumption of the existence of other beings is built on inferences from my experience, that may just be an ex post facto philosophical justification.

Perhaps it is more the case that the assumption of the external world and external beings was built into the nature of my consciousness via cognitive structures present at birth that merely require activation by having certain types and quantities of experiences. To partially illustrate, there is not a time I can remember it not being obvious to me that the external world and other beings had a real and independent existence from me. Although it is also probably true that at some point in my early development I had no notion of externality or other beings/minds (and I mean notion in the broadest sense so as to also include non-linguistic perceptions, projections, associations and representations).

That aside, I think in the early buddhist texts the existence of other beings and the external world is taken for granted and as an item of knowledge would be either classed as direct knowledge or inferential knowledge. Whether one wants to say that we know other beings directly through built in tools of perception or through inference is ultimately inconsequential to the point at hand.

To reiterate, the point is simply that other beings are known to exist by the Buddha (or early buddhism if you prefer as we find it in the texts). And this thereby invalidates the possibility that it was the Buddha's intention in the Sabba Sutta to rigidly lay out the limits of knowledge. By rigidly laying out the limits of knowledge is meant that all we can know is that there was such and such an experience of visual phenomena that I happen to use such and such perceptual filters to classify and in no way can these visual phenomena or the perceptual filters used to classify them be considered a window to knowledge of the external world but all such experiences must only and ever be capable of producing knowledge of themselves, i.e. there was what I call a visual occurrence that I perceptually filtered in such and such a manner.

Anyway, I think the above does a minimally sufficient job of making this an open-and-shut case. Option 2 is therefore the reasonable choice. But I'd be interested to hear a reasoned opinion to the contrary by anyone who genuinely disagrees.

:stirthepot: :soap: :focus: :anjali:
"I don't envision a single thing that, when developed & cultivated, leads to such great benefit as the mind. The mind, when developed & cultivated, leads to great benefit."

"I don't envision a single thing that, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about such suffering & stress as the mind. The mind, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about suffering & stress."

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Re: Phenomenology question - view about the world

Post by chownah » Wed Sep 14, 2016 1:51 pm

polarbear101 wrote:I think it is patently untenable to uphold the notion that the Sabba Sutta is rigidly laying out the limits of knowledge.
Can you explain how knowledge arises if not through the six sense media?

chownah

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Re: Phenomenology question - view about the world

Post by acinteyyo » Wed Sep 14, 2016 1:56 pm

mikenz66 wrote:Not particularly. If I understand the rest of your post, it is the assumption of a self in the process of seeing, not assumptions about external reality. However, I'm not sure I completely grasped it...
From the assumption of a self in the seen comes the assumption of an external world. Remarkable is, however, that this assumed external world as a projection is real, what means that it is significant and within its own terms substantial. It wouldn't be wise to declare this projection of an external world to be non-existent. Anyhow the very nature of this projection is that it arises due to conditions and whatever arises due to conditions, ceases eventually. Therefore it also wouldn't be wise to declare an external world to be existent independently.

That's why I disapprove of both options of this poll.

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 ToVincent » Wed Sep 14, 2016 3:39 pm

Understanding is like jam. The less you have, the more you spread.
But when "unfathomed" abundant knowledge is taken as understanding; the spreading becomes quickly a mess.

I would not go as far as considering the passage in SN 12.15 on existence, as having some relationship with the second khandha of the sixt prapathaka in the Chandogya upanishad.

More simply, existence (atthitā) should be seen as bhava-ing (coming into existence) and being extant.
And nonexistence (natthitā,) as fading into extinction.

CU 6.2 is not even concerned with eternalism (sassata) and annihilationism (uccheda); but by the philosophical question of knowing if the world comes from something, or from nothing.
This is not the same as Eternalism vs. Annihilationism, that have to do with the effect, not the cause.
In other words, Eternalism, (for instance,) can be the result of a world coming from nothing; as much as from a world coming from something.

It even seems that SN 12.15 has little to do with Eternalism vs. Annihilationism.

What is at stake here, is that right view tells us that we can't neither say that something exists if it ends; nor can we say that something does not exist if it comes to be.
Both states do occur simultaneously. So there is no need for arguments.
Things exist and things do not exist.
They arise and they fade - they come to existence, and they end. And the process re-creates itself over and over. Unless we stop the becoming (suffering,) to arise again.
In this world with its ..., Māras, ... in this population with its ascetics.... (AN 5.30).
------
We are all possessed - more or less.
------
And what, bhikkhu, is inward rottenness? Here someone is immoral, one of evil character, of impure and suspect behaviour, secretive in his acts, no ascetic though claiming to be one, not a celibate though claiming to be one, inwardly rotten, corrupt, depraved. This is called inward rottenness.”
SN 35.241
------
https://justpaste.it/j5o4

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Re: Phenomenology question - view about the world

Post by Polar Bear » Wed Sep 14, 2016 3:54 pm

chownah wrote:
polarbear101 wrote:I think it is patently untenable to uphold the notion that the Sabba Sutta is rigidly laying out the limits of knowledge.
Can you explain how knowledge arises if not through the six sense media?

chownah
While all knowledge arises through the six sense media, not all knowledge consists in, say, propositional facts about specific six sense sphere occurrences. Someone who does not take the Sabba Sutta rigidly would be able to say that their knowledge of the external world arises because they can see, smell, taste, and touch the external world and also conduct experiments that indicate that the external world is there whether they are aware of it or not. For example, one could see a rock and then close one's eyes and reach out and touch the rock. And you could come up with a bunch of better tests to justify your belief in the external world. But our belief in the external world is probably just built into how our minds work. So while I am agreeing that all we experience are sights, sounds, tastes, smells, tactile sensations, and mental phenomena (also feel free to tack on any other senses that modern science recognizes), I'm saying that we can claim to have knowledge about things external to these senses, i.e. that a rock is really out there as opposed to merely being able to say that there is an occurrence of a visual phenomena being labeled as 'rock'. And I'm saying the Buddha recognized this kind of knowledge, i.e. knowledge of the external world and the existence of other beings.
"I don't envision a single thing that, when developed & cultivated, leads to such great benefit as the mind. The mind, when developed & cultivated, leads to great benefit."

"I don't envision a single thing that, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about such suffering & stress as the mind. The mind, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about suffering & stress."

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