Dhammas

Exploring modern Theravāda interpretations of the Buddha's teaching.
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Otto
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Dhammas

Post by Otto » Wed Dec 13, 2017 8:40 pm

I propose to interpret the word dhamma as 'pattern'. Whenever someone follows a law or does their duty they are readily understood to be in conformity with a pattern or to be informed by a pattern. If someone has a valid duty, then that duty pre-exists the individual's act as an intelligible possibility ('this can be done') which is prescriptive for the individual who properly receives it ('this should be done'). Anyone who understands duties in abstract understands that a duty is something other than this or that individual's act; he also sees individuals' lawful actions as concrete patterns.

I propose that the dhammas spoken of as being ultimate are patterns or principles and not events; the events as they concatenate constitute the concrete pattern, of course. In other words, dhammas in themselves are what 'can be'; they are intelligible possibilities. The perception of actualized dhammas is the perception of the world as a web of concrete patterns or examples of laws.

Any views on this view?

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retrofuturist
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Re: Dhammas

Post by retrofuturist » Wed Dec 13, 2017 8:45 pm

Greetings,
Any views on this view?
Only that I see no reason to adopt it, and will therefore stick with understanding the term "dhamma" as either "thing", or "phenomenon".

Metta,
Paul. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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Otto
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Re: Dhammas

Post by Otto » Wed Dec 13, 2017 8:56 pm

'Thing' is of course too generic to comment on, but 'phenomenon' is an interesting term which we use; it tends to identify the Theravada Buddhist view with phenomenalism which I've often understood to be a good identification. We would say in exemplification of this view, 'There are only sense-impressions and rules for ordering these impressions; the rules are taken as groundless (they just work) and the impressions are also groundless (no material subsistence); whatever big picture is formed from impressions and rules is a convention (its agreed upon in discourse and it works).'

Does this seem like a concise summary of your view?

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Re: Dhammas

Post by retrofuturist » Wed Dec 13, 2017 9:04 pm

Greetings Otto,

Not really... it seems like a complex summary of something which I cannot discern whether it is my view or not.

I'm more inclined to think of dhammas as things/phenomena created via the process of paticcasamuppada. To use your language, "rules" and "patterns" are encompassed by such processes and relationships such as paticcasamuppada and idappaccayata. The "Dhamma" is also sometimes referred to as "the law" in a similar context. Concepts like anusaya denote more personalized obsessions and hang ups, which could also be regarded in a way as patterns.

All things are fabrications (i.e. arising via paticcasamuppada), dependent upon ignorance (avijja) with the exception of nibbana.

Metta,
Paul. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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Otto
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Re: Dhammas

Post by Otto » Wed Dec 13, 2017 9:10 pm

I'm just trying to be analytical. I'm always willing to recognize synonyms, make distinctions, elaborate views or catalog views. I'm not a tricky person. I was going to elaborate something further, but I'll attend to something I need to do and let this thread develop if it will.

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Re: Dhammas

Post by paul » Wed Dec 13, 2017 9:14 pm

“I propose that the dhammas spoken of as being ultimate are patterns or principles and not events; the events as they concatenate constitute the concrete pattern, of course. In other words, dhammas in themselves are what 'can be'; they are intelligible possibilities. The perception of actualized dhammas is the perception of the world as a web of concrete patterns or examples of laws.”

This seems to suggest conventional reality is a product of ultimate reality, which is not so, although it is profitable to contemplate and separate this duality as resolving it is the first stage of insight. The noble eightfold path leads to nibbana, but it is not the cause of nibbana, which is unconditioned. The only way nibbana can ( and should) be conceptualised is as an absence of form, as the Buddha referred to it, “There is an unborn, unoriginated, uncreated, unformed. If there were not this unborn… escape from the world of the born, the originated, the created, the formed, would not be possible” Ud 8.3

It is worth bearing this in mind:
"Conjecture about [the origin, etc., of] the world is an unconjecturable that is not to be conjectured about, that would bring madness & vexation to anyone who conjectured about it."---AN 4.77

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Re: Dhammas

Post by pulga » Thu Dec 14, 2017 2:34 am

Otto wrote:
Wed Dec 13, 2017 8:40 pm

I propose that the dhammas spoken of as being ultimate are patterns or principles and not events; the events as they concatenate constitute the concrete pattern, of course. In other words, dhammas in themselves are what 'can be'; they are intelligible possibilities. The perception of actualized dhammas is the perception of the world as a web of concrete patterns or examples of laws.

Any views on this view?
Being and Craving by Ven. Bodhesako
I am sitting with a pen in my hand. I am present to my experience as being seated-with-a-pen-in-my-hand. Being-seated-with-a-pen-in-my-hand is present; of all possible arrangements of my world, that particular arrangement is, it exists, it is present. There are an infinite number of possible arrangements which are absent; e.g. being-seated-without-a-pen-in-my-hand; lying-down-with-a-book-in-my-hand, stand-up-with-an-itch-on-my-left-ankle, etc. None of these possibilities is present, and so I may assert their absence: they are not here-now. But while these possibilities are not here-now, I cannot say that they are non-existent, for it is evident at once that they do, in fact, exist as possibilities. I can, at any moment I choose, lay down my pen or change my bodily position or both, and therefore the possibility is constantly present to me. And precisely in order to maintain it as a possibility I must constantly intend to not do it; for if I do lay down my pen, stand up, and stretch my arms, then the possibility of doing so vanishes and becomes, instead, an actuality, something that is present; and the present thing, i.e. sitting-with-a-pen-in-my-hand, is no longer present, but absent. But it has not vanished utterly; it, in its turn, has become a possibility — for, after stretching it is possible that I will sit down and pick up the pen again.
See as well Ven. Ñanavira's Shorter Note >> Nāma, footnote (b).

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Re: Dhammas

Post by DooDoot » Thu Dec 14, 2017 3:58 am

I learned the word 'dharma' literally means 'to support' or 'to uphold'. For example:
The Classical Sanskrit noun dharma is a derivation from the root dhṛ, which means "to hold, maintain, keep"... It is derived from an older Vedic Sanskrit n-stem dharman-, with a literal meaning of "bearer, supporter"...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dharma#Etymology
Many things support human life so human life can live free from suffering, such as:

* Phenomena (air, food, trees, sun, rain, society, body, mind, nibbana)

* Knowledge of law, truth & wisdom (or the teachings; pariyatti)

* Virtues, skill or path factors (the path)

* Duty or practise (patipatti)

* Fruit or result of doing duty (pativedha)

Therefore, I think the word 'dhamma' cannot be translated in one way because it probably won't make sense in different contexts found in the Pali suttas. If you read the suttas and substitute your translation into every context I trust we will find it won't always make sense. For example, the phrase: "Sabbe dhamma anatta": "all things are not-self". A translation of: "all patterns are not-self" is too limited and would be contrary to many teachings. However, for teachings such as the four noble truths or dependent origination, dhamma certainly seems to mean 'law' or 'pattern' and in other teachings 'dhamma' certainly seems to mean 'duty'.
Last edited by DooDoot on Thu Dec 14, 2017 4:15 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Dhammas

Post by SarathW » Thu Dec 14, 2017 4:13 am

For example, the phrase: "Sabbe dhamma anatta": "all things are not-self". A translation of: "all patterns are not-self" is too limited and would be contrary to many teachings
Agree
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Otto
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Re: Dhammas

Post by Otto » Thu Dec 14, 2017 5:18 am

Whatever supports something puts it in its place if we are speaking about essential support. If one takes away some essential support, then whatever is essentially supported becomes amorphous. The support that is meant here is not different from an act of binding, such as when the law binds one to act in conformity.

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Re: Dhammas

Post by chownah » Thu Dec 14, 2017 8:10 am

DooDoot wrote:
Thu Dec 14, 2017 3:58 am
I learned the word 'dharma' literally means 'to support' or 'to uphold'. For example:
The Classical Sanskrit noun dharma is a derivation from the root dhṛ, which means "to hold, maintain, keep"... It is derived from an older Vedic Sanskrit n-stem dharman-, with a literal meaning of "bearer, supporter"...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dharma#Etymology
The word "dharma" being derived from a word meaning "to hold, maintain, keep" does not justify the notion that dharma literally means "to hold, maintain, keep"....and if the word which dharma is derived from is derived from an even earlier word meaning "bearer, supporter" is even less justification for the notion that dharma literalllly means "bearer, supporter". In general, a word does not take on the meaning of the words it is derived from....it might....but then it might not.

I hope there is someone who has studied linguistics sees this and verifies or refutes what I hae posted. (orange robe?...limey accent?...)
chownah

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Re: Dhammas

Post by pulga » Thu Dec 14, 2017 10:39 am

Otto wrote:
Thu Dec 14, 2017 5:18 am
Whatever supports something puts it in its place if we are speaking about essential support. If one takes away some essential support, then whatever is essentially supported becomes amorphous. The support that is meant here is not different from an act of binding, such as when the law binds one to act in conformity.
I wouldn't say becomes amorphous, but rather it ceases and is replaced by something wholly different yet is still present as a part (a possibility) of something more general, i.e. further out on the horizon of meaning. Note: I think a distinction can be made between essential support and ontological support, i.e. while wholes vanish, parts linger -- thus enabling a more general thing to endure in its essence. Cf. thitassa aññathattam ('invariance under transformation') as a fundamental characteristic of a dhamma.

For example, my presence in this room is made up of an actual proprioceptive field in the foreground with a number of possible proprioceptive fields in the background, all of which "bind" together to bring about the whole of being in this room. Were I to step into another room, my being in this room would cease, i.e. vanish, absolutely and be replaced by my being in another room. Yet though I am now in another room, I am still in the house that constitutes the more general whole of all the rooms that it is made of, one of which I happen to be in.
Last edited by pulga on Thu Dec 14, 2017 11:35 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Dhammas

Post by DooDoot » Thu Dec 14, 2017 11:29 am

chownah wrote:
Thu Dec 14, 2017 8:10 am
" is even less justification for the notion that dharma literally means "bearer, supporter".
Soteriology.
adhigato kho myāyaṃ dhammo gambhīro duddaso duranubodho santo paṇīto atakkāvacaro nipuṇo ­paṇ­ḍita­veda­nīyo

This Dhamma that I have attained is profound, hard to see and hard to understand, peaceful and sublime, unattainable by mere reasoning, subtle, to be experienced by the wise.

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Re: Dhammas

Post by Pseudobabble » Thu Dec 14, 2017 4:29 pm

Sue Hamilton in Identity and Experience defines dhamma as 'knowable', with good justification. I cannot recommend that book enough.
"Does Master Gotama have any position at all?"

"A 'position,' Vaccha, is something that a Tathagata has done away with. What a Tathagata sees is this: 'Such is form, such its origination, such its disappearance; such is feeling, such its origination, such its disappearance; such is perception...such are fabrications...such is consciousness, such its origination, such its disappearance.'" - Aggi-Vacchagotta Sutta


'Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return.' - Genesis 3:19

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Re: Dhammas

Post by aflatun » Thu Dec 14, 2017 4:31 pm

Pseudobabble wrote:
Thu Dec 14, 2017 4:29 pm
Sue Hamilton in Identity and Experience defines dhamma as 'knowable', with good justification. I cannot recommend that book enough.
It’s a good one ! Ditto.
"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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Otto
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Re: Dhammas

Post by Otto » Mon Dec 25, 2017 1:56 am

Pseudobabble wrote:
Thu Dec 14, 2017 4:29 pm
Sue Hamilton in Identity and Experience defines dhamma as 'knowable', with good justification. I cannot recommend that book enough.
I'll have to examine that and other texts. Thank you.

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Re: Dhammas

Post by Saengnapha » Mon Dec 25, 2017 7:50 am

pulga wrote:
Thu Dec 14, 2017 10:39 am
Otto wrote:
Thu Dec 14, 2017 5:18 am
Whatever supports something puts it in its place if we are speaking about essential support. If one takes away some essential support, then whatever is essentially supported becomes amorphous. The support that is meant here is not different from an act of binding, such as when the law binds one to act in conformity.
I wouldn't say becomes amorphous, but rather it ceases and is replaced by something wholly different yet is still present as a part (a possibility) of something more general, i.e. further out on the horizon of meaning. Note: I think a distinction can be made between essential support and ontological support, i.e. while wholes vanish, parts linger -- thus enabling a more general thing to endure in its essence. Cf. thitassa aññathattam ('invariance under transformation') as a fundamental characteristic of a dhamma.

For example, my presence in this room is made up of an actual proprioceptive field in the foreground with a number of possible proprioceptive fields in the background, all of which "bind" together to bring about the whole of being in this room. Were I to step into another room, my being in this room would cease, i.e. vanish, absolutely and be replaced by my being in another room. Yet though I am now in another room, I am still in the house that constitutes the more general whole of all the rooms that it is made of, one of which I happen to be in.
I think you've just described how the dream of existence works. Subtract the 'I' and you subtract the subject and object dichotomy, yet one can still walk from room to room. Without a subject, there can be no object, hence, no dhammas can be identified. The identifier is gone and is neither subject to any fabrication of anything. Far-gone.

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