Phassa (contact)

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tiltbillings
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Re: Phassa (contact)

Post by tiltbillings » Mon Apr 11, 2011 2:20 am

For all of that, the one thing I wanted addressed was the issue of epistemology anf that was not addressed.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: Phassa (contact)

Post by retrofuturist » Mon Apr 11, 2011 2:25 am

Greetings Tilt,

Well, I'm not all that au fait with the term epistemology, so I looked it up on Wikipedia...
Epistemology: (from Greek ἐπιστήμη (epistēmē), meaning "knowledge, science", and λόγος (logos), meaning "study of") is the branch of philosophy concerned with the nature and scope (limitations) of knowledge. It addresses the questions:

- What is knowledge?
- How is knowledge acquired?
- How do we know what we know?
I thought the above answer covered that angle... could you perhaps reframe your question in a different way?

Metta,
Retro. :)
"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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Re: Phassa (contact)

Post by Sylvester » Mon Apr 11, 2011 2:28 am

Hi retro.

Do you think it might be possible to avoid labelling views as "realist"? I hate to say it, but it just sounds like a "pop" philosophy sound-byte.

If one were criticising the "sarvam asti" or svabhava "realism" of the Sarvastivadins as "Realism", I think the limited context would probably be quite appropriate in a specialised discussion.

But, given the many shades and colours of "Realism" in both Western and Eastern world-views, I am not sure if "Realism" should be used so loosely.

For example, we have the Pali Abhidhammic notion of sabhava, but which the Commentators are quick to sanitise into a notion of "that which is being borne by its own conditions"; how much "realism" is left in this?

Or how about the many instances of "atthi" and "natthi" used by the Buddha in the Canon to describe states? We of course accept that when a dhamma "atthi", it is so by virtue of DO (the very same point given by the Commentary to the Dhammasangani above quoted). Likewise when a dhamma "natthi" - that goes by way of DC. Does this make the Buddha a "conventional" realist?

Personally, I don't think the Buddha was interested in the ontological implications of "atthi" and "natthi" for the world out there. The standard translation offered as the 2 philosophical extremes to be abandoned are "Everything exists" and "Everything does not exist" (eg SN 12.15). I think the "everything" should simply be "The All", discussed in SN 35.23 and SN 35.24. Certainly, the All do include the external kāmā out "there", but I don't recall any DO discussions that address the state of the kāmā - DO is invariably applied to our internal world.

Even Ven Nanavira slips into "conventional" realism when he says "though both are objective in the experience". :tongue:

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Re: Phassa (contact)

Post by tiltbillings » Mon Apr 11, 2011 2:41 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Tilt,

Well, I'm not all that au fait with the term epistemology, so I looked it up on Wikipedia...
Epistemology: (from Greek ἐπιστήμη (epistēmē), meaning "knowledge, science", and λόγος (logos), meaning "study of") is the branch of philosophy concerned with the nature and scope (limitations) of knowledge. It addresses the questions:

- What is knowledge?
- How is knowledge acquired?
- How do we know what we know?
I thought the above answer covered that angle... could you perhaps reframe your question in a different way?

Metta,
Retro. :)
Well, here is the pedantic Nanavira, as you quoted him:

Consciousness, however, is not physiologically observable, and the entire project rests upon unjustifiable assumptions from the start. This epistemological interpretation of phassa misconceives the Dhamma as a kind of natural-science-cum-psychology that provides an explanation of things in terms of cause-and-effect.
I have no idea what he is saying here. We are not to see things in terms of "cause and effect?" Are there other "epistemological interpretations" that are appropriate?
you wrote:The physiological POV is of no relevance to the method, as what can one actually do about physiology in terms of achieving liberation?
What can we do about rupa in terms of acheiving liberation? The question is no different, it would seem? I have no idea of what is being said here.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: Phassa (contact)

Post by retrofuturist » Mon Apr 11, 2011 2:42 am

Greetings Sylvester,
Sylvester wrote:Do you think it might be possible to avoid labelling views as "realist"? I hate to say it, but it just sounds like a "pop" philosophy sound-byte.
Your personal proclivities aside, it is a real word... http://encarta.msn.com/dictionary_18617 ... alism.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
realism.

4. philosophy theory that things exist objectively: the theory that things such as universals, moral facts, and theoretical scientific entities exist independently of people's thoughts and perceptions

5. philosophy theory of objectively existing world: the theory that there is an objectively existing world, not dependent on our minds, and that people are able to understand aspects of that world through perception

Why not use a word, when its definition is what you intend?
Sylvester wrote:If one were criticising the "sarvam asti" or svabhava "realism" of the Sarvastivadins as "Realism", I think the limited context would probably be quite appropriate in a specialised discussion.

But, given the many shades and colours of "Realism" in both Western and Eastern world-views, I am not sure if "Realism" should be used so loosely.

For example, we have the Pali Abhidhammic notion of sabhava, but which the Commentators are quick to sanitise into a notion of "that which is being borne by its own conditions"; how much "realism" is left in this?

Well, that's often debated in itself. If you're able to propose an alternative, more precise word, I am open to it. The author quoted earlier used "materialist" ... would that be more amenable to you? (I suspect not). "Ontological" perhaps? (Though this would not be amenable to mikenz66 :tongue: )
Sylvester wrote:Or how about the many instances of "atthi" and "natthi" used by the Buddha in the Canon to describe states?

That depends on whether one regards them as being subject to this/that conditionality or as (capital E) "Existence".
Sylvester wrote:We of course accept that when a dhamma "atthi", it is so by virtue of DO (the very same point given by the Commentary to the Dhammasangani above quoted). Likewise when a dhamma "natthi" - that goes by way of DC. Does this make the Buddha a "conventional" realist?

Conditioned or samsaric "existence" is predicated upon the false perception of "existence" or "non-existence". That doesn't make the Buddha a realist. Maybe "atthi" means "present"?
Sylvester wrote:Personally, I don't think the Buddha was interested in the ontological implications of "atthi" and "natthi" for the world out there..
With this I agree.
Sylvester wrote:Certainly, the All do include the external kāmā out "there"
Why is this so certain?
Sylvester wrote:DO is invariably applied to our internal world.
With this I agree.

Metta,
Retro. :)
"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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Re: Phassa (contact)

Post by retrofuturist » Mon Apr 11, 2011 2:48 am

Greetings Tilt,
tiltbillings wrote:I have no idea what he is saying here. We are not to see things in terms of "cause and effect?"
I explained what I consider to be a valid utilisation of "cause and effect" in the lengthy post to you on page 1.
tiltbillings wrote:Are there other "epistemological interpretations" that are appropriate?
I'll have to ask that you rephrase this, as we've yet been able to reach a common landing on what is meant by "epistemological" and you're yet to advise which parts of the Wikipedia definition were amenable to you, or otherwise.
tiltbillings wrote:
retrofuturist wrote:The physiological POV is of no relevance to the method, as what can one actually do about physiology in terms of achieving liberation?
What can we do about rupa in terms of acheiving liberation? The question is no different, it would seem? I have idea of what is said here.
We can do a lot about nama-rupa... investigate the Nibbana Sermons for bountiful examples.

If we define the rupa as "materialty" we can do nothing (short of lopping limbs, popping eyeballs etc.)

Metta,
Retro. :)
"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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Re: Phassa (contact)

Post by Sylvester » Mon Apr 11, 2011 3:09 am

Hi retro

It is indeed a real word; I don't deny that. But given that this word is used to denote so many varieties of philosophical positions, is it safe to say that a view is "realist", without indicating what sort of affliation to which sort of realism was being promoted? Sometimes, the label is just used to dismiss an argument, and given the many levels of meaning to "realism", the risk becomes disproportionately higher.

You're right - "materialist" would not be my first choice, since that term has already acquired too narrow and specific a meaning in the context of "tri-temporal materialism" for one particular branch of Buddhism. Ontology comes in as a close favourite for this reason, simply because of its historical association with metaphysics. As I understand the injunction against "sabbam atthi" and "sabbam natthi", I think SN 12.48 really brings to the fore why the Buddha advised against such extremes - it was pure speculation (ie metaphysical, at least in the Humean sense that I am accustomed to) and not experiential. That speculation, coupled with one of the 4 types of clinging, is what generates one of the nidanas of DO.

As to the capital "E" atthi, I'll have to channel Gombrich, since I can't actually recall any specific details being recorded in the Canon of how "sabbam atthi" was supposed to have been explained by the Buddha's peers. I think the Canon might have skipped the details on these "Atthi" metaphysics floating out there, since SN 12.15 is swift to zoom in on the problem of such a view - it generates clinging.

As to the inclusion of the kāmā in the "All" formula, the kāmā are specifically mentioned in SN 35.23.

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Re: Phassa (contact)

Post by retrofuturist » Mon Apr 11, 2011 3:18 am

Greetings Sylvester,

OK, but if Mike gets upset about me using the word "ontological" I'm sending him in your direction! :tongue:

Re: kāma and sabba, venerable Nyanatiloka defines kāma as "1. subjective sensuality, 'sense-desire'; 2. objective sensuality, the five sense-objects."

I do not see how any of that is "out there"... unless you are regarding a sense-object as "tree" rather than "sight of tree". I opt for the latter.

Metta,
Retro. :)
"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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Re: Phassa (contact)

Post by tiltbillings » Mon Apr 11, 2011 3:24 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Tilt,
tiltbillings wrote:I have no idea what he is saying here. We are not to see things in terms of "cause and effect?"
I explained what I consider to be a valid utilisation of "cause and effect" in the lengthy post to you on page 1.
To wit:
An analysis of cause-and-effect is only of benefit if the causes and effects are regarded empirically, by way of what is observed and experienced. If an analysis of cause-and-effect veers into physiological/realist territory and away from the empiral/phenomenological then it borders either upon either the speculative (e.g. beliefs about things outside loka), or physiological (e.g. not related to the purpose).
This is just odd stuff. Science is, I suppose, realist, but why is this relevant to Dhamma practice to have to draw this distinction?


tiltbillings wrote:Are there other "epistemological interpretations" that are appropriate?
I'll have to ask that you rephrase this, as we've yet been able to reach a common landing on what is meant by "epistemological" and you're yet to advise which parts of the Wikipedia definition were amenable to you, or otherwise.
Okay, but first what was it that Nanvira was saying about epistemology?

The Buddha's teachings are epistemological in that "knowledge" is the goal. The Buddha's teachings concerns itself with what are the necessary and sufficient conditions of knowledge and what that knowledge is
tiltbillings wrote:
retrofuturist wrote:The physiological POV is of no relevance to the method, as what can one actually do about physiology in terms of achieving liberation?
What can we do about rupa in terms of achieving liberation? The question is no different, it would seem? I have idea of what is said here.
We can do a lot about nama-rupa... investigate the Nibbana Sermons for bountiful examples.
So, we do not need to pay any attention to anything science says about how the body actually functions, such as memory? Probably not, given that it does not matter, in terms of liberation, if the world is afloat on the back of a giant turtle or is is orbit around a star. It just seems to be an odd battle.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: Phassa (contact)

Post by retrofuturist » Mon Apr 11, 2011 3:28 am

Greetings Tilt,

I think you are slowly coming to understand the position that I have been putting forward in the recent week (especially in light of the turtle comment and the acknowledge of science as realist)... what you are yet to see is why I consider it to be an important distinction.

I'm offline for an hour or two, but will endeavour to explain why later, time pending.

Metta,
Retro. :)
"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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Re: Phassa (contact)

Post by Sylvester » Mon Apr 11, 2011 3:34 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Sylvester,

OK, but if Mike gets upset about me using the word "ontological" I'm sending him in your direction! :tongue:

Re: kāma and sabba, venerable Nyanatiloka defines kāma as "1. subjective sensuality, 'sense-desire'; 2. objective sensuality, the five sense-objects."

I do not see how any of that is "out there"... unless you are regarding a sense-object as "tree" rather than "sight of tree".

Metta,
Retro. :)
Sigh, as if I've not laboured hard enough elsewhere trying to draw out the differences between kāma and kāmā. :cry:

The former is singular and in the suttas is used to refer to either sense desire (kammacchanda) or to one of the 5 sense objects.

Where the plural occurs in the suttas, it means the 5 sense objects only.

The position is different in the Vibhanga and Dhammasangani, where the plural in the context of the 1st Jhana formula, kāmā is interpreted to mean sense desires, sensual passions etc.

You do have a very good point about being "out there", as kāmā might not actually mean the sense objects per se out there. In another canonical classification, ie of the kāmagunā, the definitions furnished are given with a specific predicate eg eye-cognisable forms (cakkhuvinneya rupa), meaning not just forms, but only eye-cognisable ones.

Perhaps the "[indriya]-vinneya" predicate was uniformly elided out of the rest of the Canon, on the basis that the listeners then had a common understanding that it should be read as such.

I don't know, but if there is in fact a genuine doctrinal difference to be teased out of the kāmā in the ALL, versus the "[indriya]-vinneya" kāma, perhaps there is a place for the Participatory Anthropic Principle in Buddhist "phassa". :meditate:

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Re: Phassa (contact)

Post by tiltbillings » Mon Apr 11, 2011 3:52 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Tilt,

I think you are slowly coming to understand the position that I have been putting forward in the recent week (especially in light of the turtle comment and the acknowledge of science as realist)... what you are yet to see is why I consider it to be an important distinction.

I'm offline for an hour or two, but will endeavour to explain why later, time pending.

Metta,
Retro. :)
Maybe I am asking questions to draw out what has not been so clearly stated by you?
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: Phassa (contact)

Post by retrofuturist » Mon Apr 11, 2011 4:37 am

Greetings Tilt,
tiltbillings wrote:Maybe I am asking questions to draw out what has not been so clearly stated by you?
As you've said, though I assure you I am doing my best to be as clear as possible. Likewise, I assume you are doing your best to understand.

In light of that, there is probably no benefit to be gained in raising this again.

Metta,
Retro. :)
"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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Re: Phassa (contact)

Post by retrofuturist » Mon Apr 11, 2011 4:42 am

Greetings Sylvester,
Sylvester wrote:You do have a very good point about being "out there", as kāmā might not actually mean the sense objects per se out there. In another canonical classification, ie of the kāmagunā, the definitions furnished are given with a specific predicate eg eye-cognisable forms (cakkhuvinneya rupa), meaning not just forms, but only eye-cognisable ones.
...
I don't know, but if there is in fact a genuine doctrinal difference to be teased out of the kāmā in the ALL, versus the "[indriya]-vinneya" kāma, perhaps there is a place for the Participatory Anthropic Principle in Buddhist "phassa". :meditate:
Well, you have a far better understanding of Pali grammar than I do, so I'll leave it for you to investigate and see what you can find.

In the case of a tree 10 metres away, I don't understand how the sense-object could be relating to anything other than "sight of tree"... it's certainly not a case of "contact" between the eye and the "tree (itself)".

Anyway, do let us know if there's anything that might be of interest to us, and thanks for the discussion.

Metta,
Retro. :)
"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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Re: Phassa (contact)

Post by Sylvester » Mon Apr 11, 2011 5:06 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Sylvester,
Sylvester wrote:You do have a very good point about being "out there", as kāmā might not actually mean the sense objects per se out there. In another canonical classification, ie of the kāmagunā, the definitions furnished are given with a specific predicate eg eye-cognisable forms (cakkhuvinneya rupa), meaning not just forms, but only eye-cognisable ones.
...
I don't know, but if there is in fact a genuine doctrinal difference to be teased out of the kāmā in the ALL, versus the "[indriya]-vinneya" kāma, perhaps there is a place for the Participatory Anthropic Principle in Buddhist "phassa". :meditate:
Well, you have a far better understanding of Pali grammar than I do, so I'll leave it for you to investigate and see what you can find.

In the case of a tree 10 metres away, I don't understand how the sense-object could be relating to anything other than "sight of tree"... it's certainly not a case of "contact" between the eye and the "tree (itself)".

Anyway, do let us know if there's anything that might be of interest to us, and thanks for the discussion.

Metta,
Retro. :)
I'm glad you brought out the example of the tree. On this score, I agree with you and others who interpret "rupa" not as the material object, but as nothing more than the visual data "of the tree" that arrive at the eyes. The general tenor I get from the suttas' discussions of the perils of ayoniso manasikara upon contact is this - "when seeing a form ... when hearing a sound etc". These do point to whatever is received at the eyes, and adds to my suspicion that the "[indriya] vinneya" predicate has been elided out of the kāmā passages and should be read in.

So, what is a sensual object is not , eg a tree, as such a tree could yield form/visual data, tactility, perfume/pong, sound of rustling leaves and bitterness from fruits. These 5 are the sensual objects.

I am not aware of any sutta that explicitly applies DO to the kāmā. Yet, if the kāmā are caught within the All, it is not meaningful except and until there is phassa. Without tajja sammanahara to bring about contact, a kāma touching us is simply not experienced, as there is no consciousness of that kāma. Perhaps the nidana for salayatana-phassa might embody DO for the kāmā and explain that mysterious passage from It 38 which Ven Nanananda cites as proof for the persistence of "clinging" in an Arahant (but only in relation to the 5 indriyas which are connected to the kāmā).

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