Phassa (contact)

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
User avatar
retrofuturist
Site Admin
Posts: 20161
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Contact:

Re: Phassa (contact)

Post by retrofuturist » Mon Apr 11, 2011 5:21 am

Greetings Tilt,
tiltbillings wrote:Science is, I suppose, realist, but why is this relevant to Dhamma practice to have to draw this distinction?
By & large, Kaccayanagotta, this world is supported by (takes as its object) a polarity, that of existence & non-existence. But when one sees the origination of the world as it actually is with right discernment, 'non-existence' with reference to the world does not occur to one. When one sees the cessation of the world as it actually is with right discernment, 'existence' with reference to the world does not occur to one.

By & large, Kaccayanagotta, this world is in bondage to attachments, clingings (sustenances), & biases. But one such as this does not get involved with or cling to these attachments, clingings, fixations of awareness, biases, or obsessions; nor is he resolved on 'my self.' He has no uncertainty or doubt that just stress, when arising, is arising; stress, when passing away, is passing away. In this, his knowledge is independent of others. It's to this extent, Kaccayanagotta, that there is right view.
tiltbillings wrote: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.
Correct. The ancients were of the erroneous belief for example that the brain was a snot factory that leaked out the nose, but that did not preclude their potential for the attainment of nobility. Mount Meru, sea monsters, rain devas etc.... none of it matters - right or wrong. The Simsapa Sutta tells us what we ought to be concerned with (i.e. dukkha and nirodha), and science is just one big distraction amongst many... a dangerous distraction in fact because it "feels" relevant, and "feels" enlightening (because it helps to counter superstition) but it actually constrains us from seeing things as they are, because it steers us towards unprofitable views of existence and non-existence.
tiltbillings wrote: It just seems to be an odd battle.
It is important because a good many people are investigating the wrong things, not seeing clearly, and becoming fixed in views that pertain to existence and non-existence... often in the name of science, and often on the grounds of realism/ontology. Sometimes even in the name of Abhidhamma (e.g. such-and-such citta ultimately exists). Such views, and incorrect framing, make "seeing things as they really are" (i.e. seeing them as they are experienced, with discernment) unnecessarily difficult. Understanding the radical teaching of SN 12.15 specifically, and the Dhamma more generally, requires such views to be relinquished.

"Then, Bahiya, you should train yourself thus: In reference to the seen, there will be only the seen. In reference to the heard, only the heard. In reference to the sensed, only the sensed. In reference to the cognized, only the cognized. That is how you should train yourself. When for you there will be only the seen in reference to the seen, only the heard in reference to the heard, only the sensed in reference to the sensed, only the cognized in reference to the cognized, then, Bahiya, there is no you in terms of that. When there is no you in terms of that, there is no you there. When there is no you there, you are neither here nor yonder nor between the two. This, just this, is the end of stress."

That is why it matters - it's a matter of right discernment.

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)

User avatar
retrofuturist
Site Admin
Posts: 20161
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Contact:

Re: Phassa (contact)

Post by retrofuturist » Mon Apr 11, 2011 5:33 am

Greetings Sylvester,
Sylvester wrote: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.
Indeed it could, but there is nothing outside of the frame of reference of sabba/loka that could possibly be known about it. Thus, the inference of "tree (itself)" actually goes against both the Buddha's instructions to both Bahiya and Kaccayanagotta.
Sylvester wrote: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).
I appreciate you sharing these thoughts, but I won't comment on them directly, since much of it pertains to assumptions, definitions, logic and such from within your loka, so I'll leave it to your faculty of discernment to determine how the jigsaw pieces can be appropriately resolved.

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)

User avatar
retrofuturist
Site Admin
Posts: 20161
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Contact:

Re: Phassa (contact)

Post by retrofuturist » Mon Apr 11, 2011 6:03 am

Greetings Tilt,
tiltbillings wrote: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
Nanavira Thera would likely agree, so long as that knowledge was actually connected to the Noble Truths. An extract from the preface to his Notes might give some indication of his intention - http://nanavira.xtreemhost.com/index.ph ... &Itemid=60" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Nanavira Thera wrote:These Notes assume... that the reader's sole interest in the Pali Suttas is a concern for his own welfare. The reader is presumed to be subjectively engaged with an anxious problem, the problem of his existence, which is also the problem of his suffering. There is therefore nothing in these pages to interest the professional scholar, for whom the question of personal existence does not arise; for the scholar's whole concern is to eliminate or ignore the individual point of view in an effort to establish the objective truth -- a would-be impersonal synthesis of public facts. The scholar's essentially horizontal view of things, seeking connexions in space and time, and his historical approach to the texts, disqualify him from any possibility of understanding a Dhamma that the Buddha himself has called akālika, 'timeless'. Only in a vertical view, straight down into the abyss of his own personal existence, is a man capable of apprehending the perilous insecurity of his situation; and only a man who does apprehend this is prepared to listen to the Buddha's Teaching. But human kind, it seems, cannot bear very much reality: men, for the most part, draw back in alarm and dismay from this vertiginous direct view of being and seek refuge in distractions.

...

Existential philosophies, then, insist upon asking questions about self and the world, taking care at the same time to insist that they are unanswerable. Beyond this point of frustration these philosophies cannot go. The Buddha, too, insists that questions about self and the world are unanswerable, either by refusing to answer them or by indicating that no statement about self and the world can be justified. But -- and here is the vital difference -- the Buddha can and does go beyond this point: not, to be sure, by answering the unanswerable, but by showing the way leading to the final cessation of all questions about self and the world. Let there be no mistake in the matter: the existential philosophies are not a substitute for the Buddha's Teaching -- for which, indeed, there can be no substitute. The questions that they persist in asking are the questions of a puthujjana, of a 'commoner', and though they see that they are unanswerable they have no alternative but to go on asking them; for the tacit assumption upon which all these philosophies rest is that the questions are valid. They are faced with an ambiguity that they cannot resolve. The Buddha, on the other hand, sees that the questions are not valid and that to ask them is to make the mistake of assuming that they are.
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)

User avatar
tiltbillings
Posts: 23044
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am

Re: Phassa (contact)

Post by tiltbillings » Mon Apr 11, 2011 6:28 am

retrofuturist wrote: Thus, the inference of "tree (itself)" actually goes against both the Buddha's instructions to both Bahiya and Kaccayanagotta.
Of course the arahant is not going to assume a tree exists in terms of an unchanging thing, but the question that has yet to be directly addressed is when an arahant sees a particular configuration of visual sensory input to which he says "That is a tree," what is the process by which this happens? It can be clearly outlined for the worldling, but how does it happen for the arahant?
>> 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

User avatar
retrofuturist
Site Admin
Posts: 20161
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Contact:

Re: Phassa (contact)

Post by retrofuturist » Mon Apr 11, 2011 6:39 am

Greetings Tilt,
tiltbillings wrote:the question that has yet to be directly addressed is when an arahant sees a particular configuration of visual sensory input to which he says "That is a tree," what is the process by which this happens? It can be clearly outlined for the worldling, but how does it happen for the arahant?
I don't know, I'm not an arahant. Isn't it an assumption though on your part that they would indeed say "that is a tree" in the first place? Following their respective set of instructions received, would either Bahiya or Kaccayanagotta say that? If not during their training, then why so after? Measuring the measureless with puthujjana frames of reference is risky business.

The Buddha tells us what ceases (nirodha) and I believe that is sufficient for us, in connection with dukkha and nirodha. What is beyond that, we'll find out when we're 'thus gone'. I would suggest that the "question that has yet to be directly addressed" remains as such...
Nanavira Thera wrote:The questions that they persist in asking are the questions of a puthujjana, of a 'commoner', and though they see that they are unanswerable they have no alternative but to go on asking them; for the tacit assumption upon which all these philosophies rest is that the questions are valid. They are faced with an ambiguity that they cannot resolve. The Buddha, on the other hand, sees that the questions are not valid and that to ask them is to make the mistake of assuming that they are.
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)

User avatar
tiltbillings
Posts: 23044
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am

Re: Phassa (contact)

Post by tiltbillings » Mon Apr 11, 2011 7:18 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Tilt,
tiltbillings wrote:the question that has yet to be directly addressed is when an arahant sees a particular configuration of visual sensory input to which he says "That is a tree," what is the process by which this happens? It can be clearly outlined for the worldling, but how does it happen for the arahant?
I don't know, I'm not an arahant. Isn't it an assumption though on your part that they would indeed say "that is a tree" in the first place?
So, arahants don't talk using conventional speech? And why would we assume that?
Following their respective set of instructions received, would either Bahiya or Kaccayanagotta say that? If not during their training, then why so after? Measuring the measureless with puthujjana frames of reference is risky business.
One can be quite mindful of the thought "It is a tree" without investing in it beyond the fact that it is a thought arising from the sensory input of the eyes, which is really the point of the practice instructions to Bahiya and to Malunkyaputta, a text where the Buddha expands upon the instructions given to Bahiya (see the verses):
SN 35.95
Malunkyaputta Sutta
To Malunkyaputta
Translated from the Pali by
Thanissaro Bhikkhu PTS: S iv 72
CDB ii 1175
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Then Ven. Malunkyaputta, who was ardent & resolute, went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As he was sitting there, he said to the Blessed One: "It would be good, lord, if the Blessed One would teach me the Dhamma in brief so that, having heard the Dhamma from the Blessed One, I might dwell alone in seclusion: heedful, ardent, & resolute."

"Here now, Malunkyaputta: What will I say to the young monks when you — aged, old, elderly, along in years, come to the last stage of life — ask for an admonition in brief?"

"Lord, even though I'm aged, old, elderly, along in years, come to the last stage of life, may the Blessed One teach me the Dhamma in brief! May the One Well-gone teach me the Dhamma in brief! It may well be that I'll understand the Blessed One's words. It may well be that I'll become an heir to the Blessed One's words."

"What do you think, Malunkyaputta: the forms cognizable via the eye that are unseen by you — that you have never before seen, that you don't see, and that are not to be seen by you: Do you have any desire or passion or love there?"

"No, lord."1

"The sounds cognizable via the ear...

"The aromas cognizable via the nose...

"The flavors cognizable via the tongue...

"The tactile sensations cognizable via the body...

"The ideas cognizable via the intellect that are uncognized by you — that you have never before cognized, that you don't cognize, and that are not to be cognized by you: Do you have any desire or passion or love there?"

"No, lord."

"Then, Malunkyaputta, with regard to phenomena to be seen, heard, sensed, or cognized: In reference to the seen, there will be only the seen. In reference to the heard, only the heard. In reference to the sensed, only the sensed. In reference to the cognized, only the cognized. That is how you should train yourself. When for you there will be only the seen in reference to the seen, only the heard in reference to the heard, only the sensed in reference to the sensed, only the cognized in reference to the cognized, then, Malunkyaputta, there is no you in connection with that. 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. This, just this, is the end of stress."

"I understand in detail, lord, the meaning of what the Blessed One has said in brief:

Seeing a form
— mindfulness lapsed —
attending
to the theme of 'endearing,'
impassioned in mind,
one feels
and remains fastened there.
One's feelings, born of the form,
grow numerous,
Greed & annoyance
injure one's mind.
Thus amassing stress,
one is said to be far from Unbinding.

Hearing a sound...
Smelling an aroma...
Tasting a flavor...
Touching a tactile sensation...

Knowing an idea
— mindfulness lapsed —
attending
to the theme of 'endearing,'
impassioned in mind,
one feels
and remains fastened there.
One's feelings, born of the idea,
grow numerous,
Greed & annoyance
injure one's mind.
Thus amassing stress,
one is said to be far from Unbinding.

Not impassioned with forms
— seeing a form with mindfulness firm —
dispassioned in mind,
one knows
and doesn't remain fastened there.
While one is seeing a form
— and even experiencing feeling —
it falls away and doesn't accumulate.
Thus one fares mindfully.
Thus not amassing stress,
one is said to be
in the presence of Unbinding.

Not impassioned with sounds...
Not impassioned with aromas...
Not impassioned with flavors...
Not impassioned with tactile sensations...

Not impassioned with ideas
— knowing an idea with mindfulness firm —
dispassioned in mind,
one knows
and doesn't remain fastened there.
While one is knowing an idea
— and even experiencing feeling —
it falls away and doesn't accumulate.
Thus one fares mindfully.
Thus not amassing stress,
one is said to be
in the presence of Unbinding.
"It's in this way, lord, that I understand in detail the meaning of what the Blessed One said in brief."

"Good, Malunkyaputta. Very good. It's good that you understand in detail this way the meaning of what I said in brief."

[The Buddha then repeats the verses.]

"It's in this way, Malunkyaputta, that the meaning of what I said in brief should be regarded in detail."

Then Ven. Malunkyaputta, having been admonished by the admonishment from the Blessed One, got up from his seat and bowed down to the Blessed One, circled around him, keeping the Blessed One to his right side, and left. Then, dwelling alone, secluded, heedful, ardent, & resolute, he in no long time reached & remained in the supreme goal of the holy life for which clansmen rightly go forth from home into homelessness, knowing & realizing it for himself in the here & now. He knew: "Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for the sake of this world." And thus Ven. Malunkyaputta became another one of the arahants.



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Notes

1. It is possible, of course, to have desire for a sight that one has not seen. Strictly speaking, however, the desire is not "there" at the unseen sight. Rather, it's there at the present idea of the unseen sight. This distinction is important for the purpose of the practice.
>> 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

User avatar
retrofuturist
Site Admin
Posts: 20161
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Contact:

Re: Phassa (contact)

Post by retrofuturist » Mon Apr 11, 2011 8:04 am

Greetings Tilt,
So, arahants don't talk using conventional speech?
Did I say they didn't? No, I did not.
And why would we assume that?
I don't see the need to assume anything in relation to the arahant other than that nirodha has occurred.
One can be quite mindful of the thought "It is a tree" without investing in it beyond the fact that it is a thought arising from the sensory input of the eyes, which is really the point of the practice instructions to Bahiya and to Malunkyaputta, a text where the Buddha expands upon the instructions given to Bahiya (see the verses):
... and that's fine.

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)

Sylvester
Posts: 2205
Joined: Tue Mar 10, 2009 9:57 am

Re: Phassa (contact)

Post by Sylvester » Mon Apr 11, 2011 8:33 am

retrofuturist wrote:
Sylvester wrote: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.
Indeed it could, but there is nothing outside of the frame of reference of sabba/loka that could possibly be known about it. Thus, the inference of "tree (itself)" actually goes against both the Buddha's instructions to both Bahiya and Kaccayanagotta.
I'm not so sure that it is necessary to read the Buddha's admonition to Bahiya so radically that it verges on solipsism. What matters to me in the admonition of "in the seen there will only be the seen" is the reason for such relation to the seen, ie -
When for you there will be only the seen in reference to the seen, only the heard in reference to the heard, only the sensed in reference to the sensed, only the cognized in reference to the cognized, then, Bahiya, there is no you in terms of that. When there is no you in terms of that, there is no you there. When there is no you there, you are neither here nor yonder nor between the two. This, just this, is the end of stress
To me, this is nothing more than the normal admonition against appropriation of the khandhas that gives rise to the standard 20 views.

The Bahiya instructions are more fully explicated in the "One Wonderful Night" Sutta, MN 131 where it is presented as such -
"And how is one taken in with regard to present qualities? There is the case where an uninstructed run-of-the-mill person who has not seen the noble ones, is not versed in the teachings of the noble ones, is not trained in the teachings of the noble ones, sees form as self, or self as possessing form, or form as in self, or self as in form.

"He/she sees feeling as self, or self as possessing feeling, or feeling as in self, or self as in feeling.

"He/she sees perception as self, or self as possessing perception, or perception as in self, or self as in perception.

"He/she sees thought-fabrications as self, or self as possessing thought-fabrications, or thought-fabrications as in self, or self as in thought-fabrications.

"He/she sees consciousness as self, or self as possessing consciousness, or consciousness as in self, or self as in consciousness. This is called being taken in with regard to present qualities.

"And how is one not taken in with regard to present qualities? There is the case where a disciple of the noble ones who has seen the noble ones, is versed in the teachings of the noble ones, is well-trained in the teachings of the noble ones, does not see form as self, or self as possessing form, or form as in self, or self as in form.

"He/she does not see feeling as self, or self as possessing feeling, or feeling as in self, or self as in feeling.

"He/she does not see perception as self, or self as possessing perception, or perception as in self, or self as in perception.

"He/she does not see thought-fabrications as self, or self as possessing thought-fabrications, or thought-fabrications as in self, or self as in thought-fabrications.

"He/she does not see consciousness as self, or self as possessing consciousness, or consciousness as in self, or self as in consciousness. This is called not being taken in with regard to present qualities.
Personally, I do not believe that the Buddha had anything to say about either an epistemology or an ontology of the "external world". It's quite pointed that in AN 4.49, there is no vipallasa listed about mistaking the identity of an external referrant for something else - all the 4 vipallasas pertain to some dysfunctional relation between perception, cognition and thinking with phenomena in terms of impermanance, suffering, not-self and unattractiveness. There is no vipallasa for mistaking rupa of a tree to signify the presence of a tree.

PS edit - Something else occured to me in the Bahiya instructions, as seen expanded to Malunkyaputta in SN 35.95. The expanded section shows what happens when appropriation takes place in a non-Arahant -
Seeing a form
— mindfulness lapsed —
attending
to the theme of 'endearing,'
impassioned in mind,
one feels
and remains fastened there.
One's feelings, born of the form,
grow numerous,
Greed & annoyanceinjure one's mind.
Thus amassing stress,
one is said to be far from Unbinding.
The underlined text are just the standard synonyms for the states that give rise to raganusaya and patighanusaya respectively. According to MN 18, these cetasika vedana which give rise to the Anusayas follow from contact, mediated by appropriation -
If, monk, with regard to the cause whereby the perceptions & categories of objectification (papanca) assail a person, there is nothing there to relish, welcome, or remain fastened to, then that is the end of the obsessions (anusaya) of passion, the obsessions of resistance, the obsessions of views, the obsessions of uncertainty, the obsessions of conceit, the obsessions of passion for becoming, & the obsessions of ignorance.
So, it does appear that the instructions to Bahiya and Malunkyaputta are simply admonitions to find a strategy out of appropriation of the khandhas, but the instructions are not sufficient enough to construct any Early Buddhist epistemology or negative-ontology about the world out there.
Last edited by Sylvester on Mon Apr 11, 2011 8:52 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
retrofuturist
Site Admin
Posts: 20161
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Contact:

Re: Phassa (contact)

Post by retrofuturist » Mon Apr 11, 2011 8:44 am

Greetings Sylvester,
Sylvester wrote:I'm not so sure that it is necessary to read the Buddha's admonition to Bahiya so radically that it verges on solipsism.
Back off to Wikipedia I go...

It seems there's different variants of solipsism, and I think this is probably the only one that comes close... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Methodological_solipsism" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

"Methodological solipsism is the thesis that the mental properties or mental states of an organism can be individuated exclusively on the basis of that state or property's relations with other internal states of the organism itself, without any reference to the society or the physical world in which the organism is embedded."

.... but even then, the "sight of tree" arose somehow, didn't it?

I tend to think it's more a pragmatic case of making no stance/view regarding existence/non-existence "out there", because there is no benefit... only the possibility of being lured into ideation regarding existence/non-existence and subsequent papanca. The reason for the Dhamma being liberation, not philosophy/ontology.

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)

Sylvester
Posts: 2205
Joined: Tue Mar 10, 2009 9:57 am

Re: Phassa (contact)

Post by Sylvester » Mon Apr 11, 2011 8:53 am

I fully agree. :smile:

User avatar
mikenz66
Posts: 16496
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: Aotearoa, New Zealand

Re: Phassa (contact)

Post by mikenz66 » Mon Apr 11, 2011 1:09 pm

Hi Retro,
retrofuturist wrote: 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.
The relationship of science to reality is something that philosophers of science have argued about for centuries, and there's certainly no consensus that science is investigating "reality". In practise it is largely irrelevant, since what scientists actually do is stuff like making measurements and building computer models. Just observing and analysing phenomena. Of course it's an interesting question, and I'm co-supervising (with a philosopher) a student working on some aspects of this question, but it's rather peripheral to how science actually works.

Similarly, as you know, I don't find the labelling of particular Buddhist commentators as "realist" or "ontological" as having any particular relevance to practise. Perhaps someone will be able to provide and example sometime, but after many long threads I've yet to see any explanation of what difference it would make to, for example, the practice instructions of modern meditation teachers.

As with science, I think that it is a totally open question whether the Abhidhamma, etc have to be interpreted in a realistic way. To me it's just a description of phenomena. Of course, it's an interesting scholastic question, so there's no reason not to think about and discuss it, but I certainly don't take the word of any particular scholar as definitive. Some argue one way, some another. Some members are fond of bringing up quotes arguing that the Abhidhamma and Commentaries are necessarily realistic.
Tilt's collection of quotes here: http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... 99#p111695" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; provide examples of schoars arguing against a realistic interpretation. As is usual in such scholarly discourse, agreement is unlikely.

So, go ahead and label if you think its' useful to you. But don't expect others to necessarily to take those labels seriously as a way of dismissing the usefulness of the instructions or writings of any particular teacher or scholar.

:anjali:
Mike

pulga
Posts: 1321
Joined: Sun Nov 14, 2010 3:02 pm

Re: Phassa (contact)

Post by pulga » Mon Apr 11, 2011 2:15 pm

To the extent that Ven. Ñanavira's ideas have been brought up, here are exerpts from a couple of his letters that might help in understanding his take on epistemology and whether or not things exist apart from us.

Letter 145:

Of course, since knowledge is very commonly (Heidegger adds 'and superficially') defined in terms of 'a relation between subject and object', the question of the subject cannot simply be brushed aside -- no smoke without fire -- and we have to see (at least briefly) why it is so defined. Both Heidegger and Sartre follow Kant in saying that, properly speaking, there is no knowledge other than intuitive; and I agree. But what is intuition? From a puthujjana's point of view, it can be described as immediate contact between subject and object, between 'self' and the 'world' (for how this comes about, I must refer you to PHASSA). This, however, is not yet knowledge, for which a reflexive reduplication is needed; but when there is this reflexive reduplication we then have intuitive knowledge, which is (still for the puthujjana) immediate contact between knowing subject and known object. With the arahat, however, all question of subjectivity has subsided, and we are left simply with (the presence of) the known thing. (It is present, but no longer present 'to somebody'.) So much for judgement in general.

Letter 137:

The ordinary person (the puthujjana or 'commoner') thinks, 'I feel; I perceive; I determine; I cognize', and he takes this 'I' to refer to some kind of timeless and changeless ego or 'self'. But the arahat has completely got rid of the ego-illusion (the conceit or concept 'I am'), and, when he reflects, thinks quite simply, 'Feeling feels; perception perceives; determinations determine; consciousness cognizes'. Perhaps this may help you to see how it is that when desire (craving) ceases altogether 'the various things just stand there in the world'. Obviously they cannot 'just stand there in the world' unless they are felt, perceived, determined and cognized (Berkeley's esse est percipi[2] is, in principle, quite correct); but for the living arahat the question 'Who feels, perceives, determines, cognizes, the various things?' no longer arises -- the various things are felt by feeling, perceived by perception, determined by determinations, and cognized by consciousness; in other words, they are 'there in the world' autonomously (actually they always were, but the puthujjana does not see this since he takes himself for granted). With the breaking up of the arahat's body (his death) all this ceases. (For other people, of course, these things continue unless and until they in their turn, having become arahats, arrive at the end of their final existence.)

Ven. Ñanavira described his approach to the Dhamma as "vertical" as opposed to "horizontal" or linear, i.e. it is based on immediacy and its relation to reflection. And since the immediate world is given (granted from a particular point of view, i.e. as "shaped" in a particular way) before reflexion, it stands autonomously whether we reflect upon it or not. To hold to a linear epistemology without recognizing its derivitive nature distorts how we actually experience the world (it lends itself to a belief in an outside world apart from our senses, failing to recognize that phassa occurs at the immediate level).

User avatar
tiltbillings
Posts: 23044
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am

Re: Phassa (contact)

Post by tiltbillings » Mon Apr 11, 2011 4:39 pm

retrofuturist wrote:
So, arahants don't talk using conventional speech?
Did I say they didn't? No, I did not.
What you said: "Isn't it an assumption though on your part that they would indeed say "that is a tree" in the first place? Following their respective set of instructions received, would either Bahiya or Kaccayanagotta say that? If not during their training, then why so after? Measuring the measureless with puthujjana frames of reference is risky business." These two statements of yours taken together are a bit confused.
And why would we assume that?
I don't see the need to assume anything in relation to the arahant other than that nirodha has occurred.
But you are assuming things all over the place about the nature of the arahant, about what does and does not apply to the arahant.
One can be quite mindful of the thought "It is a tree" without investing in it beyond the fact that it is a thought arising from the sensory input of the eyes, which is really the point of the practice instructions to Bahiya and to Malunkyaputta, a text where the Buddha expands upon the instructions given to Bahiya (see the verses):
... and that's fine.
Of course it is fine; it clearly makes my point. Good to see agreement.
>> 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

User avatar
retrofuturist
Site Admin
Posts: 20161
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Contact:

Re: Phassa (contact)

Post by retrofuturist » Mon Apr 11, 2011 10:49 pm

Greetings Tilt,
tiltbillings wrote:But you are assuming things all over the place about the nature of the arahant, about what does and does not apply to the arahant.
If accepting the dependent cessation sequence constitutes "assuming", then yes I am "assuming"... but that is simply accepting the Buddha's teaching as per the suttas.

The Buddha tells us what ceases. I did not cast a set of hypotheses and make it up myself. I'm accepting the dependent cessation sequences, as is, in the structural relationship/sequence in which it is defined.
tiltbillings wrote:
retrofuturist wrote:
So, arahants don't talk using conventional speech?
Did I say they didn't? No, I did not.
What you said: "Isn't it an assumption though on your part that they would indeed say "that is a tree" in the first place? Following their respective set of instructions received, would either Bahiya or Kaccayanagotta say that? If not during their training, then why so after? Measuring the measureless with puthujjana frames of reference is risky business." These two statements of yours taken together are a bit confused.
Not really... I'm just challenging the basis of your assumption regarding the arahant. I did not cast any hypothesis regarding the arahant, only asking the basis upon which you justify yours.

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)

User avatar
tiltbillings
Posts: 23044
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am

Re: Phassa (contact)

Post by tiltbillings » Mon Apr 11, 2011 11:22 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Tilt,
tiltbillings wrote:But you are assuming things all over the place about the nature of the arahant, about what does and does not apply to the arahant.
If accepting the dependent cessation sequence constitutes "assuming", then yes I am "assuming"... but that is simply accepting the Buddha's teaching as per the suttas.
The problem is that Malunkyaputta Sutta points a different reading than what you are giving of the shorter Bahiya Sutta.

Not really... I'm just challenging the basis of your assumption regarding the arahant. I did not cast any hypothesis regarding the arahant. only asking the basis upon which you justify yours.
It certainly was less than clear.
>> 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

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: BlueLotus, Lankamed and 105 guests