Phassa (contact)

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
Sylvester
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Re: Phassa (contact)

Post by Sylvester » Tue Apr 12, 2011 2:00 am

mikenz66 wrote: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.
Sadhu to that! It's that old strawman that occassionally creeps into these discussions.

I've far less of a problem with the "ontological" label, as ontological is far more neutral than either "Realist" or "Idealist". It's is simply an enquiry, which may or may not lead one to Realism or Materialism or whatever "-Ism" floats out there. For Plato to have become an "Essentialist", he first had to be an ontologist to embark on that search for his theory of Forms.

For me, an "ontologist" is one who wonders, while a "Realist" is one who has made up his mind. And that seems to be a major source of problem - when an ontologist makes up his mind and elects for an "-ism", clinging to views (ditthupadana)starts and that gives rise to DO's nidana of upadana-bhava. No need to even wait for the cosmological next-life effect to manifest - ditthupadana's immediate present life psychological effect is idamsaccabhinivesa gantha.

But even the one who just wonders without a firm position, such as the cosmologist in SN 12.48, did not find his method endorsed by the Buddha...

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Re: Phassa (contact)

Post by retrofuturist » Tue Apr 12, 2011 2:13 am

Greetings Sylvester,

I agree with your reasoning on the preferability of the word "ontological" in this sense.

Ontology doesn't mean a decision has been made about existence or non-existence, only that one is investigating and enquiring with respect to that particular framework.

It's a framework with no relevance to dukkha and nirodha, and is merely a cause for papanca.

Questions of "soul" and "no soul", prevalent in Theravada, are also ontological frameworks.... the Buddha's Dhamma says only that all phenomena experienced are not-self. That is sufficient - anything more is speculative, unverifiable, outside loka and not connected with the goal.

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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daverupa
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Re: Phassa (contact)

Post by daverupa » Tue Apr 12, 2011 2:36 am

retrofuturist wrote:It's a framework with no relevance to dukkha and nirodha, and is merely a cause for papanca.
:twothumbsup:
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

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Re: Phassa (contact)

Post by retrofuturist » Tue Apr 12, 2011 3:50 am

Greetings,

An in relation to phassa and papanca...
MN 18: Madhupindika Sutta wrote:Now, when there is the eye, when there are forms, when there is eye-consciousness, it is possible that one will delineate a delineation of contact. When there is a delineation of contact, it is possible that one will delineate a delineation of feeling. When there is a delineation of feeling, it is possible that one will delineate a delineation of perception. When there is a delineation of perception, it is possible that one will delineate a delineation of thinking. When there is a delineation of thinking, it is possible that one will delineate a delineation of being assailed by the perceptions & categories of objectification.

.... (so on with the other senses)

Source: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
The wording "delineate a delineation" is important too, and shouldn't be glossed over on account of it sounding ungainly - it highlights how phassa is sankhata (i.e. involves an active/participatory process of formulation)

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 pulga » Tue Apr 12, 2011 4:11 am

retrofuturist wrote:It's a framework with no relevance to dukkha and nirodha, and is merely a cause for papanca.
You're no fun. I came across this note by Ven. Saddhajiva:


ontology … Perhaps it is worth noting here by references some of the most important material in the Suttas, so that anyone interested can collect it as a nucleus for study. Some of the basic material for such a study is provided by M.3 Suttas 38 and 49 (the latter ought to be studied in the Burmese ed. since there are several important mistakes (see below) in the otherwise very reliable P.T.S. Text), dealing as they do with the structure of being and with an inevitable and interdependent mutually-supporting relationship of being to consciousness. The principal effective words there are bhūta (M.i.260), sambhava (M.i.260 and 261), ananubhūta (M.i.329), pabhava (M.i.261), pahoti (M.i.329—read nāppahosiṃ with Burmese ed. for P.T.S. nāhosi), pahaṃ (or pabhaṃ M.i.329 and D.i.223—almost certainly a contracted present participle of pahoti = pabhavati, see hint in one exegesis at MA.ii.413. The verse viññānaṃ anidassanaṃ anantaṃ sabbatopahaṃ (sabbatopabhaṃ) is spoken by the Buddha in M. Sutta 49 and not by Baka Brahmā as appears in the P.T.S. text, and sabbato’pahaṃ probably represents sabbato apahaṃ (= sabbato apabhavaṃ) and connects up with the sabbato nāppahosiṃ a few lines above in M. Sutta 49), bhava (M.i.261, etc., 330; iii.250), vibhava (M.i.330; iii.250; Iti.43), etc. etc. are also relevant.

If I recall in the footnotes to his Life of the Buddha Ven. Ñanamoli was also intrigued by the ontological nature of the Brahmanimantanika Sutta.

It seems to me that the tini sankhatassa sankhatalakkhanani reflect the relative existence of things (I'm using "things" in a loaded sort of way as particular lived experiences (Erlebnis) since a thing-in-itself is a pure abstraction divorced from experience.) I don't think it is enough to be agnostic about whether things exist or do not exist, nor do I think it is enough to ignore the relevance of sankharas within the Buddha's Teaching. We have to understand how things exist -- i.e. how they exist relatively in accordance with the sankhatalakkhanani -- in order to understand just what our experience of a self actually is and why it is contradictory to the nature of experience.

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Re: Phassa (contact)

Post by retrofuturist » Tue Apr 12, 2011 4:29 am

Greetings pulga,
pulga wrote:You're no fun.
In many regards, this is so.
pulga wrote:I came across this note by Ven. Saddhajiva...
What would need to be determined is whether the words referenced have connotation of (capital E) "Existence".

For example, I would argue that bhava (translated as becoming, and sometimes dubiously as 'existence') and vibhava (non-becoming) do not have such connotations. Nor for that matter does any sankhata dhamma, by the very nature of their formation being conditional upon avijja.
pulga wrote:We have to understand how things exist -- i.e. how they exist relatively in accordance with the sankhatalakkhanani -- in order to understand just what our experience of a self actually is and why it is contradictory to the nature of experience.
Agreed - sankhata (formed) dhamma (pheonmenon), rooted in avijja (ignorance) - i.e. samsaric 'existence'

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 mikenz66 » Tue Apr 12, 2011 4:52 am

retrofuturist wrote: An in relation to phassa and papanca...
MN 18: Madhupindika Sutta wrote:Now, when there is the eye, when there are forms, when there is eye-consciousness, it is possible that one will delineate a delineation of contact. When there is a delineation of contact, it is possible that one will delineate a delineation of feeling. When there is a delineation of feeling, it is possible that one will delineate a delineation of perception. When there is a delineation of perception, it is possible that one will delineate a delineation of thinking. When there is a delineation of thinking, it is possible that one will delineate a delineation of being assailed by the perceptions & categories of objectification.

.... (so on with the other senses)

Source: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
The wording "delineate a delineation" is important too, and shouldn't be glossed over on account of it sounding ungainly - it highlights how phassa is sankhata (i.e. involves an active/participatory process of formulation)
I find Ven Thanissaro's translation rather hard to follow. Bhikkhu Bodhi has:
17. When there is the eye, a form, and eye-conciousness, it is possible to point out the manifestation of contact [233]. When there is the manifestation of contact, it is possible to point out the manifestation of feeling, ... perception ... thinking ... When there is the manifestation of thinking it is possible to point out the manifestation of besetment by perceptions and notions [born of] mental prolifieration.

[233] The Pali idiom phassapannattim pannapessati, in which the verb takes an object derived from itself, is difficult. Nanamoli originally rendered "that one will describe a description of contact". "To point out a manifestation" is less literal, but it should do justice to the meaning without jeopardising intelligability. MA says that this passage is intended to show the entire round of exisitence (vatta) by way of the twelve sense bases. Paragraph 18
["When there is no eye, no form, and no eye-conciousness is it impossible to point out the manifestation of contact..."]
shows the cessation of the round (vivatta) by the negation of the twelve sense bases.
However, your point that:
"... it highlights how phassa is sankhata (i.e. involves an active/participatory process of formulation)"
seems relevant.

:anjali:
Mike

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Re: Phassa (contact)

Post by retrofuturist » Tue Apr 12, 2011 5:06 am

Greetings Mike,

I agree that Bhikkhu Bodhi certainly provides the most "readable" translations, and for the most part explains the basis upon which he makes his translations quite well, though I'm not convinced he did "justice to the meaning without jeopardising intelligability" when changing Nanamoli's earlier translation. At least he acknowledged the more literal translation via his footnotes.

:reading:

It's always worth looking at his and venerable Thanissaro's translations side-by-side, as they both often have something worthwhile to bring to the table.... so thanks for sharing.

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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mikenz66
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Re: Phassa (contact)

Post by mikenz66 » Tue Apr 12, 2011 5:18 am

Hi Retro, Others,

A reminder that the DN and MN Wisdom Publications, and a little of SN (it's in process) are available at http://www.palicanon.org/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
You have to sign up to read them, and you can't download or search, only read online. But if you don't have the printed copy at hand, it's really useful.

:anjali:
Mike

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Re: Phassa (contact)

Post by pulga » Tue Apr 12, 2011 5:23 am

Hello retrofuturist,
retrofuturist wrote: For example, I would argue that bhava (translated as becoming, and sometimes dubiously as 'existence') and vibhava (non-becoming) do not have such connotations. Nor for that matter does any sankhata dhamma, by the very nature of their formation being due to avijja.
I prefer "being' as a translation for "bhava": it better captures our sense of presence that seems to transcend the manifest change around us, but note Ven. Ñanavira's "o precedes x first, and then x precedes o". As for sankhata dhammá I don't think all are due to ignorance, after all the arahant's experience is still constituted by the pancakkhandhá which include sankhará. His experience is still sankhata, but of course he's rid himself the sankhara that determines his subjectivity, i.e. things still are (in a relative sense, given the nature of change) but he is no longer in the equation.
retrofuturist wrote: Agreed - sankhata (formed), rooted in avijja (ignorance).
I don't think sankhará in and of themselves are rooted in avijja. Asmimána is rooted in avijja and as a sankhara it manifests itself in subjectivity, but the tini sankhatassa sankhatalakkhanani apply to both puthujjana and arahant alike. I realize that nibbána is defined as asankhata in the suttas, but sankhara is used so broadly throughout the canon that it is difficult to always determine just what is meant by it. I'm inclined to think that it is the absence of a particularly notorious sankhara, i.e. asmimána. (If not, one would have to reconcile how an arahant gets by with only four khandhas.)
Last edited by pulga on Tue Apr 12, 2011 8:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Phassa (contact)

Post by retrofuturist » Tue Apr 12, 2011 6:25 am

Greetings pulga,
pulga wrote:I realize that nibbána is defined as asankhata in the suttas, but sankhara is used so broadly throughout the canon that it is difficult to always determine just what is meant by it.
I would suggest that sankhata (the formed) is the opposite of asankhata (the unformed).

To wit, here's a reasonably exhaustive and forumlaic list of ways in which asankhata (unformed, not sankhara) can be achieved, and what alternative representations exist for asankhata... take the opposite of these things and aspects of what constitutes being sankhata may come to mind. Phassa being sankhata, of course.

SN 42.2.1 - http://www.metta.lk/tipitaka/2Sutta-Pit ... ggo-e.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Monks, I will tell the uncompounded and the path to the uncompounded, listen carefully.
Monks, what is the uncompounded? Monks, that destruction of greed, hate and delusion is called the uncompounded.
Monks, what is the path to the uncompounded? Monks, calm* is the path to the uncompounded**.
Monks I have told you the uncompounded and the path to the uncompounded.
Monks, I have done what should be done by the Teacher, out of compassion and love for his disciples.
Monks, there are roots of trees, there are empty houses, concentrate, do not be negligent and repent later. This is our advice to you.
* - Throughout the vagga, the word "calm" is replaced in subsequent suttas by...

- insight
- concentration accompanied by reasoning and investigation
- concentration without thoughts and a little investigation
- concentration without thoughts and investigations
- concentration on emptiness
- concentrating without a sign
- concentrating in the aimless
- mindful and aware of the body in the body, to burn covetousness and displeasure in the world
- mindful and aware of feelings in feelings to burn covetousness and displeasure in the world
- mindful and aware of mental states in the mind to burn covetousness and displeasure in the world
- mindful and aware of thoughts in the Teaching to burn covetousness and displeasure in the world
- arouses interest, endeavors strives and stretches forth his mind to stop the arising of non-arisen demerit
- arouses interest, endeavors strives and stretches forth his mind to dispel arisen demerit
- arouses interest, endeavors strives and stretches forth his mind to arouse non-arisen merit
- arouses interest, endeavors strives and stretches forth his mind for the non-confused duration, for the development and completion of arisen merit
- develops psychic power, endowed with interested concentration striving and with determination
- develops psychic power, endowed with energetic concentration striving and with determination
- develops psychic power, endowed with mental concentration striving and with determination
- develops psychic power, endowed with investigating concentration striving and with determination
- develops the mental faculty of faith, secluded, dispassionate, intent on ceasing and maturing and surrendering to give up
- develops the mental faculty of energy, secluded, dispassionate, intent on ceasing and maturing and surrendering to give up
- develops the mental faculty of mindfulness, secluded, dispassionate, intent on ceasing and maturing and surrendering to give up
- develops the mental faculty of concentration, secluded, dispassionate, intent on ceasing and maturing and surrendering to give up
- develops the mental faculty of wisdom, secluded, dispassionate, intent on ceasing and maturing and surrendering to give up
- develops the power of faith, secluded, dispassionate, intent on ceasing and maturing and surrendering to give up
- develops the power of energy, secluded, dispassionate, intent on ceasing and maturing and surrendering to give up
- develops the power of mindfulness, secluded, dispassionate, intent on ceasing and maturing and surrendering to give up
- develops the power of concentration, secluded, dispassionate, intent on ceasing and maturing and surrendering to give up
- develops the power of wisdom, secluded, dispassionate, intent on ceasing and maturing and surrendering to give up
- develops the enlightenment factor mindfulness, secluded, dispassionate, intent on ceasing and maturing and surrendering to give up
- develops the enlightenment factor investigating the Teaching  energy  joy  composure  concentration  equanimity secluded, dispassionate, intent on ceasing and maturing and surrendering to give up
- develops right view, secluded, dispassionate, intent on ceasing and maturing and surrendering to give up
- develops right thoughts  right speech  right action  right livelihood  right effort  right mindfulness  right concentration secluded, dispassionate, intent on ceasing and maturing and surrendering to give up

** - "the uncompounded" is replaced also as...

- the end
- the outflows
- the truth
- the beyond
- accomplishment
- the difficult to see
- non-decay
- the permanent (though personally I'd like to see the Pali word to see if I agree with this one)
- non-destruction
- the lack of a sign
- the lack of worldliness
- the appeasement
- the deathless
- the exalted
- the auspicious
- the peaceful
- the destruction of craving
- the not-born
- the wonderful
- no harm
- the teaching of non-harm
- extinction
- freedom from suffering
- the destruction of passion
- purity
- emancipation
- non-settlement
- reach the light
- shelter
- the peace offered by the teaching
- the refuge
- the beyond

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
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Re: Phassa (contact)

Post by Sylvester » Tue Apr 12, 2011 6:45 am

mikenz66 wrote:I find Ven Thanissaro's translation rather hard to follow. Bhikkhu Bodhi has:
17. When there is the eye, a form, and eye-conciousness, it is possible to point out the manifestation of contact [233]. When there is the manifestation of contact, it is possible to point out the manifestation of feeling, ... perception ... thinking ... When there is the manifestation of thinking it is possible to point out the manifestation of besetment by perceptions and notions [born of] mental prolifieration.

[233] The Pali idiom phassapannattim pannapessati, in which the verb takes an object derived from itself, is difficult. Nanamoli originally rendered "that one will describe a description of contact". "To point out a manifestation" is less literal, but it should do justice to the meaning without jeopardising intelligability. MA says that this passage is intended to show the entire round of exisitence (vatta) by way of the twelve sense bases. Paragraph 18
["When there is no eye, no form, and no eye-conciousness is it impossible to point out the manifestation of contact..."]
shows the cessation of the round (vivatta) by the negation of the twelve sense bases.
I too prefer BB's translation. The verb paññapessatī also occurs in DN 24 in the Buddha's admonitions to Sunakkhatta, who grumbled that the Buddha does not paññapessatī the beginning of things (ie a Genesis). I think the context there indicates that paññapessatī means "reveal" (as translated by Rhys Davids) or simply "show". Maybe Ven Nanamoli's "describe" should have been left alone.

But there might be some merit in Ven T's translation as "delineation" if he was trying to establish some connection between papanca as spin doctoring with just bare phenemena.

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Re: Phassa (contact)

Post by daverupa » Tue Apr 12, 2011 8:40 am

pulga wrote: I'm inclined to think that it is the absence of a particularly notorious sankhara, i.e. asmimána. (If not, one would have to reconcile how an arahant gets by with only four khandas.)
Mahavedalla Sutta (MN 43):
"Feeling, perception, & consciousness are conjoined, friend, not disjoined. It is not possible, having separated them one from another, to delineate the difference among them. For what one feels, that one perceives. What one perceives, that one cognizes. Therefore these qualities are conjoined, not disjoined, and it is not possible, having separated them one from another, to delineate the difference among them."

Sankhara, it seems, can be disjoined from the other three and a difference delineated. Perhaps it renders an interesting understanding of sabba-saṅkhāra-nirodha?
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

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Re: Phassa (contact)

Post by Sylvester » Tue Apr 12, 2011 9:37 am

I think MN 43's position is understandable in light of the passage in the Sammanamandika Sutta MN 78 which states that unwholesome sankappas cease without remainder in 1st Jhana, and wholesome sankappas cease without remainder in 2nd Jhana.

Against that, MN 111 preserves cetana as a dhamma that persists all the way to the Attainment of Nothingness.

2 voices in the Canon?

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Re: Phassa (contact)

Post by rowyourboat » Tue Apr 12, 2011 3:38 pm

Does this say anything about how 'clods of earth' are regarded?
The four great elements, and the form dependent on the four great elements: This is called form.

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