Cessation's permanence

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
Akuma
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Cessation's permanence

Post by Akuma » Thu Apr 21, 2011 6:35 am

Hello everyone.


How does - if it can - Theravada prove that the cessation of the fetters in the 4 levels of sainthood / the cessation of the poisons in Nirvana is irreversible?

Aku

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Ben
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Re: Cessation's permanence

Post by Ben » Thu Apr 21, 2011 6:54 am

Practice.
The proof of the pudding, Akuma, is in its eating.
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR

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Akuma
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Re: Cessation's permanence

Post by Akuma » Thu Apr 21, 2011 8:37 pm

Ben wrote:Practice.
The proof of the pudding, Akuma, is in its eating.
"Get enlightened and see if its cool"?
Thats both a generically applicable religious remark ("start believing in Jesus and you will see he guides you") and a circular argument.
Im not intersted in the level of faith of other ppl I am interested to see if the Theravada tradition can actually explain its central concept or not. Thats all.

chownah
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Re: Cessation's permanence

Post by chownah » Fri Apr 22, 2011 2:05 am

Akuma,
You asked for proof. Absolute proof of anything is difficult to find. I think Ben's statement is a pretty good one for Theravada thinkilng......in Theravada I think that if you want to "prove" something about experience the only real way to do it is to experience it....all else is just views and speculation....this is all just my view and should not be taken as a proof nor even an attempt at a proof.....
chownah

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Ben
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Re: Cessation's permanence

Post by Ben » Fri Apr 22, 2011 2:07 am

Thanks Chownah!
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com..

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ground
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Re: Cessation's permanence

Post by ground » Fri Apr 22, 2011 2:40 am

chownah wrote:...in Theravada I think that if you want to "prove" something about experience the only real way to do it is to experience it....all else is just views and speculation....this is all just my view and should not be taken as a proof nor even an attempt at a proof.....
"Of course you are uncertain, Kalamas. Of course you are in doubt. When there are reasons for doubt, uncertainty is born. So in this case, Kalamas, don't go ... by logical conjecture, by inference, ...
When you know for yourselves that, 'These qualities are unskillful; ... — then you should abandon them....
When you know for yourselves that, 'These qualities are skillful;... — then you should enter & remain in them.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Kind regards

Akuma
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Re: Cessation's permanence

Post by Akuma » Fri Apr 22, 2011 5:33 am

Akuma,
You asked for proof. Absolute proof of anything is difficult to find. I think Ben's statement is a pretty good one for Theravada thinkilng......in Theravada I think that if you want to "prove" something about experience the only real way to do it is to experience it....all else is just views and speculation....this is all just my view and should not be taken as a proof nor even an attempt at a proof.....
chownah
As someoen who checked out all sorts of buddhist schools so far proof for me means the typical way it is explained technically and abstractly to indicate that it is possible / more probable than other options; its not necessarily a proof that shows without doubt that its correct. Something like Dharmakirtis argument for rebirth in the Pramanavartika for example would totally suffice.

But again - thinking that experience would prove anything is religious thinking not a question of being "Theravada". its a psychological trick actually that uses your expectations to color your experiences - ask the ppl who think that god is with them every day, its their experience too - there are ppl who experience they are Cesar - is their experience now valid because its their experience? No.
On another note - if you really want to follow this reasoning practically then you would have to practice all religions at the same time as one could be right and you have to experience the rightness or wrongness thru your practice, which in this case means walking the paths to their end, which again means that - because there might be no end - you might waste much amount of your life striving for something that was never there in the first place.

But as I said already I'm not trying to argue, I am aware that Theravada has the most basic of all buddhist philosophies and so I was expecting it to have no answer, altho it still leaves me a bit surprised. As someone who doesnt have any faith at all i'm always stunned by ppl who can do this so easily. I better not dwell on it or I might even become jeaolous :tongue:

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Ben
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Re: Cessation's permanence

Post by Ben » Fri Apr 22, 2011 7:11 am

Akuma wrote:But as I said already I'm not trying to argue,
Really?
Akuma wrote:I am aware that Theravada has the most basic of all buddhist philosophies and so I was expecting it to have no answer, altho it still leaves me a bit surprised.
Yet you don't get it. What is clear here is your attitude - Theravada is at fault, deficient.
Akuma wrote:As someone who doesnt have any faith at all
This is somehow a good thing, is it?
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com..

Akuma
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Re: Cessation's permanence

Post by Akuma » Fri Apr 22, 2011 8:22 am

Ben wrote:
Akuma wrote:But as I said already I'm not trying to argue,
Really?
For arguing I would need arguments wouldnt I :P
Akuma wrote:I am aware that Theravada has the most basic of all buddhist philosophies and so I was expecting it to have no answer, altho it still leaves me a bit surprised.
Yet you don't get it. What is clear here is your attitude - Theravada is at fault, deficient.
Actually I am asking the Theravadins first exactly because its so basic. Basic in this context means that there are many unsolved problems yes; but it also means its very old, with not too many additions / philosophical expansions. It would have been good to have an explanation of the process and the reasons for its aspects from this point of view.
Akuma wrote:As someone who doesnt have any faith at all
This is somehow a good thing, is it?
Maybe the grass is always greener on the other side :)

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acinteyyo
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Re: Cessation's permanence

Post by acinteyyo » Fri Apr 22, 2011 10:20 am

Akuma wrote:Hello everyone.


How does - if it can - Theravada prove that the cessation of the fetters in the 4 levels of sainthood / the cessation of the poisons in Nirvana is irreversible?

Aku
Hi Akuma,

since you prefer some kind of logical proof, I try to provide it.

In final analysis all the fetters are based upon ignorance. Although ignorance itself is a fetter indeed, the other 9 still have their root in ignorance. When insight and wisdom replaces ignorance step by step, from gross to a more and more subtle form of ignorance until even the most subtle form of ignorance has finally ceased this can be equated with the gradual cessation of the fetters up to the attainment of arahantship. Replacement of ignorance (a-vijja) with wisdom (vijja), comes from seeing things for what they are as direct experience, namely seeing the three characteristics of phenomena (all formations are impermanent, all formations are suffering, all things are not-self). Direct knowledge of the 4 Noble Truths is wisdom which totally replaces ignorance.

Now when one has developed the ability to see through the hindrances, wrong views and so on and penetrates delusion, finally coming to see the true nature of things, then one knows for oneself by directly seeing it in the here and now. When through this direct insight knowledge all ignorance has been replaced there's no way to ignore the true charracteristics of phenomena ever again, because one is directly seeing it here and now as it really is.

I tend to say that it's not attained by developing wisdom in order to replace ignorance but through developing insight, by discovering delusion as being delusion in other words and in short it's not by getting something that the fetters cease but it happens by letting go of something. When one has left the burden behind, directly experiencing liberation there's no way that one will ever take it on again, simply because of wisdom.

How could one endowed with knowlede and wisdom, freed from the fetters, having attained nibbana, how could such a noble one ever ignore his/her own knowledge, knowing that to ignore it would mean to become subject of suffering again?
Such an unskillful act (kamma) is not possible, because there's no intention (cetana) influenced by ignorance. Ignorance has ceased already.

Hope this might help...

best wishes, acinteyyo
Thag 1.20. Ajita - I do not fear death; nor do I long for life. I’ll lay down this body, aware and mindful.

Sylvester
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Re: Cessation's permanence

Post by Sylvester » Fri Apr 22, 2011 11:33 am

It is, by Hume's Fork, impossible to prove.

There are certain propositions made in Buddhism which are empirically verifiable. One can generally not dispute the conditioned nature of practically every observable datum. The consequences for this conditioned nature leads to the 3 Signs. Specifically, in AN 3.47a, we see another description of the "sankhatassa sankhatalakkhana" as including the observable fact that a conditioned thing is subject to arising, falling away and change. AN 3.47b then discusses the opposite, ie the 3 asankhatassa asankhatalakkhana, namely non-arising, non-falling away, and no change. One could then logically infer a priori that Nibbana is irreversible.

But, can one, on the basis of the observation of conditioned states, surmise that there is an "unconditioned"? The "unconditioned" does not seem to be empirically observable, so that leaves only 2 choices for a proposition concerning the "unconditioned" to be meaningful.

One could take this as a matter of faith, in which case it becomes soteriologically meaningful within that religious discourse.

The alternative is of course to rationalise it via metaphysics. Unfortunately, I don't believe Kant made a convincing case for any meaningful discourse on synthetic a priori propositions. A statement about the "unconditioned" is synthetic to the extent that its truth value is independent of and additional to the statement concerning the "conditioned", and yet it presumes to be derived logically from the statement concerning the "conditioned" - thus the a priori appellation.

It's a lost cause, since Hume pointed out the futility of this enterprise more than 2 centuries ago.

And I'm happy to take the irreversibility of Nibbana on faith alone.

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daverupa
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Re: Cessation's permanence

Post by daverupa » Fri Apr 22, 2011 2:13 pm

Sylvester wrote:And I'm happy to take the irreversibility of Nibbana on faith alone.
Faith can be employed to allay distracting and demotivating reservations about certain Dhamma assertions. Taking another tack, Caroline Franks Davis, in The Evidential Force of Religious Experience, makes the point that when it comes to religious experiences (such as nibbana) we need only assume that:

1. Most people, most of the time, are trying to accurately convey their experiences.

With this statement (overly simplified for brevity) in place as an a priori assertion, the dichotomy between the verifiable and the as-yet unverifiable aspects of the Dhamma can be resolved without recourse to faith.
  • "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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Nibbida
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Re: Cessation's permanence

Post by Nibbida » Fri Apr 22, 2011 2:54 pm

The difference between "believe in Jesus" and "ehi passiko" (~"come and see [for yourself]") is that practice yields progressive results. Buddhist training develops various skills (e.g. mindfulness, equanimity, the remaining seven factors of awakening, metta, etc.) much in the same way we develop skill with a musical instrument or doing arithmetic. As these skills become interalized and highly developed, a change in one's sense of well-being becomes more and more noticeable. One becomes less perturbed by events, and more appreciative and kind.

If you don't believe changes in subjective experience are enough, then look at the amassing research literature which consistently shows that mindfulness training (which incorporates various Buddhist princples) create changes in the brain and measurable changes in objective ability and subjective well-being.

The progression to various levels of enlightenment is, to some degree, a continuation of the development of these processes. If neither of these forms of evidence satisfy you, then I can't imagine what other kind of proof you're looking for.

rowyourboat
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Re: Cessation's permanence

Post by rowyourboat » Sat Apr 23, 2011 5:46 am

The cause of becoming is noted, then that cause is removed-nibbana is experienced even in this life. If the cause for bhava is removed and stays removed for an entire lifetime, in you and in others following the same path, and you have seen you have no suffering any more in this life- then you have done everything in your power which is humanly possible to reach nibbana- nothing more further can be done.

Besides the question is wrong. What is this 'permanent' nibbana? Who is it that falls out of it? Who is it that went 'in' to it?
:anjali:

With metta

M
With Metta

Karuna
Mudita
& Upekkha

Akuma
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Re: Cessation's permanence

Post by Akuma » Sat Apr 23, 2011 5:50 am

Nibidda wrote: The difference between "believe in Jesus" and "ehi passiko" (~"come and see [for yourself]") is that practice yields progressive results. Buddhist training develops various skills... The progression to various levels of enlightenment is, to some degree, a continuation of the development of these processes. If neither of these forms of evidence satisfy you, then I can't imagine what other kind of proof you're looking for.
Of course if you look at it from the perspective of gradual training then theres a big difference between my Jesus-example and the training Buddhist, but that misses what my example aimed at. Since every training results in skills you have to train continously then if you dont train anymore you'll gradually loose the skills again. Transience. One important aspect of Buddhist training tho is that for all except the Mahasamgika sect from Sotapanna onward you cannot retrogress anymore. Its this non-retrogression I'm asking about.
accinteyo wrote: Hi Akuma,

since you prefer some kind of logical proof, I try to provide it.(...)
Ah the avijja argument, yes thank you. This only holds true tho for the Buddhas and Arahants, do you have anything in your sleeve for the other 3 classes too? ^^

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