[At Saavatthii the Ven. Kaccaayana asked the Blessed One:] "'Right view, right view,' it is said, Lord. In what way, Lord, is there right view?'
Ajahn Pasanno & Ajahn Amaro wrote:Perhaps the finest expression of the causes of these two strands of wrong
view, eternalism and annihilationism, comes in a passage from the Itivuttaka.
This was said by the Lord...
“Bhikkhus, held by two kinds of views, some devas and human
beings hold back and some overreach; only those with vision
“And how, bhikkhus, do some hold back? Some devas and
humans enjoy being, delight in being, are satisfied with being.
When the Dhamma is taught to them for the cessation of being,
their minds do not enter into it or acquire confidence in it or
settle upon it or become resolved upon it. Thus, bhikkhus, do
some hold back.
“How, bhikkhus, do some overreach? Now some are troubled,
ashamed and disgusted by this very same quality of being and
they rejoice in [the idea of] non-being, asserting: ‘Good sirs,
when the body perishes at death, this self is annihilated and
destroyed and does not exist any more – this is true peace, this is
excellent, this is reality!’ Thus, bhikkhus, do some overreach.
“How, bhikkhus, do those with vision see? Herein one sees what
has come to be as having come to be. Having seen it thus, one
practises the course for turning away, for dispassion, for the
cessation of what has come to be. Thus, bhikkhus, do those with
~ Iti 49 http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... ml#iti-049
It is important to note that the last paragraph more describes a method of
meditation practice than merely another philosophical position. These various
teachings point to the fact that the answer to the conundrum of being and non-being is
to be found in reshaping the issue, mostly by the way in which it is seen. The advice
given in the last passage closely matches the practice of vipassana (insight) meditation:
this is comprised of, firstly, the calm and attentive observation of the arising of all
patterns of experience.
Secondly, it involves the seeing of all such patterns through the reflective lens
of anicca-dukkha-anatta (impermanence, unsatisfactoriness, and not-self). Lastly, in
the culmination of the process, there is the remainderless relinquishment of all
experience. There is a complete acceptance of all that arises and no confusion about
the fact that all patterns of experience are of the same dependent, insubstantial nature.
"Whatever form... feeling... perception... mental
formations ... consciousness there are: past, future or present;
internal or external; gross or subtle; inferior or superior; far or
near – all should be seen as they really are through true wisdom
thus: ‘This is not mine, I am not this, this is not my self.’”
~ MV 1.6, S 22.59, Anattalakkhana Sutta
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .nymo.html
The evidence for ‘being’ (the arising of things) is seen and seen through, the
evidence for ‘non-being’ (the cessation of things) is seen and seen through; both are
thus let go of through perfect understanding, and the heart experiences release.
Another of the highly significant expressions of this same balancing point of
the Middle Way comes in the Collection on Causation in the Saμyutta Nikaya:
[SN 12.15 Kaccaayanagotto Sutta]
At Sævatthi. Then the Venerable Kaccænagotta
approached the Blessed One, paid respects to him, sat down to
one side, and said to him, “Venerable sir, it is said, ‘Right View,
Right View.’ In what way, venerable sir, is there Right View?”
“This world, Kaccæyana, for the most part depends upon the
dualism of the notions of existence and non-existence. But for
one who sees the origin of the world as it really is with right
understanding, there is no notion of non-existence with regard to
the world. And for one who sees the cessation of the world as it
really is with right understanding, there is no notion of existence
with regard to the world.
“This world, Kaccæyana, is for the most part shackled by bias,
clinging, and insistence. But one such as this [with Right View],
instead of becoming engaged, instead of clinging – instead of
taking a stand about ‘my self’ through such a bias, clinging,
mental standpoint, adherance and underlying tendency – such a
one has no perplexity or doubt that what arises is only dukkha
arising, and what ceases is only dukkha ceasing. In this their
knowledge is independent of others. It is in this way, Kaccæyana,
that there is Right View.
“‘All exists,’ Kaccæyana, this is one extreme, ‘All does not exist,’
this is the other extreme. Without veering towards either of these
extremes the Tathægata teaches the Dhamma by the Middle Way:
With ignorance as condition, volitional formations come to be;
with volitional formations as condition, consciousness comes to
be... Such is the origin of this whole mass of suffering.
“But with the remainderless fading away, cessation and nonarising
of ignorance there comes the cessation of volitional
formations; with the cessation of volitional formations, when
there are no volitional formations, there is the cessation of
consciousness, consciousness does not come to be... Such is the
cessation of this whole mass of suffering.”
It has been proposed (by Kalupahana, in ‘Nagarjuna: The Philosophy of the
Middle Way’) that this humble sutta was the principal seed for the great, early Indian
Buddhist philosopher Acariya Nagarjuna’s masterpiece, the Mulamadhyamaka-karika
– ‘Treatise on the Root of the Middle Way.’ It is certainly the only discourse of the
ancient Canon that is mentioned by name therein; in point of fact it is the only
discourse mentioned at all.
By way of expansion on this area, here are some of Acariya Nagarjuna’s own
incisive insights on being, non-being and causality:
Investigation of Essences
1. It is unreasonable for an essence to arise from causes and
conditions. Whatever essence arose from causes and conditions
would be something that has been made.
. 2. How is it possible for there to be ‘an essence’ which has been
made? Essences are not contrived and not dependent on
3. If an essence does not exist, how can the thingness of the
other exist. [For] the essence of the thingness of the other is said
to be the thingness of the other.
4. Apart from an essence and the thingness of the other, what
things are there? If essences and thingnesses of others existed,
things would be established.
5. If things were not established, non-things would not be
established. [When] a thing becomes something else, people say
that it is a non-thing.
6. Those who view essence, thingness of the other, things and
non-things do not see the suchness in the teaching of the awakened.
7. Through knowing things and non-things, the Buddha negated
both existence and non-existence in his ‘Advice to Katyayana’
8. If [things] existed essentially, they would not come to nonexistence.
It is never the case that an essence could become
9. If essences did not exist, what could become something else?
Even if essences existed, what could become something else?
10. ‘Existence’ is the grasping at permanence; ‘non-existence’ is
the view of annihilation. Therefore, the wise do not dwell, in
existence or non-existence.
11. ‘Since that which exists by its essence is non-existent’ is [the
view of] permanence. ‘That which arose before is now nonexistent,’
leads to [the view of] annihilation.
~ Acariya Nagarjuna, Mulamadhyamaka-karika, Ch.15. (Stephen
As with many of the instances where the Buddha invokes dependent
origination as the resolution for dualities such as self and other, eternalism and
annihilationism, etc. (a large proportion of these are found in the Nidana
Saμyutta, ‘The Collection on Causation,’ S 12), Nagarjuna employs the same
method throughout his treatise. He illustrates again and again how the
dependently originated quality of all things is the basis for their emptiness,
His exposition is a poetic exploration of the relationship between
emptiness, dependent origination and the Middle Way. It is a work of great
philosophical depth yet its language throughout is extremely spare, diamond-like
in its purity and sharpness; it is also a work that stands close to the central
teachings of the Buddha and is thus capable of usefully informing practitioners of
both Northern and Southern schools.
3. Natthitaa: "is-not-ness." The theory of "Annihilationism" (ucchedavaada). All forms of materialism come under this heading.
Notice that these various ancient and modern commentators all talk the meaning to be about errors in the notion of existence and the "world of experience".
In my opinion the Sutta says nothing about whether or not "things (rocks, bones, whatever) exist". That's a separate philosophical question that is unimportant to liberation. It's about errors in perception regarding the existence of "my world", "me".
"The world, Kaccana, for the most part depends upon a duality - upon the notion of existence and the notion of non-existence."
[Commentary] Spk: "For the most part" means: for the great multitude, with the exception of the noble individuals. The notion of existence is eternalism; the notion of nonexistence is annihilationalism. Spk-pt: The notion of existence is eternalism because it maintains that the entire world (of personal experience) exists forever. The notion of nonexistence if annihilationism because is maintains that the entire world does not exist (forever) but is cut off.
Sam Vega wrote:I am a world because I am not and cannot be anything else.
Sam Vega wrote:3) Bhikkhu Bodhi's expression "errors in the notion of..." is also very hard for me to grasp. Normally, the only error in a notion would be that it did not concur with or describe reality. For "errors in the notion of existence", even more so. (What else could be wrong with a notion of existence, other than it is not true to that existence to which it points?)
retrofuturist wrote:... it's talking about eternalism and annihilationism with respect to loka/sabba/salayatana and not with respect to atman.
In practice, it may be all too easy to think, "Easy. I don't believe in a soul/atman, so eternalism and annihilationism has no relevance to me. I've got that sorted. I'm not stuck in that net (jala)."
But how do we view the world of the six-sense-spheres? ...
Sam Vega wrote:
I am a world because I am not and cannot be anything else.retrofuturist wrote:Yet the Buddha achieved the nirodha (cessation) of salayatana in this very life time, so "the world" ought not be regarded as a given. As per what I've said above... this would be to hold to the view that the world exists. Something else to contemplate...
SN 12.15 Kaccayanagotta Sutta: To Kaccayana Gotta (on Right View) Translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Dwelling at Savatthi... Then Ven. Kaccayana Gotta approached the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down, sat to one side. As he was sitting there he said to the Blessed One: "Lord, 'Right view, right view,' it is said. To what extent is there right view?"
Mahasatipaṭṭhāna Sutta, DN22 wrote:Mendicants, Now what is upright perspective?
Mendicants, that which is knowledge about stress, knowledge about the origination of stress, knowledge about the destruction of stress, knowledge about the practice leading to the destruction of stress.
This, mendicants, is called upright perspective!
Mahācattārīsaka Sutta MN117 wrote:“There is what is given, offered and sacrificed, skilful and unskilled acts do have consequences or end result, this world, and the other world do exist, there are mothers, fathers, and spontaneously born beings, and there are also recluses and priests who have traversed the upright path until complete perfection, so by their own efforts, realizing this world and the world beyond, declare it.”
SN 12.15 Kaccayanagotta Sutta: To Kaccayana Gotta (on Right View) Translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:"By & large, Kaccayana, 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.
Bāhiya sutta (excerpt) wrote:In what is seen, there is only as much as what can be seen, in what is heard, there is only as much as what can be heard, in what is smelt, tasted & touched, there is only as much as what can be smelt, tasted & touched, in what is known, there is only as much as what can be known.
SN 12.15 Kaccayanagotta Sutta: To Kaccayana Gotta (on Right View) Translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:"By & large, Kaccayana, 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, Kaccayana, that there is right view.
SN 12.15 Kaccayanagotta Sutta: To Kaccayana Gotta (on Right View) Translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:"'Everything exists': That is one extreme. 'Everything doesn't exist': That is a second extreme. Avoiding these two extremes, the Tathagata teaches the Dhamma via the middle: From ignorance as a requisite condition come fabrications. From fabrications as a requisite condition comes consciousness. From consciousness as a requisite condition comes name-&-form. From name-&-form as a requisite condition come the six sense media. From the six sense media as a requisite condition comes contact. From contact as a requisite condition comes feeling. From feeling as a requisite condition comes craving. From craving as a requisite condition comes clinging/sustenance. From clinging/sustenance as a requisite condition comes becoming. From becoming as a requisite condition comes birth. From birth as a requisite condition, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair come into play. Such is the origination of this entire mass of stress & suffering.
SN 12.15 Kaccayanagotta Sutta: To Kaccayana Gotta (on Right View) Translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:"Now from the remainderless fading & cessation of that very ignorance comes the cessation of fabrications. From the cessation of fabrications comes the cessation of consciousness. From the cessation of consciousness comes the cessation of name-&-form. From the cessation of name-&-form comes the cessation of the six sense media. From the cessation of the six sense media comes the cessation of contact. From the cessation of contact comes the cessation of feeling. From the cessation of feeling comes the cessation of craving. From the cessation of craving comes the cessation of clinging/sustenance. From the cessation of clinging/sustenance comes the cessation of becoming. From the cessation of becoming comes the cessation of birth. From the cessation of birth, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair all cease. Such is the cessation of this entire mass of stress & suffering."
Dhamma-cakkappavattana Sutta - The Setting The Wheel of Dhamma in Motion Discourse wrote:“Mendicants, there are these two extremes that one who has gone forth should not associate oneself with, which is this, devotion to the pleasure & happiness found in sensuous pleasures, which is base, vulgar, belonging to ordinary beings, ignoble, connected with harm; and the devotion to self-mortification, which is stressful, ignoble connected with harm.
Mendicants, not swaying towards either of these two extremes, the middle mode of conduct was realised by the awakened one, which produces vision, produces knowledge, leading to calm, understanding, full awakening and Nibbānā.
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