kirk5a wrote:I am curious to know whether a poster who proclaims views about "the Deathless" actually knows and sees the Deathless for him/herself or whether it's rooted in mere reading, thinking, and reasoning.
Knows and sees, and that this is what is experienced is backed up by "mere reading thinking, and reasoning."
But do keep in mind that my understanding of what it is (and what dependent arising is) is somewhat different than the conventional, so I am not talking about having achieved some great mystical state or Release From Death.
I am questioning where your confidence comes from. If it comes from actual experience, then perhaps you are able to explain the following. If you can't, why can't you?
Where water, earth, fire, & wind have no footing:
There the stars do not shine,
the sun is not visible,
the moon does not appear,
darkness is not found.
And when a sage,
a brahman through sagacity,
has known [this] for himself,
then from form & formless,
from bliss & pain,
he is freed.
Poetry is not my great strength, and I do not have an answer to every passage or reference in the Pali cannon -- it is big, and so much of it refers to things outside the canon, that it takes a lot to find the outside references that unlock the remaining mysteries in it. But that said...
Yes, I get that. The "elements" are categories of rupa (form) and those categories gain a footing in namarupa and consciousness. Things don't do what we think they normally do (sun doesn't shine etc) because we have let go of definitions (which is the nama in rupa); further, this part is an oblique nod toward some phrasing found in the Upanishads, a play on what they say, here tweaking believers by using their language to say something different.
The last part is easy because form and formless are beliefs about the self after death, and one who has seen and understood dependent origination will no longer be holding onto views about form and formless states after death -- or about any states after death if we've not experienced them (at which point they are not, of course, "views" they are knowledge) -- and when one is no longer holding to those speculative views, one will no longer experience the "bliss" they are supposed to bring, nor will one experience the dukkha that the Buddha says, in dependent arising, we experience instead of bliss.
Does that make sense? The thing is that my understanding of the *wording* of the Pali canon comes in large part through study of the other schools of thought and what they said, and how they expressed things. It has made why the Buddha says things the way he says things much clearer to me, and every insight this process gives, I look for in practice. I am very impressed with the way the whole thing now hangs together -- by which I mean that the more I study, the more awed I am by the Buddha, his ability to see clearly, and to offer a teaching that reaches so many people with so many different beliefs and abilities, and remain that consistent. Though it seems at first glance to be quite contradictory in places, most of the points of confusion I've had have fit perfectly into the internal consistency of the whole, once I understood the references. I still have plenty of mysteries to work on -- I'll never be bored till the day I die -- but will gladly admit them to you when they come up. Then you'll hear me sounding less confident.