"The Deathless" (amata)

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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nowheat
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Re: freedom from death

Post by nowheat » Sun Mar 18, 2012 5:02 pm

tiltbillings wrote:Interestingly, for all the verbiage, there is no actual argument presented here from out wheat intolerant friend.
I have stated my argument several times, in a variety of ways, and even given background at length on what I am saying "the deathless" is, by way of example. A failure to communicate does not necessarily lie with one side or another. That you find "no actual argument" simply means that, for some reason, what I am saying is not getting through. I give up trying to make my point.

For what it's worth, I don't find "freedom from death" to be (to borrow your phrase) "a bad translation". It accurately enough captures the essence of what's being said, but... oh wait, I said I was going to give up trying to explain, so I will not go past "but".

That was a nice long post you wrote, and I thank you for it, and I'm genuinely sorry that we have a failure to communicate that makes it not a wise use of time to try answering.

:namaste:

Bagoba
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Re: "The Deathless" (amata)

Post by Bagoba » Sun Mar 18, 2012 5:48 pm

Hello everyone,

I'm new here, just reading through this post where some are saying that Nibbana is no-thing.

Just wondering what you guys make of the following definition of Nibbana:
http://en.dhammadana.org/dhamma/nibbana.htm

"He therefore taught that there are four things that make up this universe.
Consciousness, which is the faculty of cognizing.
Material and physical properties, which can be known by consciousness.
Mental properties, desserving to be known by consciousness.
nibbāna, parinibbāna."

Does that contradict anything that's been said here?

Thanks y'all! :)
"This path is a thorough investigation and understanding of the limitations of the mortal condition of the body and mind. Now you're developing the ability to turn away from the conditioned and to release your identity from mortality." Ajan Sumedho, "Mindfulness, the path to the Deathless." http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/deathless.pdf

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mikenz66
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Re: "The Deathless" (amata)

Post by mikenz66 » Sun Mar 18, 2012 7:23 pm

Hi Bagoba,

What you are quoting there is the classification according to the Abhidhamma, which is a very detailed classification of experience that one can view as an elaboration on sutta classifications of conditioned phenomena (classified in terms of khandhas (aggregates) or sense base, elements, etc) + nibbana.

As the page you refer to goes on to say:
That which we call consciousness, mental and physical phenomena, are the five aggregates.
In either Sutta or Abhidhamma terms one has "conditioned phenomena" (aggregates) + nibbana, which is described as unconditioned in either scheme. So nibbana is somethink to do with freedom from conditioned phenomena. What exactly that means is, as you can see, a subject of some lively discussion.

:anjali:
Mike

Bagoba
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Re: "The Deathless" (amata)

Post by Bagoba » Sun Mar 18, 2012 7:39 pm

Many thanks Mike. :anjali:

I wonder sometimes, what if we actually only live once, what if when we die, we really die, we cease to exist completely, without any residual consciousness, kammic wind or possibilities to get reborn in any new form. In other words, "show's over, curtain's closed, lights out". Can Nibbana be compared to that, in the context of continuous rebirths?

Apart from the excellent moral and ethical values associated with following the Buddha's teachings, would it make sense to follow the Buddha's path if the above was actually true?

I don't mean to bother anyone here, the answer to this question is important for my personal spiritual quest.

Many thanks,
Bagoba
"This path is a thorough investigation and understanding of the limitations of the mortal condition of the body and mind. Now you're developing the ability to turn away from the conditioned and to release your identity from mortality." Ajan Sumedho, "Mindfulness, the path to the Deathless." http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/deathless.pdf

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cooran
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Re: "The Deathless" (amata)

Post by cooran » Sun Mar 18, 2012 8:33 pm

Hello Bagoba,

This is the Annihilationist View and was strongly refuted by the Buddha.

Here is a previous thread on the topic:

Ucchedavada (annihilationism) - what does it actually mean?
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=157" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;


with metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

Bagoba
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Re: "The Deathless" (amata)

Post by Bagoba » Sun Mar 18, 2012 9:20 pm

Thank you for the link Chris.

I have yet to read, and will, and maybe this will answer my question, which remains unanswered here: can we correlate the theory of annihilationism and the goal of buddhist practice, Nibbana? Can Nibbana be compared to what annihilationists view as death? In other words, what remains after Nibbana and what remains after death according to annihilationism is strictly identical, is it not?

My guess is that in essence yes, it is, but I could be wrong...

Thanks and metta,
Bagoba
"This path is a thorough investigation and understanding of the limitations of the mortal condition of the body and mind. Now you're developing the ability to turn away from the conditioned and to release your identity from mortality." Ajan Sumedho, "Mindfulness, the path to the Deathless." http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/deathless.pdf

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mikenz66
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Re: "The Deathless" (amata)

Post by mikenz66 » Sun Mar 18, 2012 9:41 pm

Hi Bagoba,

I'd encourage you to read that thread. I really like Bhikkhu Bodhi's description here of how the Dhamma transcends the polarities of annihilationism and eternalism:
http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f= ... 69#p170881" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

:anjali:
Mike

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Re: "The Deathless" (amata)

Post by squarepeg » Sun Mar 18, 2012 10:10 pm

Bagoba wrote: Apart from the excellent moral and ethical values associated with following the Buddha's teachings, would it make sense to follow the Buddha's path if the above was actually true?
Apart for excellent moral and ethical values is life worth living? Dose life have to tie up in a neat package called "after life" for Cause and Effect to function? Actions have consequences, but do consequences have actions? Do we cause our own suffering?

I remember reading somewhere that because the goal of the Buddhas teachings is Ineffable, the reason the Buddha used language to teach, and taught at all, was to inspire people to practice his methods. We dont know how to be happy people, we think pleasure is happiness. The Buddha knows how we can be happy people.

"To have [rational] faith requires courage, the ability to take a risk, the rediness even to accept pain and disappoinment. Who ever insist s on safety and security as primary conditions of life cannot have [rational] faith; whoever shuts himself off in a system of defense, where distance and possession are his means of security, makes himself a prisoner" -Erich Fromm "The Art of Loving"

[In this book Fromm distinguishes between irrational faith: submission to "power" (i.e. god, rebirth, death...exc) and rational faith :"we have faith in thought because it is the result of our own observation and thinking. We have faith in the potentialites of others, of ourselves, and of mankind because, and only to the degree to which, we have experienced the growth of our own potentialties, the reality of growth in ourselves, the strength of our own power of reason and of love" (i.e. "the faith that allows us to sleep")]

Power is an illusion, everything exists in potentials. The Buddha and Sanga have shown that Humans have the potential for unwavering happiness. The only faith required then is faith in our potential to cultivate the Human in us. ie reason
"Yadisam vapate bijam tadisam harate phalam" — as we sow, so shall we reap
Maranam Bhavissati - "death will take place"

Bagoba
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Re: "The Deathless" (amata)

Post by Bagoba » Sun Mar 18, 2012 11:10 pm

Thank you guys... From what I understand, without spending much time pondering your kind and most excellent answers, is that one needs faith to progress, and that the theory of annihilationism shows dukha as an unlikely chance (ahah, nice one).

However my feeling is that you are not really answering my question (sorry to be such a pain) by telling me the extremes and the middle way! Regardless of how nice a story it makes, I feel that my question remains! (I may be wrong...). And that is, how is nibbana as described by the Buddha (the definite end to an eternal string of rebirths) any different from death as viewed by annihilationists? In the former case, it seems to me that life simply lasted a hell of a lot longer than in the latter case (billions and billions of lives versus one short life, and then for both, the "candle is blown out").

Do you see my meaning?
"This path is a thorough investigation and understanding of the limitations of the mortal condition of the body and mind. Now you're developing the ability to turn away from the conditioned and to release your identity from mortality." Ajan Sumedho, "Mindfulness, the path to the Deathless." http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/deathless.pdf

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mikenz66
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Re: "The Deathless" (amata)

Post by mikenz66 » Sun Mar 18, 2012 11:58 pm

Bagoba wrote: However my feeling is that you are not really answering my question (sorry to be such a pain) by telling me the extremes and the middle way! Regardless of how nice a story it makes, I feel that my question remains! (I may be wrong...). And that is, how is nibbana as described by the Buddha (the definite end to an eternal string of rebirths) any different from death as viewed by annihilationists?
I think we're answering in a roundabout way. The Buddha states that the annihilation extreme is incorrect. So annihilation is, therefore, not the same as nibbana.

What we are not answering is exactly what nibbana is, and as you can see from this thread, that's a very tricky question, and even posing it in terms of "what nibbana is" is problematical.

:anjali:
Mike

squarepeg
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Re: "The Deathless" (amata)

Post by squarepeg » Mon Mar 19, 2012 1:41 am

Bagoba wrote:Thank you guys... From what I understand, without spending much time pondering your kind and most excellent answers, is that one needs faith to progress, and that the theory of annihilationism shows dukha as an unlikely chance (ahah, nice one).

However my feeling is that you are not really answering my question (sorry to be such a pain) by telling me the extremes and the middle way! Regardless of how nice a story it makes, I feel that my question remains! (I may be wrong...). And that is, how is nibbana as described by the Buddha (the definite end to an eternal string of rebirths) any different from death as viewed by annihilationists? In the former case, it seems to me that life simply lasted a hell of a lot longer than in the latter case (billions and billions of lives versus one short life, and then for both, the "candle is blown out").

Do you see my meaning?
The diffrence between nibbana as described by the Buddha and death as viewd by annihilationists is that nibbana as described by the Buddha inspires people to awaken to their full human potential while their still alive, while annihilation as viewed by annihilationts causes people too think that their actions dont ultimately have any effect and has undoubtedly been the view behind a countless number of unspeakable crimes against humanity.

Its not, even a little bit, not even a very tiny bit, about what happens after death or before birth. If the thought of rebirth inspires you to practice then use it. If your too sceptical and cant shake annihilationism the start being more and more sensitive to how your actions effect others, maby look into what is known as the "butterfly effect", seriously every action you make effects the course of human history accross the globe, for better or for worse. This was true 1000 years ago and its sure true now with how easy it is to travel and access information.

A coward dies a thousand deaths and a solider causes a thousand deaths. Hopefully you can see the need for a middle way, a way of conduct that helps humanity evolve our human ability of reason and objectivity. 1st step was becoming self aware, 2nd step is becoming aware of others.

If you want a concrete answer to your question then compile all the litterature on annhiliationism including entrys in journals and even collect napkins from coffee shops, then take all the buddhist litterature on rebirth as well as all other human literature on rebirth from all cultures and feed this data into a super "ven-diagram 'o' matic" computer, insert 50cents, pull the lever and an answer will appear on the screen. proabalby something around "37" :jumping:

seriously though, views and beliefs are not entities! they cant just be compaired with eachother objectivly! there are no entities in this world only activites. and being activites you have to look at the activities they produce! people acting with anhiliationist view are far far far far far far far! far!! far!!! less modivated to help people and be a productive organism on earth than people with the view that they are responsible for their actions and will be held acountable if they hurt others. what kind of world do you want to live in one where people hurt others or one where we are happy? you have to choose views that help the people around you, there is no objective compairable view, a view is a modivation for action nothing more nothing less.
"Yadisam vapate bijam tadisam harate phalam" — as we sow, so shall we reap
Maranam Bhavissati - "death will take place"

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kirk5a
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Re: "The Deathless" (amata)

Post by kirk5a » Mon Mar 19, 2012 3:10 am

Ud 8.1, 8.2, 8.3, and 8.4 clearly all go together - the description of the occasion is the same for each.
I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Savatthi, in Jeta's Grove, Anathapindika's monastery. Now at that time the Blessed One was instructing urging, rousing, and encouraging the monks with Dhamma-talk concerned with Unbinding. The monks — receptive, attentive, focusing their entire awareness, lending ear — listened to the Dhamma.
For those who can't accept the language of "an unborn — unbecome — unmade — unfabricated" in 8.3 - what then is the explanation for "that dimension" in 8.1, "the unaffected" in 8.2, and "there is no passing away or arising" in 8.4?

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... ml#vagga-8" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

8.1
There is that dimension where there is neither earth, nor water, nor fire, nor wind; neither dimension of the infinitude of space, nor dimension of the infinitude of consciousness, nor dimension of nothingness, nor dimension of neither perception nor non-perception; neither this world, nor the next world, nor sun, nor moon. And there, I say, there is neither coming, nor going, nor staying; neither passing away nor arising: unestablished, unevolving, without support (mental object).[1] This, just this, is the end of stress.
8.2
It's hard to see the unaffected,
for the truth isn't easily seen.
Craving is pierced
in one who knows;
For one who sees,
there is nothing.
8.3
There is, monks, an unborn — unbecome — unmade — unfabricated. If there were not that unborn — unbecome — unmade — unfabricated, there would not be the case that emancipation from the born — become — made — fabricated would be discerned. But precisely because there is an unborn — unbecome — unmade — unfabricated, emancipation from the born — become — made — fabricated is discerned.
8.4
One who is dependent has wavering. One who is independent has no wavering. There being no wavering, there is calm. There being calm, there is no desire. There being no desire, there is no coming or going. There being no coming or going, there is no passing away or arising. There being no passing away or arising, there is neither a here nor a there nor a between-the-two. This, just this, is the end of stress.
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230

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kirk5a
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Re: "The Deathless" (amata)

Post by kirk5a » Mon Mar 19, 2012 3:12 am

Bagoba wrote: Do you see my meaning?
Yes, do you know any annihilationists who say anything like what I posted above?
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230

Virgo
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Re: "The Deathless" (amata)

Post by Virgo » Mon Mar 19, 2012 4:46 am

kirk5a wrote:
Virgo wrote: while the result is similar to what nihilists propose in a way - that is to say nothing arises or comes into being any longer after the [final] death - such an occurrence comes about because the causes and conditions for continued birth are finally fully extinguished - a rare thing indeed being that physical death alone is not sufficient but the removal of all the defilements is necessary to cause this.
I think it's strange to say what nihilists propose as an idea which they've cooked up, based in ... what? Speculative thinking? Is "similar" to what the Buddha was talking about, rooted in direct meditative wisdom. I suppose nihilists deserve to state their own views, but I'd imagine they extrapolate a state of unconsciousness after death.
Hi again Kirk,

That is actually an eternalistic view, not a nihilistic one, as far as I can tell.

Kevin

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Re: "The Deathless" (amata)

Post by tiltbillings » Mon Mar 19, 2012 7:09 am

kirk5a wrote:Ud 8.1, 8.2, 8.3, and 8.4 clearly all go together - the description of the occasion is the same for each.
I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Savatthi, in Jeta's Grove, Anathapindika's monastery. Now at that time the Blessed One was instructing urging, rousing, and encouraging the monks with Dhamma-talk concerned with Unbinding. The monks — receptive, attentive, focusing their entire awareness, lending ear — listened to the Dhamma.
For those who can't accept the language of "an unborn — unbecome — unmade — unfabricated" in 8.3 - what then is the explanation for "that dimension" in 8.1, "the unaffected" in 8.2, and "there is no passing away or arising" in 8.4?
There is nothing in these texts that demands that "an unborn — unbecome — unmade — unfabricated" is the only way that these terms are meaningfully translated. I would argue that "an unborn — unbecome — unmade — unfabricated" is not a particularly meaningful translation at all, taken either as a stand-alone text as in the Itivuttaka, 37-8 or in this Udana grouping. These Udana texts refer to “unbinding,” and unbinding here means one is not bound to greed, hatred, and delusion. In other words, one is freed from the conditioning of greed, hatred, and delusion.

In S.N. IV 359 and S.N. 362 we find: "That which is the destruction of greed, hatred and delusion is asankhata." That is to say, it is the freedom from the conditioning, being without the conditions, of those three unwholesome factors. As an awake individual one is no longer conditioned – one is unconditioned, asankhata --, by the volitional conditions of greed, hatred, and delusion. It is hard to find a more straightforward definition.

In the S.N. IV 251 and IV 321 we find: "That which is the destruction of greed, hatred and delusion is nibbana." Clearly nibbana/unbinding and asankhata are equivalent terms, and where outside the individual who is freed from the putting together, the fabricating, the conditioning of greed, hatred, and delusion would unbinding be found? It would make no sense to assume that unbinding/nibbana refers to something outside the freed individual, given that greed, hatred, and delusion “exist” as conditioning factors only within the individual.

As for the rest of the Udana texts, they are talking about the experiences associated with becoming unbound to the conditioning factors of greed, hatred and delusion. There is no reason to assume that they are talking about some thing outside the individual who is no longer bound by greed, hatred, and delusion.
>> 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

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