the great rebirth debate

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
Dinsdale
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Post by Dinsdale » Mon May 20, 2013 1:10 pm

Zakattack wrote: brain injury can result in loss of mental faculties, including consciousness. physical medicine can render the mind unconsciousness
The scientific view broadly seems to be that consciousness arises in dependence on form ( specifically the brain ), this point has been made repeatedly.

But this isn't what's described in the suttas, specifically in the teachings on dependent origination, where 2 options are given:
1. Form arising in dependence on consciousness;
2. Form and consciousness being mutually dependent.

So it appears that science and Buddhist teachings disagree on this point.
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Alex123
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Post by Alex123 » Mon May 20, 2013 4:24 pm

porpoise wrote:The scientific view broadly seems to be that consciousness arises in dependence on form ( specifically the brain ), this point has been made repeatedly.
To be more precise, I understand that it is mental states that arise dependent on form. The current difficulty in science is the problem of qualia. I believe that an interesting thing to consider is not the flawed Cartesian dualism of
"mind (nāma) vs matter (rūpa)"
but
Qualia (viññāṇa) vs mental & physical states (nāmarūpa).
porpoise wrote: But this isn't what's described in the suttas, specifically in the teachings on dependent origination, where 2 options are given:
1. Form arising in dependence on consciousness;
In Dependent Origination it is nāmarūpa. Form (rūpa) goes with mental states (nāma).
porpoise wrote: 2. Form and consciousness being mutually dependent.
""the four great existents (earth, water, fire, & wind) are the cause, the four great existents the condition, for the delineation of the aggregate of form...Name-&-form is the cause, name-&-form the condition, for the delineation of the aggregate of consciousness."" - MN109
"With the arising of nutriment there is the arising of materiality" - Ptsm.
"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

Zakattack
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Post by Zakattack » Mon May 20, 2013 8:53 pm

porpoise wrote:The scientific view broadly seems to be that consciousness arises in dependence on form ( specifically the brain ), this point has been made repeatedly.

But this isn't what's described in the suttas, specifically in the teachings on dependent origination, where 2 options are given:
1. Form arising in dependence on consciousness;
2. Form and consciousness being mutually dependent.

So it appears that science and Buddhist teachings disagree on this point.
Fundamentalist Christianity & Science may disagree on some fundamental life matters but this disagreement does not necessarily exist between Buddhism & Science. Much of Science concerns itself with a materialistic explanation of phenomena. Where as Buddha was concerned with psychological explanation of how suffering arises & ceases. It is possible a 'Scientific', i.e., materialistic emphasis, is applied to Buddhism, which results in a materialistic interpretation.

Dependent Origination is not necessarily the appropriate explanatory principle pertaining to consciousness because Dependent Origination is primarily concerned with how the arising of ignorance generates suffering. It is a logical explanatory principle to include consciousness as the 3rd link, since:(i) the sense bases (5th link) are a natural extension of the physical body (4th link) & (ii) the formless realms include citta-sankhara & consciousness but not rupa. But, in general, this is not necessary as an explanation of reality, given consciousness could be included at the 4th link and nama-rupa at the 3rd link and nothing would change. Since consciousness & nama-rupa are mutually co-existent, in that they arise & cease together, it does not matter in which order they are referred to in Dependent Origination. For example, when the body & mind are sleeping, the mind is unconsciousness but kaya sankhara (breathing in & out) will still continue to condition the rupa (physical body). While sleeping, laboured breathing, such as when there is sickness, will still condition a laboured body. Materialistically, the 3rd link (consciousness) is not required for the 2nd link (sankhara) to condition the 4th link (rupa). However, Buddha was not concerned with such materialism. Instead, he was concerned with how ignorance conditions the mind, body & consciousness in a way that leads to suffering.

There are other explanatory principles that more appropriately pertain to consciousness, where consciousness itself is actually the topic of explanation, such as:
It's good, monks, that you understand the Dhamma taught by me in this way, for in many ways I have said of dependently co-arisen consciousness, 'Apart from a requisite condition, there is no coming-into-play of consciousness'. Consciousness, monks, is classified simply by the requisite condition in dependence on which it arises.

MN 38
Dependent on eye & forms, eye-consciousness arises. The meeting of the three is contact....Dependent on ear & sounds, ear-consciousness arises...Dependent on nose & aromas, nose-consciousness arises...Dependent on tongue & flavors, tongue-consciousness arises...Dependent on body & tactile sensations, body-consciousness arises...Dependent on intellect & ideas, intellect-consciousness arises. The meeting of the three is contact.

MN 18
"Were someone to say, 'I will describe a coming, a going, a passing away, an arising, a growth, an increase or a proliferation of consciousness apart from form, from feeling, from perception, from fabrications,' that would be impossible.

SN 22.53
There are not necessarily "2 options" given in the suttas, particularly the option of: "Form arising in dependence on consciousness". There is probably only 1 option given in the suttas, namely, of: "Form and consciousness being mutually dependent".

:alien:
Last edited by Zakattack on Tue May 21, 2013 6:20 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Dinsdale
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Post by Dinsdale » Tue May 21, 2013 9:58 am

Zakattack wrote: There are not necessarily "2 options" given in the suttas, particularly the option of: "Form arising in dependence on consciousness". There is probably only 1 option given in the suttas, namely, of: "Form and consciousness being mutually dependent".
Not true, there are clearly 2 options. And in fact if you read the suttas describing dependent origination you will find that "form arising in dependence on consciousness" is described more frequently than "form and consciousness being mutually dependent".
The option that the suttas don't describe is "consciousness arising in dependence on form". So Buddhism disagrees with science.

See here, for example in DN15:

Name-and-form
"'From consciousness as a requisite condition comes name-and-form.' Thus it has been said. And this is the way to understand how from consciousness as a requisite condition comes name-and-form. If consciousness were not to descend into the mother's womb, would name-and-form take shape in the womb?"
"No, lord."
"If, after descending into the womb, consciousness were to depart, would name-and-form be produced for this world?"
"No, lord."
"If the consciousness of the young boy or girl were to be cut off, would name-and-form ripen, grow, and reach maturity?"
"No, lord."
"Thus this is a cause, this is a reason, this is an origination, this is a requisite condition for name-and-form, i.e., consciousness."
Last edited by Dinsdale on Tue May 21, 2013 10:05 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Dinsdale
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Post by Dinsdale » Tue May 21, 2013 10:04 am

Zakattack wrote: Fundamentalist Christianity & Science may disagree on some fundamental life matters but this disagreement does not necessarily exist between Buddhism & Science.
There is certainly less disagreement, but there are still significant differences. The challenge for skeptical Buddhists is how to cope with those differences, how to cope with all the suttas that describe "inconvenient truths" like kamma, rebirth, form arising in dependence on consciousness etc etc.

There are various coping strategies, the most logical strategy I've seen is simply to reject all this "religious" content and become a secular Buddhist.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Post by Dinsdale » Tue May 21, 2013 10:08 am

Alex123 wrote: In Dependent Origination it is nāmarūpa. Form (rūpa) goes with mental states (nāma).
The point is that in dependent origination nama-rupa ( a person ) arises in dependence on consciousness, not the other way round. This contradicts the scientific view.
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Alex123
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Post by Alex123 » Tue May 21, 2013 11:01 am

porpoise wrote:
Alex123 wrote: In Dependent Origination it is nāmarūpa. Form (rūpa) goes with mental states (nāma).
The point is that in dependent origination nama-rupa ( a person ) arises in dependence on consciousness, not the other way round. This contradicts the scientific view.
D.O. talks about origination of dukkha due to ignorance.

There is another teaching on rise-and-fall of aggregates where nāmarūpa is the cause for viññāṇa. Not other way around.
"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

Dinsdale
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Post by Dinsdale » Tue May 21, 2013 12:47 pm

Alex123 wrote:
porpoise wrote:
Alex123 wrote: In Dependent Origination it is nāmarūpa. Form (rūpa) goes with mental states (nāma).
The point is that in dependent origination nama-rupa ( a person ) arises in dependence on consciousness, not the other way round. This contradicts the scientific view.
D.O. talks about origination of dukkha due to ignorance.
I don't see the relevance of your comment. The fact remains that most suttas describing D.O. have nama-rupa arising in dependence on consciousness, not the other way round ( see for example the quote from DN15 I gave a couple of posts back ).
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Alex123
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Post by Alex123 » Tue May 21, 2013 1:03 pm

porpoise wrote:I don't see the relevance of your comment. .
There are at least two types of conditionality,
1) DO in all its modes and 2) rise and fall of the aggregates. DO deals with arising and ceasing of dukkha due to avijjā. The rise-and-fall of aggregates deals with arising and ceasing of aggregates that can occur also to Arahants.

IMHO.
"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

Dinsdale
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Post by Dinsdale » Tue May 21, 2013 1:09 pm

Alex123 wrote:
porpoise wrote:I don't see the relevance of your comment. .
There are at least two types of conditionality,
1) DO in all its modes and 2) rise and fall of the aggregates. DO deals with arising and ceasing of dukkha due to avijjā. The rise-and-fall of aggregates deals with arising and ceasing of aggregates that can occur also to Arahants.

IMHO.
I'm still struggling to see the relevance, but if you can find a sutta which clearly describes consciousness arising in dependence on form, I'd be interested to see it.
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Zakattack
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Post by Zakattack » Tue May 21, 2013 7:00 pm

porpoise wrote:Not true, there are clearly 2 options. And in fact if you read the suttas describing dependent origination you will find that "form arising in dependence on consciousness" is described more frequently than "form and consciousness being mutually dependent".
The option that the suttas don't describe is "consciousness arising in dependence on form". So Buddhism disagrees with science.
It was mentioned the potential to develop a materialistic interpretation. The suttas are not necessarily explaining the physical existence of the physical body (rupa) is dependent on consciousness. For example, when a human being is unconsciousness, science can maintain their physical life using life support methods. The physical body does not necessarily have to be consciousness to live. This is pointed in the suttas, as posted, which describe the cessation of perception & feeling, which explain that as long as heat & vitality continue to exist, the physical body will continue to exist as a life form.

"Form arising in dependence on consciousness" can simply mean the awareness of form arising in dependence on consciousness. When a tree falls in a forest, does anybody hear?
porpoise wrote:See here, for example in DN15:

Name-and-form
"'From consciousness as a requisite condition comes name-and-form.' Thus it has been said. And this is the way to understand how from consciousness as a requisite condition comes name-and-form. If consciousness were not to descend into the mother's womb, would name-and-form take shape in the womb?"
"No, lord."
"If, after descending into the womb, consciousness were to depart, would name-and-form be produced for this world?"
"No, lord."
"If the consciousness of the young boy or girl were to be cut off, would name-and-form ripen, grow, and reach maturity?"
"No, lord."
"Thus this is a cause, this is a reason, this is an origination, this is a requisite condition for name-and-form, i.e., consciousness."
The Four Great Standards (Mahapadesa) established by the Buddha mean Buddhists have the right to reject DN 15 since the explanation in DN 15 is contrary to all of the other suttas about Dependent Origination. DN 15 is not "the suttas" but, instead, one single sutta. All of the suttas, apart from the single DN 15, explain consciousness as the six-fold sense consciousness & nama-rupa as mentality-materiality. Worse, science can easily disprove the materialistic notion of: "If consciousness were not to descend into the mother's womb, would name-and-form take shape in the womb", since consciousness is not required for the development of an embryo, which is why scientists can create & grow embryos in test tubes.

Also, DN 15 states:
“Name-&-form conditions contact should be understood in this way: If those qualities (àkàra), traits (liïga), signs (nimitta), and indicators (uddesa) through which there is a description of the mental body (nàma-kàya) were all absent, would designation-contact (adhivacana-samphassa) be discerned in the physical body (rupa-kàya)?”

“If those qualities, traits, signs, and indicators through which there is a description of the physical body (rupa-kàya) were all absent, would impingement-contact (pañigha-samphassa) be discerned in the mental body (nàma-kàya)?”

To this extent, ânanda, one can be born, age, and die, fall (from one existence) and rise (into another); to this extent there is a pathway for designation (adhivacana-patha), a pathway for language (nirutti-patha), a pathway for concept (pannatti-patha), a sphere for wisdom (pannà-avacara); to this extent the round turns as far as can be discerned in this state (itthattaü pannàpanàya), that is, (when there is) name-&-form together with consciousness.
This quote about nama-rupa is a strange beast & appears to not exist anywhere else in the suttas. Worse, it seems to imply an embryo & fetus are engaged in the mental acts of description, discernment, language, conceptualising, sense contact, etc. This is contrary to MN 64, where it is explained a new born child cannot conceptualise.

Since you are quoting & relying on DN 15, why don't you explain to the forum what this unusual version of nama-rupa means?

:shrug:
Last edited by Zakattack on Tue May 21, 2013 7:26 pm, edited 3 times in total.

Zakattack
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Post by Zakattack » Tue May 21, 2013 7:13 pm

porpoise wrote:
Zakattack wrote: Fundamentalist Christianity & Science may disagree on some fundamental life matters but this disagreement does not necessarily exist between Buddhism & Science.
There is certainly less disagreement, but there are still significant differences. The challenge for skeptical Buddhists is how to cope with those differences, how to cope with all the suttas that describe "inconvenient truths" like kamma, rebirth, form arising in dependence on consciousness etc etc.
It appears there may also be a challenge for you. Your post here is dependent on the assumption that your personal interpretation is the correct one.

Zakattack
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Post by Zakattack » Tue May 21, 2013 7:16 pm

porpoise wrote:I'm still struggling to see the relevance, but if you can find a sutta which clearly describes consciousness arising in dependence on form, I'd be interested to see it.
Multiple suttas were previously posted. :roll:

Zakattack
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Post by Zakattack » Tue May 21, 2013 7:22 pm

porpoise wrote:The point is that in dependent origination nama-rupa ( a person ) arises in dependence on consciousness, not the other way round. This contradicts the scientific view.
What exactly is "the person"? The suttas explain:
What, monks, is the burden?

'The five groups of clinging' is the answer. Which five? They are: the group of clinging to corporeality,... to feelings,... to perceptions,... to mental formations,... to consciousness. This, monks, is called 'the burden.'

What is the laying hold of the burden? The answer is that it is 'the person'....

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .wlsh.html
To what extent is one said to be 'a being'?"

"Any desire, passion, delight, or craving for form, Radha: when one is caught up there, tied up there, one is said to be 'a being.'

"Any desire, passion, delight, or craving for feeling... perception... fabrications...

"Any desire, passion, delight, or craving for consciousness, Radha: when one is caught up there, tied up there, one is said to be 'a being.'

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
Are these suttas explaining "the person" is dependent on consciousness or are they explaining "the person" or "the being" is dependent on attachment to consciousness?

:shrug:

Dinsdale
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Post by Dinsdale » Wed May 22, 2013 10:21 am

Zakattack wrote:The Four Great Standards (Mahapadesa) established by the Buddha mean Buddhists have the right to reject DN 15 since the explanation in DN 15 is contrary to all of the other suttas about Dependent Origination.
No, the explanation in DN15 is consistent with the suttas in Part II. of the Samyutta Nikaya, the nidana-vagga - this is the main treatment of dependent origination in the Pali Cannon.
Also, the idea that we should reject suttas which don't agree with our current beliefs seems to me a very dubious strategy.
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