Thinking about ancientbuddhism's request that I show how the Buddha's use of language -- e.g. "the field" -- is reflected in Vedic literature, which is not something I have ever argued, since I'm unaware of that structure or the multi-layered structure used in DA (etc.) being found anywhere outside of the Buddha's use of it (maybe I'll eventually find that it is, but that would make it no more important to the reality of what I'm suggesting the texts are saying being what they are saying) and thinking about Sylvester's wanting me to see that there is no "one common thread underlying the entire multi-colored fabric of the pre-Buddhist millieu" -- which sight was not a revelation to me, since it's a given that there were numerous disparate views -- I came to realize that there are a few positive statements I could make about these.
So far I have just been arguing that I am not saying the things I am being asked to defend with citations -- which is quite true if I keep my eye on precisely what the two are saying. But if I squint my eyes at it (the way I do with Buddhist texts) and let it all get just a little bit fuzzy and loose and try to hear if they are asking me a similar question but just not framing the question in a way that accurately reflects what I'm doing -- which means they end up confusing the issue by asking me to defend things I'm not saying -- then I can perhaps find a good point being made in there somewhere, and one that I can at least try to work towards answering (or describe why it's difficult to answer).
ancientbuddhism's question was too narrowly focused: I don't say "the field" was used elsewhere. On the other hand, Sylvester's question was given much too large a range -- of course there is huge diversity in the "entire" fabric of the discussions that went on pre-Buddha -- but nowhere am I arguing that the Buddha was talking about the entire fabric of what came before.
But perhaps the question is: Linda, if you are saying that the Buddha is addressing Vedic thought in some way in DA, and perhaps in other-than DA suttas, too -- and if he is specifically denying their view of rebirth -- and if you are saying that you have seen ways in which what is in the canon matches up to what is in Vedic works, please cite some of these instances, because Sylvester is not seeing how there could be any unifying-enough theme in the Vedic literature for the Buddha to argue against, and ancientbuddhism is sure the language the Buddha used would reflect the Vedic discussions, if that was the case.
To address what I see as Sylvester's point, then, I do see a common thread. It is not common to that "entire fabric" but just to the portion that many besides myself see as the works that must have been closest to the Buddha, in his past, specifically the parts of the Brahmanas and Upanisads in which Yajnavalkya plays a big part. I find the Buddha, and the people he encounters, talking about the same issues they are talking about there. Kings ask questions of their guests about rituals. Answers are given and Yajnavalkya always wins the point. There is discussion of karma, of sacrifice, and of the self and the world. Much of the discussion I find reflected in the Buddha's talks, and in DA
To address ancientbuddhism's point about language, I find what the Buddha is saying matches up to (in particular Yajnavalkya's) portions of the Upanisads in language in the suttas
. I first encountered this in MN 117's tainted right view, and batted around my earliest surprise with the way tradition reads the language versus the way I would read it -- even prior to having any useful knowledge of Vedism -- right here in this forum ( viewtopic.php?f=16&t=2599
) four years ago.
Since then, I've found much of the language about views represented in that sutta in language in the BrUpanisad
. The first paper I presented to Professor Gombrich was on that subject, came back to me with requests for more explanations, and has since blossomed well-beyond the likelihood of it fitting into size requirements for "a paper" -- I think it is trying to become a book.
I can try to round up and toss in a few such citations here, but without the full argument I'm trying to make, I don't expect they'll actually be enough to convince any already set mind to see things a different way. But I'm willing, if it's what you're asking.
I will press the issue and invite you to provide the citations. For a start, perhaps pull out some of the Upanisadic/Vedic material which I've highlighted in red from your post above. It would be even more helpful if other examples of the Vedic worldview/psychological disposition/assumptions (whatever) which you believe to be relevant are also provided. It would be nice if you could add to the citations to the above, further citations for another post of yours -
I understand him as talking about self-and-world as well as self-as-world in DA (but he isn't limiting what he's talking about to that view). I see him as using loka (world) in the big four volumes of suttas in a way that is totally consistent with him addressing the atman-brahman view. What he's saying in DA is not separate from the way he uses those concepts in talks scattered all throughout the canon.
Since your thesis is an interpretation of how the Buddha intended to communicate DA to his brahmin auditors and "influence" them, we would also need a fair amount of citation of the Buddha's exposition of DA that we can see actually corresponding to the Vedic received wisdom or Vedic method or whatever it is you believe was the problem. I would be satisfied with a number of sutta citations that address specifically the nidanas traditionally interpreted to mean "birth" and "rebirth"; if you can give even more DA expositions on the other nidanas that are probative of your supposed correspondence, so much the better. Note that I ask for "a number of sutta citations"; I need quantity to see a trend and pattern, rather than to let one singular pronouncement colour the rest of the expositions.
In order to make sense of your interpretation that DA is a model patterned on a "field" and "what" structure (which I believe chownah has correctly identified as looking suspiciously like the "set" and "subset" structure - viewtopic.php?f=16&t=41&start=4120#p257311
), we really need to see a well-cited and textually attested pre-Buddhist mode of thinking, plus evidence from the suttas that the Buddha responded in such-&-such a way with the intent to lay bare a "field" and "what" structure. In your reply to chownah viewtopic.php?f=16&t=41&start=4120#p257335
, you suggested that other than the "field-what" structure corresponding to set-subset, you also believed it to point to causation. The causal model, if I understand you correctly, pertains to the "nutriment" (another popular Upanisadic imagery which the Buddha borrowed).
And this brings me back to the issue of grammar which I took pains to press - would the brahmin auditor of DA have understood DA in the Vedic/Upanisadic superstructure where self-agency is a requisite for Vedic/Upanisadic causation? I don't think we should dismiss the grammatical structure of idappaccayatā as being irrelevant, since the 1st and 3rd limbs of idappaccayatā are completely incompatible with self-agency and the food imagery that we encounter in the pre-Buddhist material.
I have enormous difficulty with this "field" and "what" theory, as I do not recognise this from the pre-Buddhist Upanisads. The veda that is esoteric in that system was to find the verbal and ontological upanisads (substitutions and correspondences) between phenomenon and Noumenon, name and Satyam, Atman and Brahman. If you could explain how "field" and "what" fits in with that system, it would comfort me somewhat that there might be perhaps something that could form the linguistic bridge between DA and pre-Buddhist "view".
On the issue of causation, you wrote -
but I don't find him trying to convince anyone to believe in it (except in rare texts -- like MN 60 where he states positively that there *is* rebirth and that to believe otherwise is wrong view and to teach otherwise is a bad, bad thing -- smack in the middle of his logical argument that it doesn't matter whether what we believe is the actual Cosmic Order or not, what matters is what we do in this life -- thus breaking up the logic of his argument).
Could I trouble you to point to which parts of MN 60 in which you believe the logical inconsistency lies? For ease of reference, could you pls use this online copy of BB's translation - http://www.palicanon.org/index.php/sutt ... e-teaching
Still on the issue of what you perceive to be the "causation" model underlying DA, you previously said -
This is actually the nature of causal chains (DA is, of course, one). The field narrows at each step, so it can't be all consciousness, only consciousness driven by sankhara; not all contacts, not all feelings.
This seems to hark back to a set-subset assumption, where you suggest that the chain narrows with each link. May I enquire if this is informed by those sutta passages that read "Conditioned by formations, consciousness" etc?
I ask this, as I am of the view that the English translations that render the Pali in this way are actually subconsciously influenced by the Abhidharma/Abhidhamma. Eg Potter cites a Sarvastivadin exposition on hetu in the Jñānaprasthāna about the internal and external ayatanas being the hetu/effective cause of consciousness (p.423 of Abhidharma Buddhism to 150 AD). What went unnoticed by the Sarva Abhidharmikas was that this position contradicts the position in their own sutra MA 30, which like its Pali parallel MN 28 dictates that attention is a necessary condition for contact to arise.
We see examples of this Abhidhammic influence creeping into the English translations. See for example Walshe's translation of SN 12.15 -
Avoiding both extremes the Tathaagata teaches a doctrine of the middle: Conditioned by ignorance are the formations...
Ete te kaccāna ubho ante anupagamma majjhena tathāgato dhammaṃ deseti. Avijjāpaccayā saṅkhārā....
You mentioned "proximate" or "significant" cause, and I wonder if your usage may have unconsciously stemmed from how the Sarvas and Theravada Abhidhamma scholars distinguished hetu and paccaya, being effective/proximate cause versus the supporting cause. See how these terms are employed in DN 15 to explain the links, where each factor in each link is described via the formulaic "eseva hetu etaṃ nidānaṃ esa samudayo esa paccayo" for its "consequent".
If we actually observe how hetu-paccaya are invariably arranged in the suttas, it becomes clear that they are actually synonyms arranged according to the waxing syllables principle. This means that both terms still hark back to the same basic meaning underlying the grammar of idappaccayatā, ie the relations/nidanas are describing the necessary conditions for the arising of suffering, rather than the sufficient conditions or causes. Rather than "Conditioned by...", the more grammatical (if ugly and inelegant) translation should be "Conditional upon...". "Dependant on..." will be a prettier translation.
If I am correct on this score, is there actually a basis for describing DA as a causal
structure that can be understood by the brahmins? Certainly, brahmins fed a diet of self-agency theories would immediately recognise a theory of causation. But I don't believe that the Early Buddhist presentation of DA was an exposition on causation. It was an exposition on dependency that struck right at the heart of the self-agency views embedded in the Vedas and Upanisads.