Defilements vs purity

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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cooran
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Re: Defilements vs purity

Post by cooran » Sat May 03, 2014 5:56 am

This might be of interest:

Kilesa - Defilement
http://www.palikanon.com/english/wtb/g_m/kilesa.htm

With metta,
Chris
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---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 ---

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Lazy_eye
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Re: Defilements vs purity

Post by Lazy_eye » Sun May 04, 2014 12:32 am

barcsimalsi wrote:The root of defilement is ignorant/wrong view. It is called defiled because the view one holds is distorted from the truth.
Thanks. This way of explaining it makes sense to me.
cooran wrote:This might be of interest:

Kilesa - Defilement
http://www.palikanon.com/english/wtb/g_m/kilesa.htm

With metta,
Chris
Yes, the list is interesting and helpful; I notice, though that it refers to kilesas as "mind-defiling, unwholesome qualities."

This choice of phrasing brings me back to my original question. If we say "mind-defiling" it seems to suggest there was a previously pure mind that became defiled.

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Re: Defilements vs purity

Post by barcsimalsi » Sun May 04, 2014 4:08 am

"But, Mālunkyāputta, in what way do you remember the five lower fetters as taught by me?”
“Venerable sir, I remember identity view as a lower fetter taught by the Blessed One. I remember doubt as a lower fetter taught by the Blessed One. I remember adherence to rules and observances as a lower fetter taught by the Blessed One. I remember sensual desire as a lower fetter taught by the Blessed One. I remember ill will as a lower fetter taught by the Blessed One. It is in this way, venerable sir, that I remember the five lower fetters as taught by the Blessed One.”

“Mālunkyāputta, to whom do you remember my having taught these five lower fetters in that way? Would not the wanderers of other sects confute you with the simile of the infant? For a young tender infant lying prone does not even have the notion ‘identity,’ so how could identity view arise in him? Yet the underlying tendency to identity view lies within him. A young tender infant lying prone does not even have the notion ‘teachings,’ so how could doubt about the teachings arise in him? Yet the underlying tendency to doubt lies within him. A young tender infant lying prone does not even have the notion ‘rules,’ so how could adherence to rules and observances arise in him? Yet the underlying tendency to adhere to rules and observances lies within him. A young tender infant lying prone does not even have the notion ‘sensual pleasures,’ so how could sensual desire arise in him? Yet the underlying tendency to sensual lust lies within him. A young tender infant lying prone does not even have the notion ‘beings,’ so how could ill will towards beings arise in him? Yet the underlying tendency to ill will lies within him. Would not the wanderers of other sects confute you with this simile of the infant?”
MN64 suggest that the taints were already there when one was born.
And what, Ānanda, is the path, the way to the abandoning of the five lower fetters? Here, with seclusion from the acquisitions, with the abandoning of unwholesome states, with the complete tranquillization of bodily inertia, quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states, a bhikkhu enters upon and abides in the first jhāna, which is accompanied by applied and sustained thought, with rapture and pleasure born of seclusion.

Whatever exists therein of material form, feeling, perception, formations, and consciousness, he sees those states as impermanent, as suffering, as a disease, as a tumour, as a barb, as a calamity, as an affliction, as alien, as disintegrating, as void, as not self. He turns his mind away from those states and directs it towards the deathless element thus: ‘This is the peaceful, this is the sublime, that is, the stilling of all formations, the relinquishing of all attachments, the destruction of craving, dispassion, cessation, Nibbāna.’ If he is steady in that, he attains the destruction of the taints. But if he does not attain the destruction of the taints because of that desire for the Dhamma, that delight in the Dhamma, then with the destruction of the five lower fetters he becomes one due to reappear spontaneously in the Pure Abodes and there attain final Nibbāna without ever returning from that world. This is the path, the way to the abandoning of the five lower fetters.
And only by realizing nibbana is the taints/defilements completely gone.

However, if we are referring to the mind as the momentary arising and ceasing citta or thoughts moment then i think it should be fine to say that one’s mind is pure as long as it is not associated with greed, hatred and delusion along with their manifestation.

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Dan74
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Re: Defilements vs purity

Post by Dan74 » Sun May 04, 2014 8:44 am

Maybe ignorance, as a starting point, is easier to swallow. "From beginningless ignorance..."
_/|\_

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Mkoll
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Re: Defilements vs purity

Post by Mkoll » Sun May 04, 2014 10:54 am

Lazy_eye wrote:All:

I was reading over some posts concerning the kilesas yesterday and noticed, again, that there is something about the formulation of this concept that bugs me. I hadn't quite thought it through before but now I realize what the issue is.

When we speak of something being "defiled", it implies a prior state of purity, right? Something can't be defiled if it was that way to begin with; that is its natural state.

So the term defilements implies there was a mind that was pure. The idea of returning to or accessing one's pure mind comes up frequently in later schools, though it doesn't seem to me a Theravada notion. Still, isn't it basically implied by the term "defilements"?

Just wondering...
Defilement may imply a state of purity, sure that sounds fine. But then you say that the state of purity is its "natural state". That's an assumption. How do you know it's not the other way around and that defilement is its "natural state"?
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa

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acinteyyo
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Re: Defilements vs purity

Post by acinteyyo » Sun May 04, 2014 12:17 pm

I think we should not make the mistake to take the mind as persistent in the way that the mind which is now defiled is to be considered the same mind which wasn't defiled prior to its defilement. This is a wrong idea in my opinion.
I would rather explain it in the way that defilements aren't necessary requirements for the mind to arise. The mind can arise kind of "pure" or along with defilements dependent on conditions. I don't think one can erase defilements without cessation of the respective defiled mind. But when there is wisdom the mind arises without defilements. If there is ignorance from the beginning an undefiled mind probably never arose "for the puthujjana".

Also interessting: Pabhassara Sutta

best wishes, acinteyyo
Thag 1.20. Ajita - I do not fear death; nor do I long for life. I’ll lay down this body, aware and mindful.

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beeblebrox
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Re: Defilements vs purity

Post by beeblebrox » Sun May 04, 2014 12:36 pm

acinteyyo wrote:I would rather explain it in the way that defilements aren't necessary requirements for the mind to arise. The mind can arise kind of "pure" or along with defilements dependent on conditions. I don't think one can erase defilements without cessation of the respective defiled mind. But when there is wisdom the mind arises without defilements. If there is ignorance from the beginning an undefiled mind probably never arose "for the puthujjana".

Also interessting: Pabhassara Sutta

best wishes, acinteyyo
Hi Acinteyyo,

Thank you for this perspective... I learned something new which is useful for my practice.

:anjali:

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acinteyyo
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Re: Defilements vs purity

Post by acinteyyo » Sun May 04, 2014 1:11 pm

Hi beeblebrox,
you're welcome ;) We can all learn from each other :group:
Thag 1.20. Ajita - I do not fear death; nor do I long for life. I’ll lay down this body, aware and mindful.

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Lazy_eye
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Re: Defilements vs purity

Post by Lazy_eye » Mon May 05, 2014 1:24 pm

I happened to be doing some reading on Jainism last night and came across some interesting parallels:
According to Jains, all souls are intrinsically pure in their inherent and ideal state, possessing the qualities of infinite knowledge, infinite perception, infinite bliss and infinite energy. However... these qualities are found to be defiled and obstructed, on account of the association of these souls with karma. The soul has been associated with karma in this way throughout an eternity of beginningless time. This bondage of the soul is explained in the Jain texts by analogy with gold ore, which—in its natural state—is always found unrefined of admixture with impurities. Similarly, the ideally pure state of the soul has always been overlaid with the impurities of karma. This analogy with gold ore is also taken one step further: the purification of the soul can be achieved if the proper methods of refining are applied.
And further:
Jainism speaks of karmic "dirt", as karma is thought to be manifest as very subtle and microscopically imperceptible particles pervading the entire universe. They are so small that one space-point—the smallest possible extent of space—contains an infinite number of karmic particles (or quantity of karmic dirt). It is these karmic particles that adhere to the soul and affect its natural potency. This material karma is called dravya karma; and the resultant emotions—pleasure, pain, love, hatred, and so on—experienced by the soul are called bhava karma, psychic karma. The relationship between the material and psychic karma is that of cause and effect. The material karma gives rise to the feelings and emotions in worldly souls, which—in turn—give rise to psychic karma, causing emotional modifications within the soul. These emotions, yet again, result in influx and bondage of fresh material karma. Jains hold that the karmic matter is actually an agent that enables the consciousness to act within the material context of this universe. They are the material carrier of a soul's desire to physically experience this world.
Now, obviously there are some important differences between the Jain and Buddhist views. But there are many similarities too. So I wonder if perhaps the term "defilement" in Buddhism is a carry-over from earlier sramana beliefs, though given a distinct and new interpretation by the Buddha.

Quotes above are from Wikipedia.

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Aloka
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Re: Defilements vs purity

Post by Aloka » Mon May 05, 2014 2:21 pm

Hi Lazy Eye,

It might be of interest to you that there's a section about radiant mind and passing defilements from page 212 of the book "The Island - An Anthology of the Buddha's Teachings on Nibbana" by Ajahn Pasanno & Ajahn Amaro. (Free PDFdownload at Forest Sangha Publications)

http://forestsanghapublications.org/vie ... 10&ref=deb

Kind regards,

Aloka

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Re: Defilements vs purity

Post by suwapan » Sat May 24, 2014 1:01 am

Lazy_eye wrote:All:

I was reading over some posts concerning the kilesas yesterday and noticed, again, that there is something about the formulation of this concept that bugs me. I hadn't quite thought it through before but now I realize what the issue is.

When we speak of something being "defiled", it implies a prior state of purity, right? Something can't be defiled if it was that way to begin with; that is its natural state.

So the term defilements implies there was a mind that was pure. The idea of returning to or accessing one's pure mind comes up frequently in later schools, though it doesn't seem to me a Theravada notion. Still, isn't it basically implied by the term "defilements"?

Just wondering...
Dear Lazy_eye,

Firstly, don't get too attached to a single word. I've been told that the Pali language is complex, where one word can have multiple meanings depending on how it is used with other words. Secondly, English vocabulary is very limited. The translator may have to find an English word that is closest to the meaning of a Pali word, but may not be exact.
Even in Thai, we have words that cannot be represented by a single English word. A word that we often use in our prayer is "Attitarn." In the dictionary, it may mean making a wish, a vow or a resolution. But the direct translation would be more like "a very strong, determined wish/vow, that will have an effect on your present life and future lives."

As for what's bugging you, try this logic.
If our minds were all pure from the beginning, we would have all attained Nibbana.

Ananda26
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Re: Defilements vs purity

Post by Ananda26 » Sat May 24, 2014 2:55 pm

Lazy_eye wrote:All:

I was reading over some posts concerning the kilesas yesterday and noticed, again, that there is something about the formulation of this concept that bugs me. I hadn't quite thought it through before but now I realize what the issue is.

When we speak of something being "defiled", it implies a prior state of purity, right? Something can't be defiled if it was that way to begin with; that is its natural state.

So the term defilements implies there was a mind that was pure. The idea of returning to or accessing one's pure mind comes up frequently in later schools, though it doesn't seem to me a Theravada notion. Still, isn't it basically implied by the term "defilements"?

Just wondering...
The way Buddha uses the word defilements in some cases refers to something that is defiled or tainted, but that does not necesarily mean that it was previously pure. For example, an Arahant achieves the deliverence of mind and deliverence by wisdom that is taintless with the exhaustion of the taints. Prior to his achievement of Arahantship he was not free from all the taints, but with his attainment of Arahantship he is free from the taints.

Some people live what is referred to as a pure life, but until these beings attain Nibbana there are still taints to be abandoned.

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