Unconditioned

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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katavedi
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Re: Unconditioned

Post by katavedi » Thu Jul 14, 2016 10:12 pm

Hello David,
davidbrainerd wrote:If Nibbana is merely a "meditative experience" then it is something arisen and conditioned in the mind. I'm finding it impossible to avoid the conclusion that by the unconditoned Buddha means the uncreated essence that is what we truly are, which is why parinibbana is described as unbinding. If you have an object bound in cloth (a sword maybe) and you ubind it then what it truly is becomes apparent whereas before it could have been thought the cloth was part of the object. If you are unbound from the aggreates what are you? They're conditioned but are you also conditioned? How could the conditioned "go to" the unconditioned? It seems ultimately the point is you are already the unconditioned, just wrapped up in the conditioned in such a way that you've begun to identify as the wrapping rather than what's underneath the wrapping. After all the whole notion that things and reality are created by your mind is extremely presumptuous if you are thinking of a conditioned rather than an unconditioned mind creating reality. Its like saying "everything is created by my physical brain, including my physical brain itself"...does not work.
Thank you for your reply. I actually didn't say that nibbana was merely a meditative experience. I said that the sutta could certainly apply to the experience of the nibbana element in meditation, by which I mean the occasion in which the mind ceases its constructing, including the constructing of a self, an experiencer, a subject to whom things are happening, and takes as its object the stillness/cessation of constructions itself. When there is unconstructed ("unconditioned" in the OP sutta), there is no more constructing of a self. When the experience of self is stilled and it disappears, even if momentarily, one can then know that it was merely a construction to begin with.
davidbrainerd wrote:If you have an object bound in cloth (a sword maybe) and you ubind it then what it truly is becomes apparent whereas before it could have been thought the cloth was part of the object.
To use this analogy, it would be more accurate to say that when you remove the cloth, there is no sword there. It was an assumption, based on the appearance of the cloth.
davidbrainerd wrote:If you are unbound from the aggreates what are you?
This seems to posit a "you" to begin with, which I can't agree to.
davidbrainerd wrote:They're conditioned but are you also conditioned?
Yes, in the sense that "you" is a construction, a sankhara.
davidbrainerd wrote:How could the conditioned "go to" the unconditioned?
When constructing stops, there is asankhata, unconstructed.
davidbrainerd wrote:It seems ultimately the point is you are already the unconditioned, just wrapped up in the conditioned in such a way that you've begun to identify as the wrapping rather than what's underneath the wrapping.
If there is asankhata, unconstructed, there would not be any "you" to be "the unconstructed".
davidbrainerd wrote:After all the whole notion that things and reality are created by your mind is extremely presumptuous if you are thinking of a conditioned rather than an unconditioned mind creating reality. Its like saying "everything is created by my physical brain, including my physical brain itself"...does not work.
I wouldn't say that reality is created by the mind, only the mistaken perception of reality -- that there are inherently existing "things" (including a "me"), rather than dependently arisen phenomena that are impermanent, dukkha, and without essence.

Kind wishes,
katavedi
“But, Gotamī, when you know of certain things: ‘These things lead to dispassion, not to passion; to detachment, not to attachment; to diminution, not to accumulation; to having few wishes, not to having many wishes; to contentment, not to discontent; to seclusion, not to socializing; to the arousing of energy, not to indolence; to simple living, not to luxurious living’ – of such things you can be certain: ‘This is the Dhamma; this is the Discipline; this is the Master’s Teaching.’”

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katavedi
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Re: Unconditioned

Post by katavedi » Thu Jul 14, 2016 10:22 pm

Hello Thinker,
The Thinker wrote: But all things change, why should this meditative experience be any different?
Yes, all things change, but nibbana is not a thing; it is the cessation of things. The mind stops constructing things, especially the dearest and most delusive thing of all --- me.
The Thinker wrote:and if so is the unconditioned a movement?
I'm afraid I don't understand that question, my friend, so I don't know how to answer that. But it's probably best understood without the article "the" attached to "unconditioned" (or "unconstructed", as I think of it). That way we don't turn it into another "thing".

Kind wishes,
katavedi
“But, Gotamī, when you know of certain things: ‘These things lead to dispassion, not to passion; to detachment, not to attachment; to diminution, not to accumulation; to having few wishes, not to having many wishes; to contentment, not to discontent; to seclusion, not to socializing; to the arousing of energy, not to indolence; to simple living, not to luxurious living’ – of such things you can be certain: ‘This is the Dhamma; this is the Discipline; this is the Master’s Teaching.’”

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retrofuturist
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Re: Unconditioned

Post by retrofuturist » Thu Jul 14, 2016 10:43 pm

Greetings Spiny,

I was going make a comment, but what Katavedi said here...
katavedi wrote:Yes, all things change, but nibbana is not a thing; it is the cessation of things. The mind stops constructing things, especially the dearest and most delusive thing of all --- me.
... and what the Buddha said here...
Sn 757-758, Dvayatānupassanāsutta wrote:"In whatever way they imagine,
Thereby it turns otherwise,
That itself is the falsity
Of this puerile deceptive thing.
Nibbāna is unfalsifying in its nature,
That they understood as the truth,
And indeed by the higher understanding of that truth
They have become hungerless and fully appeased.
...should suffice.

All the best.

Metta,
Paul. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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Re: Unconditioned

Post by davidbrainerd » Fri Jul 15, 2016 12:06 am

katavedi wrote: the occasion in which the mind ceases its constructing, including the constructing of a self, an experiencer, a subject to whom things are happening, and takes as its object the stillness/cessation of constructions itself. When there is unconstructed ("unconditioned" in the OP sutta), there is no more constructing of a self. When the experience of self is stilled and it disappears, even if momentarily, one can then know that it was merely a construction to begin with.
What you're saying is not so different from what I'm saying except you think of self always as the physical "self". When you stop constructing the the physical "self" its because you the unconditioned self stopped constructing a physical "self"....how were you constructing a physical "self" to begin with if there was no non-physical self to do the constructing?

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katavedi
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Re: Unconditioned

Post by katavedi » Fri Jul 15, 2016 12:50 am

Hello David,
davidbrainerd wrote:
katavedi wrote: the occasion in which the mind ceases its constructing, including the constructing of a self, an experiencer, a subject to whom things are happening, and takes as its object the stillness/cessation of constructions itself. When there is unconstructed ("unconditioned" in the OP sutta), there is no more constructing of a self. When the experience of self is stilled and it disappears, even if momentarily, one can then know that it was merely a construction to begin with.
What you're saying is not so different from what I'm saying except you think of self always as the physical "self". When you stop constructing the the physical "self" its because you the unconditioned self stopped constructing a physical "self"....how were you constructing a physical "self" to begin with if there was no non-physical self to do the constructing?
I'd have to disagree with you here. I think what we're saying is quite different. Please correct me if I'm misrepresenting you, but you seem to be positing an "unconditioned self", which to me is a contradiction in terms. This is because it is possible to see and experience that the self illusion (in whatever way one may conceive of it) is conditioned, dependently arisen, subject to arising and subject to cessation.

You said above that I "think of self always as the physical "self"". But that is not true at all. I don't think of a self, physical or otherwise. If one is constructing a self, it's not the "unconditioned" or "non-physical" self doing the constructing. It's only sankharas, conditioned by ignorance, doing the constructing. There's no one behind it all. With the cessation of ignorance, there is no more constructing (i.e., no more sankharas).

It can be difficult to reason it out, because it's hard to step outside of thinking in terms of entities. One might say, "Well, if there's no me, then who is typing this?" But this is just running in circles, assuming a "who" behind experience. We can't even use our language to explain it very effectively, because the language is based on nouns (things, entities). The key is to get beyond positing a "what" or a "who" and see that there is only dependent arising at play.

Kind wishes,
katavedi
“But, Gotamī, when you know of certain things: ‘These things lead to dispassion, not to passion; to detachment, not to attachment; to diminution, not to accumulation; to having few wishes, not to having many wishes; to contentment, not to discontent; to seclusion, not to socializing; to the arousing of energy, not to indolence; to simple living, not to luxurious living’ – of such things you can be certain: ‘This is the Dhamma; this is the Discipline; this is the Master’s Teaching.’”

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Re: Unconditioned

Post by davidbrainerd » Fri Jul 15, 2016 2:38 am

Dhammapada 153 "Through many a birth in samsara have I wandered in vain, seeking the builder of this house. Repeated birth is indeed suffering!"

Now how did "I" wander through many lives when "I" according to you is only the conditioned 'self' with is destroyed at the end of each life. Obviously "I" here is the unconditioned self.

Dhammapada 154. "O house-builder, you are seen! You will not build this house again. For your rafters are broken and your ridgepole shattered. My mind has reached the Unconditioned; I have attained the destruction of craving."

There will be no more house (body, 5 aggregates) built, but the "I" here continues, just without a house. So the conditioned 'self' that is obliterated with each death is not the only 'self', but there is an unconditioned self, which alone is the true self, because the conditioned 'self' is a delusion in that it is nothing but a house for the self and not a real self it'self'.

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Re: Unconditioned

Post by retrofuturist » Fri Jul 15, 2016 2:41 am

Greetings David,
davidbrainerd wrote: Obviously "I" here is the unconditioned self.
Have you considered Hinduism? The arguments you're putting forward in this topic find a much more natural home there.

Metta,
Paul. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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Re: Unconditioned

Post by davidbrainerd » Fri Jul 15, 2016 2:49 am

Paul Davy wrote:Greetings David,
davidbrainerd wrote: Obviously "I" here is the unconditioned self.
Have you considered Hinduism? The arguments you're putting forward in this topic find a much more natural home there.

Metta,
Paul. :)
It is becoming painfully obvious that modern Buddhism has little to no interest in what Buddha actually said. The no-self theory which comes from the commentaries has so demolished the original message of Buddha that I'm begging to realize its almost worse than how bad Paul demolished the original message of Jesus.

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Re: Unconditioned

Post by tiltbillings » Fri Jul 15, 2016 3:15 am

Spiny Norman wrote:Given that the unconditioned is an epithet for Nibbana, what are the practical implications of AN 3.47? No arising is seen of what, exactly?

"Bhikkhus, there are these three characteristics that define the conditioned. What three? An arising is seen, a vanishing is seen, and its alteration while it persists is seen. These are the three characteristics that define the conditioned.

Bhikkhus, there are these three characteristics that define the unconditioned. What three? No arising is seen, no vanishing is seen, and no alteration while it persists is seen. These are the three characteristics that define the unconditioned.”

https://suttacentral.net/en/an3.47
"the unconditioned"? I rather doubt that there is a definite article "the" in the Pali in relation to asankhata. One needs to very careful about the slippery slope of reification, particularly since the Buddha's teachings are not about an ontology of being.
>> 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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Re: Unconditioned

Post by davidbrainerd » Fri Jul 15, 2016 3:33 am

tiltbillings wrote:
Spiny Norman wrote:"the unconditioned"? I rather doubt that there is a definite article "the" in the Pali in relation to asankhata.
Adjectives don't just float without a noun to modify. When they do, they're adjectives being used as nouns, which are called substantives, and do typically require a "the" in front of them in English.

Like if I said "wise don't do dumb things." Its an adjective being used as a noun, so we would actually say "the wise don't do dumb things." If you left the "the" off in English and said "unconditioned" in these cases where the translations say "the unconditioned" it would be gobblygook in English and miss the meaning. It would satisfy doctrinal biased nihilists but it would be nonsense.

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Re: Unconditioned

Post by Nicolas » Fri Jul 15, 2016 5:33 am

davidbrainerd wrote:Dhammapada 153 "Through many a birth in samsara have I wandered in vain, seeking the builder of this house. Repeated birth is indeed suffering!"

Now how did "I" wander through many lives when "I" according to you is only the conditioned 'self' with is destroyed at the end of each life. Obviously "I" here is the unconditioned self.
"I" here refers to the conventional "I", which is still a conditioned self. The stream of lives is conditioned, like the fire that passes from one house to another. But when the fire goes out... it's because there's no fuel for the self, the house-builder (or house burner). Instead of "house-builder", one can think of "I-maker" or "self-maker". At the end of the I-maker/self-maker, there is no more "I" or "self".
davidbrainerd wrote:Dhammapada 154. "O house-builder, you are seen! You will not build this house again. For your rafters are broken and your ridgepole shattered. My mind has reached the Unconditioned; I have attained the destruction of craving."

There will be no more house (body, 5 aggregates) built, but the "I" here continues, just without a house. So the conditioned 'self' that is obliterated with each death is not the only 'self', but there is an unconditioned self, which alone is the true self, because the conditioned 'self' is a delusion in that it is nothing but a house for the self and not a real self it'self'.
I is the fire; when there are no more houses, the houses have all burned, and the fire goes out. We just keeping adding fuel to the fire and building houses.

Could it be possible that the disagreement or misunderstanding is semantical? What is our definition of "self", here? What are the characteristics of an "unconditioned self", what would make the unconditioned a "self"?

PS: I think I misread. In Dhp 154, I consider that in "My mind has reached the Unconditioned", "my" is used in the conventional sense (in the sense of the conventional "I"), the mind that reached the unconditioned is not seen as "mine" by him.
Vajirā Sutta (SN 5.10) wrote: “Why now do you assume ‘a being’?
Mara, is that your speculative view?
This is a heap of sheer formations:
Here no being is found.

“Just as, with an assemblage of parts,
The word ‘chariot’ is used,
So, when the aggregates exist,
There is the convention ‘a being.’

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lionking
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Re: Unconditioned

Post by lionking » Fri Jul 15, 2016 5:52 am

I think it can be made simple by grouping the synonyms.

(state A)
unconditioned
non-self
nirvana
anatta
emptiness

(house builder)
I-maker
consciousness

(state B)
conditioned
self
the house
"I"
substance

- Buddha and Arhats are in state A. Everyone else is in state B.
- The I-maker in the middle creates the "I" in state B.
- There "I" is the local (temporary) self.
- The self's existence constantly pulses at elementary level rise/fall
- The temporary-self deteriorates and dies.
- As long as self craves for things it gets re-created.
- The Buddha saw the "House Builder" by whilst in a process of meditative introspection in state B.
- That resulted in a transition to state A.
- The moment the conjurer is caught in the act the conjuring ceases it seems.
grr ..

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Re: Unconditioned

Post by davidbrainerd » Fri Jul 15, 2016 5:54 am

Nicolas wrote:
davidbrainerd wrote:Dhammapada 153 "Through many a birth in samsara have I wandered in vain, seeking the builder of this house. Repeated birth is indeed suffering!"

Now how did "I" wander through many lives when "I" according to you is only the conditioned 'self' with is destroyed at the end of each life. Obviously "I" here is the unconditioned self.
"I" here refers to the conventional "I", which is still a conditioned self. The stream of lives is conditioned, like the fire that passes from one house to another. But when the fire goes out... it's because there's no fuel for the self, the house-builder (or house burner). Instead of "house-builder", one can think of "I-maker" or "self-maker". At the end of the I-maker/self-maker, there is no more "I" or "self".
You're actually arguing that the conventional 'self' gets reborn? That's a new one. But you're also confusing things pretty bad and making a mess, because if the conventional 'self' is the 'I' getting reborn in all those lives, and the house-builder is actually not a house-builder but an 'I-maker' then its not the same 'I'....and yet that's the whole point of the passage! The same 'I' is being reborn life after life into a new house and this is causing suffering to that 'I' who wants the house-building to stop! If, as you say, the conventional 'self' is the 'I' being reborn, yet also its not because actually its not a house being built but a new conventional 'self' each time, then in reality there is no rebirth going on at all, but one conventional 'self' is destroyed and replaced with another totally unrelated conventional 'self', so that in end analysis there is no 'I' to be able to say "Through many a birth in samsara have I wandered" because none of these conventional 'selves' lasted any more than one life-time. Thus you've rendered the whole verse meaningless. Congratulations.

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The Thinker
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Re: Unconditioned

Post by The Thinker » Fri Jul 15, 2016 6:09 am

We must be surrounded by people, trillions in number, who have been reborn, and yet seem not to realise it? Why is that?

Can you please answer this davidbrainerd
"Watch your heart, observe. Be the observer, be the knower, not the condition" Ajahn Sumedho volume5 - The Wheel Of Truth

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Re: Unconditioned

Post by Dinsdale » Fri Jul 15, 2016 6:17 am

katavedi wrote:But I think this sutta could also be referring to the everyday mind of the arahant, who is no longer constructing a subject to whom experience is happening. And with no subject, there can no longer be objects -- just as with no objects, there can be no subject. The two need each other to exist, as the sheaves of reeds simile attests (SN 12.67). It's not that the arahant can't use or recognize what we conventionally call "objects", but s/he is not "thingifying" them in a way that creates an "experiencer".
So like the Bahiya Sutta, "in the seen, just the seen"?
Buddha save me from new-agers!

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