What does anicca really mean?

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
rowyourboat
Posts: 1952
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2009 5:29 pm
Location: London, UK

Re: What does anicca really mean?

Post by rowyourboat » Fri Feb 12, 2010 5:13 pm

arising (due to conditions), changing (subject to change-viparinama), becoming other, passing away, are all aspects of impermanance as I understand it. There's not much to be gained from differentiating this with fine precision. THe important question -what do you want to get out of this exercise?

There is no point in putting another theoretical layer of momentariness over conventional reality. However if you could experientially deconstruct conventional reality -ie actually see conventional reality breaking down-- now- there is something there which is powerful. It is transforming. This is called vipassana. Unsatisfactoriness and Non-self becomes inescapable truths. Then it makes sense.
With Metta

Karuna
Mudita
& Upekkha

vinasp
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Location: Bristol. United Kingdom.

Re: What does anicca really mean?

Post by vinasp » Fri Feb 12, 2010 6:06 pm

Hi everyone,

Here is another example of the use of the term 'impermanent' from SN 12. 20. Bhikkkhu Bodhi - The Connected Discourses - page 551.

"And what, bhikkhus, are the dependently arisen phenomena? Aging-and-death, bhikkhus, is impermanent, conditioned, dependently arisen, subject to destruction, vanishing, fading away, and cessation.
Birth is impermanent ...
Existence is impermanent ....
(and so forth ... down to ...)
Ignorance is impermanent ... and cessation."

This seems to be speaking not about what arises this moment, or how it arises this moment, but about all those things which have arisen over the last twenty years or so, and which have not yet ceased.

Is there a 'heaping-up', 'amassing' or 'accumulation' of such things?
Is there a collection of thousands of things that we are clinging to?

If so, then these things can only vanish in some present moment. Although they arose in the past in one sense, they persist because they arise again each moment in another sense of arise. So 'things' are 'activities' when seen from another point of view [ This only applies to mentally constructed 'things'].

Best wishes, Vincent.

vinasp
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Joined: Tue Aug 18, 2009 7:49 pm
Location: Bristol. United Kingdom.

Re: What does anicca really mean?

Post by vinasp » Sun Feb 14, 2010 6:34 pm

Hi everyone,

Is there a 'heaping-up', 'amassing' or 'accumulation' of such things? Yes. It is called the five aggregates of clinging.

The venerable Sariputta addressing the bhikkhus in MN 28.

".... He understands thus: 'This indeed, is how there comes to be the inclusion, gathering, and amassing of things into these five aggregates affected by clinging'. Now this has been said by the Blessed One: 'One who sees dependent origination sees
the Dhamma; One who sees the Dhamma sees dependent origination'. And these five aggregates affected by clinging are dependently arisen. The desire, indulgence, inclination, and holding based on these five aggregates affected by clinging is the origin of suffering. The removal of desire and lust, the abandonment of desire and lust for these five aggregates affected by clinging is the cessation of suffering".

Bhikkhu Bodhi - Middle Length Discourses - page 283 [MN 28. 28]

Dependently arisen - past tense. They arose in the past but we are still clinging to them. The cessation of the five aggregates of clinging is enlightenment. Impermanent and dependently arisen mean the same thing - capable of complete cessation.

Best wishes, Vincent.

vinasp
Posts: 1675
Joined: Tue Aug 18, 2009 7:49 pm
Location: Bristol. United Kingdom.

Re: What does anicca really mean?

Post by vinasp » Tue Feb 16, 2010 6:16 am

Hi everyone,

I said:

"So 'things' are 'activities' when seen from another point of view [ This only applies to mentally constructed 'things']."

I will try to explain this.

Most discourses about dependent origination (D.O.) speak of the cessation of each link - for example 'cessation of feeling'. This does not mean the cessation of one particular feeling, which will be followed by the arising of another particular feeling.
It means the complete ending of the entire process called 'feeling'.

In most discourses about D.O. the process aspect is ignored and the terms 'feeling', 'craving' and so forth, refer to any feeling or any craving. They are general, non-specific designations. The formula is describing a general principle. This is
equivalent to treating all feeling as 'one thing' or all craving as 'one thing'. This in turn means that the entire process of feeling is regarded as 'one thing'.

Not every link is obviously a process like feeling and craving. But every link is a process. For those links which are 'constructive activities' (sankhara) the process may be too rapid to observe.

So every 'thing' in D.O. is also a process or an 'activity' (sankhara) from another point of view.

Best wishes, Vincent.

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