The four noble truths - and craving.

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Re: The four noble truths - and craving.

Post by vinasp » Wed Feb 24, 2010 8:26 am

Hi retro,

In my understanding bhava does not mean ordinary existence, as in the existence of things in the external world. Although I have been talking of bhava tanha as 'existence craving' or 'craving for existence', what is meant is the existence of a being or a self. So bhava tanha is 'craving for (self) existence'. Bhava tanha is the cause of 'rebirth'.

I normally use 'existence' for bhava, but many others prefer 'being' or 'becoming', these may be less liable to be mis-understood.
It is possible that the idea that vibhava tanha means a craving to get rid of something is just a modern mis-understanding. Do you know of any passages in the nikayas which support such an interpretation?

Best wishes, Vincent.

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Re: The four noble truths - and craving.

Post by retrofuturist » Wed Feb 24, 2010 10:14 am

Greetings Vincent,
It is possible that the idea that vibhava tanha means a craving to get rid of something is just a modern mis-understanding. Do you know of any passages in the nikayas which support such an interpretation?
A quick look in the PTS Dictionary yielded few results for vibhava-tanha - http://dsal.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/philol ... li.1131935" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Is it a modern mis-understanding? I don't know... but I think it's the proper understanding. A quick search on the term via Google brings up some entries... and the following selection all understand it as a craving to get rid of something...

http://www.buddhanet.net/4noble12.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
http://www.knowbuddhism.info/2009/02/lu ... nd-us.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
http://dharma.ncf.ca/introduction/truth ... uth-2.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
http://www.tricycle.com/insights/thirty ... rs-craving" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
http://www.chezpaul.org.uk/buddhism/articles/sacca2.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
etc.
I normally use 'existence' for bhava, but many others prefer 'being' or 'becoming', these may be less liable to be mis-understood.
My preference is translated as 'becoming' , but for all intents and purposes, I think bhava and satta (here translated as "being") are similar in their intent...

SN 23.2: Satta Sutta
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Savatthi at Jeta's Grove, Anathapindika's monastery. Then Ven. Radha went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down to him sat to one side. As he was sitting there he said to the Blessed One: "'A being,' lord. 'A being,' it's said. 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.'

"Just as when boys or girls are playing with little sand castles: as long as they are not free from passion, desire, love, thirst, fever, & craving for those little sand castles, that's how long they have fun with those sand castles, enjoy them, treasure them, feel possessive of them. But when they become free from passion, desire, love, thirst, fever, & craving for those little sand castles, then they smash them, scatter them, demolish them with their hands or feet and make them unfit for play.

"In the same way, Radha, you too should smash, scatter, & demolish form, and make it unfit for play. Practice for the ending of craving for form.

"You should smash, scatter, & demolish feeling, and make it unfit for play. Practice for the ending of craving for feeling.

"You should smash, scatter, & demolish perception, and make it unfit for play. Practice for the ending of craving for perception.

"You should smash, scatter, & demolish fabrications, and make them unfit for play. Practice for the ending of craving for fabrications.

"You should smash, scatter, & demolish consciousness and make it unfit for play. Practice for the ending of craving for consciousness — for the ending of craving, Radha, is Unbinding."
Metta,
Retro. :)
"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: The four noble truths - and craving.

Post by vinasp » Wed Feb 24, 2010 1:31 pm

Hi retro,

In the old PTS dictionary, under tanha (page 294) we find:

1. Systematizations; the three aims of tanha, kama * , bhava * , vibhava * , that is craving for sensuous pleasure, for rebirth (anywhere, but especially in heaven), or for no rebirth.

Best wishes, Vincent.

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Re: The four noble truths - and craving.

Post by vinasp » Wed Feb 24, 2010 4:24 pm

Hi retro,

In the discourse called 'The Burden' [SN 22. 22] these three cravings are mentioned. Bhikkhu Bodhi has an interesting note on this (page 1051, note 38) in which he quotes 'Spk', the main commentary, ascribed to Acariya Buddhaghosa.

Spk: Seeking delight here and there (tatratatrabhinandini): having the habit of seeking delight in the place of rebirth or among the various objects such as forms. Lust for the five cords of sensual pleasure is 'craving for sensual pleasures' (kamatanha). Lust for form-sphere or formless-sphere existence, attachment to jhana, and lust accompanied by the eternalist view: this is called craving for existence (bhavatanha). Lust accompanied by the annihilationist view is craving for extermination (vibhavatanha).

Bodhi comments: This explanation of the last two kinds of craving seems to me too narrow. More likely, craving for existence should be understood as the primal desire to continue in existence (whether supported by a view or not), craving for extermination as the desire for a complete end to existence, based on the underlying assumption (not necessarily formulated as a view) that such extermination brings an end to a real "I".

Best wishes, Vincent.

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Re: The four noble truths - and craving.

Post by retrofuturist » Wed Feb 24, 2010 9:50 pm

Greetings Vincent,

I'm not surprised the commentaries say that, and I think that Bhikkhu Bodhi is right to respectfully challenge them, though I personally don't think he goes far enough.

Metta,
Retro. :)
"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: The four noble truths - and craving.

Post by vinasp » Thu Feb 25, 2010 5:15 am

Hi retro,

It was the widespread mis-representation of these three cravings at many websites, and also in many books by academics, which prompted me to start this thread. It is a serious mis-representation from my point of view, but I could be wrong, of course. It may be that these cravings are not explained in the nikaya's, which could make it difficult for either side to 'prove' their case.

Anyway, I have found another reference to bhava tanha:

"Monks, the extreme point of craving-to-become is not apparent, so that one may say: "Craving-to-become was not before; it has since come to be." And, monks, this statement is made. Nevertheless this thing is apparent: Craving-to-become is
conditioned by this or that.
I declare, monks, that craving-to-become has its nutriment; it is not without nutriment. And what is the nutriment of craving-to-become? "Ignorance" should be the reply. (continued) [ A 10, 62 PTS AN v, 116 ]

This is the old PTS translation by F. L. Woodward, I will see if I can find a more modern translation.

The idea expressed here is that bhava tanha is the primary cause of continuation in samsara, the main craving which causes rebirth.

Best wishes, Vincent.

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Re: The four noble truths - and craving.

Post by retrofuturist » Thu Feb 25, 2010 5:24 am

Greetings Vincent,
vinasp wrote:The idea expressed here is that bhava tanha is the primary cause of continuation in samsara, the main craving which causes rebirth.
That depends on what you take jati to mean, doesn't it?

If to you jati means rebirth and you thereby adopt the three-lifetime commentarial model of dependent origination, I can see how you come to that conclusion... treating "becoming" as becoming a new sentient being.

Alternatively, as I suggested before, if those various forms of bhava occur on account of either an attraction towards something deemed desirable, or the rejection of something deemed undesirable, then they involve the establishment of a false dichotomy between experiencer and experience, and therefore result in jati and all the sufferings that follow.

Of course, ignorance is the nutriment for this whole process... to that end, we're in agreement.

Metta,
Retro. :)
"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)

vinasp
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Re: The four noble truths - and craving.

Post by vinasp » Thu Feb 25, 2010 6:33 am

Hi everyone,

Perhaps we should look at the entire second truth, to provide a context for the three cravings:

"And this, monks, is the noble truth of the origination of stress: the craving that makes for further becoming — accompanied by passion & delight, relishing now here & now there — i.e., craving for sensual pleasure, craving for becoming, craving for non-becoming."

Translation by Thanissaro Bhikkhu. [SN 56. 11, PTS: S v 420].

The craving mentioned first is 'the craving that makes for further becoming'. This is bhava tanha the craving that produces continuing self existence. The craving for sense pleasures is secondary to the main craving. Craving for non-becoming is a
modified form of bhava tanha, it is the craving for continuing self existence in one who believes that an existing self ends with the death of the body.

Of particular interest is the compound 'ponobbhavika' often translated as "giving rise to rebirth" or something similar. Thanissaro's "makes for further becoming" is, I think, closer to the intended meaning.

Best wishes, Vincent.

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Re: The four noble truths - and craving.

Post by vinasp » Thu Feb 25, 2010 6:54 am

Hi retro,
retrofuturist wrote:That depends on what you take jati to mean, doesn't it?
I should have put rebirth in quotation marks! For the record I am agnostic on the question of literal rebirth. But I think that the Buddha did teach it, or allowed some people to understand his teaching in that way. As for 'jati' it can be understood in various ways. For me, it means 'birth' but in dependent origination it can be understood in two ways. For those who follow the three-lives interpretation, it will be understood as birth or rebirth. I do not follow that interpretation myself. For me, 'jati' in D.O. is the view that 'self was born'.

Are you understanding 'jati' as happening continuously?

Best wishes, Vincent.

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Re: The four noble truths - and craving.

Post by retrofuturist » Thu Feb 25, 2010 8:03 am

Greetings Vincent,
vinasp wrote:For me, 'jati' in D.O. is the view that 'self was born'.
Do you see this as different to the expression I have used a few times, namely "a false dichotomy between experiencer and experience".

Metta,
Retro. :)
"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)

vinasp
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Re: The four noble truths - and craving.

Post by vinasp » Thu Feb 25, 2010 9:44 am

Hi retro,
retrofuturist wrote:Do you see this as different to the expression I have used a few times, namely "a false dichotomy between experiencer and experience".
I was going to ask what you meant by that! And do you mean no distinction between 'self' and 'not-self'?

Best wishes, Vincent.

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Re: The four noble truths - and craving.

Post by vinasp » Thu Feb 25, 2010 9:46 am

Hi retro,

Let me try to shed some light on that difficult passage that you quoted from the Kaccanagotta Sutta SN 12. 15. Here is Bodhi's translation, and extracts from his notes with my comments in square brackets [ ].

"This world, Kaccana, for the most part depends upon a duality - upon the notion of existence and the notion of non-existence. (29)"

[ "This world" means 'people generally']
Extracts from note 29 page 734:
Spk: "For the most part" means for the great multitude, with the exception of the noble individuals. The notion of existence (atthita) is eternalism (sassata); the notion of non-existence (natthita) is annihilationism (uccheda).
Spk-pt: The notion of existence is eternalism because it maintains that the entire world (of personal existence) exists forever. The notion of non-existence is annihilationism because it maintains that the entire world does not exist (forever) but is cut off.
Bodhi: In view of these explanations it would be misleading to translate the two terms, 'atthita' and 'natthita', simply as "existence" and "nonexistence" and then to maintain (as is sometimes done) that the Buddha rejects all ontological notions as inherently invalid. The Buddha's utterances at [SN] 22:94, for example, show that he did not hesitate to make pronouncements with a clear ontological import when they were called for.
....
Unfortunately, 'atthita' and 'bhava' both had to be rendered by "existence", which obscures the fact that in Pali they are derived from different roots. While 'atthita' is the notion of existence in the abstract, 'bhava' is concrete individual existence in one or another of the three realms.

[ What is being talked about here is not 'existence' or 'nonexistence' in our modern sense. It is about whether the 'self and world' which one has made is eternal or not. The eternalists said "yes", the annihilationists said "it ends at the death of the body". The Buddha's position was a new one: It can end now before the death of the body. Therefore, one should not think that it is eternal, nor should one think that it will end at some point in the future. One should end it now - this is nibbana. ]

To be continued.

Best wishes, Vincent.

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Re: The four noble truths - and craving.

Post by vinasp » Thu Feb 25, 2010 12:46 pm

Hi retro,

Kaccanagotta Sutta continued:

"But for one who sees the origin of the world as it really is with correct wisdom, there is no notion of nonexistence in regard to the world. And for one who sees the cessation of the world as it really is with correct wisdom, there is no notion of existence in regard to the world (30)."

[ The 'world' here is the world that one has made. 'self' and 'world' are constructed together. In the nikaya teachings the five aggregates of clinging are 'self and world', and so too are the last eight links of the dependent origination formula. ]

Extracts from note 30 page 735:
Spk: The origin of the world: the production of the world of formations.
...
Spk: The cessation of the world: the dissolution of formations.
...
Spk: Further, "the origin of the world" is direct-order conditionality (anuloma-paccayakara); "the cessation of the world", reverse-order conditionality (patiloma-paccayakara).

[ See: SN 12. 49, "Bhikkhus, when a noble disciple thus understands as they really are the origin and the passing away of the world, he is then called a noble disciple who is accomplished in view ... one who stands squarely before the door to the deathless."]

[ This 'self and world', the five aggregates of clinging, are dependently arisen (note the past tense) they have arisen over many years. One who sees with wisdom how this 'world' has arisen, and how it can come to complete cessation, does not regard it as eternal, nor does he think that it can only end with the death of the body. So he does not have the eternalist view (existence) in relation to this 'world', nor does he have the annihilationist view (nonexistence) in relation to this 'world'. Instead, he sees it as dependently arisen, and seeks to bring about its cessation. Hence the D.O. formula which shows that this 'world' depends, ultimately, on ignorance.]

Best wishes, Vincent.

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Re: The four noble truths - and craving.

Post by retrofuturist » Thu Feb 25, 2010 11:06 pm

Greetings Vincent,

I'm not really saying anything new here (just the same thing in relation to a different quote!) but when Spk seemingly takes this sentence.... "This world, Kaccana, for the most part depends upon a duality - upon the notion of existence and the notion of non-existence." to be solely referring to 'atta' (and the eternal existence or destruction thereof), it is severely limiting its import and again, to use Bhikkhu Bodhi's words, is "too narrow" a definition. At the level of aggregates, it could refer to the existence or non-existence of a particular feeling, perception, or an aspect of the body... but these things are like a bubble, like foam etc. in their emptiness and lack of essence. These are things that are perceived to "exist" or "not-exist" and are therefore intended to be included... it isn't just the annihilation or existence of some kind of an "all".

Also, in relation to craving, I believe it's what you want something be (or not to be)... not your view on what it is. Let's say there's someone whose view is annihilationist, but they wish eternalism were true. They believe in 'self' but think it will be destroyed at death, but oh, how they wish there were eternal heavens etc. In your mind, is that vibhava-tanha or bhava-tanha?

Metta,
Retro. :)
"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)

vinasp
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Re: The four noble truths - and craving.

Post by vinasp » Fri Feb 26, 2010 2:27 am

Hi retro,

For me, bhava tanha is the craving which produces bhava, which I understand to be 'self-existence', and which I think is nothing more than the view (obsession) of 'an existing self'.

You clearly understand it in some other way. So what, for you, does bhava mean?

"Nibbana is the cessation of existence (bhava)." What for you does this mean?

Best wishes, Vincent.

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