What is meant by existence (atthi)?

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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Re: What is meant by existence (atthi)?

Post by vinasp » Sat Apr 10, 2010 6:19 am

Hi chownah,

"Sounds to me like the "actual eye" is part of some external world....and from the point of view I have been providing this means that it is something that is construed. The Buddha advises against construing I think...after all the Thatagata does not construe...I think. From this point of view, when construing stops the eye no longer exists...I think. Afterall, the eye has no self so the eye as we conceive of it does not really exist and if it has any existence at all of its own it is something that we are not able to experience with our limited ability...I think...but not sure."

An interesting interpretation. But I think you go too far. It is the 'eye' construed or conceived as 'mine' or 'belonging to self', that must cease. That is all that is required for enlightenment. The Buddha says that the eye exists, see for example the Kotthita Sutta SN 35.191 [ PTS S iv 162 ]:

"There is an eye in the Blessed One. The Blessed One sees forms with the eye. There is
no desire or passion in the Blessed One. The Blessed One is well-released in mind.
"There is an ear in the Blessed One...
"There is a nose in the Blessed One...
"There is a tongue in the Blessed One...
"There is a body in the Blessed One...
"There is an intellect in the Blessed One. The Blessed One knows ideas with the
intellect. There is no desire or passion in the Blessed One. The Blessed One is well-released in mind."

Link: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Bhikkhu Bodhi [ Connected Discourses, 35.232, page 1231] Translates as:

"There exists in the Blessed One the eye, the Blessed One sees a form with the eye, yet
there is no desire and lust in the Blessed One; the Blessed One is well liberated in mind."

Note the use of the word 'see' in these passages. When they speak of 'eye', 'forms' and 'seeing', that refers to actual things. When they speak of 'eye', 'forms' and 'visual consciousness', that refers to the mis-conception of these things as being related to self.

Best wishes, Vincent.

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Re: What is meant by existence (atthi)?

Post by chownah » Mon Apr 12, 2010 2:56 pm

OK...seems like you want to think that the eye is "an actual thing"....and I guess that by this you mean that it exists in some "external" world....so can you prove the existence of some "external" world?...I think not......is it necessary to ascribe things to some "external" world for us to carry on our lives?....I think not.....does the Buddha ever talk about this "external" world....I think not.

If you have no doctrine of self then the "eye" has no self....or does it?....seems like you are postiting a self for the "eye". If there is "an actual eye" is it nourished by "actual blood" and is this circulated by an "actual heart"...and does the "actual blood" flow through an "actual pair of lungs" where "actual oxygen" goes in and "actual carbon dioxide" goes out....and can the....etc. Seems to me like a whole lot of selfing goin' on...........

The "external" world.....external to what?....where is the boundary seperating what is external and what is internal...the skin?...is it "actual" skin?.....and what shall we call the internal....should we call it "the self"....the "actual eye" is external to the "actual self"?

To me this seems like just a bunch of self doctrine and is totally unnecessary...I really can't see how it is necessary much less helpful....on the other hand seeing that the "external" world is just a construal or social convention helps us to see how we are really constructing our experience...resulting in some kind of wisdom I guess...

And finally.....people might feel like they need to defend their views about some "external" world (although I don't really see why) but this does not eliminate the question.....How can one prove or disprove the existence of the "external world" given that we only have the six sense doors with which to construct our experience......doesn't it seem correct that our experience is all that we have and while we might like to believe that it refers to some "external world" there is no way to prove it and that the concept of "the external world" is not necessary? The Buddha advises to not construe I think...so when it comes to the question of an "external world" I guess he would advise to not contrue it....I think he never confirmed the existence of "the external world"....on the other hand in his talks about "The All" he seems to suggest strongly that we not go there.


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Re: What is meant by existence (atthi)?

Post by pegembara » Mon Apr 12, 2010 4:39 pm

chownah wrote:
All we have to actually experience are the six sense doors, their object, and their associated consciousnesses.....with these tools it is impossible to either prove or disprove the existence of an external world.....the external world is therefore a conjecture or construel on our part.
I am with chownah on this.

Sights, sounds, smells, tastes and touch are received through the 5 sense organs. No matter how much we know about this cosmos, our solar system and earth including everything that exist on the surface of this planet comes under rupa (material world). Rupa pertains to the tangible, so it refers to material forms (the four great elements, and the form dependent on the four great elements).

Once these vast diversities of sense objects walk over the bridges of perception and enter your inner world (immaterial world), the 5 sense objects have no choice but to abandon their material forms and turn into non-material entity (energy): perception, mental formations and feelings. Sights, sounds, smells, tastes and tangible sensations carry exactly the same information and details but in different forms.

By seeing, smelling and or tasting one knows an orange. To one born blind, colors and shapes doesn't exist. To one born deaf music doesn't exist. Planes,space-craft, cars and cities do not exist naturally but are brought into existence by the mind. Gravity doesn't really exist either but are mental constructs.

You see yourself as the centre of the universe. Without your 5 senses, the material world does not exist. This is what happens in the jhanas during meditation when the material realm is abandoned. The various realms may well be mind states. When you are in any of those events, sleeping, unconscious, in a coma, all your senses(incl the 6th) cease to function. At that moment, your very own private universe disappears too although it very much exists for other people who are fully conscious.

Sights, sounds, smells, taste, touch, feelings, memories, thoughts and consciousness don't persist and are constantly arising and ceasing moment by moment. Each moment of arising potentially causing a new round of self identification (I see, hear ...feel, think and I am) unless the phenomena are seen as what they really are. The last fetter of conceit "I am" is identification with consciousness itself.

Views are relinquished by one who has gone beyond Vaccha, for it is seen as it really is;
this is the body, this is it's origin, this it's cessation,
these are feelings, this is their origin, this their cessation,
these are memories, this is their origin, this their cessation,
this is the will, this is it's origin, this it's cessation,
this are experiences, this is their origin, this their cessation.

I say one who has gone beyond has completely relinquished and abandoned
all views and theories, all agitation and worry, all fluctuation of opinion,
all 'this is my view', all 'this is my opinion', all egotism,
for he is passionless, selfless, detached, liberated, calm.
And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech.

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