The Work of Venerable Ñānavīra Thera

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pulga
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Re: The Work of Venerable Ñānavīra Thera

Post by pulga » Fri Jan 06, 2012 8:29 pm

Moth wrote:Does anyone here understand Fundamental Structure, or at least what the general idea of it is? I made an attempt at it yesterday and... :shrug: Seems somehow related to Liner Algebra and Linear Transformations but in the context of namarupa.
Attention, in other words, can shift from one aspect of a thing to another while the thing as a whole remains absolutely unchanged. (This universal property of a thing is so much taken for granted that a structural reason for it -- or rather, the possibility of representing it symbolically -- is rarely suspected.) See CETANÁ (Husserl's cube).( FS.14)

If the back side of a cube didn't appear in immediate experience along with its front side, i.e. if the cube weren't intuited as a whole, it wouldn't appear in reflexion. And if things weren't seen as "mine" in immediacy neither would the "I" appear in reflexion. But whereas the back side of a cube is fundamental to its very meaning, i.e. as an aspect that "determines" its intelligibility, the "mine" -- as the Suttas tell us -- is gratuitous: the intelligibility of the world would hold together in its complete and utter absence. For the arahant no "I" appears in reflexion: there is nothing to determine it. The arahant is "traceless", etc. etc..
Last edited by pulga on Sun Jan 08, 2012 4:27 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: The Work of Venerable Ñānavīra Thera

Post by vinasp » Fri Jan 06, 2012 10:17 pm

Hi Mikenz66,

Thanks for pointing out that the sentence which I wrote could
be misread. I should have said:

It seems that the Ven. Nanavira did strongly believe in
rebirth himself. He arrived at a new interpretation of DO,
one feature of which was that all the links pertain to
this life. While this feature is not itself new, the
interpretation as a whole does seem to be unique.

I hope that this will help to avoid any misunderstanding.

Regards, Vincent. .

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Re: The Work of Venerable Ñānavīra Thera

Post by mikenz66 » Fri Jan 06, 2012 11:09 pm

Hi Vincent,

My point was that it isn't really a new interpretation, as is seen from Ven Nanamoli's footnote.

I think that point that others use this interpretation as an argument against rebirth is interesting and worth pursuing. Some do the same with Ajahn Buddhadassa's writings...

:anjali:
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Re: The Work of Venerable Ñānavīra Thera

Post by retrofuturist » Fri Jan 06, 2012 11:18 pm

Greetings Mike,
mikenz66 wrote:I think that point that others use this interpretation as an argument against rebirth is interesting and worth pursuing. Some do the same with Ajahn Buddhadassa's writings...
It's quite anomalous since Nanavira Thera himself believed it, and Ajahn Buddhadasa said something to the effect that if the Buddha taught it, it must be true.

In terms of dynamics I suspect some people only use it as an "argument against rebirth" when they're encountered by the polar opposite view - i.e. the three-lifetime version being advanced as evidence in an "argument for rebirth". Alternatively, some three-lifetimers may falsely perceive the advancement of a non-time-delineated model as being an active rejection of rebirth, because their own views of rebirth are so entwined in the three lifetime version. As noted above, the case of the two bhikkhus noted above shows that this isn't necessarily so.

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

"It is natural that one who knows and sees things as they really are is disenchanted and dispassionate." (AN 10.2)

“Truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.” (Flannery O'Connor)

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Re: The Work of Venerable Ñānavīra Thera

Post by mikenz66 » Sat Jan 07, 2012 1:34 am

retrofuturist wrote: As noted above, the case of the two bhikkhus noted above shows that this isn't necessarily so.
Not to mention the Pali Canon, as noted by the third Bhikkhu (Nanamoli).

:coffee:
Mike

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Re: The Work of Venerable Ñānavīra Thera

Post by vinasp » Sat Jan 07, 2012 10:35 pm

Hi everyone,

For me, the most interesting aspect of Ven. Nanavira's
model of DO is the idea that the last three links have
some connection with views about self.

The teachings say that some ( all? ) views should be removed.
They stress the importance of removing the view of self.

Here is an interesting passage from AN 7.51

The uninstructed run-of-the-mill person doesn't discern view, doesn't discern the origination of view, doesn't discern the cessation of view, doesn't discern the path of practice leading to the cessation of view, and so for him that view grows. He is not freed from birth, aging, & death; from sorrows, lamentations, pains, distresses, and despairs. He is not freed, I tell you, from suffering & stress. But the instructed disciple of the noble ones discerns view, discerns the origination of view, discerns the cessation of view, discerns the path of practice leading to the cessation of view, and so for him that view ceases. He is freed from birth, aging, & death; from sorrows, lamentations, pains, distresses, and despairs. He is freed, I tell you, from suffering & stress.

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

Regards, Vincent.

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Re: The Work of Venerable Ñānavīra Thera

Post by retrofuturist » Sat Jan 07, 2012 11:29 pm

Greetings,
vinasp wrote:They stress the importance of removing the view of self.
In connection with that, it's interesting to note that in the concluding sections of the Brahmajala Sutta (which is all about self-theories) there is a connection back to dependent origination, via phassa (contact) and vedana (feeling) - http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .bodh.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
DN 1 (Bodhi) wrote:"When those recluses and brahmins who are speculators about the past, speculators about the future, speculators about the past and the future together, who hold settled views about the past and the future, assert on sixty-two grounds various conceptual theorems referring to the past and the future — that too is conditioned by contact. That they can experience that feeling without contact — such a case is impossible."
To apply a Nanavira/Nanananda style analysis, due to ignorance there is forming - in this case, the forming of views pertaining to a self or soul. The views have both name and form and there is the present consciousness/awareness of these views (mind-consciousness). The "recluses and brahmins ... can[not] experience that feeling without contact" for the reasons outlined below in Nanavira's entry on phassa.
Nanavira wrote: So long as there is avijjá, all things (dhammá) are fundamentally as described in the earlier part of the Múlapariyáyasutta (Majjhima i,1 <M.i,1>); that is to say, they are inherently in subjection, they are appropriated, they are mine (See ANICCA, MAMA, & A NOTE ON PATICCASAMUPPÁDA [f]). This is the foundation of the notion that I am and that things are in contact with me. This contact between me and things is phassa. The ditthisampanna sees the deception, but the puthujjana accepts it at its face value and elaborates it into a relationship between himself and the world (attá ca loko ca -- which relationship is then capable of further elaboration into a variety of views [Majjhima xi,2 <M.ii,233>]). But though the ditthisampanna is not deceived, yet until he becomes arahat the aroma of subjectivity (asmí ti, ' am') hangs about all his experience. All normal experience is dual (dvayam -- see NÁMA, final paragraph): there are present (i) one's conscious six-based body (saviññánaka saláyatanika káya), and (ii) other phenomena (namely, whatever is not one's body); and reflexion will show that, though both are objective in the experience, the aroma of subjectivity that attaches to the experience will naturally tend to be attributed to the body.[c] In this way, phassa comes to be seen as contact between the conscious eye and forms -- but mark that this is because contact is primarily between subject and object, and not between eye, forms, and eye-consciousness. This approach makes it possible to see in what sense, with the entire cessation of all illusion of 'I' and 'mine', there is phassanirodha in the arahat (where, though there are still, so long as he continues to live, both the conscious body and the other phenomena, there is no longer any appropriation).


Phassa: http://www.nanavira.110mb.com/sn-phass.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

DN 1's "That they can experience that feeling without contact — such a case is impossible" and Nanavira's "the aroma of subjectivity (asmí ti, ' am') hangs about all his experience" each point to views not being simply something static that's buried irretrievably deep in the grey matter, but an active, present thought and experience. Thus, even a sekha could oscillate between Right View and Wrong View in the present, and the subsequent affective feeling (vedana) and appropriated experience would be formed accordingly. I think awareness of dhammas (except of course the asankhata - i.e. nibbana) as being "inherently in subjection" is of value to anyone who practices vedananupassana.

Such a way of interpreting the situation also turns the end of DN1 into a strong and meaningful conclusion, instead of just a tailing out.

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

"It is natural that one who knows and sees things as they really are is disenchanted and dispassionate." (AN 10.2)

“Truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.” (Flannery O'Connor)

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Re: The Work of Venerable Ñānavīra Thera

Post by vinasp » Sun Jan 08, 2012 12:34 am

Hi Retro,

Thanks for that most interesting reply.

In response to your first point:

"In connection with that, it's interesting to note that in the concluding sections of the Brahmajala Sutta (DN 1) there is a connection of sorts back to dependent origination, via phassa (contact)"

My understanding is that contact, feeling, craving and clinging are involved in every view. I find it strange that DN.1 only mentions contact and feeling.

MN 11.9 says that there are four kinds of clinging, one of
these is "clinging to views".

There are also references to a "craving for views", but only
a few passages. So views have a complex structure and do not
just persist, but are actively maintained.

I think that the ideational content of a view is just a bundle
of ideas. A dhamma or mind object.

So every view has a structure: idea, contact, feeling, craving
clinging.

This is why I do not say that the link "birth" is the view
that self was born, but the clinging to that idea.

So I agree with your first observation. More to follow.

Regards, Vincent.

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Re: The Work of Venerable Ñānavīra Thera

Post by pulga » Sun Jan 08, 2012 12:38 am

Hello Retrofuturist,
retrofuturist wrote:Such a way of interpreting the situation turns the end of DN1 into a strong and meaningful conclusion, instead of just a tailing out.
That's a good point. I've always had the impression that the Buddha intended it that way in order to emphasize just how tenuous the moorings are that support our speculations about the world and its past -- and that extends to the history of Buddhism itself. It's something to keep in mind when approaching the Dhamma.

Pulga

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Re: The Work of Venerable Ñānavīra Thera

Post by pulga » Sun Jan 08, 2012 1:00 am

This isn't directed at anyone in particular, but if one can follow what Ven. Ñanavira is trying to explain here it conveys a deep sense of what he means by phassa. The three negatives (not-this, the "that" of FS) are what is to the left and right of A (this), and the eye itself which is always the "here" within visual experience (Note that it is A that is the focus of attention.). The A of course is positive, the not-A's negative. All appear at the same level of immediacy.


I am sorry about the repellent mathematical appearance of the note (I used to be a mathematician in a small way), but I can assure you that no knowledge of mathematics is required to follow it. You simply start from a positive ('this') and a negative ('not-this') and see where it leads you, following the one rule of avoiding self-contradiction.

The first result is that three negatives, not one, are absolutely required (which, incidentally, is why space is necessarily three-dimensional -- i.e. if you can move from here to there, you must also be able to move in two other directions all mutually at right angles). This leads us at once to the next point -- the negative.

The great advantage of your having so intelligently displayed your ignorance is that you have at once put your finger on the vital spot. You say 'The negative cannot appear in immediate experience. It is at most an inference and is therefore forbidden(?)' The bracketed query, which I take to mean that you are doubtful whether the negative as inference can be accepted as a basic irreducible concept, is fully justified. You cannot start with inference (which is a logical category) for the very good reason that in order to infer you must have something to infer from, and what you infer from is thus automatically more primitive than the inference. Furthermore, you cannot infer 'not-A' from 'A', since inference is of necessity from like to like. (In its simplest form, inductive inference is by 'simple enumeration' -- 'if A has occurred so many times it will probably occur again'. And it is well known that deductive inference does not add anything to what is already given in the premises.) From 'A' you can only infer 'more A', but the original 'A' from which you infer 'more A' is not itself an inference.

So, too, if you infer 'not-A' there must be an original 'not-A' that is not itself an inference. This means that your statement that the negative cannot appear in immediate experience is a fundamental mistake.[a] If the negative appears at all (which of course it does) it must appear first in immediate experience. From the fact that you are at A you cannot infer that movement from A -- i.e. to not-A -- is possible: movement is an immediate experience, revealing immediately the existence of the negative. (And, incidentally, the fact that space is three-dimensional -- if movement in one dimension is possible, it is possible also in two other dimensions -- is also a matter of immediate experience. This shows that the discussion in FUNDAMENTAL STRUCTURE is not logical or inferential, but a pre-inferential description of the structure of experience. A logician will make neither head nor tail of it.)

Try a simple experiment. Fix your gaze on some given object, A, in your room. Then, without shifting your gaze from A, ask yourself if anything else in the room is at that time visible to you. You will find that you can also see a number of other objects surrounding A, but less distinctly. These other objects, though visible at the same time as A, form, as it were, the background to A, which occupies the foreground or centre of attention. These are objects that are peripherally visible, whereas A is centrally visible, or, if you prefer, A is present whereas the other objects are, in a manner of speaking, partly absent -- i.e. not present. But all these other objects, though they are not-A, are given in the same immediate experience as A. I do not think, if you carry out the experiment carefully, that you will conclude that all these peripherally -- non-centrally -- visible objects, which are negatives of the centrally visible A, are simply inferred from A. How can you possibly infer the bookshelf in the corner of the room from the pen lying on your desk?
Letter 44
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Re: The Work of Venerable Ñānavīra Thera

Post by vinasp » Sun Jan 08, 2012 3:11 am

Hi everyone,

My understanding is that Dependent Origination serves two
purposes:

1. It represents "what has come to be" in other words it shows
what has arisen, over a long time scale.

2. It can be used as a framework for analysing things which
arise and cease over a much shorter time scale.

Let's take feeling as an example. Feeling is constantly arising and ceasing. DO can be used to explain the arising of any particular feeling in response to some object. The arising and ceasing of feelings constitutes a process.

But this process is itself something which arose at some
point in time in the past. And this process is also said to
cease. The cessation of feeling in this sense is the complete
and permanent disapearance of all feelings.

So I think that when we use the term "cessation" we need to
make it clear which sense is intended.

Regards, Vincent.

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Re: The Work of Venerable Ñānavīra Thera

Post by retrofuturist » Sun Jan 08, 2012 3:16 am

Greetings,
vinasp wrote:My understanding is that Dependent Origination serves two
purposes:

1. It represents "what has come to be" in other words it shows
what has arisen, over a long time scale.

2. It can be used as a framework for analysing things which
arise and cease over a much shorter time scale.
I think you could just stop at the portion I bolded and you'd have covered it all.

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

"It is natural that one who knows and sees things as they really are is disenchanted and dispassionate." (AN 10.2)

“Truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.” (Flannery O'Connor)

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Re: The Work of Venerable Ñānavīra Thera

Post by vinasp » Sun Jan 08, 2012 5:29 am

Hi Retro,

I think you are correct. The phrase "what has come to be"
includes everything that has been constructed regardless
of the time scale.

It does not capture the distinction that I was attempting to
clarify in the second half of that post.

I shall give it some more thought. Any suggestions?

Regards, Vincent.

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Re: The Work of Venerable Ñānavīra Thera

Post by Alex123 » Sun Jan 08, 2012 3:26 pm

Since Dependent Origination starts with "Ignorance" and ends with "mass of suffering", I believe that Buddha had more psychological and soteriological teaching in mind rather than ontological.
"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

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Re: The Work of Venerable Ñānavīra Thera

Post by SDC » Sun Jan 08, 2012 4:29 pm

Alex123 wrote:Since Dependent Origination starts with "Ignorance" and ends with "mass of suffering", I believe that Buddha had more psychological and soteriological teaching in mind rather than ontological.
I somewhat agree with this.

Venerable Ñānavīra, from what I recall, was not a fan of associating the Buddha's teaching with psychology or any other sciences. This is a part of his thinking that I tend to disagree with. In general, I think PS is an explanation of how suffering comes about due reality being misinterpreted. With that, I believe avija to tanha can be viewed as more of a psychological misinterpretation leading to a metaphysical misinterpretation shown in upadana to jaramarana.

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