Is the Deathless already here?

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clw_uk
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Is the Deathless already here?

Postby clw_uk » Mon Mar 23, 2009 3:40 pm

Greetings

I realize i already have a topic going for this but i wanted to discuss it in a bit more detail, i didnt feel the other other topic was a good place since i created it to get the Classical teaching

Here i would just like to discuss the possibility, with quotes from the suttas. Just to make clear im not saying the orthodox view is wrong (if it states it isnt so) and im right or anything like that i just would like to discuss it since i feel its an interesting question




First of all a response to peter

Craig - Arahantship is something thats already here in the moment its just we dont see it or realize it because of the defilements

Peter - This is no different than saying "Underneath all these weeds, the garden is free of weeds."


But the garden is still there underneath reguardless, its just choked with weeds which need removal

Craig -I feel this is in line with the Buddhadhamma from this quote:

"Then the thought occurred to me, 'This Dhamma that I have attained is deep, hard to see, hard to realize, peaceful, refined, beyond the scope of conjecture, subtle, to-be-experienced by the wise."

Peter - Arahantship is not the Dhamma. Arahantship is not insight. Insight into the dhamma (the way things really are) comes from development of the dhamma (the path as taught by the Buddha) and leads to the eradication of the defilements. The state of defilements being eradicated is what is called arahantship.

So you see, it is just as if you said "Complete absence of defilements is already here; it's just we don't see it because of the defilements."

Or if we look at it from the perspective of what people do rather than what they are...

"We are completely free from suffering; it's just we don't see it because of all the suffering we keep creating."


Perhaps Arahantship was a wrong term to use, what i meant is that what is left at the end of the path, enlightenment, nibbana seems to already be there, just hidden because of ignorance and the defilements so we dont reconize it


It's hard to see the unaffected,
for the truth isn't easily seen.
Craving is pierced
in one who knows;
For one who sees,
there is nothing.


This suggests that its already there, to see something is to reconize it which suggests its always there

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


There is, monks, an unborn — unbecome — unmade — unfabricated. If there were not that unborn — unbecome — unmade — unfabricated, there would not be the case that emancipation from the born — become — made — fabricated would be discerned. But precisely because there is an unborn — unbecome — unmade — unfabricated, emancipation from the born — become — made — fabricated is discerned.


http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

If someting is unborn, unbecome etc then it isnt created. If something isnt created it can be argued it is always there



I feel another point that argues in favour of this is

"Then, having understood Brahma's invitation, out of compassion for beings, I surveyed the world with the eye of an Awakened One. As I did so, I saw beings with little dust in their eyes and those with much, those with keen faculties and those with dull, those with good attributes and those with bad, those easy to teach and those hard, some of them seeing disgrace & danger in the other world. Just as in a pond of blue or red or white lotuses, some lotuses — born & growing in the water — might flourish while immersed in the water, without rising up from the water; some might stand at an even level with the water; while some might rise up from the water and stand without being smeared by the water — so too, surveying the world with the eye of an Awakened One, I saw beings with little dust in their eyes and those with much, those with keen faculties and those with dull, those with good attributes and those with bad, those easy to teach and those hard, some of them seeing disgrace & danger in the other world.


http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

By saying there are beings with much dust in their eyes it means they cant see the truth, the truth is there all a long just covered by the dust (or defilements) i feel this suggests that whatever it is at the end of the path, its already here in this moment but because of ignorance and defilements its hidden

Remove the defilements and you can see the truth that was there all a long


Metta

:anjali:
“The Great Way is not difficult for those who have no preferences. When love and hate are both absent, everything becomes clear and undisguised." Verses on the Faith Mind, Sengcan

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Re: Is the Deathless already here?

Postby kc2dpt » Mon Mar 23, 2009 4:02 pm

But the garden is still there underneath reguardless, its just choked with weeds which need removal

Certainly one's body does not radically change upon arahantship. If you want to state that the body we will have as an arahant is already here* then I won't dispute that, even though it is a fairly pointless statement.

Remove the defilements and you can see the truth that was there all a long

I don't think there is anything problematic with this statement. But this is very different than saying "I am already enlightened. I just don't know it yet." This sort of statement is nonsensical.


* aside from the normal cellular changes thathappen to both arahants and puthujjanas alike.
- Peter

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Re: Is the Deathless already here?

Postby clw_uk » Mon Mar 23, 2009 4:19 pm

Peter wrote:
But the garden is still there underneath reguardless, its just choked with weeds which need removal

Certainly one's body does not radically change upon arahantship. If you want to state that the body we will have as an arahant is already here* then I won't dispute that, even though it is a fairly pointless statement.

Remove the defilements and you can see the truth that was there all a long

I don't think there is anything problematic with this statement. But this is very different than saying "I am already enlightened. I just don't know it yet." This sort of statement is nonsensical.


* aside from the normal cellular changes thathappen to both arahants and puthujjanas alike.



Hi peter

Its not to say one is already enlightened, what i mean is the deathless, that state (although this isnt a good word) thats at the end of the path, couldnt it be said its already present in this moment but because of our ignorance of how things are there is dukkha and defilements etc which hide the truth and so that deathless element
“The Great Way is not difficult for those who have no preferences. When love and hate are both absent, everything becomes clear and undisguised." Verses on the Faith Mind, Sengcan

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Re: Is the Deathless already here?

Postby kc2dpt » Mon Mar 23, 2009 5:07 pm

clw_uk wrote:Its not to say one is already enlightened, what i mean is the deathless, that state (although this isnt a good word) thats at the end of the path, couldnt it be said its already present in this moment but because of our ignorance of how things are there is dukkha and defilements etc which hide the truth and so that deathless element

I suppose it depends on what you think is meant by phrases like "deathless state" or "deathless element".

Perhaps the question to ask is: What impact does it have on your practice? If we say "Yes, the deathless is always present" or if we say "No, the deathless is not always present" how does your practice change?

Personally, I find the few quotes about the "deathless" to be too vague to draw any conclusions about them. My focus is on suffering and the ending of suffering. Suffering is still present, therefore I still have work to do. Simple.
- Peter

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Re: Is the Deathless already here?

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Mar 23, 2009 6:40 pm

Is the Deathless already here?


Because, when awakened, one is no longer reborn, one no longer dies.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: Is the Deathless already here?

Postby kc2dpt » Mon Mar 23, 2009 7:08 pm

So then "deathless state" is just another way of saying "state of arahantship" then?
- Peter

Be heedful and you will accomplish your goal.

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Re: Is the Deathless already here?

Postby Ngawang Drolma. » Mon Mar 23, 2009 7:37 pm

Hello all

Please excuse me, as you know I don't know any suttas.

But this kind of talk always makes my brain itch a little. In vajrayana (and I thought Theravada too) we're not buddhas. We're just_not_buddhas. We practice and practice, knowing that we would like to end rebirth, craving, ignorance, etc., but we're just totally ordinary deluded beings. It is impossible for us to be enlightened beings who don't remember that, for buddhas have perfect recall. It's impossible for us to be enlightened beings with defilements, too because that's an oxymoron.

Craig I'm not attacking you! It's just that across different traditions this is always discussed differently. In particular, Zen ascribes to Buddha nature which never makes a lot of sense to me. Does Theravada talk about buddha nature too?

Thank you :anjali:

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Re: Is the Deathless already here?

Postby clw_uk » Mon Mar 23, 2009 8:28 pm

Hi tilt

Because, when awakened, one is no longer reborn, one no lomger dies.


True, im not saying that the causes of rebirth arent here now, they are. What im suggesting is that the end of the path, that deathless state or element or whatever word you want to use is already here in the present moment but because of ignorance and defilement the essential truth of that state is hidden.

A main point for this is the fact you dont become a stream-winner or arahant etc, they are stages of removing defilements so one can see reality, see what was there all a long


Peter

So then "deathless state" is just another way of saying "state of arahantship" then?


Well i suppose you could say that, the main "thing" im talking about is what is at the end of the path

Perhaps the question to ask is: What impact does it have on your practice? If we say "Yes, the deathless is always present" or if we say "No, the deathless is not always present" how does your practice change?

Personally, I find the few quotes about the "deathless" to be too vague to draw any conclusions about them. My focus is on suffering and the ending of suffering. Suffering is still present, therefore I still have work to do. Simple.


I suppose your right removing stress is more important and fruitful than speculation on things we cant fully comprehend

As for practice it did have a small effect on me, stopped me from thinking of "becoming" a stream-winner .... Arahant and instead viewed I them as stages of letting go (i looked at it as if its already there then it makes sense for me to let go more and more so i can see it, i used to keep thinking of them as attainments)


Drolma

But this kind of talk always makes my brain itch a little. In vajrayana (and I thought Theravada too) we're not buddhas. We're just_not_buddhas. We practice and practice, knowing that we would like to end rebirth, craving, ignorance, etc., but we're just totally ordinary deluded beings. It is impossible for us to be enlightened beings who don't remember that, for buddhas have perfect recall. It's impossible for us to be enlightened beings with defilements, too because that's an oxymoron.


It is true for Theravada as well that we are not Buddhas, i was just putting out an idea. I dont suggest we are already enlightened but that state of knowing, or whatever it is, is already here in the moment but because of the defilements its over looked so to speak or not reconized


Craig I'm not attacking you! It's just that across different traditions this is always discussed differently. In particular, Zen ascribes to Buddha nature which never makes a lot of sense to me. Does Theravada talk about buddha nature too?


I know your not :), im a Theravadin myself so i dont really know much about Buddha-nature. Theravada doesnt teach it, although i dont know if its denied outright?
“The Great Way is not difficult for those who have no preferences. When love and hate are both absent, everything becomes clear and undisguised." Verses on the Faith Mind, Sengcan

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Re: Is the Deathless already here?

Postby Ngawang Drolma. » Mon Mar 23, 2009 8:42 pm

Well in many ways what you describe, Craig, lines up with my most basic understanding of the nitty gritty of the path to liberation. If I were to describe the path in one sentence, it would be: we awaken by purifying the mind and removing defilements, thereby attaining a state of freedom from craving, samsara, and rebirth. So there you go! :D

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Re: Is the Deathless already here?

Postby kc2dpt » Mon Mar 23, 2009 9:06 pm

I find quoting the Buddha's teaching on Right Effort is relevant to this sort of discussion.

"And what, monks, is right effort?
"There is the case where a monk generates desire, endeavors, activates persistence, upholds & exerts his intent for the sake of the non-arising of evil, unskillful qualities that have not yet arisen.
"He generates desire, endeavors, activates persistence, upholds & exerts his intent for the sake of the abandonment of evil, unskillful qualities that have arisen.
"He generates desire, endeavors, activates persistence, upholds & exerts his intent for the sake of the arising of skillful qualities that have not yet arisen.
"He generates desire, endeavors, activates persistence, upholds & exerts his intent for the maintenance, non-confusion, increase, plenitude, development, & culmination of skillful qualities that have arisen: This, monks, is called right effort."
— SN 45.8

As this sutta shows, it is not just that we stop doing something. In fact we start doing something: generate desire, endeavor, activate persistence, uphold and exert intent. Here's another.

"Abandon what is unskillful, monks.... Develop what is skillful, monks."
— AN 2.19

Again, we are doing something: abandoning and developing.

In terms of letting go... if we look at the teaching on right view we see we need let go of unwholesome qualities but we also see we need to attain wholesome qualities. Yes a sotapanna is defined as one who has destroyed some fetters but to be come a sotapanna he had to develop other qualities:

"Association with people of integrity is a factor for stream-entry.
Listening to the true Dhamma is a factor for stream-entry.
Appropriate attention is a factor for stream-entry.
Practice in accordance with the Dhamma is a factor for stream-entry."
— SN 55.5

Still, it is true that the end point of all this is to learn how to let go, to stop craving, to end becoming.

clw_uk wrote:the main "thing" im talking about is what is at the end of the path

And what is it you think is at the end of the path that is also here now?
- Peter

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Re: Is the Deathless already here?

Postby clw_uk » Mon Mar 23, 2009 9:25 pm

Hi Peter


And what is it you think is at the end of the path that is also here now?


Im of the understanding that the end of the path is a "state" of pure awareness and knowing, unborn etc and undefiled

In reading Mowa Boowas book i feel his description is close to my understanding

Being closely associated with the citta, body and mind react to this amazing and unique experience. The citta’s true nature always existed; but it had never displayed itself in this manner to the body and the conscious mind. Being wholly unprecedented, the impact of the occurrence is enormous. The aggregates of body and mind are all conventional realities, the instruments the heart uses for its own purposes. When the citta collapses, the pure nature that emerges then remains completely unaffected. But the aggregates of body and mind, the khandhas—being strictly governed by the laws of anicca, dukkha, and anatta—are intensely affected. Reflecting their inherently unstable nature, the reactions occur in the khandhas, and then simply cease. The pure nature of the citta never arises, and never ceases. Herein lies the difference between the two


And

Still, the essential knowing of the average person’s mind is very different from the essential knowing of an Arahant. The average person’s knowing nature is contaminated from within. Arahants, being khïõãsava, are free of all contamination. Their knowing is a pure and simple awareness without any adulteration. Pure awareness, devoid of all contaminants, is supreme awareness: a truly amazing quality of knowing that bestows perfect happiness, as befits the Arahant’s state of absolute purity. This Supreme Happiness always remains constant. It never changes or varies like conditioned phenomena of the world, which are always burdened with anicca, dukkha, and anattã. Such mundane characteristics cannot possibly enter into the citta of someone who has cleansed it until it is absolutely pure.

The citta forms the very foundation of samsãra; it is the essence of being that wanders from birth to birth. It is the instigator of the cycle of existence and the prime mover in the round of repeated birth and death. Samsãra is said to be a cycle because death and rebirth recur regularly according to the immutable law of kamma. The citta is governed by kamma, so it is obliged to revolve perpetually in this cycle following kamma’s dictates. As long as the citta remains under the jurisdiction of kamma, this will always be the case. The citta of the Arahant is the sole exception, for his citta has completely transcended kamma’s domain. Since he has also transcended all conventional connections, not a single aspect of relative, conventional reality can possibly become involved with the Arahant’s citta. At the level of Arahant, the citta has absolutely no involvement with anything.

Once the citta is totally pure, it simply knows according to its own inherent nature. It is here that the citta reaches it culmination; it attains perfection at the level of absolute purity. Here the continuous migration from one birth to the next finally comes to an end. Here the perpetual journey from the higher realms of existence to the lower ones and back again, through the repetitive cycle of birth, ageing, sickness, and death, totally ceases. Why does it cease here? Because those hidden, defiling elements that normally permeate the citta and cause it to spin around have been completely eliminated. All that remains is the pure citta, which will never again experience birth and death.

Rebirth is inevitable, however, for the citta that has yet to reach that level of purity. One may be tempted to deny that rebirth follows death, or one may doggedly hold to the nihilistic viewpoint that rejects all possibility of life after death, but such convictions cannot alter the truth. One’s essential knowing nature is not governed by speculation; nor is it influenced by people’s views and opinions. Its preeminence within one’s own being, coupled with the supreme authority of kamma, completely override all speculative considerations


And

However, though it spins in unison with conditioned phenomena, the citta never disintegrates or falls apart. It spins following the influence of those forces which have the power to make it spin, but the true power of the citta’s own nature is that it knows and does not die. This deathlessness is a quality that lies beyond disintegration. Being beyond disintegration, it also lies beyond the range of anicca, dukkha, and anattã and the universal laws of nature.But we remain unaware of this truth because the conventional realities that involve themselves with the citta have completely surrounded it, making the citta’s nature thoroughly conform to theirs.



http://www.what-buddha-taught.net/Books ... ntship.htm


In reading his book he seems to state that when one is enlightened what is "left" is this pure citta or pure knowing mind and its someting thats always been just hidden because of defilement (the part in read i feel supports my point the best)

(i do admit that it could by my ignorance in understanding him)

Metta
“The Great Way is not difficult for those who have no preferences. When love and hate are both absent, everything becomes clear and undisguised." Verses on the Faith Mind, Sengcan

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Re: Is the Deathless already here?

Postby Ben » Mon Mar 23, 2009 9:33 pm

Hi Craig

One is not there yet, and the reason one is not there yet is because the cittas that take nibbana as object can only arise after certain conditions are fulfilled, and as others have said, the destruction of some (and ultimately all) the fetters. In the same way a seed has the potential to be a tree but is not a tree until certain conditions have been fulfilled.
The processes of liberation are outlined in the Abhidhamma in detail. I recommened you take a look at Bhikkhu Bodhi's 'A comprehensive manual of the Abhidhamma'.
Given the style of questions that you are raising here on Dhamma Wheel, I also recommend 'The questions of King Milinda: Milinda Panha'. I think it will be of benefit to you.
Kind regards

Ben
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but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

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Re: Is the Deathless already here?

Postby clw_uk » Mon Mar 23, 2009 9:35 pm

Ben wrote:Hi Craig

One is not there yet, and the reason one is not there yet is because the cittas that take nibbana as object can only arise after certain conditions are fulfilled, and as others have said, the destruction of some (and ultimately all) the fetters. In the same way a seed has the potential to be a tree but is not a tree until certain conditions have been fulfilled.
The processes of liberation are outlined in the Abhidhamma in detail. I recommened you take a look at Bhikkhu Bodhi's 'A comprehensive manual of the Abhidhamma'.
Given the style of questions that you are raising here on Dhamma Wheel, I also recommend 'The questions of King Milinda: Milinda Panha'. I think it will be of benefit to you.
Kind regards

Ben



Thanks Ben, ive got a copy Bhikkhu Bodhi's book here i will dig it out and have a look, do you know which chapter discusses it? Is it the Process freed?

I will take another look at king milinda's questions as well, i havent read them for a long time


Metta

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“The Great Way is not difficult for those who have no preferences. When love and hate are both absent, everything becomes clear and undisguised." Verses on the Faith Mind, Sengcan

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Re: Is the Deathless already here?

Postby Ben » Mon Mar 23, 2009 10:00 pm

Yes, definitely. I also recommend the first chapter, the compendium of consciousness and chapter 4: compendium of the cognitive process.
Metta

Ben
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725

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Re: Is the Deathless already here?

Postby nathan » Tue Mar 24, 2009 12:34 am

Try this, it is what I do. Watch your mind and body as in any simple practice. By whatever means of reckoning note the kamma making which is occurring. If you can't do this then you will first need to find a method of practice which suits you to do so. Ok, assuming you are now observing the kamma making happen, can you imagine what it would be like for it to not be happening? I find it somewhat unimaginable so far having only observed kamma making of some kind; over and over and over and over and over again.

I would say that it has been helpful to watch the kamma making, just watch it and let it settle down as I relax my grasp and slow down the mental momentum in ' stirring the fire with the stick of attention', this helps me see how it can seem to slip away but is in fact only growing more subtle, lying in wait like hot coals as it were to flare up again at a moments notice with the slightest breath of wind.

That is my test of this thinking. I see kamma making, quickly or slowly, grossly or subtly, akusala or kusala, it is about all I ever see. As I have it, when the kamma making stops it will happen once and for all. No more kamma making. I am quite certain I have yet to see it but it makes sense to me that if and when it does stop, that will be it for kamma making from then on.

Hope that helps bring it down to earth for you, it keeps things in the right perspective for me.
:smile:
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Re: Is the Deathless already here?

Postby Ngawang Drolma. » Tue Mar 24, 2009 1:19 am

Nathan,

What excellent advice. Without the awareness in each and every moment of the karma and its fruit we create, how are we ever to end the cycle?

Humbly,
Drolma

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Re: Is the Deathless already here?

Postby rowyourboat » Wed Mar 25, 2009 7:06 pm

Hi Craig,

You effort in trying to pin down nibbana based on time and space is not meaningful. It is beyond anything the human mind has words to describe exept to say that it is not this thing that we know as existence. It is not any other form of existence that we imagine to be either. To put it simply everything that arises in the 6 sense doors in suffering, so this has nothing to do with any of that. -it is also not annahilation either. Clearly we cannot think of a state which doesnt fall into this - it simply doesnt compute in the human brain- it is acinteyya- we are unable to grasp this state. Sufficient it is to know, all we know as suffering will be at an end.
With Metta

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Mudita
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