Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby Nyana » Thu Mar 29, 2012 3:32 am

Goofaholix wrote:If you are focussing on the culmination of the path and I am focussing on the cultivation of the path that should partly explain our differences on what could be considered a pre-requisite.

Yes, I've been referring to the noble eightfold path as pertaining to noble persons -- stream-entrants and above. The attainment of stream-entry is also called the level or stage of seeing (dassanabhūmi) and the higher paths are called the stage of cultivation (bhāvanābhūmi).
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby Goofaholix » Thu Mar 29, 2012 8:27 am

Ñāṇa wrote:Yes, I've been referring to the noble eightfold path as pertaining to noble persons -- stream-entrants and above. The attainment of stream-entry is also called the level or stage of seeing (dassanabhūmi) and the higher paths are called the stage of cultivation (bhāvanābhūmi).


There is only one eightfold path.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby vinasp » Thu Mar 29, 2012 11:26 am

Hi everyone,

Good luck with trying to understand MN 117, I have tried for twenty years
without success. Note the following points:

1. The four "mundane" path factors following right view are described in
exactly the same way as the factors of the noble eightfold path in other
discourses, such as MN 141.

2. However, the description of "mundane" right view does not match the
descriptions given elsewhere.

3. The description of right livelihood pertains to a noble disciple.

4. The purpose of the noble eightfold path is the removal of the three
principle asavas.

So, apart from "mundane" right view it is a standard description of the
first five factors of the noble eightfold path.

What then, is the "noble path" and the "supramundane" path factors?
Well, the only persons who are "free of asavas" are arahants.
Which leads to the conclusion that the "noble path" is for arahants only.

But, of course, there is no such path, according to the standard
interpretation of the teachings.

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby nowheat » Thu Mar 29, 2012 12:21 pm

vinasp wrote: 1. The four "mundane" path factors following right view are described in
exactly the same way as the factors of the noble eightfold path in other
discourses, such as MN 141.

I've had a look at both MN 117 and 141 and am not sure what "four 'mundane' path factors" you're referring to. Could you quote them so I'll be sure what you mean?

2. However, the description of "mundane" right view does not match the
descriptions given elsewhere.

Where is the mundane right view described, besides in MN 117, as such?

3. The description of right livelihood pertains to a noble disciple.

Which description, the mundane or supramundane or the parts common to both?

4. The purpose of the noble eightfold path is the removal of the three
principle asavas.

So, apart from "mundane" right view it is a standard description of the
first five factors of the noble eightfold path.

What then, is the "noble path" and the "supramundane" path factors?
Well, the only persons who are "free of asavas" are arahants.
Which leads to the conclusion that the "noble path" is for arahants only.

But, of course, there is no such path, according to the standard
interpretation of the teachings.


This may be another case of trying to pin what's being said down to just one meaning, one level of meaning, when the Buddha is usually referencing multiple levels. The eightfold path isn't just for those seeking awakening, and it isn't just for arahants, it's a path that covers the whole range. Sure, there may be a moment when the whole path comes together for the arahant -- that "path moment" I've seen mentioned recently in this thread -- but that doesn't mean the path hasn't been put to use imperfectly prior to that moment.

:namaste:
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby Nyana » Thu Mar 29, 2012 12:40 pm

vinasp wrote: What then, is the "noble path" and the "supramundane" path factors?

Addressed in this post.

vinasp wrote: Well, the only persons who are "free of asavas" are arahants.
Which leads to the conclusion that the "noble path" is for arahants only.

It's referring to the supramundane paths, not the mind of an arahant. If the supramundane paths were not without effluents then liberation would not be possible.
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby vinasp » Thu Mar 29, 2012 2:28 pm

Hi everyone,

My comments on MN 117 were intended to lend support to those who are saying
that one cannot simply choose supramundane right view.

But by the same reasoning a puthujjana, who has wrong view, cannot simply
choose to have right view instead, or there would be no puthujjanas.

The puthujjana has wrong view, but he thinks that he has right view.
In order to progress he must first see that he has wrong view. Then he
must discover what right view is, only then can he start to eliminate
wrong view and develop right view.

But some discourses, such as MN 117, give a misleading description of
right view, which is intended to make puthujjanas think that they do
have right view.

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby vinasp » Thu Mar 29, 2012 5:02 pm

Hi nowheat,

MN 117 uses the term "supramundane" (lokuttaraa) for those path factors
that are "without asavas".
Elsewhere, supramundane is contrasted with "mundane" (lokiyaa). MN 117 does
not use the term "mundane" for those path factors which are "with asavas".
I was using "mundane" to refer to those path factors that are "with asavas".
The term "mundane" is a bit misleading since these are factors of the noble
eightfold path, which only noble disciples are actually on.
----------------------------------
The "four mundane path factors" are right intention, right speech, right
action and right livelihood (with asavas).
----------------------------------
The description of right view, for what is obviously the noble eightfold
path, in MN 117, does not conform with right view as described elsewhere.
-----------------------------------
The "mundane" (with asavas) description of right livelihood specifically
says "noble disciple".
-------------------------------
In my understanding, those who are not noble disciples are not on the
noble eightfold path. They are on what is called the "wrong eightfold path".

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby kirk5a » Thu Mar 29, 2012 5:21 pm

vinasp wrote:But some discourses, such as MN 117, give a misleading description of
right view, which is intended to make puthujjanas think that they do
have right view.

What does this mean? Are you saying MN 117 is deliberately misleading?
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby vinasp » Thu Mar 29, 2012 5:58 pm

Hi kirk5a,

Quote:
"What does this mean? Are you saying MN 117 is deliberately misleading?"

I am saying that MN 117 invites puthujjanas to mislead themselves.

If they were paying attention then it would not have the desired effect.

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby nowheat » Thu Mar 29, 2012 6:28 pm

vinasp wrote: Elsewhere, supramundane is contrasted with "mundane" (lokiyaa).

I understood that you were applying the term "mundane" to MN 117, and realized that it is not there. What I'm asking is "where" is this "elsewhere" you mention just above? In what sutta(s) do you find the two contrasted, regardless of the terminology used in the suttas?

MN 117 does
not use the term "mundane" for those path factors which are "with asavas".
I was using "mundane" to refer to those path factors that are "with asavas".
The term "mundane" is a bit misleading since these are factors of the noble
eightfold path, which only noble disciples are actually on.
----------------------------------
The "four mundane path factors" are right intention, right speech, right
action and right livelihood (with asavas).

Did you forget "right view"? In MN 117 it is listed with and without asavas, too. I see from the bit below, that you realize this, but

The description of right view, for what is obviously the noble eightfold
path, in MN 117, does not conform with right view as described elsewhere.
-----------------------------------
The "mundane" (with asavas) description of right livelihood specifically
says "noble disciple".
-------------------------------
In my understanding, those who are not noble disciples are not on the
noble eightfold path. They are on what is called the "wrong eightfold path".

I believe the way you put the above might have something to do with why you come to a mistaken conclusion in this:

vinasp wrote: But some discourses, such as MN 117, give a misleading description of
right view, which is intended to make puthujjanas think that they do
have right view.


First up, in Thanissaro's translation, he has it as "There is the case where a disciple of the noble ones abandons wrong livelihood and maintains his life with right livelihood.". A "disciple of the noble ones" is not the same as "a noble disciple". You and I are both, I believe, disciples of the noble ones -- that doesn't equate to us being noble ourselves (maybe we are, maybe we aren't, that's not my point).

The assumption you are making is that the Buddha is being intentionally misleading. About two and a half years ago, when I first met you here on this board, we stood at more or less the same place, and I will say again now what I said back then: the context of the times is everything. What you are interpreting as being "intended" to "give a misleading description" only seems that way to you because you don't have the context that the listeners had when the original words were being spoken.

In MN 117 and all throughout the suttas there is heavy use of what we might call in our modern times "pop phrases". We interpret them as pericopes designed for good oral transmission, and they are clearly that too, but the pericopes I'm referring to here are based on phrases that will have been popular in the Buddha's day and they meant something specific to the listeners that we don't "get" because we don't have the context.

We find the phrases, used in MN 117's delineation of views, in the Upanishads. (This does not necessarily mean that the Buddha was familiar with the Upanishads as we have them, only that the conversation was general, and well-known to both the authors of the Upanishads and the Buddha -- and that the wording used to represent them was common to both.) So when he says, for example, that "There is what is given, what is offered, what is sacrificed," we are not aware that these words were used in the Upanishads to talk about what Brahmins believe -- that giving to the priests is effective in bringing on a good rebirth, that offering oblations is, that performing sacrifices is. That short little phrase will have been perfectly clear to the Buddha's audience -- it's not "intended to mislead" in any way shape or form. The only reason to interpret it as "misleading" is if we misunderstand the tainted right view as the Buddha's, when it is not.

He was being very honest, and his audience will have been able to see that. He was listing the views of the day around rebirth: the Brahmin's sacrifices, the common man's interpretations of karma ("There are fruits & results of good & bad actions"), the results of popular efforts towards a good outcome after death ("There is this world & the next world") and ancestor worship ("There is mother & father"). ALL of the things listed in this pericope were about commonly held beliefs about what works to bring on a good rebirth or outcome after death, and that those results are proven ("There are brahmans & contemplatives who, faring rightly & practicing rightly, proclaim this world & the next after having directly known & realized it for themselves"). When does the Buddha ever discuss his followers directly experiencing their next world? He talks of having "seen" his past lives himself but he doesn't talk about seeing "the next" world at all. This is because he is not talking in the pericope of *his views* but of what those of other sects say is going on.

We are confused. We lost the context. So when confronted with the words "given, offered, sacrificed" -- and believing the whole pericope to be representative of the Buddha's "right view" -- we are forced to twist the interpretation of these words out of their original context and say that the Buddha is talking about giving to monks, offering to monks and, what, being self-sacrificing by giving up the home life? (as if the Buddha talks a lot about going forth as being a sacrifice! he experienced it as a relief!).

The Buddha was being very specific -- in the context of his day -- in saying that this "right view with taints" is not his view.

This is why, as regards MN 117:

... one developing the noble path whose mind is noble, whose mind is without effluents, who is fully possessed of the noble path" must regard the mundane right view that is *with* effluents.


makes no sense. If you've been struggling for 20 years to understand MN 117 it's because you're missing this: the loss of context has us misinterpreting the sutta. See that, and the whole thing (and a whole lot more that I see you trying to understand) will make sense.

:namaste:

P.S. As well as the paper on dependent origination (which I hope will be through the process and published soon), I have a paper on the above in process, too. Unfortunately, the jurying process caused me to find so much more evidence that it will probably end up being about three papers and it may be a while before the thesis sees daylight. Well, "more evidence" is not really "unfortunate" it's just time consuming.
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby Lazy_eye » Thu Mar 29, 2012 6:31 pm

vinasp wrote:The puthujjana has wrong view, but he thinks that he has right view.
In order to progress he must first see that he has wrong view. Then he
must discover what right view is, only then can he start to eliminate
wrong view and develop right view.


To me, it seems more plausible to say the puthujjana has partial right view.

Obviously some elements of the view must be right. Otherwise, wouldn't any wrong view suffice? One could then argue that it is fine for a puthujjana, for example, to believe that weapons smuggling is right livelihood or that sensual pleasures can lead to lasting pleasures -- as long as, somewhere along the line, he or she has an epiphany that results in right view.

Seems like an odd way to proceed.
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby vinasp » Thu Mar 29, 2012 11:40 pm

Hi everyone,

"Now the venerable Upali came to the Exalted One, saluted and sat down
at one side. So seated, he said; "Well were it for me, lord, if the
Exalted One were to expound Dhamma briefly to me, so that, having
heard it, I might abide resolute, alone, secluded, earnest and zealous."
"The doctrines, Upali, of which you may know: "These doctrines lead one
not to complete weariness (of the world), nor to dispassion, nor to
ending, nor to calm, nor to knowledge, nor to awakening, nor to the cool"
- regard them definitely as not Dhamma, not the the discipline, not the
word of the Teacher.
But the doctrines of which you may know:"These doctrines lead one to
complete weariness, dispassion, ending, calm, knowledge, the awakening,
the cool" - regard them unreservedly as Dhamma, the discipline, the
word of the Teacher."

From: PTS Gradual Sayings IV, page 97, translation by E.M. Hare.

[ AN, The Book of Sevens, # 79 - The Message.]

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby Nyana » Fri Mar 30, 2012 11:30 am

Lazy_eye wrote:
vinasp wrote:The puthujjana has wrong view, but he thinks that he has right view.
In order to progress he must first see that he has wrong view. Then he
must discover what right view is, only then can he start to eliminate
wrong view and develop right view.


To me, it seems more plausible to say the puthujjana has partial right view.

Obviously some elements of the view must be right. Otherwise, wouldn't any wrong view suffice? One could then argue that it is fine for a puthujjana, for example, to believe that weapons smuggling is right livelihood or that sensual pleasures can lead to lasting pleasures -- as long as, somewhere along the line, he or she has an epiphany that results in right view.

A puthujjana can be any common worldling, non-Buddhist or Buddhist. And even among Buddhists one can be a blind worldling (andhaputhujjana) who doesn't know much of anything about the dhamma, or a good worldling (kalyāṇaputhujjana) who studies and practices the dhamma.
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby Lazy_eye » Fri Mar 30, 2012 2:18 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:A puthujjana can be any common worldling, non-Buddhist or Buddhist. And even among Buddhists one can be a blind worldling (andhaputhujjana) who doesn't know much of anything about the dhamma, or a good worldling (kalyāṇaputhujjana) who studies and practices the dhamma.


Thanks for the clarification! I meant kalyāṇaputhujjana.

The idea is sometimes put forward that "right view with asavas" somehow constitutes a form of wrong view that the Buddha opposed, and therefore the only real right view is of the supramundane kind. However, the "mundane" form of right view has the effect of setting the putthujjana on the road towards "dispassion, calm, awakening" and so on -- in the same way that the layman's five precepts introduce the practice of restraint. Thus it can be considered true dhamma according to the Buddha's definition.
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby daverupa » Fri Mar 30, 2012 2:27 pm

Lazy_eye wrote:However, the "mundane" form of right view has the effect of setting the putthujjana on the road towards "dispassion, calm, awakening" and so on


If this is true, than there are various flavors of secular humanism which could also fit the bill.

After all, it is the case that one could adhere to Sati's heresy and yet hold right view with effluents, so it's hardly inevitable that right view with effluents leads onward in the way indicated. In fact, right view with effluents is not a condition for right view at all, as shown earlier.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby Nyana » Fri Mar 30, 2012 3:54 pm

Lazy_eye wrote:The idea is sometimes put forward that "right view with asavas" somehow constitutes a form of wrong view that the Buddha opposed, and therefore the only real right view is of the supramundane kind. However, the "mundane" form of right view has the effect of setting the putthujjana on the road towards "dispassion, calm, awakening" and so on -- in the same way that the layman's five precepts introduce the practice of restraint. Thus it can be considered true dhamma according to the Buddha's definition.

Indeed. It is explicitly stated as such.
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby Alex123 » Fri Mar 30, 2012 4:09 pm

Lazy_eye wrote:The idea is sometimes put forward that "right view with asavas" somehow constitutes a form of wrong view that the Buddha opposed, and therefore the only real right view is of the supramundane kind. However, the "mundane" form of right view has the effect of setting the putthujjana on the road towards "dispassion, calm, awakening" and so on -- in the same way that the layman's five precepts introduce the practice of restraint. Thus it can be considered true dhamma according to the Buddha's definition.



You are totally correct. Right View without āsava does NOT equal to wrong view (that denies other world, rebirth and other beings). It just goes deeper without rejecting the former (right view with āsava).
I was not; I was; I am not; I do not care."
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby Nyana » Fri Mar 30, 2012 4:16 pm

:goodpost:

And on a related note, the Pāli Tipiṭaka is a remarkable canon -- from the beginning of the Vinayapiṭaka to the end of the Abhidhammapiṭaka.

Image

:anjali:
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