Ignorance

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

Ignorance

Postby steve19800 » Wed May 23, 2012 1:36 am

Hi guys,

It is said the cause of sufferings is ignorance, our mind/nature intrinsically is pure and luminous. But why is ignorance even occur in the first place? From where does this ignorance come from?

The reason we suffer because of our ignorance to me is like a story of Brahma or a higher being in higher realms getting bored of the emptiness or the voidness of his existence for thousands of kalpas, because of that he is reborn in lower existence.

There is a Buddhist story also about the origin of human existence on this planet, once upon a time there were many beings from higher realm whose bodies are made of light, they descended/visited planet earth, they live there for long time until one time they tasted something sweet like honey and love it. From that experience their desire grew stronger and stronger then clinging and attachment. The brightness of their body gradually disappear until no light at all. Then because of this impurity the body is composed of flesh and blood.
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Re: Ignorance

Postby Buckwheat » Wed May 23, 2012 5:05 am

Sotthī hontu nirantaraṃ - May you forever be well.
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Re: Ignorance

Postby reflection » Wed May 23, 2012 4:51 pm

Asking where ignorance comes from is like asking where the big bang comes from.

But ignorance basically is our not understanding the nature of things. Why don't we by nature see it? Good question, but the point is that ignorance is here now. We need to know how to deal with it, not to know where it comes from.

With metta.
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Re: Ignorance

Postby steve19800 » Thu May 24, 2012 6:35 am

reflection wrote:Asking where ignorance comes from is like asking where the big bang comes from.

But ignorance basically is our not understanding the nature of things. Why don't we by nature see it? Good question, but the point is that ignorance is here now. We need to know how to deal with it, not to know where it comes from.

With metta.


Let me re-phrase it, How come ignorance, defilements can arise from something that is Pure ?
I am a Buddhist, but I don't even know the answer to this question. It sounds to me like we are born in this realm because of transgression.
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Re: Ignorance

Postby santa100 » Thu May 24, 2012 1:13 pm

Steve19800 wrote:
"How come ignorance, defilements can arise from something that is Pure ?"

Regardless of how pure or how highly evolved a being, as long as s/he's still exists within the 3 realms (desire, form, and formless) and not yet attained Nibbana, they're still subjected to the law of impermanence and suffering. Because of impermanence together with the right dependent conditions (12 DO), the pure could change to become the impure. Only Nibbana would be the sure way for the total and complete ending to all ignorance and defilements..
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Re: Ignorance

Postby Buckwheat » Thu May 24, 2012 1:43 pm

steve19800 wrote:...there were many beings from higher realm whose bodies are made of light...


This is still very impure compared to one who is fully liberated.
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Re: Ignorance

Postby Buckwheat » Thu May 24, 2012 1:57 pm

steve19800 wrote:It is said the cause of sufferings is ignorance, our mind/nature intrinsically is pure and luminous.


This is a Mahayana concept. In Theravada, the mind is not inherently this or that, it is just mind, often falling into greed, anger, and delusion. The Buddha didn't focus on origins. He focused on the way things are, causes and effects that are obervable and have an effect right here and now.

If you are worried about this idea: that nirvana might be impermanent, that once you finish the path there would still be some danger of falling back into dukkha, all I can say is the Buddha assured us not to worry about this. If you want to prove him wrong you'll have to find nibbana first (not that it's a thing to find - sorry for my poor choice of words).

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dham ... bbana.html
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Re: Ignorance

Postby seeker242 » Thu May 24, 2012 4:32 pm

Buckwheat wrote:
steve19800 wrote:It is said the cause of sufferings is ignorance, our mind/nature intrinsically is pure and luminous.


This is a Mahayana concept. In Theravada, the mind is not inherently this or that, it is just mind, often falling into greed, anger, and delusion. The Buddha didn't focus on origins. He focused on the way things are, causes and effects that are obervable and have an effect right here and now.

If you are worried about this idea: that nirvana might be impermanent, that once you finish the path there would still be some danger of falling back into dukkha, all I can say is the Buddha assured us not to worry about this. If you want to prove him wrong you'll have to find nibbana first (not that it's a thing to find - sorry for my poor choice of words).

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dham ... bbana.html


Are you sure that is specifically Mahayana, what about this "luminous mind"?

""Luminous, monks, is the mind.[1] And it is defiled by incoming defilements." {I,v,9}

"Luminous, monks, is the mind. And it is freed from incoming defilements." {I,v,10}

"Luminous, monks, is the mind. And it is defiled by incoming defilements. The uninstructed run-of-the-mill person doesn't discern that as it actually is present, which is why I tell you that — for the uninstructed run-of-the-mill person — there is no development of the mind." {I,vi,1}

"Luminous, monks, is the mind. And it is freed from incoming defilements. The well-instructed disciple of the noble ones discerns that as it actually is present, which is why I tell you that — for the well-instructed disciple of the noble ones — there is development of the mind." {I,vi,2} http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


As for the OP, I do not think the Buddha ever declared, if I remember correctly, the origin of the first instance of ignorance because doing so would not help put an end to it.
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Re: Ignorance

Postby daverupa » Thu May 24, 2012 5:26 pm

seeker242 wrote:Are you sure that is specifically Mahayana, what about this "luminous mind"?

""Luminous, monks, is the mind.[1] And it is defiled by incoming defilements." {I,v,9}

"Luminous, monks, is the mind. And it is freed from incoming defilements." {I,v,10}


A single passage revolving around a single word can be problematic, as nothing ensures we will understand this in the way the original audience would have; indeed, the footnote [1] explains some of the issues here. We will want to say that while this passage exists, the interpretation of this passage can follow Mahayana lines, or others.

seeker242 wrote:AAs for the OP, I do not think the Buddha ever declared, if I remember correctly, the origin of the first instance of ignorance because doing so would not help put an end to it.


It actually goes thus:

SN 22.100 wrote:"Monks, from an inconstruable beginning comes transmigration. A beginning point is not evident, although beings hindered by ignorance and fettered by craving are transmigrating & wandering on.
    "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: Ignorance

Postby reflection » Thu May 24, 2012 5:51 pm

steve19800 wrote:
reflection wrote:Asking where ignorance comes from is like asking where the big bang comes from.

But ignorance basically is our not understanding the nature of things. Why don't we by nature see it? Good question, but the point is that ignorance is here now. We need to know how to deal with it, not to know where it comes from.

With metta.


Let me re-phrase it, How come ignorance, defilements can arise from something that is Pure ?
I am a Buddhist, but I don't even know the answer to this question. It sounds to me like we are born in this realm because of transgression.

Counter question: If the mind is empty and impermanent, how can it be pure?

As stated before, this Pure Mind you are referring to is probably not a Therevadan concept.
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Re: Ignorance

Postby jason c » Thu May 24, 2012 10:49 pm

think of a black hole (nibbana) this black hole is ignorant of its self so a birth occurs, energy or (pure mind) pure mind was ignorant of its self so a birth occurs the universe or light or life (mind and body ) ignorance is the flow of life or birth. this was the discovery of the buddha resistance to this flow causes birth or suffering, surrender to this flow of life (non resistance) allows the black holes natural gravitational force to take you home (nibbana). with metta jason
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Re: Ignorance

Postby cooran » Fri May 25, 2012 6:03 am

Hello Steve, Jason, all,


You may find it of benefit to read these suttas and articles about Avijja (ignorance) -

Avijja (ignorance). See also Kilesa (defilements); Paticca-samuppada (dependent co-arising).
As a flood: SN 45.171
As a yoke: AN 4.10
As one of the fetters (Sanyojana): AN 10.13
As one of the obsessions (Anusaya): AN 7.11, AN 7.12
As the cause of wrong view, wrong resolve, etc.: SN 45.1
What one thing must one abandon in order to overcome ~?: SN 35.80
"Ignorance" in the Path to Freedom pages
Understanding of ~ as a basis for Right View: MN 9
As an obstruction: Iti 14
"Unawareness Converges...," in Straight From the Heart (Boowa)
"Ignorance" (Thanissaro)
"The Intricacies of Ignorance" (Kee)
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/index-su ... tml#avijja

with metta
Chris
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---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
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Re: Ignorance

Postby hanzze_ » Fri May 25, 2012 6:39 am

steve19800 wrote:Hi guys,

It is said the cause of sufferings is ignorance, our mind/nature intrinsically is pure and luminous. But why is ignorance even occur in the first place? From where does this ignorance come from?


Steve, I guess Bhikkhu Thanissaro gave some good explaining in "Freedom from Buddha Nature" regarding your question.

A brahman once asked the Buddha, "Will all the world reach release [Awakening], or half the world, or a third?" But the Buddha didn't answer. Ven. Ananda, concerned that the brahman might misconstrue the Buddha's silence, took the man aside and gave him an analogy: Imagine a fortress with a single gate. A wise gatekeeper would walk around the fortress and not see an opening in the wall big enough for even a cat to slip through. Because he's wise, he would realize that his knowledge didn't tell him how many people would come into the fortress, but it did tell him that whoever came into the fortress would have to come in through the gate. In the same way, the Buddha didn't focus on how many people would reach Awakening but he did know that anyone who reached Awakening would have to follow the path he had found: abandoning the five hindrances, establishing the four frames of reference, and developing the seven factors for Awakening.

What's striking about the Buddha's knowledge is the implied "if": If people want to gain Awakening they will have to follow this path, but the choice as to whether they want Awakening is theirs. The Buddha's knowledge of the future didn't mean that the future was preordained, for people are free to choose. They can take up a particular course of action and stick with it, or not, as they see fit.

The Buddha thus based all his teaching on freedom of choice. As he said, if everything were predetermined by the past, there would be no point in teaching a path to Awakening. The number of people who would reach Awakening would already have been set a long time ago, and they would have no need for a path or a teacher. Those preordained to awaken would get there inevitably as a result of a long-past action or an essential nature already built into the mind. Those preordained not to awaken wouldn't stand a chance.

But these things are not preordained. No one is doomed never to awaken, but — until you've had your first sight of the deathless at stream-entry — neither is Awakening assured. It's contingent on intentional actions chosen in each present moment. And even after stream-entry, you're constantly faced with choices that will speed up final Awakening or slow it down. Nibbana, of course, is independent and unconditioned; but the act of awakening to nibbana depends on a path of practice that has to be willed. It happens only if you choose to give rise to its causes. This, as the Buddha noted, involves determining to do four things: not to neglect discernment, to preserve truth, to develop relinquishment, and to train for peace.

....
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Re: Ignorance

Postby steve19800 » Sun Jul 15, 2012 10:48 pm

hanzze_ wrote:
steve19800 wrote:Hi guys,

It is said the cause of sufferings is ignorance, our mind/nature intrinsically is pure and luminous. But why is ignorance even occur in the first place? From where does this ignorance come from?


Steve, I guess Bhikkhu Thanissaro gave some good explaining in "Freedom from Buddha Nature" regarding your question.

A brahman once asked the Buddha, "Will all the world reach release [Awakening], or half the world, or a third?" But the Buddha didn't answer. Ven. Ananda, concerned that the brahman might misconstrue the Buddha's silence, took the man aside and gave him an analogy: Imagine a fortress with a single gate. A wise gatekeeper would walk around the fortress and not see an opening in the wall big enough for even a cat to slip through. Because he's wise, he would realize that his knowledge didn't tell him how many people would come into the fortress, but it did tell him that whoever came into the fortress would have to come in through the gate. In the same way, the Buddha didn't focus on how many people would reach Awakening but he did know that anyone who reached Awakening would have to follow the path he had found: abandoning the five hindrances, establishing the four frames of reference, and developing the seven factors for Awakening.

What's striking about the Buddha's knowledge is the implied "if": If people want to gain Awakening they will have to follow this path, but the choice as to whether they want Awakening is theirs. The Buddha's knowledge of the future didn't mean that the future was preordained, for people are free to choose. They can take up a particular course of action and stick with it, or not, as they see fit.

The Buddha thus based all his teaching on freedom of choice. As he said, if everything were predetermined by the past, there would be no point in teaching a path to Awakening. The number of people who would reach Awakening would already have been set a long time ago, and they would have no need for a path or a teacher. Those preordained to awaken would get there inevitably as a result of a long-past action or an essential nature already built into the mind. Those preordained not to awaken wouldn't stand a chance.

But these things are not preordained. No one is doomed never to awaken, but — until you've had your first sight of the deathless at stream-entry — neither is Awakening assured. It's contingent on intentional actions chosen in each present moment. And even after stream-entry, you're constantly faced with choices that will speed up final Awakening or slow it down. Nibbana, of course, is independent and unconditioned; but the act of awakening to nibbana depends on a path of practice that has to be willed. It happens only if you choose to give rise to its causes. This, as the Buddha noted, involves determining to do four things: not to neglect discernment, to preserve truth, to develop relinquishment, and to train for peace.

....


Thanks hanzze and all, sorry for the late reply. I'll try to reply all asap. Thanks for the link, I'll check it ^
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