An Alternative Interpretation.

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An Alternative Interpretation.

Postby vinasp » Tue Jun 12, 2012 4:29 am

Hi everyone,

I would like to share a new interpretation of the Nikaya teachings.

This interpretation combines aspects of the teachings which are not usually
considered together.

The following is the reasoning behind this new model:

1. The noble eightfold path is one description of the path to awakening.
2. The path is said to have four stages.
3. These stages are explained by the sequential breaking of ten fetters.
4. These fetters must be the same thing as the asava's.

But ...

5. Dependent Origination (DO) with the links ceasing (DC), is also said to
be the path to awakening.

Therefore ....

6. The links of DO must be able to cease in four stages.

The idea here is that although each link arises in dependence on the preceding
link, any link can cease without requiring the preceding link to cease.
Imagine a tower made of those wooden blocks that children play with. One can
remove the top block without affecting the others. One can also remove the top
two, or three, blocks.

----------------------------------- o O o ---------------------------------

An Outline of this Model.

I will base my explanation on the ten link version of DO. Why? Because I think
that there is a system of "numerical correspondences" in the teachings.

The First Stage.

The first stage is the stream-winner, often explained by the breaking of the
first three fetters. In this interpretation these three fetters are the same
as the asava of views, and the same as the last three links of DO: being,
birth, and old-age-and-death. So, for the stream-winner, only seven links
remain.

The Second Stage.

The second stage, the "once-returner", is not a real stage in that nothing
is said to cease completely, but craving is reduced. We can understand this
as a reduction of craving and clinging, and of the asava of sense-pleasure.

The Third Stage.

The third stage is the "non-returner". He is said to have broken the next
two fetters, and has now broken all five of the lower fetters. We can
understand this as the removal of the next two links of DO, craving and
clinging. Five links have now been removed, which corresponds to the five
lower fetters. Five links of DO remain, as do the five higher fetters.
Two of the four asava's have now been removed - views and sense-pleasures.
Two asava's still remain.

The Fourth Stage.

The fourth stage is the Arahant, he is said to break the five higher fetters.
We can understand this as the removal of the remaining five links of DO, and
also as the removal of the remaining two asava's - the asava of "becoming"
and the asava of ignorance.

Comments.

So, one becomes a stream-winner - who is said to be "established on the
path" - by removing the asava of views. This does not seem to be stated
explicitly in the Nikaya teachings. But it is supported by a large amount
of circumstantial material.

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: An Alternative Interpretation.

Postby David N. Snyder » Tue Jun 12, 2012 4:45 am

vinasp wrote:Because I think
that there is a system of "numerical correspondences" in the teachings.


Me too. There are a lot of overlaps in various teachings, be it the asavas, paramitas, brahma viharas, D.O., four great efforts, etc.

Your analysis looks good. :thumbsup:

The Theragatha / Therigatha contain numerous poetic teachings and typically end with the relinquishment of the asavas.
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Re: An Alternative Interpretation.

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Jun 12, 2012 4:48 am

Greetings Vincent,

I do not find this analysis remotely compelling... mainly because:

1. Everything noted in paticcasamuppada occurs for the sekha, regardless of stage
2. This non-linear "chain hopping" is unfounded in the sutta

Also, you seem to have both "being" and "becoming" noted separately (for the stream-winner and arahant respectively)... but aren't they both "bhava"?

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: An Alternative Interpretation.

Postby vinasp » Tue Jun 12, 2012 5:46 am

Hi everyone,

From Buddhist Dictionary by Nyanatiloka (BPS) - entry on "asava":

āsava: (lit: influxes), 'cankers', taints, corruption's, intoxicant biases. There is a list of four (as in D. 16, Pts.M., Vibh.): the canker of sense-desire (kāmāsava), of (desiring eternal) existence (bhavāsava), of (wrong) views (diṭṭhāsava), and of ignorance (avijjāsava). A list of three, omitting the canker of views, is possibly older and is more frequent in the Suttas , e.g. in M. 2, M. 9, D. 33; A. III, 59, 67; A. VI, 63. - In Vibh. (Khuddakavatthu Vibh.) both the 3-fold and 4-fold division are mentioned. The fourfold division also occurs under the name of 'floods' (ogha) and 'yokes' (yoga).

Through the path of Stream-Entry, the canker of views is destroyed; through the path of Non-Returning, the canker of sense-desire; through the path of Arahatship, the cankers of existence and ignorance. M. 2 shows how to overcome the cankers, namely, through insight, sense-control, avoidance, wise use of the necessities of life, etc. For a commentarial exposition, see Aṭṭhasālinī Tr. I, p. 63f: II, pp. 475ff.

Khīṇāsava, 'one whose cankers are destroyed', or 'one who is canker-free', is a name for the Arahat or Holy One. The state of Arahatship is frequently called āsavakkhaya, 'the destruction of the cankers'. Suttas concluding with the attainment of Arahatship by the listeners, often end with the words: "During this utterance, the hearts of the Bhikkhus were freed from the cankers through clinging no more" (anupādāya āsavehi cittāni vimucciṃsūti).

Link: http://www.budsas.org/ebud/bud-dict/dic_idx.htm

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: An Alternative Interpretation.

Postby reflection » Tue Jun 12, 2012 6:03 am

It must be said, it's an ingenious way of analysising it, but I don't agree with it. The chain of DO falls apart if one of the members falls. This is only true for an arahant. Until full enlightenment, there is still rebirth and thus still DO. I could put forth some more details I don't agree with, but I don't have the time now.

With metta,
Reflection
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Re: An Alternative Interpretation.

Postby vinasp » Tue Jun 12, 2012 6:58 am

Hi everyone,

The entry on "upadana" (clinging) from the Buddhist Dictionary:

upādāna: 'clinging', according to Vis.M. XVII, is an intensified degree of craving (taṇhā, q.v.). The 4 kinds of clinging are: sensuous clinging (kāmupādāna), clinging to views (diṭṭhupādāna), clinging to mere rules and ritual (sīlabbatupādāna), clinging to the personaljty-belief (atta-vādupādāna).

(1) "What now is the sensuous clinging? Whatever with regard to sensuous objects there exists of sensuous lust, sensuous desire, sensuous attachment, sensuous passion, sensuous deludedness, sensuous fetters: this is called sensuous clinging.

(2) ''What is the clinging to views? 'Alms and offerings are useless; there is no fruit and result for good and bad deeds: all such view and wrong conceptions are called the clinging to views.

(3) "What is the clinging to mere rules and ritual? The holding firmly to the view that through mere rules and ritual one may reach purification: this is called the clinging to mere rules and ritual.

(4) "What is the clinging to the personality-belief? The 20 kinds of ego-views with regard to the groups of existence (s. sakkāya-diṭṭhi): these are called the clinging to the personality-belief" (Dhs. 1214-17).

This traditional fourfold division of clinging is not quite satisfactory. Besides kamupādāna we should expect either rūpupādāna and arūpupādāna, or simply bhavupādāna. Though the Anāgāmī is entirely free from the traditional 4 kinds of upādāna, he is not freed from rebirth, as he still possesses bhavupādāna. The Com. to Vis.M. XVII, in trying to get out of this dilemma, explains kāmupādāna as including here all the remaining kinds of clinging.

"Clinging' is the common rendering for u., though 'grasping' would come closer to the literal meaning of it, which is 'uptake'; s. Three Cardinal Discourses (WHEEL 17), p.19.

----------------------------------------- End of Quotation ------------------------------------------

Note that these four kinds of clinging (see MN 11.9) are explained above as:

1. One which is clinging to sense-pleasures.
2. Three which are clinging to views.

In this new interpretation the last four links of DO correspond to the four kinds of clinging.
And the last three links correspond to the three kinds of clinging to views.

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: An Alternative Interpretation.

Postby vinasp » Tue Jun 12, 2012 11:05 am

Hi everyone,

Wrong Views Depend on the First Fetter.

Both the eternalist view and the annihilationist view depend on identity
view (sakkaya-ditthi), the first fetter, and cease when identity view ceases.
In fact, all the sixty-two views in the Brahmajala Sutta (DN.1) depend on identity
view. Also the ten views starting with "the world is eternal" and ending with
"the tathagata neither exists nor does not exist after death", depend on
identity view.

"As to the various views that arise in the world, householder,
"The world is eternal" ... - these as well as the sixty-two
speculative views mentioned in the Brahmajala: when there is
identity view, these views come to be; when there is no identity
view, these views do not come to be." [ SN 41.3 - Isidatta (2) ]

Identity view can be understood as the view of a real, presently existing
self. All views about this self are based on identity view. This includes
all views about this self in the past and in the future.

So, if the first fetter has ceased for a stream-winner, then whichever of
these views he previously held, will have now ceased or have been abandoned.
Also, none of these views can now arise again.

It is important to understand that wrong views (ditthi) are either dogmatic or
speculative (unjustified), or both. They involve craving and clinging.
Someone who is clinging to a wrong view will be certain of its truth, and will
feel threatened if anyone else should question it. Such views are an extension
of the apparent "self".

The stream-winner no longer has a view of self. This means that he no longer
has a dogmatic certainty about a self. However, there is still a "regarding"
of things as self, or related to self, this is a well-established habit. In
due course this "regarding" is also eliminated.

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: An Alternative Interpretation.

Postby vinasp » Wed Jun 13, 2012 11:46 pm

Hi everyone,

So it seems that there is a major problem with the traditional interpretation
of dependent origination.

The non-returner has eliminated all four kinds of clinging. This means that
the link "clinging" is no longer present. Therefore, the next three links,
"existence", "birth" and "old-age-and-death", have also ceased.

On the traditional interpretation this would mean that the non-returner is
not reborn. But this is only true of the Arahant.

But with this alternative interpretation no such problem arises.

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: An Alternative Interpretation.

Postby vinasp » Thu Jun 14, 2012 6:47 am

Hi everyone,

Some who responded appear not to have understood correctly this alternative
interpretation. I will attempt to clarify how the last three links should be
understood.

In this model the last three links are just the wrong views of a puthujjana.
The same views which cease when he becomes a stream-winner.

This model, therefore, does not say anything about rebirth. The absence of
these three links, in the case of the stream-winner, does not have any bearing
on his rebirth status. For that, one would have to look elsewhere in the
teachings. I am sure that you will find that the stream-winner is said to be
subject to rebirth.

The link "existence" (bhava) is the view of self (sakkaya-ditthi), on which
all the other wrong views depend. This is part of the asava of views and is
clearly not the same thing as the asava of "existence" (bhavasava).

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: An Alternative Interpretation.

Postby vinasp » Thu Jun 14, 2012 7:46 am

Hi everyone,

There is an obvious difficulty with this alternative model.

Q1. Can any link cease while the preceding link is still present?

Q2. For example, can craving cease completely while there is still feeling?

Q3. Does the fact that there is feeling mean that there must also be craving?

Q4. Does feeling cause craving?

Q5. Or is it only a necessary condition for the arising of craving due to some
other or additional cause?

Q6. What could this other cause be?

And, in the context of the traditional interpretation:

If there is some other cause, then it would be possible to eliminate craving
and bring existence and rebirth to an end, without requiring any of the
preceding links to cease.

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: An Alternative Interpretation.

Postby vinasp » Fri Jun 15, 2012 8:52 am

Hi everyone,

Further reflection has led me to the conclusion that this model, as
originally conceived, cannot be made to work. But just when I was about
to abandon it, I saw a way to achieve the original aim.

But first the problems - there are two of them:

1. The analogy of the "children's wooden play blocks" is too simplistic. The
items in the DO series are not separate, self-contained units. If the last
three links are views, then their removal cannot leave the preceding links
unchanged. For example, there could not any longer be any view-craving or
any feeling involved in those views.

2. I think that the teachings are actually describing two completely
different methods of attaining enlightenment:

1. The insight method.
2. The disenchantment method.

More on these two later. But the important thing here is that the four
stages belong to the insight method. This is based on removing misconceptions
by seeing that they are false. So this method is directed at ignorance. There
are two items in the DO series which represent ignorance - the first link, and
the item called "the six-spheres".

So, if the last three links are views, then their removal entails changes to
all the preceding links back to the six-spheres. but it is only a part of each
of these links which ceases, not all of it. Fortunately, the teachings have
already divided these links into the required parts. For example, craving is
said to be sixfold (MN.9).

To follow soon, an explanation of how the last eight links are the two asava's
"views" and "sense-pleasures". [ When I figure out how to present it without
having to draw a diagram.]

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: An Alternative Interpretation.

Postby vinasp » Sat Jun 16, 2012 3:48 am

Hi everyone,

So now we attempt to understand the last eight links of DO as representing
the two asava's - views and sense-pleasures.

In MN.9 we find contact, feeling and craving analysed into six kinds in line
with the "six-spheres". Also, clinging is said to be of four kinds.

Step 1. We divide the six-spheres into two groups with eye, ear, nose, tongue
and body-tactile in the first group, and just mind-organ in the second.

Step 2. We divide contact, feeling and craving into two groups in the same way.

Step 3. we divide the four clingings into two groups.

Asava of Views ---------------------- Asava of Sense-pleasure.

Old Age and Death.
Birth.
Existence.
View-Clinging 3 types ............... Clinging to Pleasures.
Mind-object Craving ................ . 5 Sense Cravings.
Mind-object Feeling ................ . 5 Sense Feelings.
Mind-object Contact ................. 5 Sense Contact.
Mind-Sphere ................. 5 Sense Spheres.
-------------------------------------------------------------
Mind-Objects ................ . 5 Sense-Objects.

Everything on the left is eliminated first, this is the stage of stream-winner.
The things on the right are reduced at the stage of "once-returner", and then
eliminated at the stage of "non-returner".

In this interpretation the "six-spheres" are not the actual senses, but only
the misunderstanding of the six senses.
All the objects are mental representations and also misconceptions.

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: An Alternative Interpretation.

Postby vinasp » Sat Jun 16, 2012 4:50 am

Hi everyone,

I think that I need to explain the "object psychology" in this interpretation.
The basic idea is that many mental states are "about something" which is termed
the "object".
For example, many feelings are about some object. The same is true of craving
which is a craving for some object. And clinging must be clinging to some object.
Psychologically, the object must come first. The feeling, craving and clinging
are mental reactions to this object.
The term "contact" probably means attention to, or a focus on, the object.

So, in DO, the contact, feeling, craving and clinging all arise in the mind
as a reaction to the object.
If the "object" is only a mental representation, or a misconception, then
removing this object results in the cessation of these mental reactions.
In the teachings, the insight method seems to aim at removing these cognitive
objects.

There is nothing wrong with such cognitive objects in their most basic form.
The objects that need to be removed are more complicated constructions which
include certain fundamental misconceptions.

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: An Alternative Interpretation.

Postby vinasp » Sun Jun 17, 2012 2:12 am

Hi everyone,

Above, when mentioning a problem with the non-returner in the traditional
interpretation, I said:

"On the traditional interpretation this would mean that the non-returner is
not reborn. But this is only true of the Arahant."

On further reflection I have changed my mind about this point.

I now think that the correct understanding in the traditional interpretation
is that the non-returner is not subject to rebirth.

So I would not now say: "But this is only true of the Arahant."

It is said of the Arahant that he is not reborn, but this may also be true
of the non-returner.

On breaking the five lower fetters, the non-returner spontaneously arises
in the "pure abodes", He will probably attain arahantship in a short time,
but if not, he is so close to arahantship that he would attain it on death.

So, there may be no problem with a traditional interpretation, if correctly
understood.

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: An Alternative Interpretation.

Postby vinasp » Sun Jun 17, 2012 5:27 am

Hi everyone,

How the Last Eight Links Are Two Asava's.

The Asava of Views.

mind-objects and mind-sphere - mind-contact - feeling - craving - clinging -
"existence" - "birth" - "old-age-and-death".

Notes:
a) Mind-objects are dhamma's which are all misconceptions.
b) Mind-sphere is the misconception of the mind organ (manas).
c) Mind-contact is one of the six kinds of contact.
d) The feeling is mind-contact feeling, one of the six feelings.
e) The craving is one of the six cravings, mind-object craving.
f) The clinging is three of the four clingings - view clinging.
g) "existence" is the view of self, - identity view - sakkaya-ditthi.
h) "birth" represents views about self in the past.
i) "old-age-and-death" represents views about self in the future.

A view is when the mind clings to an idea, the view is the clinging, the
idea, which persists because it is clung to, becomes a mind-object (dhamma).

All these items are the asava of views, which ceases for a stream-winner. So
these things all cease - no mind-objects, no mind sphere, no mind contact and
so forth.

--------------------------------- o O o -------------------------------

The Asava of Sense-pleasure.

"sense-objects" and "five senses" - sense-contact - feeling - craving - clinging.

Notes:
a) "sense-objects" are only mental representations, and misconceptions.
b) "five senses" are misconceptions of eye, ear, nose, tongue, body.
c) Sense-contact is five of the six kinds of contact.
d) feeling is five of the six kinds of feeling.
e) Craving is five of the six kinds of craving.
f) Clinging is one of the four kinds of clinging [clinging to sense-pleasures.]

All these items are the asava of sense-pleasure, they have ceased for a
non-returner. So no sense-objects, no sense-spheres, no sense-contact and
so forth.

------------------------------ o O o ----------------------------------------

The main difficulty in understanding this is probably the "objects" and the
need for them to cease. Everyone knows that views persist, often for many
years. The idea which is the basis for the view persists because it is being
clung to. It is clung to because it is the sort of misconception which gives
rise to feeling, craving and clinging. This is how an idea becomes a
mind-object [dhamma]. [views are delusions, obsessions.]

But what about the "sense-objects", what sort of things are these?

These objects do not persist continuously like the misconceptions which are
the basis for views. They are a temporary obsession with some particular
source of pleasure. But they keep recurring due to habits and external
stimulation. One has a tendency to try to repeat previous pleasant experiences.
So these objects keep popping into the mind and causing desires for these
things to arise. When this habit is broken then the mind is free of sense-objects.

But these sense-objects can all vanish in the blink of an eye. They simply
do not arise any more. How is this possible? I think that it is because both
the misconception of the object and the desire involve the idea of self. So
an insight into the truth of no-self removes an essential component. If there
is no persisting self then how can the self which now desires X be the same
self that will enjoy X when the desire is satisfied?

In other words, when the truth of no-self is seen then desire becomes
impossible. No desires means no objects of desire.

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: An Alternative Interpretation.

Postby vinasp » Mon Jun 18, 2012 4:22 am

Hi everyone,

My apologies to everyone, after carefully reading through this thread I see
that I was confused about the relationship between views and view-clinging.
So,further changes are required to this model.

The Problem.

It has become clear to me that the clinging (to a misconception) is the view.
In other words, there are no views apart from view-clinging. In MN.9 the link
"clinging" is said to be the "four kinds of clinging". So that is where the
views are "located". This means that the following three links cannot be views
and we will need to find some alternative interpretation.

So when views cease for a stream-winner, it is the cessation of three of the
four kinds of clinging (and their supporting conditions in preceding links).
The last three links remain until the stage of a non-returner, when they cease.

New Understanding of the Last Three Links.

Interestingly, it does not really matter what is represented by the last three
links. One does not need to understand what they are in order to begin removing
views.

Bhava: "existence", "becoming", I now think that this means the sense of the
continued existence of a self. It can also be understood as the sense of the
continued existence of "a being" (satto).

Jati: Birth, I take this to mean that when the DO formula is applied to a
particular person, then this link indicates his liability to be reborn, or
that he is subject to rebirth. In other words, the potential for rebirth.

Old-age-and-death: This is the liability to old-age-and-death following on
from the potential rebirth.

So the last two links indicate the possibility of a next life, or perhaps
any number of such future lives.

[Could the last two links indicate the fear of rebirth and what will follow?
Can this fear be regarded as distinct from the view which makes it possible?]

We seem to be moving closer to the traditional interpretation!

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: An Alternative Interpretation.

Postby vinasp » Mon Jun 18, 2012 7:19 am

Hi everyone,

Thoughts on the Stage of Non-returner.

IF this interpretation is correct then the six-spheres have already ceased
for a non-returner. [This is a surprise to me, and differs from my previous
interpretations.]

I think this means that "regarding in terms of self" has also ceased.
[The view of self has already ceased at the stage of stream-winner.]
But of course the conceit "I am" remains.

It seems that the five aggregates of clinging have also ceased.
[Understanding them as five groups of objects which are distinct from the
groups of objects called the five aggregates.]
Which would mean that only the five aggregates remain. This makes sense
since all clinging has ceased. This means that "sakkaya" has ceased.

It also means that suffering has ceased although the noble eightfold
path is not yet completed.
[ Taking suffering as the five aggregates of clinging.]

If we now use the twelve link version of DO then just four links remain.
We have to show that these four can be understood as the two remaining
asava's, ignorance and existence, and also the five aggregates and the
five higher fetters.

Ignorance - formations - consciousness - name-and-form.

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: An Alternative Interpretation.

Postby vinasp » Mon Jun 18, 2012 11:05 am

Hi everyone,

Passages Which are Describing 3 of the 4 Stages.

There are a number of passages which seem to refer to these three stages. I am
thinking here of those which speak of "X", the arising of "X", the cessation
of "X", and the path which leads to the cessation of "X".

Here is the first one, about views, which could be the stream-winner stage:

"The uninstructed average man does not understand views, does not understand the origin of views, does not understand the cessation of views, does not understand the way leading to the cessation of views. For him views grow ; and he is not freed from birth, old age, death, from sorrows, griefs, ills, tribulations ; he is not freed from suffering, I say".
"But the instructed noble disciple understands views, understands their origin, their cessation and the way leading to their cessation. For him views cease ; and he is freed from birth, old age, death, from sorrows, griefs, ills, tribulations ; he is freed from suffering, I say".
[PTS G.S. IV, pages 39 - 40.] [PTS AN.7.51.] [DPR AN.7.54.]

[ Translation by Ven. Nanananda in Concept and Reality, page 19, BPS 1986.]

--------------------------------- End Quote -------------------------------

There is a small problem here, the stream-winner is not fully freed from
birth .... and suffering. I suspect that the word here translated as "freed"
means, or can also mean, partially released.

PTS Dictionary entry for "parimuccati" page 432:

Parimuccati [Pass. of pari + muc] to be released, to be set free, to escape Vin ii.87; M i.8; S i.88, 208; ii.24, 109 iii.40, 150, 179; Miln 213, 335 (jātiyā etc.) aor. ˚mucci M i.153. -- pp. parimutta; Caus. parimoceti (q. v.). [End Quote.]

The path does not just lead to the final goal, but to all the stages along
the way.

My term for these sorts of passages is "fourfold presentations". There are
at least two more, which I will look up.

1. Sakkaya - identity - which is the five aggregates of clinging and seems
to be the stage of the non-returner.
2. The World - which seems to represent the final stage of arahantship.

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: An Alternative Interpretation.

Postby vinasp » Tue Jun 19, 2012 6:40 am

Hi everyone,

The Stage of the Non-returner.

At Savatthi. "Bhikkhus, I will teach you identity, the origin of identity,
the cessation of identity, and the way leading to the cessation of identity.
And what, bhikkhus, is identity? It should be said: the five aggregates
subject to clinging ....." [ Bhikkhu Bodhi, Connected Discourses, page 963.]

[SN 22.105] The rest of this discourse follows the template of the four noble
truths. The arising of identity is craving, the cessation is the cessation of
craving. The way is the noble eightfold path. Identity is sakkaya.

[A more detailed treatment can be found in MN 44.2, and see also: SN 22.103]

It is remarkable that these passages, just like the ones about views, do not
say explicitly what stage is being described.

We also have to understand the four noble truths as describing the stage of
the non-returner, and not full enlightenment, which might be somewhat
controversial!

This is because craving has ceased for a non-returner, what remains is desire
(raga) and volition (cetana).

Regards, Vincent.
vinasp
 
Posts: 921
Joined: Tue Aug 18, 2009 7:49 pm
Location: Bristol. United Kingdom.

Re: An Alternative Interpretation.

Postby vinasp » Wed Jun 20, 2012 5:49 am

Hi everyone,

The Final Stage - Arahant.

Here is one passage which could be describing the final stage. The Pali term
"loka" can be translated as "world" or "cosmos".

"... Yet it is just within this fathom-long body, with its perception & intellect, that I declare that there is the cosmos, the origination of the cosmos, the cessation of the cosmos, and the path of practice leading to the cessation of the cosmos. ..." [AN 4.45, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.]

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

In the context of Dependent Origination there are two discourses which are
of interest because they speak of the arising of the "world" instead of
"suffering". The first is SN 12.49 and the second is SN 12.44 - The World.

"Rather, bhikkhus, the instructed noble disciple has knowledge about this
that is independent of others:'When this does not exist, that does not come
to be; with the cessation of this, that ceases. [When there is no ignorance,
volitional formations do not come to be. When there are no volitional
formations, consciousness does not come to be.] When there is no consciousness,
name-and-form does not come to be. .... When there is no birth, aging-and-death
do not come to be.' He understands thus: 'In such a way the world ceases.'

[ Part of SN 12.49, Connected Discourses, Bhikkhu Bodhi, page 585.]

So in SN 12.49 the cessation of all twelve links is the cessation of the
world. [Although this discourse is only explaining the noble disciple's
understanding of this possibility.]

In contrast SN 12.44 explains things in a different way:

"And what is the ending of the world? Dependent on the eye & forms there arises eye-consciousness. The meeting of the three is contact. From contact as a requisite condition comes feeling. From feeling as a requisite condition comes craving. Now, from the remainderless cessation & fading away of that very craving comes the cessation of clinging/sustenance. From the cessation of clinging/sustenance comes the cessation of becoming. From the cessation of becoming comes the cessation of birth. From the cessation of birth, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair all cease. Such is the cessation of this entire mass of stress & suffering. This is the ending of the world." [Part of SN 12.44 - Loka Sutta.]

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

Here, the cessation of craving (and the following items) is said to
be: "the ending of the world". But is it possible for craving to cease while
the preceding links remain? This is a difficult question which I cannot pursue
here - I mention it only to note a problem.

One possibility is that "world" is being used to mean both the cosmos as a
whole and also any of the three realms. So the realm of sense-pleasure
(kama-dhatu) can also be called a "world". We see this in some of the stock
passages about the non-returner, for example:

"Again, a monk who has abandoned the five lower fetters arises spontaneously
and, without returning from that world, gains enlightenment."
[ Long Discouses, Walshe 1987, DN 6.13]

Another discourse (SN 35.68) explains "The world" in this way:

"Where there is the eye, Samiddhi, where there are forms, eye-consciousness,
things to be cognized by eye-consciousness, there the world exists or the
description of the world."
"Where there is no eye, .... there the world does not exist ......."

And AN 9.38 says:

"These five strings of sensuality are, in the discipline of the noble ones, called the cosmos. Which five? Forms cognizable via the eye — agreeable, pleasing, charming, endearing, fostering desire, enticing; sounds cognizable via the ear ..." [and so forth.]

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

So the term "loka" can, in different contexts mean any of the following:

1. The cosmos as a whole.
2. Any of the three realms.
3. The six spheres.
4. The five strands of sensuality.
5. And possibly others.

Does it ever mean the external visible world, in our modern sense?

Regards, Vincent.
vinasp
 
Posts: 921
Joined: Tue Aug 18, 2009 7:49 pm
Location: Bristol. United Kingdom.


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