How to deny Atman - Help defending Buddhadhamma

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Re: How to deny Atman - Help defending Buddhadhamma

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Jul 09, 2009 6:21 am

christopher::: wrote:
With Hindus, many have a belief in atman. Why push it? It's someone's belief. Yeah, they are going to try and see the Buddha's dharma through that pov, but isnt that understandable? Muslims do that with Christianity and Judaism, they read the same books but spin it their way.


Why push it? Because it might make a difference, or it might not; because debate can have an entertainment value. Also, it is a time honored thing between Buddhists and Hindus. Just don't get into an aggressive, hostile mind set, or you might end up like Aryadeva, the Madhyamika who was such a powerful debater and awfully annoying in that he could successfully beat any one's position that some Hindus killed him.

Imagine getting in the middle of that debate..!?

In my view everything is emptiness/no-thing-ness at its core, so folks can call things as they like.


A lot of Buddhists would not agree with that.

I could be wrong,



Yep.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
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Re: How to deny Atman - Help defending Buddhadhamma

Postby Ngawang Drolma. » Thu Jul 09, 2009 6:39 am

Individual wrote:
clw_uk wrote:Greetings


Im still in debate with a Hindu (follower of non-dualism school) and he keeps asserting that there is Atman/Brahman

Denying Atman is in some sense, affirming it. When the question was put to him bluntly, the Buddha refused to take an absolute position on the existence or non-existence of self because either view would be misleading.

If you outright reject the existence of sentient beings, who is currently speaking and who are you speaking to? And what is it that bears karma and is reborn? It is sentient beings: sentient beings bear karma and are reborn, but sentient beings are notself. I wouldn't bother with the Hindu. He might be deluded, maybe not.


Darn that's a good post.

:namaste:

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Re: How to deny Atman - Help defending Buddhadhamma

Postby jcsuperstar » Thu Jul 09, 2009 7:06 am

i :heart: u tilt
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Re: How to deny Atman - Help defending Buddhadhamma

Postby Cittasanto » Thu Jul 09, 2009 7:23 am

Individual wrote:
clw_uk wrote:Greetings


Im still in debate with a Hindu (follower of non-dualism school) and he keeps asserting that there is Atman/Brahman

Denying Atman is in some sense, affirming it. When the question was put to him bluntly, the Buddha refused to take an absolute position on the existence or non-existence of self because either view would be misleading.

If you outright reject the existence of sentient beings, who is currently speaking and who are you speaking to? And what is it that bears karma and is reborn? It is sentient beings: sentient beings bear karma and are reborn, but sentient beings are notself. I wouldn't bother with the Hindu. He might be deluded, maybe not.


there is a sutta where the buddha is asked the same questions generally and gives the same responce.

No self, self, not self, all possitions
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
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Re: How to deny Atman - Help defending Buddhadhamma

Postby nathan » Thu Jul 09, 2009 8:03 am

no matter how you view your self
and no matter how they describe it
most every religion swiftly proceeds to getting over it
:anjali:
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}

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Re: How to deny Atman - Help defending Buddhadhamma

Postby Individual » Thu Jul 09, 2009 11:50 am

tiltbillings wrote:
Individual wrote: Denying Atman is in some sense, affirming it.


One does not have to deny it. All that is necessary is to show that when the notion is pushed, it ends up looking just like one or other of the khandhas. As Douglas Adams said: If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, we have at least to consider the possibility that we have a small aquatic bird of the family anatidae on our hands, or atman ends up making no sense.

What precisely is this "Douglas Adams" you are referring to? What's a Douglas Adams?

Do you acknowledge the existence of the mind? Of course you do. Do you acknowledge the existence of many minds? I assume so. Do you acknowledge that, of the many minds, every mind is connected with only a single body? I assume you acknowledge that too... And so, well, that's a sentient being: A single mind connected within a single body.

tiltbillings wrote:
When the question was put to him bluntly, the Buddha refused to take an absolute position on the existence or non-existence of self because either view would be misleading.


Please quote the text for this claim.

I took it from Ven. Thanissaro's essay here:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... tself.html

Having taken a seat to one side, Vacchagotta the wanderer said to the Master, 'Now then, Venerable Gotama, is there a self?' When this was said, the Master was silent.

'Then is there no self?' For a second time the Master was silent.

Then Vacchagotta the wanderer got up from his seat and left.

Then, not long after Vacchagotta the wanderer had left, the Venerable Ananda said to the Master, 'Why, sir, did the Master not answer when asked a question asked by Vacchagotta the wanderer?'

'Ananda, if I, being asked by Vacchagotta the wanderer if there is a self, were to answer that there is a self, that would be conforming with those priests & contemplatives who are exponents of eternalism (i.e., the view that there is an eternal soul). And if I... were to answer that there is no self, that would be conforming with those priests & contemplatives who are exponents of annihilationism (i.e., that death is the annihilation of experience). If I... were to answer that there is a self, would that be in keeping with the arising of knowledge that all phenomena are not-self?

'No, Lord.'

'And if I... were to answer that there is no self, the bewildered Vacchagotta would become even more bewildered: "Does the self which I used to have, now not exist?"'
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Re: How to deny Atman - Help defending Buddhadhamma

Postby clw_uk » Thu Jul 09, 2009 2:20 pm

Greetings Individual



what about

"Monks, where a self or what belongs to self are not pinned down as a truth or reality, then the view-position — 'This cosmos is the self. After death this I will be constant, permanent, eternal, not subject to change. I will stay just like that for an eternity' — Isn't it utterly & completely a fool's teaching?"

"What else could it be, lord? It's utterly & completely a fool's teaching."


and

"But, lord, might there be agitation over what is internally not present?"

"There might, monk," the Blessed One said. "There is the case where someone has this view: 'This cosmos is the self. After death this I will be constant, permanent, eternal, not subject to change. I will stay just like that for an eternity.' He hears a Tathagata or a Tathagata's disciple teaching the Dhamma for the elimination of all view-positions, determinations, biases, inclinations, & obsessions; for the stilling of all fabrications; for the relinquishing of all acquisitions; the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding. The thought occurs to him, 'So it might be that I will be annihilated! So it might be that I will perish! So it might be that I will not exist!' He grieves & is tormented, weeps, beats his breast, & grows delirious. It's thus that there is agitation over what is internally not present."



both from

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
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Re: How to deny Atman - Help defending Buddhadhamma

Postby Individual » Thu Jul 09, 2009 4:52 pm

clw_uk wrote:Greetings Individual



what about

"Monks, where a self or what belongs to self are not pinned down as a truth or reality, then the view-position — 'This cosmos is the self. After death this I will be constant, permanent, eternal, not subject to change. I will stay just like that for an eternity' — Isn't it utterly & completely a fool's teaching?"

"What else could it be, lord? It's utterly & completely a fool's teaching."


and

"But, lord, might there be agitation over what is internally not present?"

"There might, monk," the Blessed One said. "There is the case where someone has this view: 'This cosmos is the self. After death this I will be constant, permanent, eternal, not subject to change. I will stay just like that for an eternity.' He hears a Tathagata or a Tathagata's disciple teaching the Dhamma for the elimination of all view-positions, determinations, biases, inclinations, & obsessions; for the stilling of all fabrications; for the relinquishing of all acquisitions; the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding. The thought occurs to him, 'So it might be that I will be annihilated! So it might be that I will perish! So it might be that I will not exist!' He grieves & is tormented, weeps, beats his breast, & grows delirious. It's thus that there is agitation over what is internally not present."



both from

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

I have seen before in biblical debates, where a person will cite one passage from the Bible supporting one position and, as a counterargument, another person will cite another passage from the Bible apparently contradicting the previous passage... and yet, without apparently explaining the contradiction. This is a lazy dialectic and it would disturb me to see the same trend in discussions of the Tipitaka.

Remember that the Tipitaka also states that an inference can be made from the text which is perfectly logical, and yet still be completely, totally false. Why do you think the Buddha might say that outright denying the existence of self implies eternalism?

I don't think criticism fo Advaita needs two threads in a Buddhist forum, but I will say that the "Atman" of Advaita is not the same as the "atman" of Buddhism, and it's a misunderstanding to suggest that the Atman of Advaita equates with taking the universe or the cosmos to be self. The universe, the cosmos, and whatever might be beyond is Brahman: Brahman is the foundation for Atman, yet Atman is that which is conscious of Brahman. You can call this convoluted and I would agree... Very convoluted, yet equally convoluted as regarding the Five Aggregates as Paramattha-Dhamma. It's simply a useful convention, not ultimate truth itself. I suspect Advaitins would admit that as well. If they don't, they're superstitious.
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Re: How to deny Atman - Help defending Buddhadhamma

Postby clw_uk » Thu Jul 09, 2009 5:07 pm

Hey


I have seen before in biblical debates, where a person will cite one passage from the Bible supporting one position and, as a counterargument, another person will cite another passage from the Bible apparently contradicting the previous passage... and yet, without apparently explaining the contradiction. This is a lazy dialectic and it would disturb me to see the same trend in discussions of the Tipitaka.




You put forward the argument that

When the question was put to him bluntly, the Buddha refused to take an absolute position on the existence or non-existence of self because either view would be misleading.



Hence i quoted


"Monks, where a self or what belongs to self are not pinned down as a truth or reality, then the view-position — 'This cosmos is the self. After death this I will be constant, permanent, eternal, not subject to change. I will stay just like that for an eternity' — Isn't it utterly & completely a fool's teaching?"

"What else could it be, lord? It's utterly & completely a fool's teaching."

and

But, lord, might there be agitation over what is internally not present?"

"There might, monk," the Blessed One said. "There is the case where someone has this view: 'This cosmos is the self. After death this I will be constant, permanent, eternal, not subject to change. I will stay just like that for an eternity.' He hears a Tathagata or a Tathagata's disciple teaching the Dhamma for the elimination of all view-positions, determinations, biases, inclinations, & obsessions; for the stilling of all fabrications; for the relinquishing of all acquisitions; the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding. The thought occurs to him, 'So it might be that I will be annihilated! So it might be that I will perish! So it might be that I will not exist!' He grieves & is tormented, weeps, beats his breast, & grows delirious. It's thus that there is agitation over what is internally not present."



To show that the above sentence grinds against these passages. I didnt explain it because i thought it was obvious, i was also interested to hear your take on said passages


Why do you think the Buddha might say that outright denying the existence of self implies eternalism?


He doesnt, He said "I have a self" is erroneous and "I have no self" is the same since both start from "I"

However he states that the world and khandas are void of a self and that all conditioned dhammas are anatta. This is a denial of self without falling into the trap of "I have no self". Instead its seen as void of self

I have self is clinging

I have no self is clinging

all conditioned dhammas are not-self is non-clinging

the world is void of a self or what belongs to a self is non-clinging


The difference is from the starting point of the outlook, the first two start from a given of "I" while the last two dont

metta
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Re: How to deny Atman - Help defending Buddhadhamma

Postby clw_uk » Thu Jul 09, 2009 5:14 pm

My take on this sutta


'Ananda, if I, being asked by Vacchagotta the wanderer if there is a self, were to answer that there is a self, that would be conforming with those priests & contemplatives who are exponents of eternalism (i.e., the view that there is an eternal soul). And if I... were to answer that there is no self, that would be conforming with those priests & contemplatives who are exponents of annihilationism (i.e., that death is the annihilation of experience). If I... were to answer that there is a self, would that be in keeping with the arising of knowledge that all phenomena are not-self?

'No, Lord.'

'And if I... were to answer that there is no self, the bewildered Vacchagotta would become even more bewildered: "Does the self which I used to have, now not exist?"'



This is an interesting sutta but seen in light of other suttas and the general teachings i dont think it means that Buddha doesnt state "there is no self" but only that Vacchagotta would have been confused if he heard it

For one thing we know that Vacchagotta clung to other theories and doctrines and has got confused by Dhamma before

metta
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Re: How to deny Atman - Help defending Buddhadhamma

Postby clw_uk » Thu Jul 09, 2009 5:25 pm

Its also interesting that, from what i have read and can remember, this is the only sutta that states the view "there is no self" is annihilationism

In all other suttas (from memory) and from a quick glance at the brahmajala sutta, annihlationists always proclaim "I have no self" or "there is a self but it gets destroyed at death"

metta
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Re: How to deny Atman - Help defending Buddhadhamma

Postby Individual » Thu Jul 09, 2009 7:53 pm

clw_uk wrote:My take on this sutta


'Ananda, if I, being asked by Vacchagotta the wanderer if there is a self, were to answer that there is a self, that would be conforming with those priests & contemplatives who are exponents of eternalism (i.e., the view that there is an eternal soul). And if I... were to answer that there is no self, that would be conforming with those priests & contemplatives who are exponents of annihilationism (i.e., that death is the annihilation of experience). If I... were to answer that there is a self, would that be in keeping with the arising of knowledge that all phenomena are not-self?

'No, Lord.'

'And if I... were to answer that there is no self, the bewildered Vacchagotta would become even more bewildered: "Does the self which I used to have, now not exist?"'



This is an interesting sutta but seen in light of other suttas and the general teachings i dont think it means that Buddha doesnt state "there is no self" but only that Vacchagotta would have been confused if he heard it

For one thing we know that Vacchagotta clung to other theories and doctrines and has got confused by Dhamma before

metta

This leaves three questions open, though.

First, i your interpretation is true, why would this sutta have been included in the Tipitaka if it's only only about as important as the details of the Jataka tales

Second, what is the significance of Ananda (and the sutta's title)? That is, if the sutta is primarily about Vacchagotta simply being a confused person, of what concern is it to Ananda? As a somewhat related question, would you say that the average person (such as an Advaitin) is as equally confused as Vacchagotta? If there are many people like Vacchagotta, is it not unskillful to go around preaching, "THERE IS NO SELF!! THERE IS NO SELF!! YOU'RE WRONG IF YOU SAY THERE IS A SELF!! THERE IS NO SELF!!"

Lastly, the most important question that is left open: What exactly is a Vacchagotta? You're claiming that the entire meaning of the sutta (and therefore notself) is dependent on a property (ignorance) as a sub-set or relation to a fictional object (Vacchagotta)... for the sake of disproving the existence of said object (self) generally. That is circular. If there is no self, then there is no Vacchagotta. If there is no Vacchagotta, you cannot use the ignorance belonging to him as a basis for a claim about notself.
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Re: How to deny Atman - Help defending Buddhadhamma

Postby clw_uk » Thu Jul 09, 2009 9:04 pm

Hey


First, i your interpretation is true, why would this sutta have been included in the Tipitaka if it's only only about as important as the details of the Jataka tales


As i said in the post above, from what i have read and can remember, this is the only sutta that states the view "there is no self" is annihilationism. In all other suttas (from memory) and from a quick glance at the brahmajala sutta, annihlationists always proclaim "I have no self" or "there is a self but it gets destroyed at death"


I think then that perhaps we have a slight corruption of the text on our hands. If i am correct then it should read as

Having taken a seat to one side, Vacchagotta the wanderer said to the Master, 'Now then, Venerable Gotama, is there a self?' When this was said, the Master was silent.

'Then I have no self?' For a second time the Master was silent.

Then Vacchagotta the wanderer got up from his seat and left.

Then, not long after Vacchagotta the wanderer had left, the Venerable Ananda said to the Master, 'Why, sir, did the Master not answer when asked a question asked by Vacchagotta the wanderer?'

'Ananda, if I, being asked by Vacchagotta the wanderer if there is a self, were to answer that there is a self, that would be conforming with those priests & contemplatives who are exponents of eternalism (i.e., the view that there is an eternal soul). And if I... were to answer that he has no self, that would be conforming with those priests & contemplatives who are exponents of annihilationism [craig- the taking of the view "I have no self"] (i.e., that death is the annihilation of experience). If I... were to answer that there is a self, would that be in keeping with the arising of knowledge that all phenomena are not-self?

'No, Lord.'

'And if I... were to answer that there is no self, the bewildered Vacchagotta would become even more bewildered: "Does the self which I used to have, now not exist?"'



So my take is he was asking

Do i have a self
silence
Do i have no self
silence

reason - Said yes to self this would be ignorant understanding, said that he had no self it would be the same since the question was framed in the sense of "I have no self" and was coming from an "I"

Then the Buddha states "all dhammas are not self" and then if he were to give the answer (in line with supermundane understanding) "there is no self" this would have confused Vacchagotta into thinking "Does the self which I used to have, now not exist?" because he was approaching the Buddha and framing his whole questions in terms of "I"

Its kinda the same tact the Buddha took with "cosmos is eternal or not eternal?. He remainded silent here since they were questions that were coming from the preconceived notion of "I"


As a somewhat related question, would you say that the average person (such as an Advaitin) is as equally confused as Vacchagotta? If there are many people like Vacchagotta, is it not unskillful to go around preaching, "THERE IS NO SELF!! THERE IS NO SELF!! YOU'RE WRONG IF YOU SAY THERE IS A SELF!! THERE IS NO SELF!!"


Part of the problem is that

A) All the teachings are now on offer to read whereas in buddhas time different levels of teaching were given to different people in accordance with what they could understand

B) Not everyone has the skills to teach Dhamma effectively

As for the last part of

THERE IS NO SELF!! THERE IS NO SELF!! YOU'RE WRONG IF YOU SAY THERE IS A SELF!! THERE IS NO SELF


I havent come accross a Buddhist put it accross in this way, ever



Lastly, the most important question that is left open: What exactly is a Vacchagotta?


A name, a convention

If there is no self, then there is no Vacchagotta. If there is no Vacchagotta, you cannot use the ignorance belonging to him as a basis for a claim about notself.


"Vacchagotta" exists only as a convention, as a name given to a heap. There is no owner of ignorance, there just is ignorance

metta
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Re: How to deny Atman - Help defending Buddhadhamma

Postby clw_uk » Thu Jul 09, 2009 9:17 pm

I have a self... I have no self... It is precisely by means of self that I perceive self... It is precisely by means of self that I perceive not-self... It is precisely by means of not-self that I perceive self... or... This very self of mine — the knower that is sensitive here & there to the ripening of good & bad actions — is the self of mine that is constant, everlasting, eternal, not subject to change, and will endure as long as eternity. This is called a thicket of views, a wilderness of views, a contortion of views, a writhing of views, a fetter of views. Bound by a fetter of views, the uninstructed run-of-the-mill person is not freed from birth, aging, & death, from sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair. He is not freed, I tell you, from suffering & stress.



The problem is "I have no self" not "there is no self"
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Re: How to deny Atman - Help defending Buddhadhamma

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Jul 09, 2009 11:06 pm

Individual wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
Individual wrote: Denying Atman is in some sense, affirming it.


One does not have to deny it. All that is necessary is to show that when the notion is pushed, it ends up looking just like one or other of the khandhas. As Douglas Adams said: If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, we have at least to consider the possibility that we have a small aquatic bird of the family anatidae on our hands, or atman ends up making no sense.

What precisely is this "Douglas Adams" you are referring to? What's a Douglas Adams?

Do you acknowledge the existence of the mind? Of course you do. Do you acknowledge the existence of many minds? I assume so. Do you acknowledge that, of the many minds, every mind is connected with only a single body? I assume you acknowledge that too... And so, well, that's a sentient being: A single mind connected within a single body.


The point of this little outburst? Is this supposed to be example of problematic questions for Buddhists? Not very good, are they? On the other hand the questions I offered to Craig do address directly issues of the atman/agent issue. Now his Hindu friend might be able to adequately counter those questions, but not with the lame-itude you are offering.

Individual wrote:When the question was put to him bluntly, the Buddha refused to take an absolute position on the existence or non-existence of self because either view would be misleading.


tiltbillings wrote:Please quote the text for this claim.

Individual wrote:I took it from Ven. Thanissaro's essay here:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... tself.html


You obviously did not read with any care whatsoever the text you just quoted. It certainly does not support your contention. Try again.

I will say that the "Atman" of Advaita is not the same as the "atman" of Buddhism,


And so you have, but if we are talking about an atman that is a supposed permanent agent behind things that is part of, no different from, some sort of godhead concept, then the Buddha critique works just fine.

It's simply a useful convention, not ultimate truth itself. I suspect Advaitins would admit that as well. If they don't, they're superstitious.


And you base this upon what?
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

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Re: How to deny Atman - Help defending Buddhadhamma

Postby Individual » Thu Jul 09, 2009 11:30 pm

Perhaps you both are right.
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Re: How to deny Atman - Help defending Buddhadhamma

Postby clw_uk » Fri Jul 10, 2009 8:44 pm

The last few posts have got me thinking about the "no self" position

It seems to me that if a person says "no self" is annihilationism then this is wrong understanding on the persons part since for something to be annihilated it must be seen to exist in the first place

So if you say no self is annihilationism that means you think there is a self now since something can only be annihilated if its seen to exist


So i cant see how "no self" is annihilationism unless you already think there is a self


Whereas "I have a self" or "there is self" is obviously ignorance and "I have no self" or "there is self but it gets annihilated" is the same


For one who understands Dhamma "no self" cant be annilation view since they understand that "self" only arises in the first place because of clinging and not as a set existing entity

just my two cents
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Re: How to deny Atman - Help defending Buddhadhamma

Postby shjohnk » Wed Jul 15, 2009 4:10 am

This thread, though the subjects are too deep for me to give any meaningful contribution, reminds me of the futility of debating with Christians: No matter how far back you go with dependant origination or anything else, they'll simply say 'Yes, and God created that'. As many people have already stated, people like the guy you are debating with are too caught up in their own conditioned view of reality to be convinced. The best thing you can do IMO is try to influence them through your actions, and if they ask why you act in a certain way you can tell them about the eightfold path, which should plant some good seeds for them. Metta.

JD32
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Re: How to deny Atman - Help defending Buddhadhamma

Postby JD32 » Sat Jan 23, 2010 12:15 pm

Once again, Ajahn Thanissaro comes to the rescue by illuminating obscure suttas:

The "neti, neti" doctrine is a form of craving for non-becoming and tends to lead to the arupa states (i.e. For instance, you can discern from the discourses of Upanishadic yogis such as Ramana Maharshi that he got stuck on one of the formless state by disidentifying himself with phenomena. You can also see it in the writings of Christian and Muslim mystics.):

"Another problem with the Niga°˛ha view is that they did not see that the act of being equanimous in the face of pain is also a type of kamma, and as such can become a center for craving and clinging. The Buddha discusses this point in his
analysis of another view, one that he adapted from meditators of sects who aimed at non-becoming. This viewpoint is expressed in a fairly cryptic statement that, because of an idiomatic peculiarity of the P›li language, can be translated in two ways:

“The supreme viewpoint external (to the Dhamma) is this: ‘I should not be and it should not be mine; I will not be; it will not be mine.’” — AN
10:29


“The supreme viewpoint external (to the Dhamma) is this: ‘I should not be and it should not occur to me; I will not be; it will not occur to me.’”
— AN 10:29

In the first reading, the “it” in “it should not be … it will not be,” apparently refers to any object of consciousness. In the second reading, the “it” apparently refers to any thought or perception appearing in the mind. In either reading, this viewpoint is aimed at putting an end to all thought, perception, consciousness, and any sense of identity at all. The Buddha regarded this as the supreme viewpoint external to the Dhamma because it prevents the person holding it
from regarding becoming as an attractive option, and the cessation of becoming as an unattractive one. In this way, it could prove useful in a path aiming at the cessation of becoming.

“The supreme viewpoint external (to the Dhamma) is this: ‘I should not be and it should not occur to me; I will not be; it will not occur to me.’ Of one with this view it may be expected, ‘(The thought of) unloathsomeness with regard to becoming will not occur to him, and (the thought of) loathsomeness with regard to the cessation of becoming will
not occur to him.’” — AN 10:29

However, this viewpoint—in and of itself—does not lead to freedom from the changeablility of becoming.

“There are beings who have this view. Yet even in the beings who have this view there is still aberration, there is change. Seeing this, the instructed disciple of the noble ones grows disenchanted with that.” — AN
10:29

The Buddha nowhere discusses the precise state of becoming engendered by the act of holding to this viewpoint, but two possibilities come to mind. The first is that the act of holding to the second reading of the viewpoint—stating that no
thoughts (or perceptions) should or will occur to one—would apparently lead to the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception. AN 4:172 singles out this dimension as the realm in which beings take rebirth without conscious
intention on their part or on the part of anyone else. In other words, one takes rebirth and inhabits a new level of becoming there even when one does not consciously want to engage in becoming at all. As we will see below, MN 106
states that this realm is the fate of a monk who, with an incomplete understanding of its results, uses a modified version of this viewpoint. A second possibility is that, in trying to obliterate both perception and one’s existence—“I should not be … I will not be”—a person at death would join the ranks of a class of devas that are mentioned—briefly—in only one spot in the discourses: the “beings without perception” (asaññı satta or asaññ›-satta—DN 1). These beings apparently exist in a state of total blankness, for DN 1 adds that when they fall from this state they retain no memory of anything preceding their fall, even if they later develop the level of concentration that would otherwise allow them to remember previous lives. In either event, the primary flaw in this viewpoint aimed at non-becoming is that it actually results in renewed becoming. This, as we have frequently noted, is the central paradox of becoming. The simple desire to put an end to becoming cannot, by itself, put an end to the ignorance that lies at the root of becoming. This is why the Buddha, in MN 49, says that he saw becoming in the search for non-becoming, and why his full definition of the cause of suffering includes not only craving for sensuality and becoming, but also craving for non-becoming as well. This is also why his path to the end of becoming has, as its crucial moment, an act of knowledge that puts an end to ignorance about becoming and the types of clinging and craving that underlie it. An understanding of the processes of
becoming thus not only helps to explain the path. It is part of the path itself."

http://www.dhammatalks.org/Archive/Writ ... coming.pdf


Getting stuck on the arupa states was the Buddha's primary criticism of Upanishadic yogis:

"Two mistaken inferences are particularly relevant here. The first concerns the range of the not-self teaching. Some have argued that, because the Buddha usually limits his teachings on not-self to the five aggregates — form, feeling, perceptions, fabrications, and consciousness — he leaves open the possibility that something else may be regarded as self. Or, as the argument is often phrased, he denies the limited, temporal self as a means of pointing to one's identity with the larger, unlimited, cosmic self. However, in this discourse the Buddha explicitly phrases the not-self teaching in such a way as to refute any notion of cosmic self. Instead of centering his discussion of not-self on the five aggregates, he focuses on the first four aggregates plus two other possible objects of self-identification, both more explicitly cosmic in their range: (1) all that can be seen, heard, sensed, cognized, attained, sought after, pondered by the intellect; and (2) the cosmos as a whole, eternal and unchanging. In fact, the Buddha holds this last view up to particular ridicule, as the teaching of a fool, for two reasons that are developed at different points in this discourse: (1) If the cosmos were "me," then it must also be "mine," which is obviously not the case. (2) There is nothing in the experience of the cosmos that fits the bill of being eternal, unchanging, or that deserves to be clung to as "me" or "mine.""

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

JD32
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Re: How to deny Atman - Help defending Buddhadhamma

Postby JD32 » Sat Jan 23, 2010 1:19 pm

"For instance, you can discern from the discourses of Upanishadic yogis such as Ramana Maharshi that he got stuck on one of the formless state by disidentifying himself with phenomena."

I might as well illustrate what I am talking about. Upanishadic yogis will say that they have gone beyond the ego(ahamkara), mind, etc., but there is still a subtle level of identification:

""Jnana is given neither from outside nor from another person. It can be realised by each and everyone in his own Heart. The jnana Guru of everyone is only the Supreme Self that is always revealing its own truth in every Heart through the being-conciousness 'I am, I am.' The granting of true knowledge by him is initiation into jnana. The grace of the Guru is only that Self-awareness that is one's own true nature. It is the inner conciousness by which he is unceasingly revealing his existence. This divine upadesa is always going on naturally in everyone." "

http://www.davidgodman.org/

As Ajahn Lee and Ajahn Thanissaro point out, one of the hallmarks of people getting stuck in the arupa states is that they think they have found their "True Self" (or Atman if you will):

"The four levels of rupa jhana and the four levels of arupa jhana, taken together, are called the eight attainments (samapatti), all of which come down to two sorts: mundane and transcendent. In mundane jhana, the person who has attained jhana assumes that, 'This is my self,' or 'I am that,' and holds fast to these assumptions, not giving rise to the knowledge that can let go of those things in line with their true nature. This is classed as sakkaya-ditthi, the viewpoint that leads us to self-identification, the feeling that, 'This is me,' or 'This is mine.' This in turn leads to silabbata-paramasa, attachment to our accustomed practices, i.e., seeing jhana as something of magical potency, that whatever we set our minds on attaining will have to come true. As for our doubts (vicikiccha) about the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha, these haven't been cleared up, because we've been deflected at this level and haven't gotten any further.

Thus whoever attains jhana without abandoning the three fetters (sanyojana) is practicing mundane jhana. Mundane jhana, unless you're really expert at it, is the easiest thing in the world to lose. It's always ready to deteriorate at the slightest disturbance from sights, sounds, smells, tastes, tactile sensations, and ideas. Sometimes you may be sitting in jhana and then, when you get up and walk away, it's gone."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai/lee/craft.html

"Finally, although the Deathless is sometimes called consciousness without feature, without end, it is not to be confused with the formless stage of concentration called the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness. One of the main differences between the two is that the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness is fabricated and willed (see MN 140). The element of will, though, can be very attenuated while one is in that dimension, and only discernment at an extremely subtle level can ferret it out. One way of testing for it is to see if there is any sense of identification with the knowing. If there is, then there is still the conceit of I-making and my-making applied to that state. Another test is to see if there is any sense that the knowing contains all things or is their source. If there is, then there is still fabrication in that state of mind, for when the Deathless is fully comprehended, the sense of unrestricted awareness as containing or acting as the source of other things is seen to be an ignorant conceit."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... icity.html

"he formless acquisition can result from any of the formless states of concentration — such as an experience of infinite space, infinite consciousness, or nothingness. Although meditators, on experiencing these states, might assume that they have encountered their "true self," the Buddha is careful to note that these are acquisitions, and that they are no more one's true self than the body is."

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


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