reflection wrote:It'll probably be much more fruitful to discuss the question "do the suttas teach a soul?" instead, or "how do we find the answer to the soul/no soul dilemma on a practical level?". That's better because it doesn't get personal - especially considering the venerable to is not here to defend himself.
Personally I don't really care about venerable Thanissaro's view any more than the view of any other person on earth. I just hope many people find the real Dhamma and will be able to live it. And that we could all get along.
Personally I don't really care about venerable Thanissaro's view any more than the view of any other person on earth.
mal4mac wrote:“In his essay “No-self or Not-self?” he makes it clear that his understanding of the teaching of anatta is that there is, in fact, an eternal soul, but that nothing that is part of our time-space continuum is part of that soul, and so we must learn not to be attached to anything in this samsaric world.
from footnote 2 to his translation of MN 38 - http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
The Pali here is, Nanu mayā moghapurisa anekapariyāyena paṭiccasamuppannaṃ viññāṇaṃ vuttaṃ, 'Aññatra paccayā n'atthi viññāṇassa sambhavoti?'
If the first part of this sentence were a complete sentence, its syntax — putting the topic of what is described in the accusative (paṭiccasamuppannaṃ viññāṇaṃ), followed by the word vuttaṃ ("described") plus the speaker in the instrumental (mayā) — could be translated in line with either of two patterns.
An example of the first pattern is in SN 12.24: Paṭiccasamuppannaṃ kho ānanda dukkhaṃ vuttaṃ mayā — "Ānanda, stress has been described by me as dependently co-arisen." In other words, the pattern is: "X has been described as Y by the speaker."
An example of the second pattern is in AN 3.74: Sekhampi kho mahānāma sīlaṃ vuttaṃ bhagavatā, asekhampi sīlaṃ vuttaṃ bhagavatā — "Mahānāma, the virtue of one in training has been described by the Blessed One, and the virtue of one beyond training has been described by the Blessed One." This pattern is: "X has been described by the speaker." Another example of this pattern is in SN 41.2: Idaṃ kho gahapati dhātu-nānattaṃ vuttaṃ bhagavatā: cakkhu-dhātu, rūpa-dhātu, cakkhu-viññāṇa-dhātu... mano-dhātu, dhamma-dhātu, mano-viññāṇa-dhātu —"Householder, this diversity of properties has been described by the Blessed One: eye-property, form property, eye-consciousness property... intellect-property, idea property, intellect-consciousness property." Again: "X has been described by the speaker."
To make a literal translation of the entire passage here in line with the first pattern would yield: "Worthless man, hasn't consciousness been described as dependently co-arisen by me in many ways (that), 'Apart from a requisite condition, there is no coming-into-play of consciousness'?"
To make a literal translation in line with the second pattern would yield: "Worthless man, hasn't dependently co-arisen consciousness been described by me in many ways (that), 'Apart from a requisite condition, there is no coming-into-play of consciousness'?"
The translator of MLS renders the sentence both ways. When it earlier appears in the mouths of the monks reprimanding Sāti, she renders it in line with the first pattern: "For, reverend Sāti, in many a figure is conditioned genesis spoken of in connection with consciousness by the Lord, saying: 'Apart from condition there is no origination of consciousness.'" When the sentence appears in the Buddha's mouth, she renders it in line with the second pattern: "Foolish man, has not consciousness generated by conditions been spoken of in many a figure by me, saying: Apart from condition there is no origination of consciousness?"
The translators of MLDB consistently follow the first pattern in rendering this sentence: "Misguided man, have I not stated in many ways consciousness to be dependently arisen since without a condition there is no origination of consciousness?" (It might be noted that this rendering inserts a "since" where there is none in the Pali, and ignores the quotation marks (ti) around the sentence beginning, "Apart from" or "without." More on this below.)
The substantive difference in these two patterns is that the first could be taken as implying that all consciousness is dependently co-arisen, whereas the second states explicitly that the Buddha's words, "Apart from condition there is no origination of consciousness," apply specifically to one type of consciousness — consciousness arising in dependence on the co-arising of conditions — leaving open the possibility that there is another type of consciousness to which these words do not apply.
Arguing from translations rendered in line with the first pattern, people have asserted that the two passages in the Canon (in DN 11 and MN 49) referring to consciousness without surface are not in keeping with the principle, expressed here, that all consciousness is dependently co-arisen. Thus, the argument continues, those two passages cannot be accepted as coming genuinely from the Buddha, whereas this passage in MN 38 definitely can.
There are three main problems with this argument. The first is that, throughout the suttas, when consciousness as an active agent is discussed without modifiers, it is always with reference to the consciousness aggregate, as that is the sort of consciousness occurring within the territory delimited by the way the Buddha explicitly defines the term, "all" (see SN 35.23). That is clearly the topic of discussion here. Consciousness without surface (see note 1) is discussed explicitly only in passages where the Buddha is citing the superiority of his attainment over that of brahmas: In knowing this sort of consciousness, which performs no active role and lies outside of the term "all" (MN 49), he knows something that brahmas do not. At the same time, to lie outside of the consciousness aggregate, it would also have to lie outside of the dimensions of time and space, as that aggregate is defined as covering all consciousness "past, future, and present... far and near" (SN 22.59). Because the consciousness discussed in this sutta is an active agent, functions within the dimensions of time and space, and definitely lies within the term "all," all references can be understood to apply solely to the consciousness aggregate. What this means is that even if we were to follow the first pattern in translating this sentence — if it were a sentence — we would not have to adopt the argument drawn from it; the people advancing this argument force the passage to say more than it actually says when taken in the context of the suttas as a whole.
Second, it is a poor interpretative strategy to give unnecessary privilege to one passage of the Canon at the expense of two others when we have no way of proving which passages in the suttas are most authentic. This is especially true in light of the fact that the passage here — even if we took it as a complete sentence — would not demand a single, unequivocal interpretation. To force such an interpretation on it, knowing that that would discredit other passages as inauthentic, is unfair to the texts.
The third problem with the argument for using this passage to reject DN 11 and MN 49, however, is the most telling: The first part of the above sentence is not a complete sentence. It is followed by a passage in quotation marks: 'Aññatra paccayā n'atthi viññāṇassa sambhavoti?' The only way to make sense of this punctuation is to take this passage in quotation marks as constituting what is said (vuttaṃ) about X as named in the first part of the sentence. In other words, this constitutes the description that the Buddha has made about dependently-coarisen consciousness. The second pattern is the only one that make sense in this context: "Worthless man, hasn't dependently co-arisen consciousness been described by me in many ways (that), 'Apart from a requisite condition, there is no coming-into-play of consciousness'?"
Thus it is clear that the Buddha here is discussing dependently co-arisen consciousness in a way that does not preclude the possibility that there is also a consciousness that lies beyond the six sense-media, is not dependently co-arisen, and is neither momentary nor eternal, as it stands outside the dimension of time.
manas wrote:mal4mac wrote:“In his essay “No-self or Not-self?” he makes it clear that his understanding of the teaching of anatta is that there is, in fact, an eternal soul, but that nothing that is part of our time-space continuum is part of that soul, and so we must learn not to be attached to anything in this samsaric world.
I don't know how you draw such a conclusion, but you have clearly misunderstood what he is getting at in the essay.
mal4mac wrote: The teaching on anatta is subtle and can take some time to grasp. But while striving to comprehend it, do beware of putting words into the mouths of respected Dhamma teachers, because Thanissaro Bhikkhu did not and does not say what you wrote (just above). I highly recommend listening to the entire talk...
reflection wrote:It'll probably be much more fruitful to discuss the question "do the suttas teach a soul?" instead, or "how do we find the answer to the soul/no soul dilemma on a practical level?"...
socratessmith wrote:Do the Pali suttas teach atman--soul, unconditioned mind, or something effectively like it? Yes and no.
socratessmith wrote:...Any but the most faithful can see that.
socratessmith wrote:Do the Pali suttas teach atman--soul, unconditioned mind, or something effectively like it? Yes and no. "The Buddha" of the suttas is a literary concoction. Sure, the basis of that concoction is a historical figure and his historical teachings. But the sum total of "The Buddha" and "The Buddha's teachings" in the Pali canon is a literary melange. Many different, often opposing, Buddhist groups left their hand smudges on the canon. Any but the most faithful can see that. Buddhists are like Christians and Muslims when it comes to their "sacred" texts: largely ignorant of the actual history of textual formation.
So, one group of monks has "The Buddha" posit things like a pristine, unconditioned consciousness free of all adventitious defilements, while another has him posit the impossibility of such an Upanishadic-type of persisting entity. Of course, there are also positions in between.
This complexity of the canonical formation may explain in part why contemporary Buddhist teachers like Geoff are such eel-wrigglers: they must reconcile logically irreconcilable positions. That they do so, of course, only reveals their ignorance concerning the various contingencies canonical/doctrinal formation.
The second point is that nirvana, from the very beginning, was realized through unestablished consciousness — one that doesn’t come or go or stay in place. There’s no way that anything unestablished can get stuck anywhere at all, for it’s not only non-localized but also undefined.
Wherever there’s attachment, that’s where you get defined as a being. You create an identity there, and in so doing you’re limited there. Even if the “there” is an infinite sense of awareness grounding, surrounding, or permeating everything else, it’s still limited, for “grounding” and so forth are aspects of place. Wherever there’s place, no matter how subtle, passion lies latent, looking for more food to feed on.
This is why the consciousness of nirvana is said to be “without surface” (anidassanam), for it doesn’t land. Because the consciousness-aggregate covers only consciousness that is near or far, past, present, or future — i.e., in connection with space and time — consciousness without surface is not included in the aggregates. It’s not eternal because eternity is a function of time. And because non-local also means undefined, the Buddha insisted that an awakened person — unlike ordinary people — can’t be located or defined in any relation to the aggregates in this life; after death, he/she can’t be described as existing, not existing, neither, or both, because descriptions can apply only to definable things.
With no you here or there or between the two, you obviously can’t use the verb “enter” or “reach” to describe this realization, even metaphorically. Maybe we should make the word nirvana into a verb itself: “When there is no you in connection with that, you nirvana.” That way we can indicate that unbinding is an action unlike any other, and we can head off any mistaken notion about getting “stuck” in total freedom.” Thanissaro Bhikkhu
Ārammaṇe asati patiṭṭhā viññāṇassa na hoti.
There being no support, there is no establishment of consciousness.
mal4mac wrote:manas wrote:I don't know how you draw such a conclusion, but you have clearly misunderstood what he is getting at in the essay.
I did not draw such a conclusion, if you read my original post you will see that this was a quote from Tom Pepper. At the time of posting I hadn't even read the essay!
Now viññāṇaṃ anidassanaṃ is a reference to the nature of the released consciousness of an arahant. It does not reflect anything. To be more precise, it does not reflect a nāma-rūpa, or name-and-form. An ordinary individual sees a nāma-rūpa, when he reflects, which he calls 'I' and 'mine'. It is like the reflection of that dog, which sees its own delusive reflection in the water. A non-arahant, upon reflection, sees name-and-form, which however he mistakes to be his self. With the notion of 'I' and 'mine' he falls into delusion with regard to it. But the arahant's consciousness is an unestablished consciousness.
A non-arahant's consciousness is established on name-and-form. The unestablished consciousness is that which is free from name-and-form and is unestablished on name-and-form. The established consciousness, upon reflection, reflects name-and-form, on which it is established, whereas the unestablished consciousness does not find a name-and-form as a reality. The arahant has no attachments or entanglements in regard to name-and-form. In short, it is a sort of penetration of name-and-form, without getting entangled in it. This is how we have to unravel the meaning of the expression anidassana vinnnam.
Some controversy over viññanam anidassanam, a synonym for Nibbana, the unconditioned consciousness, non-temporal, the consciousness that is outside of everything and includes it all. Theravadin extremists argue that this leads to the idea of a soul and the god/creator thing we’re familiar with from church conditioning. I’m reminded that all the Teachings were intended to be tools to assist in our awakening. We don’t attach to them, develop a clear mind, let go and see for ourselves.
Aj Amaro- Attending to the Deathless
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