SN 35.236 The Simile Of Hands And Feet

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

Re: SN 35.236 The Simile Of Hands And Feet

Postby retrofuturist » Fri May 14, 2010 10:02 pm

Greetings Mike, all,

Mike wrote:Perhaps I'm misunderstanding your point, but your argument, here and elsewhere, seems to be:
1. The Dhamma is best understood according to some particular philosophical point of view X.
2. Therefore interpretation Y is better than interpretation Z because it is in line with X.


This is probably more like it...

1. The Dhamma was taught from a certain mindset, perspective or disposition - let's call it y
2. The Dhamma cannot be approached from no mindset, perspective or disposition (no blank slate) - that is impossible
3. The Dhamma can be approached from numerous possible mindsets, perspectives or dispositions - let's call them x1, x2, x3, x4, x5... .
4. If x(n)=y, we will get maximum value from what is being taught if we approach the Dhamma with disposition x(n)
5. If x(n)<>y, we will get less than optimal benefit from what is being taught if we approach the Dhamma with disposition x(n)
6. Because of the above, it is worth questioning ourselves on the value of y, and working out which x is closest to, or equal to y, and adopting the best x we know of in order to bring them into harmony

I hope that shows there's nothing uniquely "modern" about it, other than the Western words used to facilitate the discussion to date, so please try not to get preoccupied with that particular aspect of it... they're just words that point to things. Buddhaghosa taught of different temperaments too, and the Buddha acknowledged different temperaments in relation to those who were easily trained, versus those who weren't.

Once the discrepancy between x(n) and y is identified, the following options are available.

A. Some people try to mould y on to their existing x - I'm sure you've seen that in some people, they change the Dhamma to fit their pre-dispositions.

B. Other people are so devoted to the Dhamma, that they will surrender their original ignorant disposition x in order to change to make it such that x(a)=y, whereby a equals whatever it has to such that x=y, and thereby surrender to the Dhamma and endeavour to make themselves easily trainable

I have followed Option B, but am acutely aware that someone else might unknowingly assume I've followed Option A, and become aghast or horrified at some of the things I say or the way I approach the Dhamma in general. That's because they are either unaware of the above, or choose to disregard it. I'm that introverted I know I have a particular mindset/disposition... someone less introverted may not even ask the questions in the first place. I have benefited significantly from the change in mindset (and I can't argue with my own experience!) so I'd like to offer the opportunity of this introspection and surrender to others. It is kind of ironic though to be perceived as arrogant when in fact you have surrendered to the Dhamma... eight worldly conditions. 8-)

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: SN 35.236 The Simile Of Hands And Feet

Postby Anicca » Fri May 14, 2010 10:09 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Alas, much of what I say will be rather meaningless if taken from an ontological standpoint... consider this a translation guide to the ramblings of Retrofuturist.


It's a little confusing, but worth distinguishing. :anjali:
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Re: SN 35.236 The Simile Of Hands And Feet

Postby mikenz66 » Fri May 14, 2010 10:24 pm

Hi Retro,

I agree that people bring different mindsets. The aspect you seem to be leaving out is that because of that different ways of approaching some aspects will be more useful for particular people. I don't personally find this sort of meta-analysis particularly useful. It seems overly clinical/scientific/philosophical for me: Consider all the evidence, figure out what to do, do it. I seem to have used a much more organic process: try something, see if it works, make some changes if it doesn't...

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Re: SN 35.236 The Simile Of Hands And Feet

Postby retrofuturist » Fri May 14, 2010 10:28 pm

Greetings Mike,

mikenz66 wrote:I seem to have used a much more organic process: try something, see if it works, make some changes if it doesn't...


:thumbsup:

If that's the way you look at it, just be sure to continue doing it and don't become complacent.... great is better than good.

(You did a nice job in that last post of demonstrating the differences in our dispositions, btw, because "Consider all the evidence, figure out what to do, do it." is precisely what I do... our different dispositions even reflect our respective different ways of coming to Theravada)

Metta,
Retro. the INTJ :)
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: SN 35.236 The Simile Of Hands And Feet

Postby mikenz66 » Fri May 14, 2010 10:43 pm

:anjali:
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Re: SN 35.236 The Simile Of Hands And Feet

Postby chownah » Mon May 17, 2010 2:12 pm

mikenz66 wrote:I don't really understand how pursuing this ontological/phenomenological distinction would be useful to my understanding. Perhaps it is interesting to analyse Dhamma in terms of some particular Western Philosophical categories, but it doesn't do much for me.
Mike

Mikenz66,
Perhaps you are looking in the wrong place....perhaps the distinction should be used not as a way to understand the Dhamma but rather as a way to understand ones self....i.e. if one finds that one uses one over the other or uses them both but for different situations then perhaps one can gain a bit of insite into how ones mind works etc.....I guess.
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Re: SN 35.236 The Simile Of Hands And Feet

Postby mikenz66 » Tue May 18, 2010 8:17 am

Hi Chownah,
chownah wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:I don't really understand how pursuing this ontological/phenomenological distinction would be useful to my understanding. Perhaps it is interesting to analyse Dhamma in terms of some particular Western Philosophical categories, but it doesn't do much for me.
Mike

Mikenz66,
Perhaps you are looking in the wrong place....perhaps the distinction should be used not as a way to understand the Dhamma but rather as a way to understand ones self....i.e. if one finds that one uses one over the other or uses them both but for different situations then perhaps one can gain a bit of insite into how ones mind works etc.....I guess.
chownah

Yes, now that Retro has explained his motivation a little I agree that it can be useful to be able to analyse the different ways people (and especially oneself) approache the Dhamma.

But what I disagree with is using these classifications to argue that one particular interpretation is better than another, which I what I thought Retro was doing: arguing that the "here and now" interpretation of Dependent Origination is better because it is "phenomenological" and the traditional understanding is unsatisfactory because some people choose to classify it as "ontological".

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Re: SN 35.236 The Simile Of Hands And Feet

Postby retrofuturist » Tue May 18, 2010 9:31 am

Greetings Mike,

mikenz66 wrote:But what I disagree with is using these classifications to argue that one particular interpretation is better than another, which I what I thought Retro was doing

No... only arguing that knowing how you approach the Dhamma as your standard M.O. means you can see that you're approaching it from just one of many available perspectives, and that those other available perspectives (which may not come naturally) are also worthy of consideration, in the event that they may lead us to new perspectives that our habitual tendencies might otherwise blind us from.

I believe that's called overcoming kammic obstacles 8-)

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: SN 35.236 The Simile Of Hands And Feet

Postby mikenz66 » Tue May 18, 2010 10:44 am

Hi Retro,
retrofuturist wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:But what I disagree with is using these classifications to argue that one particular interpretation is better than another, which I what I thought Retro was doing

No... only arguing that knowing how you approach the Dhamma as your standard M.O. means you can see that you're approaching it from just one of many available perspectives, and that those other available perspectives (which may not come naturally) are also worthy of consideration, in the event that they may lead us to new perspectives that our habitual tendencies might otherwise blind us from.

Well yes, of course, it's good to consider different perspectives and examine one's prejudices.

However, as I have tried to explain, I am not convinced by your assertion that the standard interpretation is "less phenomenological" or "more ontological". By all means analyse your own tendencies that way if you find it useful, but please do not assume that you can analyse the habitual tendencies of others by that yardstick.

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Re: SN 35.236 The Simile Of Hands And Feet

Postby retrofuturist » Tue May 18, 2010 10:53 am

Greetings Mike,

I don't. I make no claim to have read the minds of others.

:alien:

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: SN 35.236 The Simile Of Hands And Feet

Postby retrofuturist » Sat May 22, 2010 7:53 am

Greetings,

An extract from Visuddhimagga chapter XVIII which seems particularly pertinent to this discussion...

@ 9 - Here a Bhikkhu considers the elements thus: 'There are in this person the eye element, ... the mind-consciousness element'. Instead of taking the piece of flesh variegated with white and black circles, having length and breadth, and fastened in the eye socket with a string of sinew, which the world terms 'an eye', he defines the 'eye element' the eye sensitivity of the kind described among the kinds of derived materiality in the Description of the Aggregates.

@11 - So the five sensitivities, and their five respective objective fields, that is, visible data, sounds, odours, flavours, and tangible data, make ten instances of materiality

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: SN 35.236 The Simile Of Hands And Feet

Postby Prasadachitta » Sun May 30, 2010 4:15 pm

This also seems appropriate to the conversation.

SN 4.19
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn04/sn04.019.than.html
Then Mara the Evil One, taking on the form of a farmer with a large plowshare over his shoulder, carrying a long goad stick — his hair disheveled, his clothes made of coarse hemp, his feet splattered with mud — went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, said, "Hey, contemplative. Have you seen my oxen?"

"And what are your oxen, Evil One?"

"Mine alone is the eye, contemplative. Mine are forms, mine is the sphere of consciousness & contact at the eye. Where can you go to escape me? Mine alone is the ear... the nose... the tongue... the body... Mine alone is the intellect, contemplative. Mine are ideas, mine is the sphere of consciousness & contact at the intellect. Where can you go to escape me?"

"Yours alone is the eye, Evil One. Yours are forms, yours is the sphere of consciousness of contact at the eye. Where no eye exists, no forms exist, no sphere of consciousness & contact at the eye exists: there, Evil One, you cannot go. Yours alone is the ear... the nose... the tongue... the body... Yours alone is the intellect, Evil One. Yours are ideas, yours is the sphere of consciousness & contact at the intellect. Where no intellect exists, no ideas exist, no sphere of consciousness of contact at the intellect exists: there, Evil One, you cannot go."

[Mara:]
Of what they say, 'This is mine'; and those who say, 'Mine': If your intellect's here, contemplative, you can't escape from me.

[The Buddha:]
What they speak of isn't mine, and I'm not one of those who speak it. Know this, Evil One: you won't even see my tracks.

Then Mara the Evil One — sad & dejected at realizing, "The Blessed One knows me; the One Well-gone knows me" — vanished right there.


Metta

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