Conditioned vs Unconditioned

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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Re: Conditioned vs Unconditioned

Postby tiltbillings » Wed May 19, 2010 2:40 am

Pannapetar wrote:Nibbana-ized or nibbananized? Haven't heard that before. Sounds a bit like cannibalized. Cannibalizing on samsara perhaps?
Perhaps not.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

    >> Do you see a man wise [enlightened] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<<
    -- Proverbs 26:12

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Re: Conditioned vs Unconditioned

Postby Wind » Wed May 19, 2010 3:09 am

thanks everyone for your responses. You guys offer some interesting perspectives.

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Re: Conditioned vs Unconditioned

Postby Jason » Fri May 21, 2010 2:50 pm

Interesting discussion. In Buddhism, it's much better to think about phenomena as activities, events or processes rather than things or places. The way it’s presented in Theravada, samsara, literally "wandering on," is the potential for the arising of human [mental] suffering, while nibbana, literally, "extinguishing," is the cessation of that potential. As Thanissaro Bhikkhu puts it, "Samsara is a process of creating places, even whole worlds, (this is called becoming) and then wandering through them (this is called birth). Nirvana is the end of this process (emphasis mine)." Nirvana is "realized only when the mind stops defining itself in terms of place ... it's realized through unestablished consciousness."

This may be a bit of nonsense, but in one of the ways I like to look at it, the conventional viewpoint (sammuti sacca) explains things through subject, verb and object whereas the ultimate viewpoint (paramattha sacca) explains things through verb alone. In essence, things are being viewed from the perspective of activities and processes. This, I think, is incredibly difficult to see, but perhaps what happens here is that once self-identity view (sakkaya-ditthi) is removed, the duality of subject and object is also removed, thereby revealing the level of mere conditional phenomena, i.e., dependent co-arising in action. This mental process is "seen," ignorance is replaced by knowledge and vision of things as they are (yatha-bhuta-nana-dassana), and nibbana, then, would be the "letting go" of what isn't self through the dispassion (viraga) invoked in seeing the inconstant (anicca) and stressful (dukkha) nature of clinging to false refuges that are neither fixed nor stable (anatta). Nibbana isn't the unconditioned as much as it's the unconditioned.

(This kind of reminds me of something I read recently in Bertrand Russell's A History of Western Philosophy. While discussing Heraclitus’ doctrine of perpetual flux [which is similar to the Theravadin samsara], he goes to discuss how "science, like philosophy, has sought to escape from the doctrine of perpetual flux by finding some permanent substratum amid changing phenomena… Unfortunately it seemed that protons and electrons could meet and explode, forming, not new matter, but a wave of energy spreading through the universe with the velocity of light. Energy had to replace matter as what is permanent. But energy, unlike matter, is not a refinement of the common-sense notion of a "thing" [which can be compared to the notion of selfhood (atta)]; it is merely a characteristic of physical processes (emphasis mine). It might be fancifully identified with the Heraclitean Fire, but it is the burning, not what burns. 'What burns' has disappeared from modern physics.” Compare that with what the Buddha says in SN 12.35.)
"Sabbe dhamma nalam abhinivesaya" (AN 7.58).

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