thereductor wrote:First I must confess to having not read the book you`re now reading, so I may be missing your point.
I was a little murky, but the essential bit got teased out in that post a couple back which ends with "Which is why I've been asking about it."
The workings of DO are relevant because I am interested in how it is that you get from one to the other. By which I mean, from the seeming assumption of "objects" in the formula for consciousness, to where such things are not assumed, which is how I've understood that particular tricky passage from the Kalakarama sutta. My best guess so far being, that the assumption of knowledge of external objects is allowed since the point is, to find out how our ignorant cognition works so that we can fix it up (and end dukkha).
That said, I can think of a few reasons to see DO as a mere illustrative device and not as a absolute description of a functioning person...
I think you're right about that. There are a lot of different devices like that in the suttas, some them are clearer than others, and the particulars of the 12 nidanas ain't so clear, but I still want to make the most sense out of it as is reasonably possible!
In various places sankhara is equated with volitions, and in other places it is divided into three: body, speech, mind. If we remember this when considering this link it is easy to suspect that not only the volition is being implied, but also the action and results. So the question that arose in my mind is how these samkhara actually differ from namarupa, and why these two parts of DO, which seem very likely to be equal, would be listed so closely, with only consciousness between them.
Hm, so you're saying that you think that sankhara might refer to the 5 aggregates, right?
I am not entirely sure if sankhara is meant in a wider more general sense (which you are doing?) or a particular type of sankhara. My current best guess is that it does in fact stand for volition, because it makes things simpler, I think, and secondarily that often in the suttas, when sankhara is explained, intention often mentioned exclusively
, which implies to me that it is particularly important.
Ignorance might be described as ignorance of the four noble truths, or somewhat equivalently delusions of permanency, self, or satisfactoriness. And isn't it these very delusions that lead to intending, clinging, aversion, fabricating and becoming? Those general intentions lead to the "aiming" of the mind in a certain direction and it is towards that which it leans, resulting in further becoming and the arising of more consciousnesses dependent on where it is the mind was directed. This sutta comes to mind: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
This makes the most sense to me currently on how ignorance > sankhara > consciousness, but it is just a guess so far.
But I'm also aware of the fact that the simplest or easiest explanation might not be the right one!
I concluded that the real difference was not what they were composed of, but how they were being regarded; that `samkhara` was suggesting the impersonal nature of formations, while `namarupa` was pointing the the arising of the conceit and I making imposed upon those impersonal formations. So, from such a supposition we see that next link, salayatana, as being the natural consequence of this `subject` making, namely the conceptual making of `objects` (the making of a `world` which stands in opposition to the namarupa, the individual).
Good point there on the first part. I am not sure what to make of it, but I hadn't considered that before.
I think I agree with you on the second bold bit, I would only differ slightly in the cause. I think it's reasonable to think that the conceit of self is active in each link in the 12 nidanas, and so because of that we can go right from namarupa to salayatana, since the conceit of self results in the bifurcation of experience into subject vs object as you have said.
I suspect that this bifurcation and it's subsequent removal at awakening has something to do with how it is that an arahant apparently "does not conceive of a sense-able thing outside of the sensing", to paraphrase. But I am unsure how!
So the sutta you reference seems to suggest the end of namarupa, salayatana, contact, which would suggest the end of avijja and feeling too. But since an arahant still volitions, we might conclude that they do so without avijja. So perhaps we might describe their cognition as: vijja, samkhara, consciousness.
What I've been considering is that, since we know that #1 the arahant still "has" the 5 aggregates (right?), and #2, the 12 nidanas are based in delusion, rooted in ignorance with each step, we can conclude that the 12 nidanas don't necessarily stand for those things in general, but only in a specific sense, that is in the sense of being rooted in delusion.
Though it's a given that some of those links are totally incompatible with vijja, craving clinging becoming etc. And apparently salayatana too but I am still a little murky on exactly what this entails, which brings me back to the original pickle, which you got back to in the second to last quote, conveniently.