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Phenomenalism vs. Dependent origination? (Kalakarama sutta) - Page 2 - Dhamma Wheel

Phenomenalism vs. Dependent origination? (Kalakarama sutta)

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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Re: Phenomenalism vs. Dependent origination? (Kalakarama sutta)

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Sep 26, 2010 11:36 pm

Greetings Kenshou,

Excellent book, and excellent questions.

What I would recommend bearing in mind is that the 12-step "dependent origination" sequence doesn't designate the dependent origination of all things in the universe. It pertains only to the "dependent origination" of "this whole mass of suffering". To that end, it needn't be exclusively phenomenological or ontological. Consider the question of "eye"... it could be experience of eye, or it could be the fleshy eye itself. As far as ontological statements go, saying there is an "eye" is hardly some great leap of faith. And that eye, be it experience of eye or eye itself, plays its part in the causal factors that give rise to dukkha. What needs to be removed is ignorance, not the eye.

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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Re: Phenomenalism vs. Dependent origination? (Kalakarama sutta)

Postby Kenshou » Mon Sep 27, 2010 12:53 am


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Re: Phenomenalism vs. Dependent origination? (Kalakarama sutta)

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Sep 27, 2010 12:58 am

"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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Re: Phenomenalism vs. Dependent origination? (Kalakarama sutta)

Postby Kenshou » Mon Sep 27, 2010 3:18 am


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Re: Phenomenalism vs. Dependent origination? (Kalakarama sutta)

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Sep 27, 2010 3:30 am

Greetings Kenshou,

I didn't say you were - I'd just be wary of it. 8-)

In essence, it comes back to being about 'experience', and since anatta dictates that nothing experienced is self (i.e. subject), it would be a false dichotomy to mindfully steer clear of.

Good luck. Enjoy the reading.

:reading:

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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Re: Phenomenalism vs. Dependent origination? (Kalakarama sutta)

Postby Reductor » Mon Sep 27, 2010 4:52 am

Hey Kenshou,

If we have conceit, we function from the premise that there is some reliable persona to us that continues beyond as particular experience. In doing so we overlook the conditioned nature of our self right now as it experiences the object 'out there'. And since we assume that there is a reliable persona, then we also assume that the object has some persona to it that is also reliable. That is, we assume that the object doesn't significantly change once its passed beyond our senses. In a sense we retain an idealized conception of what that object's persona is, and project that persona beyond the experience of contact with it. I'm not saying we consciously treat external objects like this, but that this treatment stems from the same habit of inattention that blinds us to our own nature.

So when this automatic inattention is removed we notice that we change quickly based on the experience, which undermines conceit. Once conceit is undermined by seeing that we are very fluid in nature, it is no longer possible to take the stability of external objects for granted. This isn't the same as adopting the other extreme that nothing exists, but rather that all predictions of what an object may do once its passed beyond sense are based on understanding of conditionality and not on mistaken assumptions.

In terms of DO, its whole structure and all the terms derive from a need to express what we are misunderstanding and how we can come to understand that misunderstanding. So if we wrongly assume an individual reliable self (namarupa) then we quickly see how that pits us against the world, salayatana. Now that we are pitted against the world, it is reasonable that we must organize that world into useable data, which is contact. Once we have discerned an object out in the 'world' via contact we can then ascertain whether or not that object is of positive or negative value to ourselves (vedanta). Once we know that it is pleasurable, ie positive, then we naturally wish to acquire it (tanha). Once we acquire it, we naturally wish to retain it (upadana) and thus we become obsessed with it (bhava).

But, as I suggest above, all this stems from the simplest form of conceit -- that 'I' exist.

However, this conceit is not, in itself, ignorance. Ignorance is to not understand that all things change due to conditions. But once this conceit is undermined with understanding, then the entire edifice of the DO and all the outcomes from it fall apart. But so long as we do function in line with DO, we can use it as a road map to our experience.

Above you mention that the idea of contact seems to allow that we can have knowledge of an object beyond the experience of it. To this I would suggest that we benefit most in seeing our assumptions proven wrong time and again. To be wrong time and again, and know it, is a sure way to undermine any assumption of a reliable persona in either object or experiencer.

Anyway, if I still have missed the mark, then I suppose I should bow out. :jumping:

But before I do, I would like to clarify my own thoughts on the formualtion volition > consciousness > namarupa.

To me this simpler interpretation presents a few problems, one of which is that calling sankhara volition alone suggests that volition has an unmediated influence on consciousness, which is not the impression given in the canon as a whole. Rather the order seems to be consciousness coming to increase and growth based on the other four aggregates, which in turn have food, contact and volition as their chief supports. So the putting of volitions here without a mediator seems to undermine consciousness' usual dependence on the other four aggregates. Then, to put namarupa after consciousness would suggest that consciousness is more substantial than the five aggregates traditionally assigned to the term 'namarupa', which is confusing. (and don't forget the additional confusion that ensues by reduplicating in one place the aggregates elsewhere present in the DO chain).

This is not to say that sankhara should be seen as excluding volition, but rather seen as the ambiguous and all encompassing term that it really is, which includes intention, volition and also the act and the resultant effects stemming there from. But because it is all encompassing it drives home the impersonal nature of all those things that it does encompass. Then by defining namarupa as the arising of conceit we drive home the role conceit plays in our deluded cognitive process.

If we define namarupa as 'five aggregates', thus entrenching a slightly different expository construct in the middle of DO, then what does it mean if the arahant is shown to posses all five aggregates? Does that mean that their cognitive process mirrors that of the DO? After all, if this possession of the five aggregates means that they retain 'namarupa' then they might be said to still conceive in terms of objects, feelings and so on -- which doesn't fit that well with the sutta passage that you are having trouble with.

...Phew!

Bare in mind that this is all an interpretation, so you are certainly not bound to accept any or all of it. But for me, at this time, it is the best interpretation.

:namaste:

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Re: Phenomenalism vs. Dependent origination? (Kalakarama sutta)

Postby Shonin » Mon Sep 27, 2010 6:20 am

Ontology is theorising about that which is outside of experience. Whether DO is ontology or not seems to come down to one question.

Are eyes outside our experience? No. Except possibly for a person blind from birth.

What about ignorance? We all have some insight (or the possibility of it) into our ignorance. What about Ignorance producing conditioned factors (usually interpreted as being in a previous life). Well, according to the suttas, the Buddha experienced this stuff himself. Thus, for him it is not ontological speculation, but an observation based explanation.

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Re: Phenomenalism vs. Dependent origination? (Kalakarama sutta)

Postby Kenshou » Mon Sep 27, 2010 7:26 am

Last edited by Kenshou on Tue Sep 28, 2010 2:13 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Phenomenalism vs. Dependent origination? (Kalakarama sutta)

Postby Vepacitta » Tue Sep 28, 2010 1:55 am

One point here - the DO is set out as a chain for the purposes of exposition and an easy referent for discussion. It's not linear in actual occurrence - more like a web or a tapestry but people can get caught up in the 'formula'. It's not quite e = mc squared and all that. If you have the SN - read Ven Bodhi's remarks in the preface to the Nidanavagga - they may be helpful to you.

The DO is another (striking) teaching to break down the conception of self and that 'self-i-ness' which stems ultimately from our ignorance - leading to ooo - grasping (with self no less!!) of how things are - so personally - no - I don't find these statements contradictory - contemplating the DO and understanding it truly - and no I'm not making claims here - but what I'm trying to say is - the point of contemplating the DO is so we can get to that point of not conceiving when we see, hear, etc. We just see the seen, hear the heard etc. (pardon me for sounding so ... zennish).

Great discussion and points from all btw - Reductor's points are really spot on imo.

NB - another way to translate sankara - is fabrications - or mental fabrications (I personally like that and although my teacher doesn't use that he has no problem with that wording) they're volitional - active - but they also imply 'making' - if you look in the SN in the Khandavagga section - you'll see Ven. Bodhi's notes on that word and discussion on its fuller meaning. Sankaras can also be seen as a bit of a clearing house for everything that isn't feeling, perception and consciousness.

Hoping this didn't sound overly doltish,

V.
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Re: Phenomenalism vs. Dependent origination? (Kalakarama sutta)

Postby Kenshou » Tue Sep 28, 2010 2:14 am

Not doltish at all. The thread has kind of turned itself into a general discussion of dependent origination but it was sort of a vague thread to start with. Your input is definitely welcome.

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Re: Phenomenalism vs. Dependent origination? (Kalakarama sutta)

Postby Reductor » Tue Sep 28, 2010 5:01 am


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Re: Phenomenalism vs. Dependent origination? (Kalakarama sutta)

Postby IanAnd » Tue Sep 28, 2010 6:13 am

"The gift of truth exceeds all other gifts" — Dhammapada, v. 354 Craving XXIV

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Re: Phenomenalism vs. Dependent origination? (Kalakarama sutta)

Postby Reductor » Tue Sep 28, 2010 6:57 am

Well now! Thanks for those reviews Ian. Very, very tantalizing. Now, if only BPS would acknowledge my orders! :cry: Of course I can read Magic of the Mind online, but I don't like doing so... and C&R only comes in bound form. Blast!

:namaste:

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Re: Phenomenalism vs. Dependent origination? (Kalakarama sutta)

Postby Sherab » Tue Sep 28, 2010 8:50 am



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