DO not depending on avijja and sankhara?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

Re: DO not depending on avijja and sankhara?

Postby tiltbillings » Sun May 01, 2011 8:38 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Tilt,

tiltbillings wrote:One can try to exorcise rebirth from paticcasamuppada by reading part of it figuratively and part of it literally, as some do

Yes, some may do, but that's not what I'm advocating. No 'figuratively' or 'literally' at play... just 'phenomenologically', understanding the terms as the Buddha explained (and as he himself experienced prior to becoming Buddha), rather than as how some unenlightened translator rendered them, presumably through the lens of commentaries. So no need to exorcise "rebirth", because it's not there in the first place.
That is an interpretation, but not the only one.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

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Re: DO not depending on avijja and sankhara?

Postby retrofuturist » Sun May 01, 2011 8:53 am

Greetings Tilt,

Sure, as I said to TMingyur, there's many possible ways to approach it.

What I will say though is that if approached phenomenologically, you can see each element at play in this very lifetime, and therefore actively use the teaching on dependent origination, across all nidanas, to understand how suffering comes to be and how true "sabbe sankhara dukkha" really is. If aspects are consigned to other lives, it is as if accepting that unless one can see past lives or foresee future lives, that these teachings and the causality they detail, cannot be relevant for us, here and now... and can be only, by necessity, articles of faith.

:focus:

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: DO not depending on avijja and sankhara?

Postby Sylvester » Sun May 01, 2011 9:22 am

retrofuturist wrote:As for "With the cessation of my clinging comes the cessation of becoming. With the cessation of becoming comes the cessation of birth. With the cessation of birth then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair all cease.".... if jati is understood to be "literal post-mortem rebirth", then "literal post-mortem rebirth" has to cease before "sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair all cease"... meaning that an arahant (or Buddha, for that matter) cannot bring an end to dukkha in this lifetime. No hop, skips and jumps around the nidanas, at face value, it is there.


Hi retro

I think that's a fairly unfair reading of MN 75.

Firstly, note the iti markers being used for everything between "These are diseases...." up to "...mass of suffering". A teaching was being given to Magandiya to constantly recollect, and it says nothing about "when" suffering ends. A causative link is merely given for the reason for the ending of dukkha. The fact that the Buddha began the exposition from the "cessation of clinging", instead of the standard "cessation of ignorance", speaks volumes. I don't find it a coincidence that clinging is the bridge between "present" life and the "future" life's bhava, as presented in the 3 Lives model.

Secondly, "nirodha" of jati can just as easily be understood as non-arising of jati, given the 2-fold formulation of Dependant Cessation in iddapaccayata's -

Imasmim asati, idam na hoti. Imassa nirodha, idam nirujjhati


Oh, look, it's the locative absolute yet again!

I think if you are looking for a sutta which touches on the end of dukkha in this lifetime, perhaps SN 12.45 would be more instructive. There, the Buddha teaches that the cessation of suffering is traceable to the cessation of craving, but the Buddha does not extend the cessation analysis backwards towards the conditioned arising of feelings and contact beforehand.

I think I now realise what might have gone wrong with some modern variants of DO. The problem may originate from the identification of Arahanta with Dependant Cessation's "Cessation of Avijja". The objection is then raised that the 3 Lives model is meaningless to the Arahant, since the Arahant's destruction of Avijja must mean that all the subsequent nidanas cease to apply thereafter.

But is the Cessation of Avijja = Arahanta?

Take a look at how Avijja is defined in SN 12.2, where it is equated to not knowing the 4 Noble Truths. Compare that to series of suttas in the Abhisamayavagga of the SN's Saccasamyutta. There, the "breakthrough" made by the Stream Enterer is identified as "understanding the 4 Noble Truths".

So, it looks as if Avijjanirodha is not describing Arahanta, but Stream Entry, with the potential for 7 more lives at most. I think it should be clear how the temporal unravelling of suffering plays out in a Stream Enterer, something that fits in quite nicely with a multiple life model of DO.
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Re: DO not depending on avijja and sankhara?

Postby tiltbillings » Sun May 01, 2011 9:31 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Tilt,

Sure, as I said to TMingyur, there's many possible ways to approach it.

What I will say though is that if approached phenomenologically, you can see each element at play in this very lifetime, and therefore actively use the teaching on dependent origination, across all nidanas, to understand how suffering comes to be and how true "sabbe sankhara dukkha" really is. If aspects are consigned to other lives, it is as if accepting that unless one can see past lives or foresee future lives, that these teachings and the causality they detail, cannot be relevant for us, here and now... and can be only, by necessity, articles of faith.
The reality is, of course, that paticcasamuppada is couched within the broader context of rebirth, which why I quoted those three texts (which could be multiplied considerably). I do not see paticcasamuppada as having to be an either-or.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

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Re: DO not depending on avijja and sankhara?

Postby retrofuturist » Sun May 01, 2011 9:42 am

Greetings Tilt,

tiltbillings wrote:The reality is, of course, that paticcasamuppada is couched within the broader context of rebirth, which why I quoted those three texts (which could be multiplied considerably).

I would say instead that paticcasamuppada is couched within the broader context of samsara. Those three texts, like dependent origination, can be read through many frames of reference... I of course choose phenomenologically, and they do not present any incongruence.

tiltbillings wrote:I do not see paticcasamuppada as having to be an either-or.

Likewise. What is true in this life about dukkha and nirodha, would appear to be true in any life for any "being"... but you can only work with the present, and the Dhamma being timeless and open to inspection, it's all visible now.

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: DO not depending on avijja and sankhara?

Postby retrofuturist » Sun May 01, 2011 9:49 am

Greetings Sylvester,

Sylvester wrote:But is the Cessation of Avijja = Arahanta?

"Now from the remainderless fading & cessation of that very ignorance " does allow scope for intermittent oscillation between vijja and avijja for the sekha, but not for the arahant. That takes account of your observation that a sekha can have vijja, without recourse to a multiple-life DO model of transmigration.

Accordingly the multiple lives interpretation would mean that "from the remainderless fading & cessation" there are in fact 2 more lives to go before nirodha is complete! i.e sankhara -> vinnana, and bhava -> jati... clearly not "birth has ended", is it? Remember, what arises in the forward DO, is what ceases in the cessation DO... and you can't go jumping horses and changing definitions mid-stream!

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: DO not depending on avijja and sankhara?

Postby piotr » Sun May 01, 2011 9:54 am

Hi Retrofuturist,

retrofuturist wrote:the Dhamma being timeless and open to inspection, it's all visible now.


You keep on repeating that. I'd like to know how you came on conclusion that “svākkhāto bhagavatā dhammo sandiṭṭhiko akāliko ehipassiko opaneyyiko paccattaṃ veditabbo viññūhi” actually means that.
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Re: DO not depending on avijja and sankhara?

Postby retrofuturist » Sun May 01, 2011 9:56 am

Greetings Piotr,

piotr wrote:You keep on repeating that. I'd like to know how you came on conclusion that “svākkhāto bhagavatā dhammo sandiṭṭhiko akāliko ehipassiko opaneyyiko paccattaṃ veditabbo viññūhi” actually means that.

How about, instead, you tell me what you think it means... and we can see what our points of difference are, and see if/how/why you find it objectionable.

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: DO not depending on avijja and sankhara?

Postby piotr » Sun May 01, 2011 10:01 am

Hi Retrofuturist,

I think that it refers to nirodha, which can be attained in this life (sandiṭṭhiko), one doesn't have to wait for death to come to attain it (akāliko), and so on.
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Re: DO not depending on avijja and sankhara?

Postby Sylvester » Sun May 01, 2011 10:02 am

retrofuturist wrote:Accordingly the multiple lives interpretation would mean that "from the remainderless fading & cessation" there are in fact 2 more lives to go before nirodha is complete! i.e sankhara -> vinnana, and bhava -> jati... clearly not "birth has ended", is it? Remember, what arises in the forward DO, is what ceases in the cessation DO... and you can't go jumping horses and changing definitions mid-stream!



Careful with that. Just because the Commentaries ascribe a 3 Lives model to Dependant Origination does not mean that they cornered themselves into a 3 Lives model for Dependant Cessation. :tongue:

PS - do the Commentaries posit 3 temporally-contiguous lives, or simply present life with any past life and any future life, in the 3 Lives model?
Last edited by Sylvester on Sun May 01, 2011 10:06 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: DO not depending on avijja and sankhara?

Postby retrofuturist » Sun May 01, 2011 10:05 am

Greetings Sylvester,

Sylvester wrote:Careful with that. Just because the Commentaries ascribe a 3 Lives model to Dependant Origination does not mean that they cornered themselves into a 3 Lives model for Dependant Cessation. :tongue:

Careful with that... you might be inferring that they changed their definitions of what arises versus what ceases midstream. :D

Sylvester wrote:PS - do the Commentaries posit 3 temporally-contiguous lives, or simply present life with any past life and any future life, in the 3 Lives model?

Try making sense of the explanation in the Visuddhimagga and then tell you can tell me. :tongue: Honestly, I think it's the latter.

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: DO not depending on avijja and sankhara?

Postby retrofuturist » Sun May 01, 2011 10:24 am

Greetings Piotr,

piotr wrote:I think that it refers to nirodha, which can be attained in this life (sandiṭṭhiko), one doesn't have to wait for death to come to attain it (akāliko), and so on.


I think it refers to the Dhamma (as in, the Buddha's teaching). Dependent origination is a subset of that Dhamma.

MN 38 wrote:"Good, O, Bhikkhus, I have led you in this Dhamma which is visible here and now, timeless, open to inspection, leading onwards and to be experienced by the wise for themselves. It was in reference to this that it was said: 'Bhikkhus, this Dhamma is visible here and now, timeless, open to inspection, leading onwards and to be experienced by the wise for themselves'."

Setting aside for the moment that this sutta explicitly says "I have led you in this Dhamma which is..." - since "nirodha" is "cessation", it's hard to see how cessation itself could be said to be "leading onwards". Nirodha is the destination, not the journey or the roadmap.

Hence, "the Dhamma being timeless and open to inspection, it's all visible now."

I agree with you though that nirodha is sandiṭṭhiko and akāliko.

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: DO not depending on avijja and sankhara?

Postby piotr » Sun May 01, 2011 11:00 am

Hi Retrofuturist,

retrofuturist wrote:Setting aside for the moment that this sutta explicitly says "I have led you in this Dhamma which is..." - since "nirodha" is "cessation", it's hard to see how cessation itself could be said to be "leading onwards". Nirodha is the destination, not the journey or the roadmap.


I think that Dmytro offered us a great help in understanding that term:

    Margaret Cone's dictionary gives more meanings for 'opanayika':

      opanayika, mfn. [from upanaya; BHS aupanayika],
      fit for bringing near, for taking to oneself;
      fit for making use of;
      deserving to be used;...

    and interprets 'opaneyyika' as:

      opaneyyika, mfn. [=opanayika qv], fit for bringing near; Sadd 787,27 (opanayiko va opaneyyiko sa"nkhato lokuttaradhammo attano cittena upanayana.m sacchikiriyaavasena alliiyana.m arahatiiti opaneyyiko); 788,2 (upaneyyo va upaneyyiko).

    on the basis of Commentaries.

    http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=23&t=5730
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Re: DO not depending on avijja and sankhara?

Postby retrofuturist » Sun May 01, 2011 11:04 am

Greetings Piotr,

Even still, it's hard to see how it fits to nirodha more than it does to the Dhamma (e.g. "fit for making use of")

Anyway, it only came in discussion because you objected (?) to me using it with reference to the Dhamma. Seeing MN 38 and those comments from Dmytro, I trust you no longer object?

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: DO not depending on avijja and sankhara?

Postby gavesako » Sun May 01, 2011 7:22 pm

These kids in Thailand (7 year olds) seem to have no problem reciting and understanding Dependent Origination:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2X3H6AND ... re=related
(skip to minute 1:12)

:roll:
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Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

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Re: DO not depending on avijja and sankhara?

Postby piotr » Sun May 01, 2011 7:51 pm

Hi Retrofuturist,

retrofuturist wrote:Even still, it's hard to see how it fits to nirodha more than it does to the Dhamma (e.g. "fit for making use of")


I think that as sandiṭṭhika and akālika are more or less synonymous (i.e. visible in this life, not after [completion of] time — death), so are ehipassika, opaneyyika and paccatta veditabba viññūhi. It's common to see in Pāli Canon synonymous given one by one so the meaning isn't lost. If that's the case then the meaning of opaneyyika is close to paccattaṃ veditabbaṃ viññūhi. Then the best translation would be “fit for bringing near [to oneself]”.

In my opinion attainment of cessation fits better in this context (i.e. something experienced). But that's not the only reason:

    1. The formula (svākkhāto bhagavatā dhammo sandiṭṭhiko…) is often mentioned in the context of faith and confidence, where it applies to nirodha and transcendent factors of the noble eightfold path (Iti 90), not to the Teaching or particular subset of Teaching.
    2. The formula has variant readings with nibbāna (AN i 152) and nijjāra (e.g. AN i 220) instead of dhamma. Second case is interesting because it takes place in Jain context. But what's the most important, whatever context one finds, the formula always applies to attainment of the highest goal.

Anyway, it only came in discussion because you objected (?) to me using it with reference to the Dhamma. Seeing MN 38 and those comments from Dmytro, I trust you no longer object?


It didn't change my perspective. In MN 38 the Buddha asks whether monks speak only of what they have known (ñāta), seen (diṭṭha), and experienced (vidita) for themselves. When they confirm, he applauds and says that indeed he brought to them near this dhamma that is sandiṭṭhika, akālika, …, to be experienced (veditabba) personally by the wise. This dhamma is the cessation of dukkha that they were talking about.
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Re: DO not depending on avijja and sankhara?

Postby mikenz66 » Sun May 01, 2011 8:26 pm

retrofuturist wrote:I would say instead that paticcasamuppada is couched within the broader context of samsara. Those three texts, like dependent origination, can be read through many frames of reference... I of course choose phenomenologically, and they do not present any incongruence.

As usual, I find this invocation of "phenomenology" completely spurious. I don't see how you can argue that if something is "phenomenological" then this restricts the timescale over which the phenomenology operates.

I see absolutely no contradiction between phenomenology and long time scales (multiple lifetimes, universes, etc, etc).

And, of course (unlike some) I read almost all expositions of the Dhamma as phenomenological. So, again, for me, it's a completely moot point. I think that the important question is "What do the texts say?"

:anjali:
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Re: DO not depending on avijja and sankhara?

Postby rowyourboat » Sun May 01, 2011 10:14 pm

Hi Retro,

If the DO was entirely phenomenological, the redundancies in it would not make sense. It would not be necessary to talk of bhava or even suffering as all that would be covered under the more present moment elements like phassa and vedana.

It is important to remember, that this is something the bodhisattva thought through, backwards. That us to say, starting with suffering, he simply wanted to find the cause of it. He kept going until no earlier cause could be discerned. So if I were to have a go..

Why am I suffering
Because I was born

Why was I born? Because there was clinging and so on..

I guess he started from very broad brush strokes and really refined it. He could see that by the removal of avijja there could be removal of those elements of consciousness, contact vedana etc. Pure wisdom dissolving 'reality'- marvellous! But for the old avijja in the form of the mind and body to resolve, there had to the physical death. I guess the phenomenology provides 'proof' (as close as we can get) that literal rebirth can be stopped, as non-arising can be experienced, even now.. and how much more, at death; and yes, the stream entrant is aware and has experiences at some level paticcasamuppada and p-nirodha. The stream entrant has not 'removed' avijja, but is mere suppression (tadanga pahana). The arahath removes curretly active avijja from his mind, removes the fetters to conditioned phenomena, is able to partake in the deathless but like the Buddha himself, was not able to stop aging disease and death which are universal truths, applicable to everyone. You could argue that what is removed is the cause for rebirth and suffering in the future. There is no way to fully verify it- short of the 'thought experiment' (if it is not too demeaning to call it that) of experiencing Nirodha... and no, faith (sadda) is not out of place in the dhamma- in fact it is essential to even start the journey to a goal which cannot be fully described. I see no other way to reconcile this. :shrug: .. and it is good enough for me- I have 'nothing' to loose and everything to gain :tongue:

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Re: DO not depending on avijja and sankhara?

Postby retrofuturist » Sun May 01, 2011 11:02 pm

Greetings Mike,
mikenz66 wrote:I see absolutely no contradiction between phenomenology and long time scales (multiple lifetimes, universes, etc, etc).

Neither do I, so long as you can experience them and relate them to present experiences.... but I know I can't 'experience' other lives, nor 'experience' other universes. If any people involved in this discussion can and apply this direct experience in their practice, well, good for them. :thumbsup: On the other hand, all I can use as reference from outside the present is all I can remember.

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: DO not depending on avijja and sankhara?

Postby retrofuturist » Sun May 01, 2011 11:12 pm

Greetings RYB,

rowyourboat wrote:If the DO was entirely phenomenological, the redundancies in it would not make sense. It would not be necessary to talk of bhava or even suffering as all that would be covered under the more present moment elements like phassa and vedana.

I disagree with the logic here. You could use the same logic to say that anything beyond sankhara is redundant, because all the rest are sankhata dhammas, and sabbe sankhara dukkha. But then, dependent origination would not be as useful. Alternatively one could just use the Four Noble Truths. However, if taken as series of nidana to be investigated, it is a powerful analytical tool.

rowyourboat wrote:You could argue that what is removed is the cause for rebirth and suffering in the future. There is no way to fully verify it- short of the 'thought experiment' (if it is not too demeaning to call it that) of experiencing Nirodha...

Is this to imply that the Buddha himself did not experientially know that jati had ended, whilst still alive? Was the jubilant statement 'jati has ended!' of the arahants merely a 'thought experiment'?

rowyourboat wrote:faith (sadda) is not out of place in the dhamma

No problem with faith, but the sooner it can be surmounted by knowledge the better.

rowyourboat wrote: I see no other way to reconcile this. :shrug: .. and it is good enough for me- I have 'nothing' to loose and everything to gain :tongue:

With regards to your satisfaction with your interpretation, how do you apply it and derive benefit? Is it a combination of faith and understanding the present life nidanas?

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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