Is Theravada "Realist"?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Sep 25, 2011 6:24 am

danieLion wrote:
The Theravada Schools . . . .
Hinayana schools according to the Mahayana tenet systems, but Theravada?
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.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby danieLion » Sun Sep 25, 2011 6:41 am

tiltbillings wrote:
danieLion wrote:
The Theravada Schools . . . .
Hinayana schools according to the Mahayana tenet systems, but Theravada?

No. According to Keith E. Yandell's (U of Wisconsin, Madison) Buddhism entry in The Cambridge Dicitonary of Philosophy (2nd Ed.) According the same entry, The Mahayana "schools" are The Madhyamika, Yogacara (which I have no current personal interest in) and Zen.
DL :geek:
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Sep 25, 2011 7:14 am

danieLion wrote:According to Keith E. Yandell's (U of Wisconsin, Madison) Buddhism entry in The Cambridge Dicitonary of Philosophy (2nd Ed.) According the same entry, The Mahayana "schools" are The Madhyamika, Yogacara (which I have no current personal interest in) and Zen.
DL :geek:
Keith Yandell is not an Asian religion specialist. He taught philosophy of religion in the Philosophy Dept at the U of W, Madison. What he parrotting in that article is the Tibetan Gelugpa take on things Buddhist, which he got from Geshe Sopa who taught in the Southeast Asian/Buddhist Studies program. Yandell's specialty is in Christianity.

The Mahayana/Tibetan Buddhist Tenet system includes the Madhayamaka and the Yogachara, and two non-Mahayana schools: the Sautrantika and the Vaibhasika, and the major source of information about those two schools is the Abhidharmakosha and its commentary, both of which are clearly not Theravadin.

Now, if you want to actually learn something about Buddhist history I can suggest a book or two for you to read.
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.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby acinteyyo » Sun Sep 25, 2011 10:37 am

danieLion wrote:Hi Ron, Retro, et al.
From Thanissaro Bhikkhu's Skill In Questions, Ch. 3, "Categorical Answers:
Direct knowledge of unbinding is not something that one person can give to another even in an approximate form, not even through language or logic. This is a point the Buddha repeatedly makes, for in his eyes language is too slippery, and logic too unreliable, to form an adequate guide to what is true.... Because his approach was utilitarian and pragmatic, he neither affirmed nor denied the existence of essences. They were simply irrelevant to his program. Thus the later Buddhist scholars who tried to use his teachings to affirm or deny the existence of such essences were applying inappropriate attention to his instructions....

In his definition of right view...he describes a stage...where, after one has watched the arising and passing away of the world...one drops all reference to these factors, along with ideas of 'existence' and 'non-existence'.... 'Whatever rises and passes away' would cover no only the first noble truth, but the second and fourth as well. Thus, at this advanced stage of right view, concepts of 'four noble truths' get dropped along with 'aggregates.' [They] function as concepts useful at a certain point..., but are then dropped as one comes closer to awakening. They are not meant to be viewed as ultimate realities.... Instead of being ultimate truths, they are instrumental truths: correct opinions that serve to function when they are appropriate, to be abandoned when unbinding is touched.... Knowledge is required to achieve [direct] knowing, and knowledge follows on it..., but the knowing and the knowledge are two different things. Knowing is the goal, knowledge, merely instrumental.... [H]owever, the Buddha...also realized that what worked for him didn't work only for him. 'What works' is not simply a matter of personal preference. Even though the truths of right view are instrumental rather than ultimate, they are still categorical: true for all.

So even though the Buddha could not provide his listeners with direct knowledge of unbinding, he could provide them with reliable guidance on how to get there. And given the nature of his guidance--as instrumental but categorical truths--the question is not how a comprehensive view of reality can be constructed from his categorical statements, or how his statements can be made to fit one's own preferences or preconceived notions, but how to put aside one's preferences and apply those categorical statements in pursuit of the path. Because the path has many stages, with many levels of right view, one of the functions of appropriate attention after listening to the Buddha's words is to view his categorical answers as an array of tools, and to ask oneself which tool is suitable for one's practice at any given moment.
Pp. 85-91, my italics, bolds.

DL :heart:

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Pubbe cāhaṃ bhikkhave, etarahi ca dukkhañceva paññāpemi, dukkhassa ca nirodhaṃ. (M.22)
Both formerly, monks, and now, it is just suffering that I make known and the ending of suffering.
Pathabyā ekarajjena, saggassa gamanena vā sabbalokādhipaccena, sotāpattiphalaṃ varaṃ. (Dhp 178)
Sole dominion over the earth, going to heaven or lordship over all worlds: the fruit of stream-entry excels them.

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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby daverupa » Sun Sep 25, 2011 12:59 pm

My earlier :focus: was because I was off-topic, not anyone else. Alas for confusion on teh internetz. :computerproblem:
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby Alex123 » Sun Sep 25, 2011 6:05 pm

Hello Tilt,

tiltbillings wrote:The Mahayana/Tibetan Buddhist Tenet system includes the Madhayamaka and the Yogachara, and two non-Mahayana schools: the Sautrantika and the Vaibhasika, and the major source of information about those two schools is the Abhidharmakosha and its commentary, both of which are clearly not Theravadin.

Now, if you want to actually learn something about Buddhist history I can suggest a book or two for you to read.



How is Theravada tenet system cardinally different from Vaibhashika/Sautrantika in context of realism or anti-realism?
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Sep 25, 2011 8:23 pm

Alex123 wrote:
How is Theravada tenet system cardinally different from Vaibhashika/Sautrantika in context of realism or anti-realism?
Theravada is not part of the Mahayana?Tibetan Buddhist Tenet system.

As far as this realism business is concerned, I find it a fruitless, if not bootless, discussion.
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.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby Alex123 » Sun Sep 25, 2011 8:38 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
Alex123 wrote:
How is Theravada tenet system cardinally different from Vaibhashika/Sautrantika in context of realism or anti-realism?
Theravada is not part of the Mahayana?Tibetan Buddhist Tenet system.


Is Theravada realist or anti-realist regarding the existence of mind independent dhammas?
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Sep 25, 2011 8:50 pm

Alex123 wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
Alex123 wrote:
How is Theravada tenet system cardinally different from Vaibhashika/Sautrantika in context of realism or anti-realism?
Theravada is not part of the Mahayana?Tibetan Buddhist Tenet system.


Is Theravada realist or anti-realist regarding the existence of mind independent dhammas?
It doesn't matter in terms of what is necessary for awakening. I am not wasting my time on this discussion.


Recall that from the perspective of the Buddha’s teachings in the Pali, the ‘All’ {SN IV 15} is composed entirely of phassa, contact between sense base and sense object. We can only directly know phenomena within this ‘world of experience’, so from the Theravadin perspective, we cannot know whether there really exists a ‘brain’ or a ‘body’ apart from moments of intellectual consciousness, of seeing (the image of a brain), and so on. The discourses of the Pali describe an individual world of experience as composed of various mental and physical factors, nama and rupa. These two are not the separate, independent worlds that Rene Descartes envisioned.

"…the Buddha spoke of the human person as a psychophysical personality (namarupa). Yet the psychic and the physical were never discussed in isolation, nor were they viewed as self-subsistent entities. For him, there was neither a ‘material-stuff’ nor a ‘mental-stuff’, because both are results of reductive analyses that go beyond experience."53

The physical and mental aspects of human experience are continually arising together, intimately dependent on one another.

53 Kalupahana 1976: 73, refers to D.15{II,62}, where the Buddha speaks of both
physicality and mentality mutually dependent forms of contact (phassa).
Physicality is described as contact with resistance (pat.ighasamphassa),
mentality as contact with concepts (adhivacanasamphassa).


STRONG ROOTS by Jake Davis, page 190-1. http://www.dharma.org/bcbs/Pages/docume ... gRoots.pdf
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.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby Alex123 » Sun Sep 25, 2011 9:11 pm

Recall that from the perspective of the Buddha’s teachings in the Pali, the ‘All’ {SN IV 15} is composed entirely of phassa, contact between sense base and sense object.



That sutta does not talks about Phassa. It talks about 6 internal and 6 external sense bases.
"The Blessed One said, "What is the All? Simply the eye & forms, ear & sounds, nose & aromas, tongue & flavors, body & tactile sensations, intellect & ideas. This, monks, is called the All. [1] Anyone who would say, 'Repudiating this All, I will describe another,' if questioned on what exactly might be the grounds for his statement, would be unable to explain, and furthermore, would be put to grief. Why? Because it lies beyond range.""


We can only directly know phenomena within this ‘world of experience’, so from the Theravadin perspective, we cannot know whether there really exists a ‘brain’ or a ‘body’ apart from moments of intellectual consciousness, of seeing (the image of a brain), and so on. The discourses of the Pali describe an individual world of experience as composed of various mental and physical factors, nama and rupa. These two are not the separate, independent worlds that Rene Descartes envisioned.



What about body being like a senseless log without consciousness?
""When this body lacks these three qualities — vitality, heat, & consciousness — it lies discarded & forsaken like a senseless log.""
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
Body can be without consciousness.

Or beings that exist as matter without mind?
Vibhaṅgapāḷi PTS 419 it says this about Asaññasattā:
1017.... Asaññasattānaṃ devānaṃ upapattikkhaṇe eko khandho pātubhavati – rūpakkhandho; dve āyatanāni pātubhavanti – rūpāyatanaṃ, dhammāyatanaṃ; dve dhātuyo pātubhavanti – rūpadhātu, dhammadhātu; ekaṃ saccaṃ pātubhavati – dukkhasaccaṃ; ekindriyaṃ pātubhavati – rūpajīvitindriyaṃ. Asaññasattā devā ahetukā anāhārā aphassakā avedanakā asaññakā acetanakā acittakā pātubhavanti.

Please note that rūpakkhandho is present even though there are no mental things such as: vedanā, saññā, cetanā, citta.

So rūpakkhandha can exist independent of mind, and there can be factors that are not experienced.
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Sep 25, 2011 10:06 pm

Alex123 wrote: . . . .
Quite frankly Alex, I don't care, because it doesn't matter. You'll need to find someone else with whom to argue.
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.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby Alex123 » Mon Sep 26, 2011 12:00 am

tiltbillings wrote:
Alex123 wrote: . . . .
Quite frankly Alex, I don't care, because it doesn't matter. You'll need to find someone else with whom to argue.


Tilt, i am discussing not arguing. If my tone of voice is inappropriate, then i am sorry, i didn't meant that. I am discussing this thread which is titled "Is Theravada Realist"?. Those who want to discus this issue are welcomed to post here. You have posted, and i have answered.
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby danieLion » Mon Sep 26, 2011 12:39 am

tiltbillings wrote:Now, if you want to actually learn something about Buddhist history I can suggest a book or two for you to read.
Yes, please.
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby danieLion » Mon Sep 26, 2011 12:42 am

daverupa wrote:My earlier :focus: was because I was off-topic, not anyone else. Alas for confusion on teh internetz. :computerproblem:

LOL! Thanks Dave. I realized you were referring to yourself falling asleep last night. I apologize for any confusion I cause.
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby danieLion » Mon Sep 26, 2011 12:51 am

tiltbillings wrote:


Recall that from the perspective of the Buddha’s teachings in the Pali, the ‘All’ {SN IV 15} is composed entirely of phassa, contact between sense base and sense object. We can only directly know phenomena within this ‘world of experience’, so from the Theravadin perspective, we cannot know whether there really exists a ‘brain’ or a ‘body’ apart from moments of intellectual consciousness, of seeing (the image of a brain), and so on. The discourses of the Pali describe an individual world of experience as composed of various mental and physical factors, nama and rupa. These two are not the separate, independent worlds that Rene Descartes envisioned.

"…the Buddha spoke of the human person as a psychophysical personality (namarupa). Yet the psychic and the physical were never discussed in isolation, nor were they viewed as self-subsistent entities. For him, there was neither a ‘material-stuff’ nor a ‘mental-stuff’, because both are results of reductive analyses that go beyond experience."53

The physical and mental aspects of human experience are continually arising together, intimately dependent on one another.

53 Kalupahana 1976: 73, refers to D.15{II,62}, where the Buddha speaks of both
physicality and mentality mutually dependent forms of contact (phassa).
Physicality is described as contact with resistance (pat.ighasamphassa),
mentality as contact with concepts (adhivacanasamphassa).


STRONG ROOTS by Jake Davis, page 190-1. http://www.dharma.org/bcbs/Pages/docume ... gRoots.pdf

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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby danieLion » Mon Sep 26, 2011 12:54 am

Alex123 wrote: So rūpakkhandha can exist independent of mind, and there can be factors that are not experienced.

Do you mean by "mind' citta-sankhara?
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby Alex123 » Mon Sep 26, 2011 1:02 am

danieLion wrote:
Alex123 wrote: So rūpakkhandha can exist independent of mind, and there can be factors that are not experienced.

Do you mean by "mind' citta-sankhara?
DL :heart:


Four mental aggregates. Or we could simply call it citta.

How do you interpret that statement from Vibhaṅgapāḷi PTS 419?
viewtopic.php?f=13&t=9607&p=150779#p150747
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby danieLion » Mon Sep 26, 2011 1:09 am

Alex123 wrote:...there can be factors that are not experienced.

Hi Alex123,
1. Which/what kind of factors?
2. What is it that is not experiencing?
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby Alex123 » Mon Sep 26, 2011 1:17 am

danieLion wrote:
Alex123 wrote:...there can be factors that are not experienced.

Hi Alex123,
1. Which/what kind of factors?
2. What is it that is not experiencing?
DL :heart:


According to the Vibhaṅgapāḷi , for example:
Such as Form aggregate (rūpakkhandho),form sphere (rūpāyatanaṃ), Form Element (rūpadhātu), and life faculty (rūpajīvitindriyaṃ) for example.

Absence of experience is absence of experience. Absence is not itself presence.
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby Alex123 » Mon Sep 26, 2011 1:25 am

Since the OP asked about Theravada, I've answered as I understood Theravada to teach.

When it comes to what I understand the Buddha has taught, was pragmatical path to the cessation of all suffering with minimal ontological teaching. At least I hope so. Ultimately, often abstract views are not very helpful to the path and can be source of disputes and arguments. Since suffering is internal truth, its solution is internal. If one is wounded with the arrow, one treats the wound, not the archer or the bow.

What I think is interesting is that we use words to convey something to others. Words and experience to which they point to are not the same. "Sweetness" as a word and sweetness as experience of sugar on the tongue are different. Some metaphysical problems may be more of expression problems than real ones. Some words may not even have objective references. So I think it is important not to value too much linguistics. Too often the mind likes to proliferate with purely mental distinctions (papañcasaññāsaṅkhā) and be caught up by them. We need to put less personal significance to distinctions, ideas and thoughts. The more one clings to ones own ideas, the more chance there is for arguments with people who cling to other ideas. Many philosophical abstractions such as "wholes" and "parts" (or general and particulars) are words. Other people can measure the phenomena in another way. The mind that prefers analysis can think about parts, and mind that likes synthesis can think about wholes. I think that wholes/parts, and many other conventions are just that. Sometimes what we call "a part" can be a "whole" when compared to something else. What one calls "whole" can be a "part" when compared to something bigger. These terms and many others (perhaps all words) have intrinsically variable things they point to. If so, how can pointers that can point to different things at different times be absolute? It is mind that minds and makes measurements, relations, distinctions, etc. So words which we have to use for the sake of communication are not absolute and fixed truth. Some ontological ideas seem almost identical in meaning but use different word "mind" or "matter". Example: Common sense Direct realism asserts that the world is as we perceive it. Same is with idealism. The only difference seems that while those realists say that the world is made of matter, Idealists say it is made of mind... In this case the distinction seems to be whether we call the basis as "matter" or as "mind". Indirect realism states that we perceive only one's own mental representation of the world, and so is with idealism in that regard. The difference is that idealism goes step further and rejects the existence of external material world, while indirect realism still accepts it. Some differences in these views may be due to usage of words. This shouldn't be taken to mean that we should not drop dead like insentient wood without thinking anything. Rather we should not get caught up and consider our thoughts to be too personally significant. I have suspicion that later Buddhist philosophy has put too much significance on analysis or synthesis of words rather than to work on fading of all personal craving.


"Perceiving in terms of signs, beings take a stand on signs. Not fully comprehending signs, they come into the bonds of death. But fully comprehending signs, one doesn't construe a signifier... Having shed classifications, gone beyond conceit, he has here cut through craving for name & form: This one — his bonds cut through, free from trouble, from longing — though they search they can't find him, human & heavenly beings, here & beyond, in heaven or any abode." http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
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