daverupa wrote:Nanavira writes:
"Let there be no mistake in the matter: the existential philosophies are not a substitute for the Buddha's Teaching -- for which, indeed, there can be no substitute."
Further down Ven. Ñanavira writes: None the less many people, on first coming across the Suttas, are puzzled to know what their relevance is in the elaborate context of modern thought; and for them an indication that the existential philosophies (in their general methods, that is to say, rather than their individual conclusions) afford a way of approach to the Suttas may be helpful
Given the sheer volume of quotes and references to the existentialists that fill his writings I have to regard that as a colossal understatement. In any case, from my experience it is those who are fully acquainted with the likes of Sartre, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, etc. who seem to have made inroads into undestanding Notes on Dhamma
, particularly FS. (I once met someone who was convinced that Notes on Dhamma
was a synopsis of the teachings of Krishnamurti; not surprisingly he knew nothing of phenomenology.)
daverupa wrote:Phenomenological - but not ontological. He makes this clear in the first footnote to the Static section by writing, "An existing thing is an experience, either present or (in some degree) absent (i.e. either immediately or more or less remotely present)." His use of the term 'existence' is therefore without any metaphysical commitments.
You've elided his reference to Erlebnis (a technical term in Phenomenology) in defining what he means by "an experience", not to mention his referring his readers to his notes on náma and rúpa. (The note on rúpa itself refers one with approval to an aspect of Heidegger's fundamental ontology which claims that in the absence of Dasein entities cannot be said to exist or not exist -- which is pretty much in the spirit of his view on the relationship between náma, rúpa, and viññána.)
I must admit that I'm woefully ignorant of what ontology is associated with in other schools of philosophy (or why it is such a naughty word amongst some Buddhists), but from what I understand of phenomenology it merely means an inquiry into what it means to be, the logos of being. And since "'to be', and 'to be present' are the same thing" perhaps Ven. Ñanavira's shorter note on viññána might clarify what I mean by ontology:'To be' and 'to be present' are the same thing. But note that 'being' as bhava, involves the existence of the (illusory) subject, and with cessation of the conceit (concept) '(I) am', asmimāna, there is cessation of being, bhavanirodha. With the arahat, there is just presence of the phenomenon ('This is present'), instead of the presence (or existence) of an apparent 'subject' to whom there is present an 'object' ('I am, and this is present to [or for] me', i.e. [what appears to be] the subject is present ['I am'], the object is present ['this is'], and the object concerns or 'belongs to' the subject [the object is 'for me' or 'mine']
Ñanavira denies the validity of bháva, the being of the subject, but not the being of phenomena, and it is the being of phenomena that FS deals with, i.e how their different levels of being are hierachically structured. And that for me is an ontology.