On Thanissaro Bhikkhu's anatta teachings

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Re: On Thanissaro Bhikkhu's anatta teachings

Postby Brizzy » Thu Jan 19, 2012 10:38 am

I cannot say I have followed all the postings in this thread but would it be fair to say that the controversy can be summed up as follows..............

1. Thanissaro Bhikkhu states that the Budddha taught... "THIS IS NOT SELF" as an experiential process to be realised/understood.

2. Thanissaro Bhikkhu states that the Buddha never framed his teaching as...."THERE IS NO SELF" as this would lead one into a thicket of views.

Metta

:smile:
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Re: On Thanissaro Bhikkhu's anatta teachings

Postby kirk5a » Thu Jan 19, 2012 3:58 pm

Brizzy wrote:I cannot say I have followed all the postings in this thread but would it be fair to say that the controversy can be summed up as follows..............

1. Thanissaro Bhikkhu states that the Budddha taught... "THIS IS NOT SELF" as an experiential process to be realised/understood.

2. Thanissaro Bhikkhu states that the Buddha never framed his teaching as...."THERE IS NO SELF" as this would lead one into a thicket of views.

Metta

:smile:

From my reading of Ven. Thanissaro, I'd say that is a fair summary of his message regarding anatta, which is the subject of this thread. What is regarded as controversial is some things he has said regarding nibbana and consciousness. As far as the above is concerned, as a guideline for practice, I think is right on target.
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
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Re: On Thanissaro Bhikkhu's anatta teachings

Postby ancientbuddhism » Thu Jan 19, 2012 4:58 pm

Brizzy wrote:1. Thanissaro Bhikkhu states that the Budddha taught... "THIS IS NOT SELF" as an experiential process to be realised/understood.


As did George Grimm with recklessly similar aims in his "Anattā-method".

Brizzy wrote:2. Thanissaro Bhikkhu states that the Buddha never framed his teaching as...."THERE IS NO SELF" as this would lead one into a thicket of views.


Which is not true as we find evidenced in the Alagaddūpama Sutta and others which bear the same instruction.

kirk5a wrote:What is regarded as controversial is some things he has said regarding nibbana and consciousness.


This is only one leg of the controversy.
Fingers walk the darkness down
Mind is on the midnight
Gather up the gold you've found
You fool, it's only moonlight.
If you try to take it home
Your hands will turn to butter
You better leave this dream alone
Try to find another. – Townes Van Zandt ‘Lungs’

Secure your own mask before assisting others. – NORTHWEST AIRLINES (Pre-Flight Instruction)

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Re: On Thanissaro Bhikkhu's anatta teachings

Postby beeblebrox » Thu Jan 19, 2012 5:56 pm

Ancient, it seems like you're continually ignoring how many of the practitioners actually view these, preferring instead to stick with your own views, and work from them... is that what the Buddha recommended us to do in Alagaddupama Sutta? :anjali:
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Re: On Thanissaro Bhikkhu's anatta teachings

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Jan 19, 2012 7:48 pm

ancientbuddhism wrote:
Brizzy wrote:2. Thanissaro Bhikkhu states that the Buddha never framed his teaching as...."THERE IS NO SELF" as this would lead one into a thicket of views.


Which is not true as we find evidenced in the Alagaddūpama Sutta and others which bear the same instruction.

Here's Ven Nyanaponika's translation of the Alagaddūpama Sutta, with comments on the relevant section regarding what some regard as self. It certainly warns against various eternalistic notions that might arise if one is not vigilant about ruling out some rather subtle concepts of self.
http://www.bps.lk/olib/wh/wh048-u.html#N18
15. “There are, monks, these six grounds for false views. [18] What are the six? There is here, monks, an uninstructed worldling who has no regard for Noble Ones, who is ignorant of their teaching and untrained in it; who has no regard for men of worth, who is ignorant of their teaching and untrained in it: he considers corporeality thus: ‘This is mine, this I am, this is my self’; [19] he considers feeling… perception… mental formations thus: ‘This is mine, this I am, this is my self’; and what is seen, heard, sensed, and thought; [20] what is encountered, sought, pursued in mind, [21] this also he considers thus: ‘This is mine, this I am, this is my self’; and also this ground for views (holding): ‘The universe is the Self. [22] That I shall be after death; [23] permanent, stable, eternal, immutable; eternally the same, [24] shall I abide in that very condition’—that (view), too, he considers thus: ‘This is mine, this I am, this is my self.’ [25]

18. [Grounds for false views (diṭṭhiṭṭhāna). Comy: By the words “There are, monks, these six grounds for false views,” the Master wishes to show this: “He who takes the five aggregates of existence as ‘I’ and ‘mine’, by way of a threefold wrong grasp (tividha-gāha), he flings mud and refuse into my dispensation, like this Ariṭṭha.”

Comy and Sub-Comy: False views themselves are “grounds” (or bases, starting-points) for subsequently arising false views, like personality belief, eternalism, etc. (Comy: diṭṭhi pi ditthiṭṭhānaṃ). Further, the “grounds” are the subject-matter (ārammaṇa, “object”) of the views, i.e., the five aggregates, the visual objects, etc. Finally, they are also the conditioning factors (paccaya) of the false views, e.g., ignorance, sense-impression (phassa), (faulty) perceptions and thoughts, unwisely directed attention (ayoniso manasikāra), bad company, others’ speech, etc. [These, with the aggregates as the first, are the eight “grounds for false views,” as mentioned in the Paṭisambhidāmagga (Diṭṭhi-kathā). The term diṭṭhiṭṭhāna also occurs in the Brahmajāla Sutta (DN 1) and in the commentary to it. [Back]

19. “He considers corporeality thus: ‘This is mine’.” Comy: This is wrong grasp (or wrong approach) induced by craving (taṇhā-gāha). ”This I am”: this is wrong grasp induced by conceit (māna-gāha). ”This is my self”: this is wrong grasp induced by false views (diṭṭhi-gāha). Here, reference is to craving, conceit, and false views which have corporeality as object; but corporeality cannot be said to be a self. The same holds true for feeling, perception and mental formations. [Back]

20. “What is seen”: (Comy) the visual sense-object base (rūpāyatana); “heard”: the sound-base; “sensed” (mutaṃ): the sense-object bases of smell, taste, and touch-sensations; “what is thought”: the remaining seven bases, i.e., the mind-object base (dhammāyatana) and the six sense-organ bases. [Back]

21. “Encountered”: (Comy) after having been sought for, or not sought for; “sought”: encountered or not encountered (before); “mentally pursued” (anuvicaritaṃ manasā): resorted to by consciousness (cittena anusañcaritaṃ)—what was encountered or not encountered without being sought for.

The terms “thought,” “encountered,” etc., refer to the fifth aggregate, i.e., consciousness (viññāṇakkhandha), which was not mentioned in the first part of §15. [Back]

22. “The universe is the Self,” lit.: “This (is) the world, this (is) the self” (so loko so attā). That, in fact, an identification of the two terms is intended here, will be shown in the following comments. The best explanation of the passage is furnished in the Brahmajāla Sutta (DN 1) where a similar phraseology is used: “There are, monks, some ascetics and brahmans who are eternalists and who proclaim self and world to be eternal” (sassatavādā sassataṃ attañca lokañca paññapenti); subsequently the theorist is introduced as stating his view in similar terms: “Eternal are self and world… they exist as eternally the same” (sassato attā ca loko ca… atthi idheva sassatisamaṃ). The last term appears likewise in our text; see Note 21. From this we may safely conclude that it is the identity, or unity, of the Self (or soul; mahātman, paramātman) with the universe (or the Universal Spirit, Brahman) which is conveyed by our text.

In the Commentary specific to our text, this eternalistic view is rendered and classified in the terminology of the Dhamma. The Commentary says:

“This statement (‘The universe is the Self’) refers to the (wrong) view ‘He considers corporeality, etc., as the self (rūpaṃ attato samanupassatī’ ti ādinā nayena).’”

The canonical quotation (e.g., in MN 44), included here in the Commentary, has two implications which are of importance for understanding the reason why it was cited in this context:

(1) As very often in the commentaries (e.g., to Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta), the term “world” (loko) is explained as truly referring to the five aggregates (khandhā, i.e., corporeality, feeling, etc.), singly or in toto.

(2) This quotation is the formula for the first of the twenty types of personality-belief (sakkāya-diṭṭhi; e.g., in MN 44). In the first five of these twenty, the self is said to be identical with each of the five aggregates (as in the earlier part of §15 of our text). Hence the application of this quote to our textual passage signifies that the theorist conceives the “world” (i.e., corporeality, feeling, etc.) as identical with the self.

The double “So (loko) so (attā)” in our text, should therefore, be taken as standing for “yo (loko) so (attā),” lit.: what is the world that is the self. In the Comy to MN 44 we find a similar phrase: “Someone considers corporeality as self: what is corporeality that is ‘I’; what is ‘I’ that is corporeality. Thus he considers corporeality and self as non-dual’ (… yaṃ rūpaṃ so ahaṃ, yo ahaṃ taṃ rūpan’ ti rūpañca advayaṃ samanupassati).” According to this interpretation the phrase has been translated here by “This universe is the Self.”

Mostly, the first five types of personality-belief are explained as referring to the wrong view of annihilationism (uccheda-diṭṭhi). [See, e.g., Paṭisambhidāmagga, Diṭṭhikathā, Ucchedadiṭṭhi-niddesa; further Comy to MN 44.]

But their being quoted in our context, shows that they may also apply to eternalism (sassata-diṭṭhi). We have come to this conclusion since it is improbable that, in our textual passage two mutually exclusive views should have been combined in a single statement formulating the sixth “ground for false views”; that is, in the first part of that statement, annihilationism, and in the second, eternalism. [Back]

23. “That I shall be after death…” (so pecca bhavissāmi). Comy explains by “so ahaṃ,” a Pali idiom, meaning literally “this I.” Pecca: lit. “having gone,” i.e., to the other world. [Back]

24. “Eternally the same” (sassati-samaṃ): an Upanishadic term; see Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad 5.10: sāsvatīḥ samāḥ.

This entire statement of the sixth ‘ground for views’ may well have been the original creed of an eternalistic doctrine. The phrasing appears rather vague in the first part, and in general it is rather loosely worded (so for so aham). To contemporaries, however, the meaning may have been quite clear since it was perhaps the stock formula for teachings that were well known. Hence, in this translation, we have left the first part of the statement in its rather cryptic and ambiguous original form, while giving the interpretations in the notes only. [Back]

25. He identifies himself entirely (Sub-Comy: attānaṃ viya gaṇhāti) with that eternalist misconception (gāha), induced by craving (for self-perpetuation), by false views (tenaciously maintained) and by conceit (deeply ingrained ego-centricity). Here one view serves as subject-matter for another view (Comy, Sub-Comy). [Back]

:anjali:
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Re: On Thanissaro Bhikkhu's anatta teachings

Postby ancientbuddhism » Thu Jan 19, 2012 8:03 pm

mikenz66 wrote: (Nyanaponika's note #24) "To contemporaries, however, the meaning may have been quite clear since it was perhaps the stock formula for teachings that were well known."


This is a point Norman and Gombrich were making; that this discourse, and others, were making punning reference to the Upaniṣadic dogma of ātman, well known to the listeners.
Fingers walk the darkness down
Mind is on the midnight
Gather up the gold you've found
You fool, it's only moonlight.
If you try to take it home
Your hands will turn to butter
You better leave this dream alone
Try to find another. – Townes Van Zandt ‘Lungs’

Secure your own mask before assisting others. – NORTHWEST AIRLINES (Pre-Flight Instruction)

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Re: On Thanissaro Bhikkhu's anatta teachings

Postby Buckwheat » Sun Jan 22, 2012 3:58 am

in several of his dhamma talks Thanissaro argues against Upanishadic self as well as all other ideas of self such as the Mahayana oneness idea. He jokes that interconnectedness is fine but its still suffering. He also credits belief in the metaphysical no self with creating a logical conundrum which the Mahayanas resolve by adding Buddha Nature as well as Absolute and Relative realities and claims those additions only muddy the water. He is not arguing for some mystical self. He is saying it is a question that should be put aside because it leads to quarelling such as this thread. What does not lead to quarelling is looking at all phenomena of experience and seeing them as not self.

I still see nothing wrong with NSS. I do have to dig more into this nirvana consciousness stuff but my gut instinct is there is a reasonable explanation. One thing I can say about that aspect is I read a lot of Thanissaro and the footnotes cited in this thread are the only place I've come across this. It does not seem to be central to his strategy. Frankly, I do not care if consciousness without surface is nirvana or how nirvana is perceived. Either way I need to become an arahant to experience such bliss and for that I have a lot of work left as we all do.
Sotthī hontu nirantaraṃ - May you forever be well.
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Re: On Thanissaro Bhikkhu's anatta teachings

Postby Zom » Mon Jan 23, 2012 10:47 am

Either way I need to become an arahant to experience such bliss and for that I have a lot of work left as we all do.


The problem is that even if you will make it to higher jhanas - you will stick there because of the "eternal consciousness view". As Thanissaro notes in Sabba sutta translation: "At no point does the Canon say that nibbana is to be abandoned". Add this to "Nibbana = consciousness" and here you are: "At no point does the Canon say that consciousness is to be abandoned". Actually this did happen to Alara Kalama, Udakka Ramaputta and many other pre-buddhist ascetics.
That is why this is extremely important to have a right view about nibbana. And this is much better to establish such a view before reaching jhanas.
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Re: On Thanissaro Bhikkhu's anatta teachings

Postby vinasp » Mon Jan 23, 2012 10:02 pm

Hi everyone,

In order to make progress on these questions two things are required:

1. A better understanding of what is meant by ditthi, which is usually
translated as "views". A more accurate translation would be either
delusion or obsession.

2. The two kinds of vinnana mentioned in this thread, is an early idea
found in only a few places. This distinction was later replaced with
the distinction between vinnana and panna (wisdom).
[ see: MN 43.4 - 6 ]

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: On Thanissaro Bhikkhu's anatta teachings

Postby vinasp » Tue Jan 24, 2012 2:08 am

Hi everyone,

On Wisdom:

"Monks, there are these four radiances. What four?
The radiance of the moon, of the sun, of fire and
of wisdom. These are the four. Of these four, monks,
the radiance of wisdom is the chief."

AN II 139, PTS Gradual Sayings Vol. 2 page 142
Translation by FL Woodward. See also SN I. 6

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: On Thanissaro Bhikkhu's anatta teachings

Postby vinasp » Tue Jan 24, 2012 6:09 am

Hi everyone,

On Views

MN 11.14 explains the four kinds of clinging, one of which is clinging
to views. MN 11.16 says that: "These four kinds of clinging have craving
as their source, craving as their origin ..."

Another description of views originating from craving ( and the rest ) is
found in the Parileyya Sutta SN 22.81

Here is an interesting passage from AN 7.51

The uninstructed run-of-the-mill person doesn't discern view, doesn't discern the origination of view, doesn't discern the cessation of view, doesn't discern the path of practice leading to the cessation of view, and so for him that view grows. He is not freed from birth, aging, & death; from sorrows, lamentations, pains, distresses, and despairs. He is not freed, I tell you, from suffering & stress. But the instructed disciple of the noble ones discerns view, discerns the origination of view, discerns the cessation of view, discerns the path of practice leading to the cessation of view, and so for him that view ceases. He is freed from birth, aging, & death; from sorrows, lamentations, pains, distresses, and despairs. He is freed, I tell you, from suffering & stress.

Some translations of this passage have views (plural).

Any belief that involves feeling, craving and clinging is no ordinary belief.
So it should be understood as a delusion or an obsession.

The key point is that a view is NOT based on " Knowing and seeing things as
they really are". See also DN.1.3.44 ff

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: On Thanissaro Bhikkhu's anatta teachings

Postby Zom » Tue Jan 24, 2012 8:33 am

And still there is a very important thing in practice like "Samma ditthi", that is "Right VIEW".
Notice, this is very different from Right Knowledge as 9th path factor, since Right View includes faith.

Plus to that, there is MN 22, where Buddha says that at first you must grip Dhamma properly and let it go only after you've done it to the further shore (that is - arahantship) - not before that. It would be foolish to let go of Right Views while you are still here and not there .)
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Re: On Thanissaro Bhikkhu's anatta teachings

Postby beeblebrox » Tue Jan 24, 2012 12:03 pm

I see nothing in Vinasp's posts that is in conflict with that, Zom... :anjali:
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Re: On Thanissaro Bhikkhu's anatta teachings

Postby Zom » Tue Jan 24, 2012 12:31 pm

As I see it, he means that we should not have any views at all (including samma-ditthi too).
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Re: On Thanissaro Bhikkhu's anatta teachings

Postby chownah » Tue Jan 24, 2012 2:22 pm

vinasp wrote: The key point is that a view is NOT based on " Knowing and seeing things as
they really are". See also DN.1.3.44 ff

vinasp,
In the Study Group forum the current topic is SN 12.15 Kaccaayanagotto Sutta and one of the foot notes defines Samma Ditthi as being:
"1. Samma Di.t.thi: the first step of the Noble Eightfold Path, lit. "Right Seeing." It is also rendered "Right Understanding," but the connotations of this are too exclusively intellectual. The rendering "Right Views" (plural) is to be rejected, since it is not a matter of holding "views" (opinions) but of "seeing things as they really are."
"
This Sutta was translated from the Pali by Maurice O'Connell Walshe and so I assume that he is the author of this footnote.....notice it says that Samma Ditthi (which I think is also known as "right view") is a matter of "seeing things as they really are."

I think this contradicts what you are saying.
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Re: On Thanissaro Bhikkhu's anatta teachings

Postby vinasp » Wed Jan 25, 2012 4:57 am

Hi everyone,

Thanks to Zom, beeblebrox and chownah, all good points.

I need to add the following clarifications to my first post on views.

Views - Some clarifications.

It seems that the root meaning of ditthi is "sight". When someone is
said to have a "view" this means "a way of seeing."

In Pali the word view (ditthi) is often used in the sense of a fixed
way of seeing. But a "way of seeing" is not, in itself, either right
or wrong.

However, those who are deluded see things in a wrong way, while those
who are free of delusion see things in a right way.

So "view" is just a way of seeing and applies to everyone including
enlightened individuals. To distinguish the right and wrong ways of
seeing, we need to add "right" or "wrong" to the word "view".

So the view "There is a self" is said to be wrong view.

What about the view "There is no self"?

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: On Thanissaro Bhikkhu's anatta teachings

Postby Zom » Wed Jan 25, 2012 9:05 am

What about the view "There is no self"?


No problem with this view if it is not based on self ;)
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Re: On Thanissaro Bhikkhu's anatta teachings

Postby vinasp » Wed Jan 25, 2012 9:40 am

Hi Zom,

I agree that there should be no problem about the view "there is no self"
if it is said by someone who is free of delusions, and is based on knowing
and seeing things as they really are.

Could you explain what you mean by "... if it is not based on self."

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: On Thanissaro Bhikkhu's anatta teachings

Postby Brizzy » Wed Jan 25, 2012 10:24 am

Zom wrote:
What about the view "There is no self"?


No problem with this view if it is not based on self ;)


Surely it should be the experiential view of..... 'THIS is not self', rather than the speculative view of..... 'There is no self'. It is a subtle distinction, but one that might safeguard oneself from falling into wrong view.

Metta

:smile:
Ignorance is an intentional act.
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Re: On Thanissaro Bhikkhu's anatta teachings

Postby Zom » Wed Jan 25, 2012 10:52 am

No.

For example, there can be a view like: "There is a self, though THIS is not self, THAT is not self, everything is not self ect.".
See what I mean? ;)


This is what I call "self-based position". No matter what your experience is, you are still SURE that somewhere somehow there MUST be my self.
It is on this self-based position such Right View like "There is no self" turns into Wrong View like "There is no self FOR ME" (look for details in MN 2).
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