How to reconcile Intention with Nonself?

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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Sati1
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How to reconcile Intention with Nonself?

Postby Sati1 » Wed Jan 22, 2014 10:16 pm

Hello,

I was wondering if somebody could explain to me the role that intention plays in nonself and the 5 skhandas. I am beginning to understand how our physical features (form), perceptions, feelings, consciousness and mental formations arise and cease on their own accord, and that even our "observing awareness" is nonself. So if all that "we" are arises and ceases from causes and conditions, then where does intention fit in? Are our intentions also the result of causes and conditions, are they part of the five skhandas (mental formations?), or do "we" create them through free will? I understand that Buddha emphasized free will as necessary for the formation of present kamma, but just can't see how that idea can be reconciled with the idea of nonself.

Many thanks,
Sati1
London, UK

----
"I do not perceive even one other thing, o monks, that when developed and cultivated entails such great happiness as the mind" (AN 1.10, transl. Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi)
"So this spiritual life, monks, does not have gain, honor, and renown for its benefit, or the attainment of moral discipline for its benefit, or the attainment of concentration for its benefit, or knowledge and vision for its benefit. But it is this unshakable liberation of mind that is the goal of this spiritual life, its heartwood, and its end," (MN 29, transl. Ven Bhikkhu Bodhi)

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Bhikkhu Pesala
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Re: How to reconcile Intention with Nonself?

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Wed Jan 22, 2014 10:30 pm

• • • • (Upasampadā: 24th June, 1979)

SarathW
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Re: How to reconcile Intention with Nonself?

Postby SarathW » Wed Jan 22, 2014 11:31 pm

Further evidence to support Ven. Pesala:

See Volition is showing under universal mental faculties. (Sankahara)

5.Volition (cetanaa), the act of willing. From a psychological standpoint, volition determines the activities of the associated states; from an ethical standpoint it determines its inevitable consequences. Volition leads to action by body, speech and mind and thus becomes the principal factor behind kamma. Therefore the Buddha said: "cetanaaha.m bhikkhave kamma.m vadaami" — "Volition, O monks, is kamma, I declare." Thus wholesome or unwholesome acts, willfully done, are followed at some time by their appropriate consequences. But if one unintentionally steps on an insect and kills it, such an act has no moral or kammic significance as volition is absent. The Buddha's position here contrasts with that of his contemporary, Niga.n.tha Naataputta, the founder of Jainism. Naataputta taught that even involuntary actions constitute kamma, thus release from sa.msaara (the round of rebirths) can be achieved only by abstaining from all activities.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el322.html
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Sati1
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Re: How to reconcile Intention with Nonself?

Postby Sati1 » Thu Jan 23, 2014 2:23 am

Dear Ven. Pesala and SarathW,

Thank you very much for your answers. It is very helpful to (1) learn that intention (volition, kamma) is clearly a sankhara according to Abhidhamma, and (2) be reminded of the presence of sankhara in dependent origination. I will study the idea further and explore it by insight meditation,

Thank you,
Sati1
London, UK

----
"I do not perceive even one other thing, o monks, that when developed and cultivated entails such great happiness as the mind" (AN 1.10, transl. Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi)
"So this spiritual life, monks, does not have gain, honor, and renown for its benefit, or the attainment of moral discipline for its benefit, or the attainment of concentration for its benefit, or knowledge and vision for its benefit. But it is this unshakable liberation of mind that is the goal of this spiritual life, its heartwood, and its end," (MN 29, transl. Ven Bhikkhu Bodhi)

pegembara
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Re: How to reconcile Intention with Nonself?

Postby pegembara » Thu Jan 23, 2014 5:35 am

Intention comes from prior causes and conditions. It is not causeless and therefore not self.

Eg. You came into Buddhism because you have previously come across the teachings somewhere. Buddhism came about because the Buddha taught what he discovered. In this way the "intention" to walk the path was not yours to begin with although at first glance it would seem to be so. It is all causes and conditions. It's all anatta.

Do you see what I am getting at?
And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech.

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Sati1
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Re: How to reconcile Intention with Nonself?

Postby Sati1 » Thu Jan 23, 2014 7:33 am

Hi Pegembara,

Yes, your argument makes sense. I will continue to ponder how free will would fit into the picture (i.e. why not fall into the determinism trap). This seems to be a subtle point that feels almost paradoxical.

Thank you,
Sati1
London, UK

----
"I do not perceive even one other thing, o monks, that when developed and cultivated entails such great happiness as the mind" (AN 1.10, transl. Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi)
"So this spiritual life, monks, does not have gain, honor, and renown for its benefit, or the attainment of moral discipline for its benefit, or the attainment of concentration for its benefit, or knowledge and vision for its benefit. But it is this unshakable liberation of mind that is the goal of this spiritual life, its heartwood, and its end," (MN 29, transl. Ven Bhikkhu Bodhi)

pegembara
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Re: How to reconcile Intention with Nonself?

Postby pegembara » Thu Jan 23, 2014 7:45 am

And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech.

chownah
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Re: How to reconcile Intention with Nonself?

Postby chownah » Thu Jan 23, 2014 8:21 am


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cooran
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Re: How to reconcile Intention with Nonself?

Postby cooran » Thu Jan 23, 2014 8:36 am

---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

pegembara
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Re: How to reconcile Intention with Nonself?

Postby pegembara » Thu Jan 23, 2014 2:32 pm

And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech.

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kirk5a
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Re: How to reconcile Intention with Nonself?

Postby kirk5a » Thu Jan 23, 2014 3:07 pm

"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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Sati1
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Re: How to reconcile Intention with Nonself?

Postby Sati1 » Thu Jan 23, 2014 10:30 pm

This is extremely helpful, thank you. Perhaps the question of determinism vs free will really is just fuel for dangerous views (such as the question of rebirth vs nonself that Buddha refused to answer). Both views are refuted in as "whatever a person experiences is all caused by what was in the past" (determinism) and "whatever a person experiences is all without cause, without condition" (free will). Instead, Buddha teaches about stress and the cessation of stress (The 4 Noble Truths)., which is what is actually useful.

Thanks again for your answers.

:anjali:
Sati1
London, UK

----
"I do not perceive even one other thing, o monks, that when developed and cultivated entails such great happiness as the mind" (AN 1.10, transl. Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi)
"So this spiritual life, monks, does not have gain, honor, and renown for its benefit, or the attainment of moral discipline for its benefit, or the attainment of concentration for its benefit, or knowledge and vision for its benefit. But it is this unshakable liberation of mind that is the goal of this spiritual life, its heartwood, and its end," (MN 29, transl. Ven Bhikkhu Bodhi)

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purple planet
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Re: How to reconcile Intention with Nonself?

Postby purple planet » Thu Jan 23, 2014 11:37 pm

What about my thought :

that we act by past kamma = make decisions by past kamma ... if we are not mindful and when we are mindful we can make decisions in the present - which are not determined or not fully determined by past kamma
?
Please send merit to my dog named Mika who has passed away - thanks in advance


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