Conditioned / Unconditioned

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation
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cherrytigerbarb
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Conditioned / Unconditioned

Postby cherrytigerbarb » Sat Apr 19, 2014 4:42 am

In the Buddhist literature you read a lot about things which are ”conditioned" or "unconditioned", but what does this mean?

Something which is conditioned exists only by virtue of the relationships between the parts which comprise it. So for example, a car is a conditioned thing, because it consists of many parts held together in very specific relationship with each other. Without those relationships, all you have is a  big pile of parts. You no longer have a car. So "car" is a conditioned thing.

Other examples of conditioned things are....
A building.
A clock.
A painting (diferent coloured paints arranged in specific relationship with each other)
A tv.
A cup.
A piece of clothing.
Water.
Air.....

In actual fact, everything in the world is conditioned, on the basis that ultimately things exist due to the relationships between the subatomic particles in the atoms which comprise them. So how can something be said to be "unconditioned"?

Something which is unconditioned clearly exists as a 'whole thing' in its entirety, undivided. So for example a car is an unconditioned thing, because it is one whole discreet object. You can point to it and say "car!". It clearly exists in-and-of-itself, seperate to everything else.

Other examples of unconditioned things are....
A building.
A clock.
A painting (a whole object which can be hung on a wall)
A tv.
A cup.
A piece of clothing.
Water.
Air.

Now here's the rub. From the above, you should be able to see that things are both "conditioned" and "unconditioned" at the same time. How is this possible?

Well, it all depends on how you look at things. In normal everyday life, we tend to look at things as being unconditioned. Objects in the world appear whole and discreet. Seperate from each other. Objects are identified on this basis, and they match up to our mentally stored concepts. This is "conventional truth". But in reality, everything is conditioned, since everything is reduceable to subatomic particles. You can think of reality as a giant subatomic smoothie, where everything is one undivided thing. This is "ultimate truth". In such a world, craving and aversion towards one thing over another is meaningless, and an experiencial understanding of this on the deepest level is the true meaning of what it is to be enlightened. :)
"The foolish reject what they see, not what they think. The wise reject what they think, not what they see." - Huang Po.

Digity
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Re: Conditioned / Unconditioned

Postby Digity » Sat Apr 19, 2014 4:48 am

The Unconditioned is synonymous with Nibbana and it can't be put into words and concepts. It is something to be experienced for oneself. Therefore, as soon as you start trying to conceptualize the unconditioned you're getting tied up in views.
Samsara sucks. #samvega

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Re: Conditioned / Unconditioned

Postby Goofaholix » Sat Apr 19, 2014 9:50 am

I think you've got your terminology mixed up, "conditioned" refers the causes or influences that leads to something arising or occurring, not to the component parts of an object.

So when Nibbana is referred to as "the Unconditioned" my guess is that this refers to it being a state of mind that is not shaken by what is happening around you, not dependent on creating and maintaining the right conditions, no longer subject to causality.

This article might help http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prat%C4%AB ... tp%C4%81da
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah

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Re: Conditioned / Unconditioned

Postby cherrytigerbarb » Sat Apr 19, 2014 2:19 pm

Goofaholix wrote:I think you've got your terminology mixed up, "conditioned" refers the causes or influences that leads to something arising or occurring, not to the component parts of an object.


I think "causes" and "influences" are just other words used in place of "relationships". It is concepts which are "arising or occurring" as the result of these relationships. The component parts themselves are not important.

I also think you're referring to dependent origination, which although related, may be a different topic.
"The foolish reject what they see, not what they think. The wise reject what they think, not what they see." - Huang Po.

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Re: Conditioned / Unconditioned

Postby cherrytigerbarb » Sat Apr 19, 2014 2:32 pm

Digity wrote:The Unconditioned is synonymous with Nibbana and it can't be put into words and concepts. It is something to be experienced for oneself. Therefore, as soon as you start trying to conceptualize the unconditioned you're getting tied up in views.


Nibbana is veiwing the world as conditioned, whilst Samsara is veiwing the world as unconditioned. In reality, the world is both conditioned and unconditioned, so that Nibbana and Samsara are really the same thing, but viewed from different perspectives. This is why enlightenment is said to be immediately available, and that there is no goal and nothing to acheive. All that is required is a shift of perspective from seeing the world as unconditioned to realising that ultimately everything is conditioned.
"The foolish reject what they see, not what they think. The wise reject what they think, not what they see." - Huang Po.

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Re: Conditioned / Unconditioned

Postby Digity » Sat Apr 19, 2014 3:20 pm

cherrytigerbarb wrote:
Digity wrote:The Unconditioned is synonymous with Nibbana and it can't be put into words and concepts. It is something to be experienced for oneself. Therefore, as soon as you start trying to conceptualize the unconditioned you're getting tied up in views.


Nibbana is veiwing the world as conditioned, whilst Samsara is veiwing the world as unconditioned. In reality, the world is both conditioned and unconditioned, so that Nibbana and Samsara are really the same thing, but viewed from different perspectives. This is why enlightenment is said to be immediately available, and that there is no goal and nothing to acheive. All that is required is a shift of perspective from seeing the world as unconditioned to realising that ultimately everything is conditioned.

It's not true that there are no goals in Buddhism and nothing to achieve. The primary goal in the Buddhist path is to put an end to suffering and it requires effort and its something most people haven't achieve. The only ones who have fully achieved that goal are arahants.

In terms of enlightenment being immediately available, the Buddha said that the road to awakening is a gradual one. It doesn't happen immediately, but over time we awaken bit by bit.
Samsara sucks. #samvega

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Re: Conditioned / Unconditioned

Postby cherrytigerbarb » Sat Apr 19, 2014 3:38 pm

Digity wrote:
cherrytigerbarb wrote:
Digity wrote:
It's not true that there are no goals in Buddhism and nothing to achieve. The primary goal in the Buddhist path is to put an end to suffering and it requires effort and its something most people haven't achieve. The only ones who have fully achieved that goal are arahants.

In terms of enlightenment being immediately available, the Buddha said that the road to awakening is a gradual one. It doesn't happen immediately, but over time we awaken bit by bit.


The goal is to realise that there is no goal. This takes effort, and once realised, suffering ends.
it takes time to gradually realise that enlightenment is immediately available.
:)
"The foolish reject what they see, not what they think. The wise reject what they think, not what they see." - Huang Po.

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Re: Conditioned / Unconditioned

Postby Goofaholix » Sat Apr 19, 2014 8:38 pm

cherrytigerbarb wrote:I think "causes" and "influences" are just other words used in place of "relationships". It is concepts which are "arising or occurring" as the result of these relationships. The component parts themselves are not important.


Yes this is closer to the meaning of the word, and contradicts your first post which was all about component parts

I haven't been able to find the Pali word for conditioned or unconditioned but the english I think clearly has nothing to do with component parts, it's a verb not a noun.

condition
verb
past tense: conditioned; past participle: conditioned
have a significant influence on or determine (the manner or outcome of something).

cherrytigerbarb wrote:Nibbana is viewing the world as conditioned, whilst Samsara is veiwing the world as unconditioned.


Please provide a quote which supports this view as it appears to be the opposite of how these terms are normally used.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah

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Re: Conditioned / Unconditioned

Postby santa100 » Sat Apr 19, 2014 9:26 pm

From AN 3.47:
"Bhikkhus, there are these three characteristics that define the conditioned. What three? An arising is seen, a vanishing is seen, and its alteration while it persists is seen. These are the three characteristics that define the conditioned.

“Bhikkhus, there are these three characteristics that define the unconditioned. What three? No arising is seen, no vanishing is seen, and no alteration while it persists is seen. These are the three characteristics that define the unconditioned.”

cherrytigerbarb wrote:The goal is to realise that there is no goal. This takes effort, and once realised, suffering ends.
it takes time to gradually realise that enlightenment is immediately available.

It's important to keep in mind that as long as the anusaya(latent tendency) is still there, there's still no enlightenment and there's still "work to be done":
AN 7.12 wrote:“When a bhikkhu has abandoned the underlying tendency to sensual lust, cut it off at the root, made it like a palm stump, obliterated it so that it is no more subject to future arising; when he has abandoned the underlying tendency to aversion … the underlying tendency to views … the underlying tendency to doubt … the underlying tendency to conceit … the underlying tendency to lust for existence … the underlying tendency to ignorance, cut it off at the root, made it like a palm stump, obliterated it so that it is no more subject to future arising, he is then called a bhikkhu without underlying tendencies, one who has cut off craving, stripped off the fetter, and by completely breaking through conceit, has made an end of suffering.”

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Re: Conditioned / Unconditioned

Postby cherrytigerbarb » Sun Apr 20, 2014 5:34 am

Goofaholix wrote:
cherrytigerbarb wrote:Nibbana is viewing the world as conditioned, whilst Samsara is veiwing the world as unconditioned.


Please provide a quote which supports this view as it appears to be the opposite of how these terms are normally used.


"There is nothing whatsoever of samsara distinguishing (it) from nirvana.
There is nothing whatsoever of nirvana distinguishing it from samsara.
(That?) is the limit which is the limit of nirvana and the limit of samsara;
Even a very subtle interval is not found of (between) them." 
- Nagarjuna’s Mulamadhyamakakrika.
"The foolish reject what they see, not what they think. The wise reject what they think, not what they see." - Huang Po.

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Re: Conditioned / Unconditioned

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Apr 20, 2014 6:02 am

cherrytigerbarb wrote:
Goofaholix wrote:
cherrytigerbarb wrote:Nibbana is viewing the world as conditioned, whilst Samsara is veiwing the world as unconditioned.


Please provide a quote which supports this view as it appears to be the opposite of how these terms are normally used.


"There is nothing whatsoever of samsara distinguishing (it) from nirvana.
There is nothing whatsoever of nirvana distinguishing it from samsara.
(That?) is the limit which is the limit of nirvana and the limit of samsara;
Even a very subtle interval is not found of (between) them." 
- Nagarjuna’s Mulamadhyamakakrika.[MMK XV 20]
Do you actually know what this means means?
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.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: Conditioned / Unconditioned

Postby waterchan » Sun Apr 20, 2014 6:09 am

It means that the biggest joker was not Buddhaghosa by a long shot ?
quidquid Latine dictum sit altum videtur
(Anything in Latin sounds profound.)

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Re: Conditioned / Unconditioned

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Apr 20, 2014 6:13 am

waterchan wrote:It means that the biggest joker was not Buddhaghosa by a long shot ?
Buddhaghosa was hardly a joker, and neither was Nagarjuna. Like reading the suttas, reading these guys takes some work.
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.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: Conditioned / Unconditioned

Postby cherrytigerbarb » Sun Apr 20, 2014 6:43 am

tiltbillings wrote:
cherrytigerbarb wrote:
"There is nothing whatsoever of samsara distinguishing (it) from nirvana.
There is nothing whatsoever of nirvana distinguishing it from samsara.
(That?) is the limit which is the limit of nirvana and the limit of samsara;
Even a very subtle interval is not found of (between) them." 
- Nagarjuna’s Mulamadhyamakakrika.[MMK XV 20]


Do you actually know what this means means?


It means there are two different ways of veiwing the same thing. One from the basis of the conditioned, and the other from the basis of the unconditioned. It emphasises how the world can be viewed from either perspective.
"The foolish reject what they see, not what they think. The wise reject what they think, not what they see." - Huang Po.

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Re: Conditioned / Unconditioned

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Apr 20, 2014 6:47 am

cherrytigerbarb wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
cherrytigerbarb wrote:
"There is nothing whatsoever of samsara distinguishing (it) from nirvana.
There is nothing whatsoever of nirvana distinguishing it from samsara.
(That?) is the limit which is the limit of nirvana and the limit of samsara;
Even a very subtle interval is not found of (between) them." 
- Nagarjuna’s Mulamadhyamakakrika.[MMK XV 20]


Do you actually know what this means means?


It means there are two different ways of veiwing the same thing. One from the basis of the conditioned, and the other from the basis of the unconditioned. It emphasises how the world can be viewed from either perspective.
And what is meant by "conditioned" and "unconditioned" in this context?
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.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: Conditioned / Unconditioned

Postby Aloka » Sun Apr 20, 2014 6:59 am

cherrytigerbarb wrote:In the Buddhist literature you read a lot about things which are ”conditioned" or "unconditioned", but what does this mean?


This is part of an Ajahn Chah quote from page 78 of "The Island - An Anthology of the Buddha's Teachings on Nibbana" by Ajahn Pasanno & Ajahn Amaro:

The Buddha talked about sankhata dhammas and asankhata dhammas - conditioned and unconditioned things. Conditioned things are innumerable - material or immaterial, big or small - if our mind is under the influence of delusion, it will proliferate about these things, dividing them up into good and bad, short and long, coarse and refined.

Why does the mind proliferate like this ? Because it doesn't know conventional determinate reality, it doesn't know about conditions. Not knowing these things, the mind doesn't see the Dhamma. Not seeing the Dhamma, the mind is full of clinging. As long as the mind is held down by clinging, there can be no escape from the conditioned world....

Asankhata dhamma, the unconditioned, refers to the mind that has seen the Dhamma, the truth of the five khandhas as they are - as transient, imperfect and ownerless. All ideas of 'me' and 'mine', 'them' and 'theirs' belong to the determined reality. Really they are all conditions.

When we let go of conditions we attain the Dhamma, we enter into and realise the Dhamma. When we attain the Dhamma we know clearly. What do we know ? We know that there are only conditions and conventions, no self , no 'us', no 'them'. This is knowledge of the way things are. Seeing in this way the mind transcends things. The body may get old, get sick and die, but the mind transcends this state.

When the mind transcends conditions, it knows the unconditioned. The mind becomes the unconditioned, the state which no longer contains conditioning factors. The mind is no longer conditioned by the concerns of the world, conditions no longer contaminate the mind. Pleasure and pain no longer affect it. Nothing can affect the mind or change it, the mind is assured, it has escaped all constructions. Seeing the true nature of conditions and the determined, the mind becomes free.

This freed mind is called the unconditioned, that which is beyond constructing influences.




:anjali:

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Re: Conditioned / Unconditioned

Postby Goofaholix » Sun Apr 20, 2014 7:13 am

cherrytigerbarb wrote:It means there are two different ways of veiwing the same thing. One from the basis of the conditioned, and the other from the basis of the unconditioned. It emphasises how the world can be viewed from either perspective.


The quote from Nagarjuna does not say "Nibbana is viewing the world as conditioned, whilst Samsara is veiwing the world as unconditioned."

I'd expect there are a lot more than two ways of viewing the same thing, all of these views will be conditioned in that there are influences, experiences, and circumstances etc that leads to that view. Nibbana differs in that someone who has awakened I'd expect would not have a fixed view conditioned by influences, experiences, and circumstances etc.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah

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Re: Conditioned / Unconditioned

Postby Goofaholix » Sun Apr 20, 2014 7:15 am

Aloka wrote:
When the mind transcends conditions, it knows the unconditioned. The mind becomes the unconditioned, the state which no longer contains conditioning factors. The mind is no longer conditioned by the concerns of the world, conditions no longer contaminate the mind. Pleasure and pain no longer affect it. Nothing can affect the mind or change it, the mind is assured, it has escaped all constructions. Seeing the true nature of conditions and the determined, the mind becomes free.

This freed mind is called the unconditioned, that which is beyond constructing influences.



Bump. This sums it up so clearly.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah

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Re: Conditioned / Unconditioned

Postby cherrytigerbarb » Sun Apr 20, 2014 7:18 am

tiltbillings wrote:
And what is meant by "conditioned" and "unconditioned" in this context?


That's what my original post was all about.
"The foolish reject what they see, not what they think. The wise reject what they think, not what they see." - Huang Po.

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Re: Conditioned / Unconditioned

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Apr 20, 2014 7:21 am

Goofaholix wrote:
Aloka wrote:
When the mind transcends conditions, it knows the unconditioned. The mind becomes the unconditioned, the state which no longer contains conditioning factors. The mind is no longer conditioned by the concerns of the world, conditions no longer contaminate the mind. Pleasure and pain no longer affect it. Nothing can affect the mind or change it, the mind is assured, it has escaped all constructions. Seeing the true nature of conditions and the determined, the mind becomes free.

This freed mind is called the unconditioned, that which is beyond constructing influences.



Bump. This sums it up so clearly.
There is no "the unconditioned" to know.

    "Bhikkhus, I will teach you freedom from the conditioned[ness of greed, hatred, and delusion] and the path leading to freedom from the conditioned. Listen to that....

    "And what, bhikkhus, is freedom from the conditioned? The destruction of greed, the destruction of hatred, the destruction of delusion: this is called freedom from the conditioned.

    "And what, bhikkhus, is the path leading to freedom from the conditioned? Mindfulness directed to the body: this is called the path leading to freedom from the conditioned."
    SN IV 359
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.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson


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