Conditioned / Unconditioned

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Re: Conditioned / Unconditioned

Postby Aloka » Mon Apr 21, 2014 6:24 am

.

The Ajahn Chah quote I referenced earlier in the thread from the book "The Island" can also be found in full at ATI in a section "Towards the Unconditioned" from "Living Dhamma" by Ajahn Chah.

An excerpt continuing from my last quote:

Seeing the true nature of conditions and the determined, the mind becomes free.

This freed mind is called the Unconditioned, that which is beyond the power of constructing influences. If the mind doesn't really know conditions and determinations, it is moved by them. Encountering good, bad, pleasure, or pain, it proliferates about them. Why does it proliferate? Because there is still a cause. What is the cause? The cause is the understanding that the body is one's self or belongs to the self; that feelings are self or belonging to self; that perception is self or belonging to self; that conceptual thought is self or belonging to self; that consciousness is self or belonging to self. The tendency to conceive things in terms of self is the source of happiness, suffering, birth, old age, sickness and death. This is the worldly mind, spinning around and changing at the directives of worldly conditions. This is the conditioned mind.

If we receive some windfall our mind is conditioned by it. That object influences our mind into a feeling of pleasure, but when it disappears, our mind is conditioned by it into suffering. The mind becomes a slave of conditions, a slave of desire. No matter what the world presents to it, the mind is moved accordingly. This mind has no refuge, it is not yet assured of itself, not yet free. It is still lacking a firm base. This mind doesn't yet know the truth of conditions. Such is the conditioned mind.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai/chah/living.html#toward




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Re: Conditioned / Unconditioned

Postby cherrytigerbarb » Mon Apr 21, 2014 7:49 am

Goofaholix wrote:
I don't think so.

Using your example of a car the conditions that lead to a car would include; the discovery of oil and it's refinement to petrol, the building of roads, the invention of an internal combustion engine, the designer of the car, the market demand for the car, investors that provide venture capital, the sales and distribution process for the car etc.

It's nothing to do with the parts, or concepts. Though conditioning factors have relationships with the end result but not in the way you're talking about.

A car is conditioned, it cannot be unconditioned, ie it cannot just appear out of nowhere and you cannot make it not conform to natural laws no matter how hard you try to view it that way. However it's engine can be reconditioned, but that's a different use of the word.

What you are talking about appears to be one of the common Mahayana teachings on emptiness that talks about nothing having inherent existence and everything being composed of component parts. I'm not sure if they use the terms conditioned/unconditioned in this teaching and you haven't posted a quote showing this, either way it's not how these terms are used in translation of the Pali Canon as far as I'm aware.


For conditioned/unconditioned, I'm happy to use the words sankhara/asankhara. Here are some of the things which Bikkhu Bodhi has to say about it....

"The third major domain in which the word sankhara occurs is as a designation for all conditioned things. In this context the word has a passive derivation, denoting whatever is formed by a combination of conditions; whatever is conditioned, constructed, or compounded. In this sense it might be rendered simply "formations," without the qualifying adjective. As bare formations, sankharas include all five aggregates, not just the fourth. The term also includes external objects and situations such as mountains, fields, and forests; towns and cities; food and drink; jewelry, cars, and computers.

The most important fact to understand about sankharas, as conditioned formations, is that they are all impermanent: "Impermanent, alas, are formations." They are impermanent not only in the sense that in their gross manifestations they will eventually come to an end, but even more pointedly because at the subtle, subliminal level they are constantly undergoing rise and fall, forever coming into being and then, in a split second, breaking up and perishing: "Their very nature is to arise and vanish." For this reason the Buddha declares that all sankharas are suffering (sabbe sankhara dukkha) — suffering, however, not because they are all actually painful and stressful, but because they are stamped with the mark of transience. "Having arisen they then cease," and because they all cease they cannot provide stable happiness and security.

To win complete release from suffering — not only from experiencing suffering, but from the unsatisfactoriness intrinsic to all conditioned existence — we must gain release fromsankharas. And what lies beyond the sankharas is that which is not constructed, not put together, not compounded. This is Nibbana, accordingly called the Unconditioned —asankhata — the opposite of what is sankhata, a word which is the passive participle corresponding to sankhara. Nibbana is called the Unconditioned precisely because it's a state that is neither itself a sankhara nor constructed by sankharas; a state described asvisankhara, "devoid of formations," and as sabbasankhara-samatha, "the stilling of all formations." "

From Anicca Vata Sankhara by Bhikkhu Bodhi.

I don't really buy the idea about conditions leading to the car as being part of the car, such as the discovery of oil etc. since none of those things exist in the present moment. Did you get that from one of Alan Watt's talks? The conditions I'm talking about are the relationships between the component parts which give rise the concept "car" which would otherwise not be there, if say for example all the parts were disassembled and strewn across the floor of the garage. A simpler example is that of a fist. Hold out your hand. Now roll up your fingers to make a fist. Now unroll your fingers again. In both cases there was only your hand, but when you rolled up your fingers you had the added concept of "fist" - something which you are able to make appear and disappear at will. The thing is, literally everything exists in the form of concepts like that.

I dont know what you meant about not being able to not make something conform to natural laws - I don't recall ever making any mention of that.

I am totally happy with the Mahayana teachings - a good deal of it makes perfect sense to me. Remember that Mahayana does not exclude the teachings in the pali cannon, but instead offers certain alternative interpretations. I do however reject the ideas about reincarnation (as opposed to rebirth) and Tantra which I think is complete nonsense. I consider those ideas to be cultural additions.
"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 » Mon Apr 21, 2014 9:35 am

cherrytigerbarb wrote:For conditioned/unconditioned, I'm happy to use the words sankhara/asankhara. Here are some of the things which Bikkhu Bodhi has to say about it....


I think you meant sankhata/asankhata, I should have clicked to these terms when Aloka posted that excellent Ajahn Chah quote. Bhikkhu Bodhi says sankhata is the passive participle corresponding to sankhara. Sankhara is mostly about mental phenomena, rather than classifying objects in the material world which is what you keep going back to.

Looking at the Pali dictionary Sankhata is defined as "put together, compound; conditioned, produced by a combination of causes", so you are focusing on the first two and I'm focusing on the last two. Of course they are all contribute to the meaning, but the title of this thread is "Conditioned / Unconditioned" so relates to the the last two.

cherrytigerbarb wrote:I don't really buy the idea about conditions leading to the car as being part of the car, such as the discovery of oil etc. since none of those things exist in the present moment.


Of course the conditions leading to the car are not part of the car, I didn't say they were, they are the conditions that made the car possible. Remember that conditions is a verb not a noun, "conditions" is about actions/events not objects. I don't think the Buddha was interested in classifying material objects though, he was interested in the mind so objects are only of interest when in relation to mental phenomena.

cherrytigerbarb wrote:The conditions I'm talking about are the relationships between the component parts which give rise the concept "car" which would otherwise not be there, if say for example all the parts were disassembled and strewn across the floor of the garage.


This would only be interesting if the Buddha were a mechanic, he was not, what is interesting however is whether we attach to the concepts we create around these objects, not attaching to these concepts is one of the characteristics of Nibbana.

cherrytigerbarb wrote:A simpler example is that of a fist. Hold out your hand. Now roll up your fingers to make a fist. Now unroll your fingers again. In both cases there was only your hand, but when you rolled up your fingers you had the added concept of "fist" - something which you are able to make appear and disappear at will. The thing is, literally everything exists in the form of concepts like that.


If I rolled up my fingers then I would have a concept of moving, fist may or may not apply. A baby rolls his fingers into a fist and back again all of time but has no concept of fist, or at least what we normally associate with the concept of fist.

cherrytigerbarb wrote:I dont know what you meant about not being able to not make something conform to natural laws- I don't recall ever making any mention of that.


To say something can be conditioned or unconditioned depending on your view implies one can make things unconditioned with ones view, this is what I mean by making something not conform to natural laws. If one's view is not conditioned then ones view is not conditioned, that's all. Conditionality is a characteristic of existence so things will remain conditioned regardless of ones view, however the mind doesn't have to buy into that the mind can be unconditioned.
"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 beeblebrox » Mon Apr 21, 2014 1:55 pm

Goofaholix wrote:
fivebells wrote:Not nitpicking, just curious, because the experience of Nibbana is quite mysterious to me: Does nibbana involve a specific perspective?


Not necessarily, the point is the perspective is not dictated by causes and conditions.


Hi Goofaholix,

I think it is impossible for a perspective to not to be dictated by causes and conditions.

When there is nibbana, this perspective is merely unconditioned by greed, hatred and delusion (or confusion).

The behavior also would change... it is a behavior which is unconditioned by greed, hatred and delusion. When you meet someone who behaves in this way, it would be unmistakable. I think even a deluded person would be able to see it.

Also, I don't think that this kind of behavior would be limited to those who practice so-called "Buddhism." (E.g., the behavior of paccekabuddhas.) The Buddha was unique in that he taught this as a practice.

I think it is easy to say stuff about what we think nibbana is... but it is another story to put that into an actual practice, especially one that is useful.

Besides, it seems that if Cherrytigerbarb actually views the samsara to be the same as nirvana, then I think she shouldn't really have any issues with what's been said in here, in this thread.

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Re: Conditioned / Unconditioned

Postby Goofaholix » Mon Apr 21, 2014 7:44 pm

beeblebrox wrote:I think it is impossible for a perspective to not to be dictated by causes and conditions.

When there is nibbana, this perspective is merely unconditioned by greed, hatred and delusion (or confusion).


Dictated by causes and conditions means there is no choice, I'd agree causes and conditions would and should contribuite to one's perspective but the point is an awakened person always has choice. I don't think we can then say it was conditioned by causes and conditions.

Other than that a good point.
"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 SarathW » Tue Apr 22, 2014 12:36 am

This is how I understand the conditioned and the unconditioned.
=============
If there is a tangled rope it is a conditioned state.
If you untangle the rope, it is unconditioned.
The rope is there but it is not tangled.
So the Nibbana is the untangled state of mind (rope).
This is how it describe in Abhidhamma.
=====================

Four Ultimate Realities (Paramattha Dhammaa)

1)Consciousness (Citta)
2)The mental factors (Cetasika) i.e Feeling or sensation (Vedana) and Perception (Sanna) which are arise as a result of consciousness (samkhara)
3)Material form (Ruppa) –This includes body, sex and seat of consciousness. The body-decade is composed of the Four Primary Elements –Extension, cohesion, heat, motion (Pathavi, apo, tejo, vayo)

4)Nirvana (Nibbaana) – Nirvana is an unconditioned reality. All other three are conditioned realities.
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