What does anicca really mean?

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Re: What does anicca really mean?

Postby seanpdx » Thu Feb 11, 2010 12:36 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Sean,

seanpdx wrote:The problem I have with "momentariness" (I can say nothing about Dogen, sorry) is that it seems to be taken too far, and people start losing sight of the forest for the trees. Not that there is anything inherently wrong in it per se.


I think it's important to be able to see things both in a conventional and momentary sense, and to be able to distinguish between the two. I think it is difficult to overstate this point.

The truth of reality is that it is momentary, so ignoring momentariness is a risk too.

Metta,
Retro. :)


I'm not so sure about this. I think it's easily, and perhaps often, overstated. I see too much confusion as a result of this artificial delineation between "conventional reality" and "momentariness" (or perhaps I should say "abhidhammic reality"?). Reality just "is". We can't view reality as being momentary in such a way that we fail to see how the moments come together to create our conventional view reality. The disdain that some people place on the view of "conventional reality" is ludicrous.

All the quantum theory in the world doesn't negate the fact that there is a can of mtn dew on my desk. It's a really real can. With really real (and... umm... old =) mtn dew in it. We do not experience the world on a quantum level, so having an understanding of the quantum level only benefits us to a limited degree. Likewise, we do not experience the world on a "momentary" level, so having an understanding of momentariness only benefits us to a limited degree. When we fail to see the "real can", the "real person", or anything else that is made up of the continuous stream of moments, then we fail miserably in our attempts to both understand and experience real reality.
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Re: What does anicca really mean?

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Feb 11, 2010 1:03 am

Greetings Sean,

seanpdx wrote:I'm not so sure about this. I think it's easily, and perhaps often, overstated. I see too much confusion as a result of this artificial delineation between "conventional reality" and "momentariness" (or perhaps I should say "abhidhammic reality"?). Reality just "is". We can't view reality as being momentary in such a way that we fail to see how the moments come together to create our conventional view reality. The disdain that some people place on the view of "conventional reality" is ludicrous.


When perceptions are conditioned by ignorance we will (by default) be thinking and perceiving in conventional terms. There will be an illusion of some degree of permanence and essence, when in reality there is none. Therefore I agree with you that any disdain or aversion towards the conventional is detrimental, because it effectively closes the door to the development of wisdom, when perceiving in conventional terms.

However, when perception is conditioned by wisdom rather than ignorance, we will be perceiving in terms of momentariness without imputing "things" over-the-top of that... and if things are imputed, it will be known that they are imputed, and not taken as an inherent characteristic of that "thing". Consider the Buddha's advice to Bahiya...

Ud 1.10: Bahiya Sutta
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

"Then, Bahiya, you should train yourself thus: In reference to the seen, there will be only the seen. In reference to the heard, only the heard. In reference to the sensed, only the sensed. In reference to the cognized, only the cognized. That is how you should train yourself. When for you there will be only the seen in reference to the seen, only the heard in reference to the heard, only the sensed in reference to the sensed, only the cognized in reference to the cognized, then, Bahiya, there is no you in terms of that. When there is no you in terms of that, there is no you there. When there is no you there, you are neither here nor yonder nor between the two. This, just this, is the end of stress."


If we wish to develop the profound wisdom that Buddha prompted Bahiya to comprehend, we need to be able to differentiate between raw sensory inputs and the conceptual layers we superimpose over the top of them. This differentiation simply does not exist in the "conventional", as it is taken as granted that they both point to the same "thing". That is the point where the binding takes place.

Therefore, I think they're both important and that it's necessary to understand aniccata in each context... starting with the conventional as it is easiest to understand conceptually, but then going on to understand it in terms of momentariness, and how it touches upon sunnata.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: What does anicca really mean?

Postby seanpdx » Thu Feb 11, 2010 8:09 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Sean,

seanpdx wrote:I'm not so sure about this. I think it's easily, and perhaps often, overstated. I see too much confusion as a result of this artificial delineation between "conventional reality" and "momentariness" (or perhaps I should say "abhidhammic reality"?). Reality just "is". We can't view reality as being momentary in such a way that we fail to see how the moments come together to create our conventional view reality. The disdain that some people place on the view of "conventional reality" is ludicrous.


When perceptions are conditioned by ignorance we will (by default) be thinking and perceiving in conventional terms. There will be an illusion of some degree of permanence and essence, when in reality there is none. Therefore I agree with you that any disdain or aversion towards the conventional is detrimental, because it effectively closes the door to the development of wisdom, when perceiving in conventional terms.

However, when perception is conditioned by wisdom rather than ignorance, we will be perceiving in terms of momentariness without imputing "things" over-the-top of that... and if things are imputed, it will be known that they are imputed, and not taken as an inherent characteristic of that "thing". Consider the Buddha's advice to Bahiya...


I don't think it's detrimental due to closing the door to the development of wisdom... I think it's detrimental because it separates us from reality. I also don't think that perception being conditioned by wisdom necessitates perceiving in terms of momentariness, though I think we might (?) agree on this point. Denying conventional reality, which is the reality that we actually experience, is just plain silly. And not in a good way.

If I talk about myself... me, as a person... I really have no interest in hearing (reading?) people talk about how there is no self, no inherent thing-ness in me. Great, I'm a psycho-physical process. Not terribly difficult to understand. That's the self. That's the "me". The process is me, and I am that process. The process is the thing-ness.

There is the reality that we experience, and the reality underneath what we experience. Both are real, but in very different ways and in very different contexts.
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Re: What does anicca really mean?

Postby vinasp » Thu Feb 11, 2010 8:20 pm

Hi everyone,

So, we all agree that craving ceases completely (vanishes) ? But ... wait a moment ... does not clinging depend on craving?
Does not 'existence' depend on clinging? Does not 'birth' depend on existence? Does not 'old-age and death' depend on birth?

How many things cease completely (vanish) ?

Does not craving depend on feeling, and cease when feeling ceases? Does not feeling depend on contact and cease when contact ceases? Does not ... (you get the idea).

Does impermanent have two meanings?

1. Can or will vanish.
2. Is subject to change.

And does this mean that cessation has two meanings also? Temporary and non-temporary?

Best wishes, Vincent.
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Re: What does anicca really mean?

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Feb 11, 2010 10:34 pm

Greetings Vincent,

vinasp wrote:So, we all agree that craving ceases completely (vanishes) ? But ... wait a moment ... does not clinging depend on craving?
Does not 'existence' depend on clinging? Does not 'birth' depend on existence? Does not 'old-age and death' depend on birth?


Oh Vincent, your way of thinking hurts my head. :tongue:

vinasp wrote:How many things cease completely (vanish) ?


If you accept that "conditioned by ignorance" is inherent to each of them, then upon arahantship, they all cease.

Does impermanent have two meanings?

1. Can or will vanish.
2. Is subject to change.


That's two different angles by which to approach anicca, but it's not an exhaustive list.

And does this mean that cessation has two meanings also? Temporary and non-temporary?

I would have used the words momentary and permanent - but yes, I believe it does.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: What does anicca really mean?

Postby BlackBird » Thu Feb 11, 2010 11:06 pm

I have to ask Vincent, with all these theories, are you any closer to realization?

:thinking:

metta
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'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta
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Re: What does anicca really mean?

Postby vinasp » Thu Feb 11, 2010 11:30 pm

Hi everyone,

"Bhikkhus, what do you think? Is material form permanent or impermanent?"
"Impermanent, venerable sir." "Is what is impermanent suffering or happiness?"
"Suffering, venerable sir." "Is what is impermanent, suffering, and subject to change, fit to be regarded thus: 'This is mine, this I am, this is my self'?" "No, venerable sir."
Bhikkhu Bodhi - Middle Length Discourses - page 232 [ MN 22. 26 ]

"Is what is impermanent, suffering, and subject to change, fit to be regarded ..."

What does 'impermanent' mean here? Obviously not 'subject to change' or the Buddha would be repeating the same idea twice in the question.

The monks have to understand that 'what has arisen' or 'what has come to be' (over many years) is capable of vanishing (is just a mental construction). Also, that 'what has arisen' is just suffering. If they have seen and understood these two things - for themselves - then the next question can be asked. "Why do you regard that as your self?"

Best wishes, Vincent.
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Re: What does anicca really mean?

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Feb 12, 2010 12:07 am

Greetings Vincent,

Firstly, I'd encourage you to remember that these are English translations of Pali originals. If you want to do a deeper analysis on the difference between "impermanent" and "subject to change" you're going to need to go back to the Pali, find out what words were actually used, and then look into the definitions of those words. Attempting to undertake this analysis in English without referring back the Pali is too blunt a tool by which to conduct such an analysis, and is going to subjected to the mode of translation.

...the next question can be asked. "Why do you regard that as your self?"


I actually read a good explanation for that this morning...

Extract from The Five Illusionists - Dhammavuddho Thera
http://www.what-buddha-taught.net/Books ... onists.pdf

The first aggregate is form/body (rūpa). Rūpa literally means
picture or image because it is the object of eye-consciousness
(cakkhuviññāna). Common translations of rūpa include form
and body. Every one of us has a body. If the body is short,
you say, “I am short.” If the body is beautiful you say, “I am
beautiful.” If the body is sick, you say, “I am sick.” So you
can see how easily we associate the body with the ‘self.’
The second aggregate is feeling (vedanā). When happy
feeling arises, you say, “I am feeling happy.” When angry
feeling arises, you say, “I am angry.” And when sorrowful
feeling arises, you say, “I suffer, I grieve.” So, again we
easily associate feeling with the ‘self.’
The third aggregate is perception (sañña). Perception
means you have a certain conception of something. In the
suttas the Buddha mentioned that you may have the
perception that this is yellow or some other colour. But
somebody else may not perceive this to be yellow. He (or she)
may have a different opinion from you, more so if he is
colour blind. Also, if you were to wear dark glasses, you will
swear this is a certain colour. It is only when you remove
your dark glasses, then you realize it’s a different colour. So
perceptions are not very reliable. You may perceive that a
certain person is very handsome or beautiful, but somebody
else may not have the same perception. Or you have the
perception that somebody is a very nice person, but he will
not appear nice to his enemy. These are examples of how
‘my perception’ arises.
The fourth aggregate is volition (sa5khāra). Dependent
on sense object and sense organ, consciousness arises. The
meeting of the three is contact. This is followed by feeling,
perception, thoughts and volition. For example, you might see
a beautiful girl or handsome man, and a pleasant feeling
arises. This is followed by a perception that this is a very
attractive person, and the thought of it gives rise to a
decision/volition “I like to be his/her friend.” So volition –––
to do or not to do this or that ––– is again easily associated
with the ‘self.’
The fifth aggregate is consciousness (viññāna).
Consciousness means seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touch
and thinking consciousness. When consciousness arises you
say, “I see” or “I hear,” etc. ––– in this way, ‘I’ arises with
the normal consciousness.


It is only with arahantship that the tendency (anusaya) to conceive in terms of a self is completely eradicated.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: What does anicca really mean?

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Feb 12, 2010 12:31 am

Hi Vincent,
vinasp wrote: "Is what is impermanent, suffering, and subject to change, fit to be regarded ..."

What does 'impermanent' mean here? Obviously not 'subject to change' or the Buddha would be repeating the same idea twice in the question.

I'm sure some of our experts could elaborate, but it's actually quite common for these lists to contain synonyms, or near-synonyms for emphasis:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .nymo.html
... such ideas he sees as impermanent, as liable to suffering, as a disease, as a cancer, as a barb, as a calamity, as an affliction, as alien, as being worn away, as void, as not-self.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
It's to this extent that many, many men — heedless, their hearts defiled — opposing one another, create conflicts, murder, bondage, calamity, loss, grief, & lamentation.

It's not really a good argument that all the things in a list are supposed to be particularly distinct. This is an oral tradition that relies on repetition.

Metta
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Re: What does anicca really mean?

Postby acinteyyo » Fri Feb 12, 2010 5:04 pm

vinasp wrote:Hi everyone,

"Bhikkhus, what do you think? Is material form permanent or impermanent?"
"Impermanent, venerable sir." "Is what is impermanent suffering or happiness?"
"Suffering, venerable sir." "Is what is impermanent, suffering, and subject to change, fit to be regarded thus: 'This is mine, this I am, this is my self'?" "No, venerable sir."
Bhikkhu Bodhi - Middle Length Discourses - page 232 [ MN 22. 26 ]

"Is what is impermanent, suffering, and subject to change, fit to be regarded ..."

What does 'impermanent' mean here? Obviously not 'subject to change' or the Buddha would be repeating the same idea twice in the question.

Hi all,

"impermanent" means it is not permanent, it does not exist permanently, once arisen it has to cease, it will not last forever.

"subject to change" means after it arose it does not stay the way it is until it finally has ceased.
AN 3.47 by Ven. Ñanavira wrote:There are, monks, these three determined-characteristics of what is determined. Which are the three? Arising (appearance) is manifest; disappearance is manifest; change while standing is manifest. These, monks, are the three determined-characteristics of what is determined.

Alternative translation by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
AN 3.47 wrote:"Monks, these three are fabricated characteristics of what is fabricated. Which three? Arising is discernible, passing away is discernible, alteration (literally, other-ness) while staying is discernible.
"These are three fabricated characteristics of what is fabricated.

Please mind the phrasing "change while standing" or "alteration (other-ness) while staying", this means "subject to change". A particular dhamma (here sankhāra) is subject to change while this particular dhamma is still existing as this particular dhamma or in other words is still discernible as this particular dhamma.
From the point when it is, it changes until the point when it is not.

best wishes, acinteyyo
Pubbe cāhaṃ bhikkhave, etarahi ca dukkhañceva paññāpemi, dukkhassa ca nirodhaṃ. (M.22)
Api cāhaṃ, āvuso, imasmiṃyeva byāmamatte kaḷevare, sasaññimhi samanake lokañca paññāpemi lokasamudayañca lokanirodhañca lokanirodhagāminiñca paṭipadan. (AN4.45)

:anjali:
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Re: What does anicca really mean?

Postby rowyourboat » Fri Feb 12, 2010 5:13 pm

arising (due to conditions), changing (subject to change-viparinama), becoming other, passing away, are all aspects of impermanance as I understand it. There's not much to be gained from differentiating this with fine precision. THe important question -what do you want to get out of this exercise?

There is no point in putting another theoretical layer of momentariness over conventional reality. However if you could experientially deconstruct conventional reality -ie actually see conventional reality breaking down-- now- there is something there which is powerful. It is transforming. This is called vipassana. Unsatisfactoriness and Non-self becomes inescapable truths. Then it makes sense.
With Metta

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& Upekkha
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Re: What does anicca really mean?

Postby vinasp » Fri Feb 12, 2010 6:06 pm

Hi everyone,

Here is another example of the use of the term 'impermanent' from SN 12. 20. Bhikkkhu Bodhi - The Connected Discourses - page 551.

"And what, bhikkhus, are the dependently arisen phenomena? Aging-and-death, bhikkhus, is impermanent, conditioned, dependently arisen, subject to destruction, vanishing, fading away, and cessation.
Birth is impermanent ...
Existence is impermanent ....
(and so forth ... down to ...)
Ignorance is impermanent ... and cessation."

This seems to be speaking not about what arises this moment, or how it arises this moment, but about all those things which have arisen over the last twenty years or so, and which have not yet ceased.

Is there a 'heaping-up', 'amassing' or 'accumulation' of such things?
Is there a collection of thousands of things that we are clinging to?

If so, then these things can only vanish in some present moment. Although they arose in the past in one sense, they persist because they arise again each moment in another sense of arise. So 'things' are 'activities' when seen from another point of view [ This only applies to mentally constructed 'things'].

Best wishes, Vincent.
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Re: What does anicca really mean?

Postby vinasp » Sun Feb 14, 2010 6:34 pm

Hi everyone,

Is there a 'heaping-up', 'amassing' or 'accumulation' of such things? Yes. It is called the five aggregates of clinging.

The venerable Sariputta addressing the bhikkhus in MN 28.

".... He understands thus: 'This indeed, is how there comes to be the inclusion, gathering, and amassing of things into these five aggregates affected by clinging'. Now this has been said by the Blessed One: 'One who sees dependent origination sees
the Dhamma; One who sees the Dhamma sees dependent origination'. And these five aggregates affected by clinging are dependently arisen. The desire, indulgence, inclination, and holding based on these five aggregates affected by clinging is the origin of suffering. The removal of desire and lust, the abandonment of desire and lust for these five aggregates affected by clinging is the cessation of suffering".

Bhikkhu Bodhi - Middle Length Discourses - page 283 [MN 28. 28]

Dependently arisen - past tense. They arose in the past but we are still clinging to them. The cessation of the five aggregates of clinging is enlightenment. Impermanent and dependently arisen mean the same thing - capable of complete cessation.

Best wishes, Vincent.
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Re: What does anicca really mean?

Postby vinasp » Tue Feb 16, 2010 6:16 am

Hi everyone,

I said:

"So 'things' are 'activities' when seen from another point of view [ This only applies to mentally constructed 'things']."

I will try to explain this.

Most discourses about dependent origination (D.O.) speak of the cessation of each link - for example 'cessation of feeling'. This does not mean the cessation of one particular feeling, which will be followed by the arising of another particular feeling.
It means the complete ending of the entire process called 'feeling'.

In most discourses about D.O. the process aspect is ignored and the terms 'feeling', 'craving' and so forth, refer to any feeling or any craving. They are general, non-specific designations. The formula is describing a general principle. This is
equivalent to treating all feeling as 'one thing' or all craving as 'one thing'. This in turn means that the entire process of feeling is regarded as 'one thing'.

Not every link is obviously a process like feeling and craving. But every link is a process. For those links which are 'constructive activities' (sankhara) the process may be too rapid to observe.

So every 'thing' in D.O. is also a process or an 'activity' (sankhara) from another point of view.

Best wishes, Vincent.
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