the great rebirth debate

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Aloka » Tue Aug 20, 2013 7:52 pm

nowheat wrote:
lyndon taylor wrote:Actually if you don't believe in rebirth, there is no deathless, rather upon death there is only totally dead, not deathless. You can't have it both ways, if there is no rebirth, Nibbana ends completely at death, the end, zippo, are you comfortable with that?

lyndon, there are two kinds of "don't believe in rebirth". The kind you are referring to is what is loosely called atheism even in Buddhist circles where God has no part to play: an active *disbelief* in rebirth. The other kind is one who *neither believes nor disbelieves". For them, there is the deathless as you are taking it if there is rebirth, and if there is not there is not. But neither case matters (as Craig often argues if I understand him, though he doesn't put it the way I do) because there is the state the Buddha described of living a life with no perception that there is a self that dies -- and that is, in that sense, a deathless state.



There's a previous thread here: "What is the deathless" which may be of interest:

http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=16861&start=20#p240963

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby ancientbuddhism » Tue Aug 20, 2013 7:53 pm

lyndon taylor wrote:... if there is no rebirth, Nibbana ends completely at death, the end, zippo, are you comfortable with that?


Do you believe that while sitting crosslegged, you should fly through the air like a winged bird?

    Ākāse'pi pallaṅkena kamatha seyyathāpi pakkhi sakuṇo...

If you don’t, then all you have to contemplate is cognition at sensate events. Are you comfortable with that?
Katamo ca bhikkhave asaṅkhatagāmī maggo: samatho ca vipassanā ca. Ayaṃ vuccati bhikkhave asaṅkhatagāmī maggo.

“And what, bhikkhus, is the path leading to the unconditioned? Calm and insight. This, bhikkhus, is called the path leading to the unconditioned.” SN. 43.2 – Samathavipassanāsuttaṃ

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby nowheat » Tue Aug 20, 2013 8:35 pm

lyndon taylor wrote:...if there is no rebirth, Nibbana ends completely at death, the end, zippo, are you comfortable with that?

I didn't notice, till ab posted a comment, that you'd asked me a question, lyndon. To answer it: yes, I am as comfortable with death being the end as I am with the prospect of a rebirth based on the karma from this life I'm living now. I hope you are equally comfortable with either prospect.

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby clw_uk » Tue Aug 20, 2013 10:14 pm

lyndon taylor wrote:Actually if you don't believe in rebirth, there is no deathless, rather upon death there is only totally dead, not deathless. You can't have it both ways, if there is no rebirth, Nibbana ends completely at death, the end, zippo, are you comfortable with that?



Deathless is not clinging to anything, not identifying with that which dies


If that happens then there is no death in this life, or another


It's only when, through ignorance, we give rise to "me" is there death

How can death occur when there is no "me" to die?


However your also confusing NON-belief in rebirth with belief in NO Rebirth, a subtle distinction but an important one


Let me put this to you, If somehow you discovered that rebirth didn't happen, would you not still experience dukkha through clinging?

To me it's obvious we do, therefore to be free from dukkha we should not cling, and so Dhamma practice is the same regardless of what happens after death


"Then, Bāhiya, 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, Bāhiya, there is no you in connection with that. When there is no you in connection with 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."



"there is no you in connection with that ... Just this is the end of stress"

I.e. the deathless
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Aloka » Tue Aug 20, 2013 10:36 pm

.

In his book " Don't Take Your Life Personally" Ajahn Sumedho describes the deathless as "the unconditioned" or "nibbana".


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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby clw_uk » Tue Aug 20, 2013 10:49 pm

Aloka wrote:.

In his book " Don't Take Your Life Personally" Ajahn Sumedho describes the deathless as "the unconditioned" or "nibbana".


.



That's it, the mind that isn't conditioned and deluded by phenomena, and so not giving rise to identity, is Nibbana
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Aug 20, 2013 11:28 pm

Yes. Nice description Craig.
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)


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One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Sylvester » Wed Aug 21, 2013 6:57 am

nowheat wrote:I would love to be able to point you to a particular "citation...that furnishes this Creation myth" but I've never found one neat portrayal of this type of creation myth in any ancient volume -- there are dozens of snippets scattered all over (they are found as far back as the RgVeda, as recent as the Upanisads), discussing various parts, changing up the stories, taking as assumed the particular variant for their time or perhaps lineage -- "worshipping" this or that element with poetry, or building their own theories on the structure, themselves. They seem to never sit down and tell the story neatly, from start to finish, as we would, but assume their audience is already familiar with it, and simply use it as background to their arguments. (Oh, say, that sounds familiar... isn't that what I'm saying the Buddha's doing? It always surprises me when I see another way in which what the Buddha is doing is modeled on what has been done again and again in the literature that came before him -- I think this adds to the evidence that he was a well-educated man.)


Anyway, I think I have said, a couple of times, that I don't see the structure the Buddha used in DA as tying to one specific worldview (much less myth), but to a generalized one, which makes sense because, yes, there was not just one Creation myth. I do see the structure strongly matching the Prajapati myth -- in one or two very generalized versions of the popular variants. <edit/insert:> What I am trying to say is that the Prajapati myth may be one useful example of the type of myth the Buddha was generalizing about -- or it may be the primary one -- but what he is describing is meant to be generally representative of the way most people in his day looked at the world, rather than a direct refutation of that one myth. <end-edit> There's one in which Prajapati divides himself up, gaining senses through the individuality of name-and-form (I associate this with "form" in the canon), and in the other all the "pieces" having such similarity that they stuck together and were in constant contact (which I think of as matching "the formless" in the canon). Perhaps there were other myths out there that used a similar pattern, but the Prajapati myth (which was, earlier, associated with Purusa, and later associated with Brahma) matches up well enough to be used for the purposes of discussion. For references to the (bits and pieces in the) original texts that support the common understanding of those myths, I would point to Professor Jurewicz's paper, "Playing With Fire", which is chock full of citations -- she has far more knowledge of these things than I do. You can find a link to her paper on the same page of this forum as there is a link to mine, cited earlier: viewtopic.php?f=29&t=3167&start=60#p192603


Thank you for this. If there was no one neat Creation myth, perhaps you could furnish at least one common thread underlying the entire multi-coloured fabric of the pre-Buddhist millieu? I do know from your essay in the OCBS Journal that you may equate this to the "sense of self", but it is not immediately apparent to me what that "sense of self" was, given the diversity of theories presented in the Upanisads. Certainly, I would not discount the utility of DA in accounting for some "sense of self", since grasping/clinging forms an important component of the 1st Noble Truth, while DA is identified with the 2nd. I take MN 44 as furnishing an alternative characterisation of the grasping in the concept of sakkāya, so perhaps this is one expression of a "sense of self".

But that being said, despite the summary equation (saṅkhitta) of the pañcupādānakkhandhā as dukkhā, we cannot discount the other appositional statements in SN 56. 11-

jātipi dukkhā jarāpi dukkhā vyādhipi dukkho maraṇampi dukkhaṃ appiyehi sampayogo dukkho piyehi vippayogo dukkho yampicchaṃ na labhati tampi dukkhaṃ

Birth is suffering, aging is suffering, sickness is suffering, death is suffering, sorrow and lamentation, pain, grief and despair are suffering; association with the loathed is suffering, dissociation from the loved is suffering, not to get what one wants is suffering.


Is an account of DA that attempts to address the source/origin of this sense of self alone what is presented in the suttas? I think this is papering over other very important aspects of DA that attempt to explain phenomenon beyond the clinging to identity. Such an account fails to acknowledge that DA as presented in the suttas function to explain feelings as well. Take for example the internal evidence in SN 12.25, where SN 56.11's piyehi vippayoga (seperation from the loved) fits in with SN 12.25's exposition on the source of feeling -

Friend Sāriputta, some ascetics and brahmins, proponents of kamma, maintain that pleasure and pain are created by oneself; some ascetics and brahmins, proponents of kamma, maintain that pleasure and pain are created by another; some ascetics and brahmins, proponents of kamma, maintain that pleasure and pain are created both by oneself and by another; some ascetics and brahmins, proponents of kamma, maintain that pleasure and pain have arisen fortuitously, being created neither by oneself nor by another.76 Now, friend Sāriputta, what does the Blessed One say about this? What does he teach? How should we answer if we are to state what has been said by the Blessed One and not misrepresent him with what is contrary to fact? And how should we explain in accordance with the Dhamma so that no reasonable consequence of our assertion would give ground for criticism?”

“Friend, the Blessed One has said that pleasure and pain are dependently arisen. Dependent on what? Dependent on contact. If one were to speak thus one would be stating what has been said by the Blessed One and would not misrepresent him with what is contrary to fact; one would explain in accordance with the Dhamma, and no reasonable consequence of one’s assertion would give ground for criticism.

“Therein, friend, in the case of those ascetics and brahmins, proponents of kamma, who maintain that pleasure and pain are created by oneself, and those who maintain that pleasure and pain are created by another, and those who maintain that pleasure and pain are created both by oneself and by another, and those who maintain that pleasure and pain have arisen fortuitously, being created neither by oneself nor by another—in each case that is conditioned by contact.

“Therein, friends, in the case of those ascetics and brahmins, proponents of kamma, who maintain that pleasure and pain are created by oneself, and those who maintain that pleasure and pain are created by another, and those who maintain that pleasure and pain are created both by oneself and by another, and those [39] who maintain that pleasure and pain have arisen fortuitously, being created neither by oneself nor by another—in each case it is impossible that they will experience [anything] without contact.”


This analysis is echoed in AN 3.61 - http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html . Both SN 12.25 and AN 3.61 certainly fit in with your description that it addresses a prevailing belief(s), but both suttas do not stop to say that one's sense of self originates from that belief. Both suttas explicity deny the validity of the beliefs, and then go on to present the Buddha's teaching on the source of feelings.

I would also note that AN 3.61 goes beyond the exposition on the origin of feelings. The alighting of the embryo (gabbhassāvakkanti) is mentioned. What's striking here is that clinging to the 6 dhātū is the paccaya for the alighting of the embryo. This turns the table on the discussion, insofar as the Buddha has gone beyond applying DA as just being an account of pañcupādānakkhandhā, but has actually applied DA as pointing to pañcupādānakkhandhā (or the underlying upādāna/clinging) as the condition for the alighting of the embryo. I therefore find it hard to believe that the Buddha actually used DA as a mere pedagogical tool to explain the Brahmin's "sense of self", not when AN 3.61 points clearly to DA being an explanation for how clinging leads to rebirth.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Spiny Norman » Wed Aug 21, 2013 9:34 am

nowheat wrote:First there is an innate view of self, then there is the perception that we have a self, then there is a refined view of self, and then there are the ways those perceptions inform our thinking, and then they are expressed in action.


I broadly agree, though I think that the "innate view" of self is deep-seated and continuous, so to talk about it being "reborn" doesn't feel right. As I said before, it's the ocean, not the waves - the waves would be like desires. I find in practice that mindfulness works best when I'm experiencing stuff directly, without imposing too many ideas on the process. So I might think "Ah, there's some desire, I wonder where that came from?", but I wouldn't start thinking in terms of birth, ageing and death because it's just adding another layer of conceptual proliferation.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Spiny Norman » Wed Aug 21, 2013 10:11 am

clw_uk wrote:How can death occur when there is no "me" to die?


But clearly there is still the physical death of the body, and still the experience of dying. As I've noted before, in the suttas death is always clearly described as a physical event.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby clw_uk » Wed Aug 21, 2013 10:49 am

Spiny Norman wrote:
clw_uk wrote:How can death occur when there is no "me" to die?


But clearly there is still the physical death of the body, and still the experience of dying. As I've noted before, in the suttas death is always clearly described as a physical event.



Of course the body dies however there is no "death" for me, that is there is no "me" to experience death

Thats why Buddha says that when we don't cling to anything, we don't form identity ... We aren't connected with that which ages and dies, so there is no ageing, sickness or death ... No sorrow or lamentation etc



There is just detached awareness
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby clw_uk » Wed Aug 21, 2013 11:37 am

Spiny


I'm still far from clear. Could you give some practical examples of how you experience identification being reborn? I can see it might make sense to talk about desire being continually "reborn", but I don't think that's what you mean?


Well for example when in meditation, if there is pain and aversion arises then there follow "I dont want this pain, make this pain go away, why dont I just move" etc

Whereas if there is strong mindfulness then the feeling is just observed as it is, no aversion arises and so no sense of self in the moment. That is no "I am in pain" etc, so "I" isnt born through craving/clinging


I think you mean your Dhamma practice doesn't depend on there being an afterlife. For many Buddhists the rebirth teachings are important.


Of course some people find it important, however my argument is that Dhamma practice would remain the same regardless because there would still be dukkha, ageing and death in this life, which we can practice to be free from.


It occurred to me that by "identification" you might be referring to the continual rebirth of self-view, which is something I've considered. But from personal experience and reading the suttas I have the sense that self-view is a deep-seated underlying tendency or condition - this seems to be confirmed by self-view being one of the last fetters to be overcome.


self-view is one of the first three fetters to be overcome, conceit ("I am") is the last


Apparently there is something in the VisuddhiMagga referring to moment-to-moment rebirth, but I can't recall anyone having found a direct quote to support this. In any case I'm pretty sure that Buddhaghosa didn't rewrite DO in the way that Buddhadasa has attempted to do, ie by redefining the nidanas.


I havent come across it either, I just heard that apparently its there.

As for Buddhadasa I dont think he "re-wrote" D.O. but simply explained it as it was, nothing he says goes against Dhamma and everything he says is aimed at non-clinging

but I wouldn't start thinking in terms of birth, ageing and death because it's just adding another layer of conceptual proliferation.


Its not about adding "conceptual proliferation" or thinking about ageing and death, or not thinking about them. Its about just experiencing things as they are, and not giving rise to identification to anything

As I said, when in pain if you just experience it as it is, then there is no aversion and no "I dont want this" and the mind is empty of self

Its no longer "my" pain but just a sensation



"'It's with possessiveness, friend Ananda, that there is "I am," not without possessiveness. And through possessiveness of what is there "I am," not without possessiveness? Through possessiveness of form there is "I am," not without possessiveness. Through possessiveness of feeling... perception... fabrications... Through possessiveness of consciousness there is "I am," not without possessivenes


So "I am" (or conciet), one of the last fetters, arises due to being possessive

How do we become possessive? Through clinging

Clinging is the cause of "I am" or self

Clinging rises and falls many times a day, therefore "I am" rises and falls many times a day

If we do not cling, then there is no "I am" and so no possession of that which ages and dies, and so no dukka

"Now this, monks, is the Noble Truth of dukkha: Birth is dukkha, aging is dukkha, death is dukkha; sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, & despair are dukkha; association with the unbeloved is dukkha; separation from the loved is dukkha; not getting what is wanted is dukkha. In short, the five aggregates subject to clinging, are dukkha."


So " In short, the five aggregates subject to clinging, are dukkha." because when we cling, we possess the aggregates and give rise to "I am". Then where there is "I am" there is birth, ageing, sickness, death, pain, grief etc.


"And this, monks, is the noble truth of the origination of stress: the craving that makes for further becoming — accompanied by passion & delight, relishing now here & now there — i.e., craving for sensual pleasure, craving for becoming, craving for non-becoming.


We cling because we crave which gives rise to "further becoming", or we can say identification, and we crave because we dont understand that feelings are anicca, dukkha and anatta


"And this, monks, is the noble truth of the cessation of stress: the remainderless fading & cessation, renunciation, relinquishment, release, & letting go of that very craving.


When craving ceases then so does identification with the aggregates, one no longer takes them as a possession ... there is non-clinging


and the NEFP is the practice of just being aware, of developing strong mindfulness accompanied by wisdom, that leads to non-identification, non-death and a life that is dukkha free

"Then, Bāhiya, 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, Bāhiya, there is no you in connection with that. When there is no you in connection with 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."

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby nowheat » Wed Aug 21, 2013 11:48 am

Spiny Norman wrote:
nowheat wrote:First there is an innate view of self, then there is the perception that we have a self, then there is a refined view of self, and then there are the ways those perceptions inform our thinking, and then they are expressed in action.


I broadly agree, though I think that the "innate view" of self is deep-seated and continuous, so to talk about it being "reborn" doesn't feel right. As I said before, it's the ocean, not the waves - the waves would be like desires. I find in practice that mindfulness works best when I'm experiencing stuff directly, without imposing too many ideas on the process. So I might think "Ah, there's some desire, I wonder where that came from?", but I wouldn't start thinking in terms of birth, ageing and death because it's just adding another layer of conceptual proliferation.


I agree that there is no feeling that the innate view is being reborn -- but I wasn't suggesting that it was. The point we started from was you asking Craig what he experienced as being reborn. I am saying that what I experience as being reborn is *what results from the innate view* (and the refined view). When I am pinning down what I experience at the point in the cycle of DA that is described at "birth", what I experience is action that demonstrates to the world how it is that I perceive myself and the world I live in. If I experience that "birth" I can retroactively locate where the views that brought it about were -- we might say -- "born" but that isn't jati/birth -- that's upadana/clinging (so perhaps "where the views that brought it about arose" would be more accurate). Part of the idea of practice is to get good enough at seeing what's going on to catch the forming of that refined view before it generates the me-in-action, to catch it at the moment between feeling and contact.

In my practice I never experience the birth of the further-back, innate view, because it developed long ago out of a stew that includes what the Buddha calls "an underlying tendency to self-view". I am not sure if we ever get rid of it entirely -- I would only really know this if I were a fully awakened being -- but I am sure we can short-circuit its ill-effects when they start to arise. I also tend to believe that not all of that innate view's generation of "self" is problematic. In its most basic form it is just saying "this life is worth preserving" and the Buddha does support us having the things that keep us going: food, water, shelter, clothing, medicines even. It does seem to be that there are parts of that ancient assumption that are necessary and useful, but the vast bulk of the assumptions around self preservation get us into trouble ("I am worth preserving therefore I should snare myself an extra share of the harvest to put away for lean times; who cares if someone else goes hungry at my expense." "I am a being who has existed since the beginning and I will be that same being at the end, therefore I have an innate nature and cannot change the fundamentals of my character. I am what I am.")

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Spiny Norman » Wed Aug 21, 2013 12:07 pm

clw_uk wrote:
Spiny Norman wrote:
clw_uk wrote:How can death occur when there is no "me" to die?


But clearly there is still the physical death of the body, and still the experience of dying. As I've noted before, in the suttas death is always clearly described as a physical event.



Of course the body dies however there is no "death" for me, that is there is no "me" to experience death



I was thinking of the Arrow Sutta where there is the cessation of mental suffering ( second arrow ) but there is still the experience of bodily pain ( first arrow ). And there is inevitably the experience of bodily pain due to ageing and death. And clearly the Buddha experienced these things.

I not sure that saying there is no "me" to have these experiences really gets to the bottom of this.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby clw_uk » Wed Aug 21, 2013 12:11 pm

I was thinking of the Arrow Sutta where there is the cessation of mental suffering ( second arrow ) but there is still the experience of bodily pain ( first arrow ). And there is inevitably the experience of bodily pain due to ageing and death. And clearly the Buddha experienced these things.

I not sure that saying there is no "me" to have these experiences really gets to the bottom of this.



What I get from that Sutta is that the Buddha was aiming at overcoming the first arrow (which we all agree on) and the second arrow was used as a convention

That is we say "pain" to label the sensation, but it doesnt have to be dukkha (the 2nd arrow) if we don't take possession of it
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Spiny Norman » Wed Aug 21, 2013 12:11 pm

clw_uk wrote:
It occurred to me that by "identification" you might be referring to the continual rebirth of self-view, which is something I've considered. But from personal experience and reading the suttas I have the sense that self-view is a deep-seated underlying tendency or condition - this seems to be confirmed by self-view being one of the last fetters to be overcome.


self-view is one of the first three fetters to be overcome, conceit ("I am") is the last



Actually it's conceit I was thinking of here rather than self-view, I think Linda referred to it as "innate self-view". I'll give your other comments some thought.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby clw_uk » Wed Aug 21, 2013 12:18 pm

Spiny Norman wrote:
clw_uk wrote:
It occurred to me that by "identification" you might be referring to the continual rebirth of self-view, which is something I've considered. But from personal experience and reading the suttas I have the sense that self-view is a deep-seated underlying tendency or condition - this seems to be confirmed by self-view being one of the last fetters to be overcome.


self-view is one of the first three fetters to be overcome, conceit ("I am") is the last



Actually it's conceit I was thinking of here rather than self-view, I think Linda referred to it as "innate self-view". I'll give your other comments some thought.



I thought you was.

From what I understand, self-view comes from conceit

that is the conceit "I am" leads to "I am eternal, I am not eternal" etc which are self views
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby nowheat » Wed Aug 21, 2013 1:50 pm

Sylvester wrote:Thank you for this. If there was no one neat Creation myth, perhaps you could furnish at least one common thread underlying the entire multi-coloured fabric of the pre-Buddhist millieu?

I'm not sure that I believe there is such a thing in the vast sprawl that is Vedism. Do you?

I do know from your essay in the OCBS Journal that you may equate this to the "sense of self", but it is not immediately apparent to me what that "sense of self" was, given the diversity of theories presented in the Upanisads.

Well, maybe the common thread then is "what is the order of the universe and how can understanding its order best serve our desire for a happy future?" Seen that way the Buddha is then -- on the broadest level -- responding to the assumption that there is a knowable order and then pointing out that the things we do because we think we know what that order is and what to do about it actually lead us into trouble. This is why he occasionally teaches that what the order actually turns out to be is less important that doing what's right here-and-now. He proposes that if we act in moral ways, we certainly have the best opportunity for a good outcome in this life, and if the universe has an order that supports morality then we win again. Whereas if we behave in amoral ways, if there is a moral order we'll be in trouble after death, and if there is no Cosmic Law then we'll experience dukkha as a result of our behavior in this life anyway. (All the arguments that get made about how, if we believe there is no rebirth, then we can just run off and be immoral and live a life of luxury on our ill-gotten-gains fall apart when we recognize that what dukkha is talking about isn't suffering due to poverty instead of wealth, etc. but all the frustrations of loving people who don't love you back, losing those you love to illness and death, issues with our own aging etc. Those don't change for the immoral unenlightened no matter how wealthy they get.)



Certainly, I would not discount the utility of DA in accounting for some "sense of self", since grasping/clinging forms an important component of the 1st Noble Truth, while DA is identified with the 2nd. I take MN 44 as furnishing an alternative characterisation of the grasping in the concept of sakkāya, so perhaps this is one expression of a "sense of self".

But that being said, despite the summary equation (saṅkhitta) of the pañcupādānakkhandhā as dukkhā, we cannot discount the other appositional statements in SN 56. 11-

jātipi dukkhā jarāpi dukkhā vyādhipi dukkho maraṇampi dukkhaṃ appiyehi sampayogo dukkho piyehi vippayogo dukkho yampicchaṃ na labhati tampi dukkhaṃ

Birth is suffering, aging is suffering, sickness is suffering, death is suffering, sorrow and lamentation, pain, grief and despair are suffering; association with the loathed is suffering, dissociation from the loved is suffering, not to get what one wants is suffering.

If you look at the recent conversation I have been having with Spiny, you'll find that he keeps understanding me as saying that what's being "born" is "the view" rather than "what is generated by the view". In a sense, this is what the Buddha is doing with the portion up to "death is suffering". It is an equivalency of sorts, in which the component parts that go into making something, are named as the thing they result in, and sometimes even perceived as being the same thing, as I believe Spiny has been doing -- and in a sense that is perfectly correct: the view and what it generates are inseparable in a way. This is especially true in the case of components that are critical to the thing, without which the thing would not have what we think of as its innate character. So, for example, we never indicate our car by its upholstery, but we often call it "our wheels". This is what I find the Buddha doing right up to that maranampi dukkham, and here maybe grammar helps to indicate this, because there is no "hoti" in there -- no "is" -- which is (granted) a common construction all throughout the Pali, and is read as having the "to be" verb "understood", making for an equivalency, but it seems to me a softer sort of equivalency than one with the hoti in there. Its a metonym. I expect that this "birth is suffering, aging is suffering, death is suffering" was a pop-phrase, and the Buddha is using it in his customary "Just so -- you are exactly right" opening that is generally followed by "but let's refine that a bit" which pulls the listener in the direction of what he wants them to actually understand.

Is an account of DA that attempts to address the source/origin of this sense of self alone what is presented in the suttas? I think this is papering over other very important aspects of DA that attempt to explain phenomenon beyond the clinging to identity. Such an account fails to acknowledge that DA as presented in the suttas function to explain feelings as well. Take for example the internal evidence in SN 12.25, where SN 56.11's piyehi vippayoga (seperation from the loved) fits in with SN 12.25's exposition on the source of feeling -

Friend Sāriputta, some ascetics and brahmins, proponents of kamma, maintain that pleasure and pain are created by oneself; some ascetics and brahmins, proponents of kamma, maintain that pleasure and pain are created by another; some ascetics and brahmins, proponents of kamma, maintain that pleasure and pain are created both by oneself and by another; some ascetics and brahmins, proponents of kamma, maintain that pleasure and pain have arisen fortuitously, being created neither by oneself nor by another.76 Now, friend Sāriputta, what does the Blessed One say about this? What does he teach? How should we answer if we are to state what has been said by the Blessed One and not misrepresent him with what is contrary to fact? And how should we explain in accordance with the Dhamma so that no reasonable consequence of our assertion would give ground for criticism?”

“Friend, the Blessed One has said that pleasure and pain are dependently arisen. Dependent on what? Dependent on contact. If one were to speak thus one would be stating what has been said by the Blessed One and would not misrepresent him with what is contrary to fact; one would explain in accordance with the Dhamma, and no reasonable consequence of one’s assertion would give ground for criticism.

“Therein, friend, in the case of those ascetics and brahmins, proponents of kamma, who maintain that pleasure and pain are created by oneself, and those who maintain that pleasure and pain are created by another, and those who maintain that pleasure and pain are created both by oneself and by another, and those who maintain that pleasure and pain have arisen fortuitously, being created neither by oneself nor by another—in each case that is conditioned by contact.

“Therein, friends, in the case of those ascetics and brahmins, proponents of kamma, who maintain that pleasure and pain are created by oneself, and those who maintain that pleasure and pain are created by another, and those who maintain that pleasure and pain are created both by oneself and by another, and those [39] who maintain that pleasure and pain have arisen fortuitously, being created neither by oneself nor by another—in each case it is impossible that they will experience [anything] without contact.”


This analysis is echoed in AN 3.61 - http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html . Both SN 12.25 and AN 3.61 certainly fit in with your description that it addresses a prevailing belief(s), but both suttas do not stop to say that one's sense of self originates from that belief. Both suttas explicitly deny the validity of the beliefs, and then go on to present the Buddha's teaching on the source of feelings.

I would also note that AN 3.61 goes beyond the exposition on the origin of feelings. The alighting of the embryo (gabbhassāvakkanti) is mentioned. What's striking here is that clinging to the 6 dhātū is the paccaya for the alighting of the embryo. This turns the table on the discussion, insofar as the Buddha has gone beyond applying DA as just being an account of pañcupādānakkhandhā, but has actually applied DA as pointing to pañcupādānakkhandhā (or the underlying upādāna/clinging) as the condition for the alighting of the embryo. I therefore find it hard to believe that the Buddha actually used DA as a mere pedagogical tool to explain the Brahmin's "sense of self", not when AN 3.61 points clearly to DA being an explanation for how clinging leads to rebirth.

I'm having a hard time finding which angle to approach all the above from, because so many pieces fit into it but I'll try starting from the point that while what the Buddha is talking about in dependent arising is how we create a false sense that we have a lasting self, and how that and its impermanence and the impermanence of everything we make part of that self is what leads to dukkha, that doesn't preclude there being a larger context for what he's saying, or that the larger context doesn't matter. So, for example, causation is a larger context -- he didn't invent it (it's being talked about in Vedic works long before his time) but he focused on it in a different way. It's often thought that when he says "when this is, that is" he is talking about Cosmic Order but I don't think that's what he's actually paying attention to -- that it is the cosmic order is relevant because it is the way things work and we all know it, but that's not the lesson he's teaching: he's teaching its relevance to DA. Causation is true on a cosmic scale, but he's not discussing cosmology; he's talking about how causation applies in this situation we're focused on. "When this is, that is" is his short-hand for what is going on in DA, it's a clever little reminder of the essence, and (I believe) should not be mistaken for his answer to Life, The Universe, and Everything.

In the suttas you cite on feelings, he and his disciples are talking about what other people believe about feelings. The proposition seems to be that all feelings are created by something outside our immediate control (either our past behavior/as a result of kamma, or by the Gods, or that it's just random. The Buddha refutes this: what we feel (*whatever* we feel) comes about through causes and conditions. I think any of us here can see that this is true. It's true on a scale like "when this is, that is" at a cosmic level. But that does not mean that when he talks about feelings in DA he is talking about every feeling. The feelings he is discussing in DA are a severely limited set of all feelings, limited by the causal chain that has come before (because that's what causal chains do, they narrow the set at each step). It is *only* feelings that meet all the conditions that came before -- that are driven by ignorance, sankhara, consciousness, and name-and-form, and sought after by senses that are driven by those.

That he is discussing the fact that all feelings come from causes -- not from kamma, from Gods, or from randomness -- wouldn't mean that in DA he is talking about *all feelings*.

Which answers your first question in this set: "Is an account of DA that attempts to address the source/origin of this sense of self alone what is presented in the suttas?"

I am reading the "alone" in that sentence as applying to "what is presented in the suttas" rather than to "an account of DA" so I interpret your question as: is a sense of self all that the Buddha is talking about in the suttas?

No, because -- at the very least* -- he talks to people about more than just what he teaches. They propose ideas that fall outside of what he teaches. In these suttas, he drags them towards his actual teaching by using the "what everybody knows" structure of DA to describe how feelings are dependent on causes like having consciousness appear at conception (not addressing where it came from, right? he is being generic), having name-and-form, using the senses, making contact with the world -- voila! feeling comes from all that. This is also obviously true. He doesn't really need to be explaining anatta here -- he is just showing that feelings arise from causes that we can see. If they're interested, they can come learn more.

The other aspect of this is that in the mid-section of DA, when he "does the detail", he isn't talking about "what everybody believes" as he does in the first and last section. The *names* of the steps reflect "what everybody does" in terms of rituals, but his explanation of what those rituals are actually contains the meat of the lesson (and is another way the Upanisadic student would know he's not actually teaching rebirth in DA). He's not doing quite the same thing in that middle section -- not in the same way anyway. "What everybody knows", that he's actually denying, is only in the titles of the steps: he is being very explicit in his descriptions of what they mean. If you pay attention to those rituals which he is saying are what we are actually doing that is important, you'll see for yourself everything that matters, and the knowledge we gain from the experience that is vedana is the true knowledge we need, not what's in the Vedas that detail that other set of rituals.

As for separation from the loved, what is the basis of the kind of love that causes dukkha? This gets into the whole issue of whether the Buddha is counseling being so equanimous that one ceases to love at all, or whether he is suggesting that there is something like a healthy sort of love, and then there is unhealthy love. This, for me, relates to whether he is talking about the extinguishing of all feeling in order to end dukkha, or a subset. For me, it is clear that when he talks about the pain of separation from the loved, even that is on two levels. There is the "what everyone knows" inevitable truth that -- no matter what -- if you love someone, when you lose them it will hurt. This is a truth on a cosmic scale as far as I'm concerned -- it's inherent in the definition of love, for me. But there is the hurt one should always feel, and face, and live through, not try to avoid, the hurt that ultimately heals and makes us better at living our lives in a state of impermanence (knowing we can survive it) afterward. And then there is the dukkha-level of hurt that comes from having put an unhealthy investment in self into the way we loved someone, so that when we lose them we run from the pain, or blame ourselves, or blame others, or do other crazy things as a result.

* depending on how you look at it, he might be seen to be talking about other things as well, like our impact on each other, and social pressures, but these things also tend to tie back to sense-of-self.

:namaste:
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Sylvester » Thu Aug 22, 2013 8:29 am

Hi nowheat

I'll skip addressing your points in turn and just cut to the chase (assuming this is the crux of your thesis) -

..."what is generated by the view"


Despite not seeing the common thread I would have hoped to see you glean from the Vedic antecedents, I'm prepared to assume that there is at least some sort of Vedic relationship or conviviality to "view" that the Buddha may have sought to address with DA. I'll also discount for the moment those relationships/convivialities that are ex-Vedic, but which DA is also supposed to address.

I had asked you to consider MN 64 previously, in the context of the formation of personality-view and how that relates to DN 15's delineation of self. Certainly, there's no denying that views do generate consequences, but is a description of DA as being a response to views a complete picture of DA? I say no and this is where MN 64 comes in. The Buddha is recorded to have been rather dismissive of Ven Malunkyaputta's notion of the Five Fetters. This was what the Buddha said -

. “Malunkyaputta, to whom do you remember my having taught these five lower fetters in that way? Would not the wanderers of other sects confute you with the simile of the infant? For a young tender infant lying prone does not even have the notion ‘personality,’ [433] so how could personality view arise in him? Yet the underlying tendency to personality view lies within him. A young tender infant lying prone does not even have the notion ‘teachings,’ so how could doubt about teachings arise in him? Yet the underlying tendency to doubt lies within him. A young tender infant lying prone does not even have the notion ‘rules,’ so how could adherence to rules and observances arise in him? Yet the underlying tendency to adhere to rules and observances lies within him. A young tender infant lying prone does not even have the notion ‘sensual pleasures,’ so how could sensual desire arise in him? Yet the underlying tendency to sensual lust lies within him. A young tender infant lying prone does not even have the notion ‘beings,’ so how could ill will towards beings arise in him? Yet the underlying tendency to ill will lies within him. Would not the wanderers of other sects confute you with this simile of the infant?”

per BB


It's the problem of the underlying tendencies, those sub-conscious defilements that do not necessarily manifest as views, but which still bring about rebirth : SN 12.38. I don't think the DN 15 presentation of the "delineation of self" requires full-blown view, since "naming" can be just a sub-verbal event.

So, I'm struggling to see why you feel that DA is a response to view, when MN 64 suggests that views are not even necessary for the origination of suffering.

:anjali:
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Aug 22, 2013 8:32 am

Greetings,
clw_uk wrote:What I get from that Sutta is that the Buddha was aiming at overcoming the first arrow (which we all agree on) and the second arrow was used as a convention

That is we say "pain" to label the sensation, but it doesnt have to be dukkha (the 2nd arrow) if we don't take possession of it

The sutta says something about the person not being fettered by it. I think it's useful to contemplate what that might actually mean.

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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