the great rebirth debate

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby SamKR » Thu Jul 18, 2013 7:08 pm

reflection wrote: Also in the anatta sutta I quoted before the link is as follows: impermanence -> suffering. It is not as you seem to imply: view of self -> suffering.

As I understand it: Impermanence is Dukkha. But self-view and 'I am'-conceit lead to Dukkha.

In the case of an Arahant, there are still aggregates (pancakhandha) but he does not have the illusion of "mine" and "I am" with the khandhas; he does not own the khandhas.
So, although the impermanent khandhas are still there (that is panca-khanda Dukkha is still there) his Dukkha is not there (panca-upadana-khanda Dukkha is not there).
And, the Buddha defines, "In short, the five clinging-aggregates are dukkha" ("saṅkhittena pañcupādānakkhandhā dukkhā").
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby reflection » Thu Jul 18, 2013 10:49 pm

I shared some thoughts about this here. I don't feel like going into this now. Also it is getting quite off topic. But to avoid all of you having to read the whole thread: the main point I made is that there are many texts that are not so clear about this difference in suffering between clinging-aggregates and aggregates and also quite a few that interchange the terms, or totally contradict it. (Like Dhp: natthi khandhasama dukkha, "there is no suffering like the aggregates")

At the very least, nobody has been able to show any sutta that says that the clinging-aggregates are not there for an arahant, while there are suttas that imply the contrary.

But personally I'd like to get back to the topic of rebirth. Perhaps it's better to continue this topic in the linked thread.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Jul 18, 2013 11:12 pm

reflection wrote:(Like Dhp: natthi khandhasama dukkha, "there is no suffering like the aggregates")

At the very least, nobody has been able to show any sutta that says that the clinging-aggregates are not there for an arahant, while there are suttas that imply the contrary.
There is no reason to assume that the arahant/tathagata does not have khandhas. The khandhas are, simply, for the arahant/tathagata not a basis for clinging. No point in making things complicated.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby reflection » Fri Jul 19, 2013 11:57 am

What I mean with contrary is, there are suttas that connect the arahant with clinging-aggregates. That aside, there are also suttas that speak about suffering with respect to the plain aggregates without mentioning clinging or clinging-aggregates, and suttas that speak about the aggregates and clinging-aggregates interchangeably. In the topic you can find some of these suttas and what I think about them, but to take one notable quote to show the idea:
"In seeing six rewards, it's enough motivation for a monk to establish the perception of stress with regard to all fabrications without exception. Which six? 'The perception of disenchantment will be established within me with regard to all fabrications, like a murderer with a drawn sword. My mind will rise above every world. I'll become one who sees peace in Unbinding. My obsessions will go to their destruction. I'll be one who has completed his task. The Teacher will have been served with good will.'
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby daverupa » Fri Jul 19, 2013 12:51 pm

reflection wrote:What I mean with contrary is, there are suttas that connect the arahant with clinging-aggregates. That aside, there are also suttas that speak about suffering with respect to the plain aggregates without mentioning clinging or clinging-aggregates, and suttas that speak about the aggregates and clinging-aggregates interchangeably. In the topic you can find some of these suttas and what I think about them, but to take one notable quote to show the idea:
"In seeing six rewards, it's enough motivation for a monk to establish the perception of stress with regard to all fabrications without exception. Which six? 'The perception of disenchantment will be established within me with regard to all fabrications, like a murderer with a drawn sword. My mind will rise above every world. I'll become one who sees peace in Unbinding. My obsessions will go to their destruction. I'll be one who has completed his task. The Teacher will have been served with good will.'
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


You are taking a piece of training and saying it applies to arahants, who are beyond training.

:shrug:
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby reflection » Fri Jul 19, 2013 1:18 pm

It says the perception becomes established. It becoming established is the result of the training. To paraphrase: "with this perception estabilshed I'll be one who has completed his task.". So it is the perception of an arahant that is spoken about. Or what's your interpretation?

But there are comparable quotes with respect to the arahant that could shed some light:
"An arahant should attend in an appropriate way to these five clinging-aggregates as inconstant, stressful, a disease, a cancer, an arrow, painful, an affliction, alien, a dissolution, an emptiness, not-self.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Jul 19, 2013 2:12 pm

reflection wrote:What I mean with contrary is, there are suttas that connect the arahant with clinging-aggregates. That aside, there are also suttas that speak about suffering with respect to the plain aggregates without mentioning clinging or clinging-aggregates, and suttas that speak about the aggregates and clinging-aggregates interchangeably. In the topic you can find some of these suttas and what I think about them, but to take one notable quote to show the idea:
"In seeing six rewards, it's enough motivation for a monk to establish the perception of stress with regard to all fabrications without exception. Which six? 'The perception of disenchantment will be established within me with regard to all fabrications, like a murderer with a drawn sword. My mind will rise above every world. I'll become one who sees peace in Unbinding. My obsessions will go to their destruction. I'll be one who has completed his task. The Teacher will have been served with good will.'
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
This text does not support your statement above it. Once one is an arahant, there is no measuring the arahant/tathagata by clinging. The khandhas are no longer an occasion for clinging, which is something driven by greed, hatred, and delsion.
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.

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Jul 19, 2013 2:19 pm

reflection wrote:It says the perception becomes established. It becoming established is the result of the training. To paraphrase: "with this perception estabilshed I'll be one who has completed his task.". So it is the perception of an arahant that is spoken about. Or what's your interpretation?

But there are comparable quotes with respect to the arahant that could shed some light:
"An arahant should attend in an appropriate way to these five clinging-aggregates as inconstant, stressful, a disease, a cancer, an arrow, painful, an affliction, alien, a dissolution, an emptiness, not-self.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html



"An arahant should attend in an appropriate way to these five clinging-aggregates as inconstant, stressful, a disease, a cancer, an arrow, painful, an affliction, alien, a dissolution, an emptiness, not-self. Although, for an arahant, there is nothing further to do, and nothing to add to what has been done, still these things — when developed & pursued — lead both to a pleasant abiding in the here-&-now and to mindfulness & alertness."
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.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby nowheat » Mon Jul 22, 2013 7:56 pm

Sorry for my absence, I got called away, and tomorrow night I'll be heading into a retreat. Bad timing on my return here.

Sylvester wrote:A Q for nowheat - when you say "field", were you referring to a nidāna or to a type of constituent within the nidāna? I get the sense that you meant the latter from your earlier post -

I'm going to leave out the Pali as much as possible (so that observers who aren't into languages can follow along) -- and define any Pali when I use it (as with "sankhara = a certain kind of drive" in my understanding).

When I talk about a field, I'm talking about a condition that is required for what goes on in a DA-link to happen. The Buddha very cleverly picks a condition that relates (in various ways, depending on the link) to what's going on. So, to give a silly example of what he does *not* do, "breathing" could be said to be a condition for every link -- we can't be doing anything if we aren't alive and breathing -- but he doesn't use just any old condition -- they have to relate to the point he's making.

While I think there is some merit in looking at the teaching on DO as being an exposition on fields (in the latter sense above), I'm not sure if the suttas actually employ such a pedagogy consistently. Looking at SN 12.2 as an exemplar, you might be able to get some of the components of DO explained as attributive/restrictive appositionals which would support the field reading, eg avijjā (ignorance = ignorance about certain things). But, I cannot see how the other components are amenable to a "field" distinction between good/bad etc, when it looks to me to be an exhaustive listing of all possible types of states within that class. Eg saḷāyatana (the 6 sense bases) or even nāmarūpa. It might help if we could actually see a more explicit "field" or restrictive pronouncement, which would be typically prefaced "yaṃ kiñci" or something similar to indicate that intent.


The problem here is that I've only just barely touched on how the Buddha uses the "where? in this field!" structure, and the parallels from one to the next are not exact. Perhaps a quick run-down would help:

* ignorance -> out of all forms of ignorance [<- the field/where] we're talking ignorance of the four noble truths [<- the what]
* sankhara (as "drives") -> where: out of all kinds of drives (which would include "the will to live" and procreation); what: the drive to have a self* and know it
* consciousness -> where: all forms of consciousness; what: the consciousness that is driven to create and know that self and its relationship to the world here-and-now and the afterlife/cosmic order
* name-and-form-> where: through our apparent individuality (of body and mind); what: our tendency to give name to form and define form by name, and relate these definitions to the self that consciousness is seeking
* six senses -> where: the use of our six senses; what: the senses seeking information that tells us about (our over-the-top, uber-defining) self and its relationship to the world
* contact -> where: all contact with the world and ideas; what: contact that supports our definitions of self-and-world
* feeling -> where: all experiences, pleasant, unpleasant, neutral; what: feelings that are generated when we experience contact that fulfills our need to know about the (over-the-top*) self and the world
* craving -> where: all forms of craving; what: craving to have and know the self*
* clinging -> where: all forms of clinging; what: clinging to concepts of self, concepts around self, concepts that support our existing sense of self
* becoming -> where: transitions from one "form" to another, whether mental or physical or spiritual or any combination of the above, built around conceptions of self-and-the-world; what: the way the "self" we have "built/perfected" through all that went before comes to hang together
* birth -> where: our appearance in the world; what: the portion of our appearance in which the self that we have built becomes visible in the world and takes part in life in ways that will generate suffering (the anger, ill will, delusion)
* aging-and-death -> where: all experiences of impermanence; what: the ways in which we relate to impermanence that result in suffering.

You can see that in each of these quick definitions, what's going on *depends* on what was going on in the links before. And, that with each one, if the "field" (the "where") were to go away, the "what" could not happen at all.

So, in the last example, if there were no impermanence, no sickness, aging, or death, then (theoretically at least -- setting aside "boredom" if everything stayed the same all the time) there would be no suffering. (As for the bit I set aside, remember that the Buddha is defining one particular problem -- the foremost of our problems -- and he is always talking about just that. "What problems we would have if the world were other than it is" doesn't come into play at all.)

Or in the case of name-and-form, the field is really our individuality (our name, our form) and the individuality of all things around us, but it is not *that* we are individuals that is being discussed, it is the particular relationship of the way we define things as related to us, and as related to what we think the cosmic order is (as related to self-and-world) that's what's being talked about in name-and-form. Without "individuality" (ours and everything else's) -- the field -- there could be no problem with how we are defining things. If everything was formless -- if we were all one big blob -- we wouldn't be defining things *at all*. This is, actually, what the Buddha is telling Ananda in DN 15.

* I usually insert "over-the-top" before "self" or "sense of self" because I (personally) don't think having "a sense of self" is a problem, as long as it is not a sense of self that generates anger, ill will, and delusion -- in other words, there are healthy senses-of-self (though admittedly it is a delicate trick to have a healthy, compassionate "self" it seems to me this is what's being aimed at; but I am not ready to argue that this is what the Buddha was aiming us at). Generally though even if I don't include the words "over-the-top" you can assume when I'm talking about "self" in the sense of "what we're doing wrong that we need to cure" I have a narrow definition of "self". This is actually the method of defining things I see the Buddha using: he talks about "craving" and "feeling" but is really talking about the narrow "what" even though we can mistake it for the wider "where". That's what I'm doing when I short-hand by using "self" to mean "an over the top sense of self".



PS - Re the Black and Falk citation above, do they explain whether the Upanisadic teaching of sequences is one of "sufficient conditions" (ie if you make this karma, you will reap this result)? I've read this said before. And this is an interesting distinction in the Buddha's conception of idappaccayatā as a foil to the Upanisads - the nidānas are not sufficient conditions, but necessary ones (leaving aside the later Abhidhamma attempts to distinguish hetu from paccaya).


It was just a very short citation, so if they do explain it, it's not part of the quotes in that section of the book that I noticed, anyway.

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby nowheat » Mon Jul 22, 2013 8:36 pm

reflection wrote:That indeed means there is still suffering. Suffering/dukkha is of multiple types, one of them is bodily pain, which the Buddha himself had a lot in his back. But on another scale things that are impermanent are per definition dukkha. As it says in one way or the other in various places in the suttas:
"Now is what is impermanent painful or pleasant?" — "Painful, venerable Sir."

This is a case where I'd say the Buddha is arguing from "the common understanding" -- that impermanence is painful (dukkha is the word used here). But not everything that is impermanent is painful. I don't find sunsets painful due to their impermanence. Plus he is talking here about impermanence in the context of the self, not of all things -- and that impermanence is experienced (by the unawakened) as dukkha.

Now I wouldn't translate it with 'painful' here, but the idea is clear. The life of an enlightened being is impermanent, and so in that light it is also a form of dukkha - albeit a very subtle one.

I disagree that the Buddha is saying there is still dukkha ("suffering") in this lifetime post-awakening. He speaks of ending dukkha here-and-now, in this very lifetime. I can understand *why* dukkha is defined as including physical pains -- and sickness, and aging, and death -- in the traditional "what he's talking about is the cycles of rebirth" Buddhism: it is necessary to see it that way if he is talking about literal rebirth. But it makes nonsense of his saying that liberation is about the end of dukkha, and that he has experienced liberation. Nowhere do I find him saying "but to be truly free of dukkha, you have to die first -- it *doesn't* happen in this very lifetime."

The dukkha he is talking about -- the "what" not the "where" -- is very narrowly defined as something we create -- not something inherent in the impermanence of everything. It is not sickness, aging, and death itself (the where) it is what we think about them (the what).

I agree a moment of not craving doesn't stop the rest of the chain. Also I think you will agree that not all feelings give rise to craving and so the link feeling-craving is not instantly or a necessary condition. In my eyes it says, as long as there is feeling there is the possibility of craving (if there is still delusion). This means we don't crave all the time after every feeling, but obviously dependent origination is not ended there.

Yes, agreed.

I'd say understanding dependent origination is a part of right view, a part of the four noble truths, so it is to be understood. But it isn't a practice in itself just as other parts of right view are not a practice - dukkha for example is not a practice. You can't observe all dependent links, but you can imply and understand the connections. The connections are what's most important. As I said before, the links are not instantaneous so they don't have to occur right here. But they do make the connection: from the arising of this comes the arising of that. So one understands for example, that when they die and they are still clinging, there will be new existence and new birth. One doesn't have to observe that right now to know this will be the case. The obvious one again is the link birth-death. You don't have to die now to know that you will die one day, and that the cause of this was you were born.

Dukkha is not a practice, DA is not a practice, but they are both things we *observe* as fundamental to practice. You can observe all the links of DA, if you see it the way I explain it in my last post above.

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby reflection » Mon Jul 22, 2013 11:02 pm

A problem here is people talking/thinking in terms of "the Buddha does not experience suffering" or "for him it is not suffering". But it makes the distinction between some entity that would be "the Buddha" and the suffering. But as I understand it, in reality there are just the khandhas, nobody that experiences them. This is an essential difference that makes it that suffering is not in the eye of the beholder, or a personal point of view. Instead it is something integrated in all that is created (sankhara). The point is however, that awakened ones don't create new suffering: ie no new birth, as birth is the direct cause of suffering. But suffering created in the past will still be there, primarily this body aging and the inevitable death.

There are quotes in the texts that point to this: an arahant saying: "I await my time". Or the mahaparinibbana sutta, after the Buddha died: "His mind, like a flame extinguished, finds release." Or "He knows without doubt or hesitation that whatever arises is merely dukkha that what passes away is merely dukkha" (SN 12.15). So even the jhanas, even though the Buddha called a peaceful abiding, and he went in them to escape his bodily pain, are still a form of dukkha.

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Alex123 » Mon Jul 22, 2013 11:24 pm

reflection wrote:A problem here is people talking/thinking in terms of "the Buddha does not experience suffering" or "for him it is not suffering".


This is a very good point.

I would like to add this question:

    How do we really know what the Arahant or Buddha experiences or not?
”Even the water melting from the snow-capped peaks finds its way to the ocean."
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby reflection » Mon Jul 22, 2013 11:38 pm

By understanding dukkha.

(Still the "experiences" thing comes back in your question, but ok. We have to communicate conceptually.)

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Jul 22, 2013 11:50 pm

reflection wrote:. But suffering created in the past will still be there, primarily this body aging and the inevitable death.
Which, however, has ceased to have any sort of hold on the arahant/tathagata, and that is why: "Although, for an arahant, there is nothing further to do, and nothing to add to what has been done, still these things — when developed & pursued — lead both to a pleasant abiding in the here-&-now and to mindfulness & alertness" (A iii 443). In other words dukkha, based upon grasping after what reinforces the sense of self, pushing away what threatens the sense of self, and the delusion that there is an unchanging self-agent at the center of it all, has ceased.
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.

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby BlackBird » Tue Jul 23, 2013 1:50 am

It would seem my quote about contacts not contacting a groundless one has been thoroughly ignored.

But you would all profit from listening to Tilt. There is no dukkha for an arahant. There is strictly speaking - Nobody there to experience it, craving is the source and cause of Dukkha and there is no craving in an arahant. It's all very simple, and those who are suggesting that there is dukkha for an arahant are getting tangled in a thicket of views of their own creation.

Nibbana is the going out of the flame, there is nothing there that could possibly cause a burn.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby nowheat » Tue Jul 23, 2013 3:00 am

BlackBird wrote:It would seem my quote about contacts not contacting a groundless one has been thoroughly ignored.

No ignoring here, just way behind.

BlackBird wrote:An arahant does not have dukkha. The Buddha answers this one categorically and to state otherwise is a serious misrepresentation of his teaching.

Phusanti phassā upadhim paticca
Nirūpadhim kena phuseyyum phassā
Contacts contact dependent on ground—
How should contacts contact a groundless one? Udāna ii,4 <Ud.12>

Quite simply put: There's nobody there to experience dukkha. Hence the Buddha's epithet: Tathagata - The one thus gone.

It must, of course, be remembered that phassanirodha in the arahat does not mean that experience as such (pañcakkhandhā) is at an end. But, also, there is no experience without phassa. In other words, to the extent that we can still speak of an eye, of forms, and of eye-consciousness (seeing)—e.g. Samvijjati kho āvuso Bhagavato cakkhu, passati Bhagavā cakkhunā rūpam, chandarāgo Bhagavato n'atthi, suvimuttacitto Bhagavā ('The Auspicious One, friend, possesses an eye; the Auspicious One sees visible forms with the eye; desire-&-lust for the Auspicious One there is not; the Auspicious One is wholly freed in heart (citta)' (Cf. ATTĀ [c].)) (Salāyatana Samy. xviii,5 <S.iv,164>)—to that extent we can still speak of phassa. But it must no longer be regarded as contact with me (or with him, or with somebody). There is, and there is not, contact in the case of the arahat, just as there is, and there is not, consciousness.


This is what I'm saying: you have the field (the where) and you have what's happening in DA (the what). An arahant has stopped doing the what, but still has the where. The same is true of dukkha as "all forms of suffering" (the where) vs the dukkha that is being discussed in the 4NT (the what); and the khandha: as long as life continues there is form, feeling, perception, drives, consciousness -- it's the "what" that's going on there that the arahant has given up (the clinging to them as self), not the field they occur in (having form, feeling, etc).

So as you are saying, Blackbird, that there is still contact, I'm saying yes, there is, it is just not contact regarding the self; there is still consciousness, it is just not consciousness regarding the self. The field remains, the "what" (that is going on in DA) ceases.

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby BlackBird » Tue Jul 23, 2013 3:21 am

:anjali:

It would seem we are on more or less the same page. I shall have to review your posts later on to confirm this.
"For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher's message & lives to penetrate it, what accords with the Dhamma is this:
'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: the great rebirth debate

Postby reflection » Tue Jul 23, 2013 6:54 am

The contact quote is about contact creating further mental suffering (or clinging for the pleasurable for that matter). This we can see if we see the first part of this verse:
"Affected by pleasure and pain in the village or wilderness,
you should certainly not consider it as due to oneself or another"

As we see in the Arrow sutta, this further creating of mental pain does not happen for arahants. But that does not mean there is no initial pain (dukkha) in the body.

If however we are lowering ourselves to personal charges in the sense of "who disagree with me have the wrong view", I'm sorry but I'm not willing to continue such conversation.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby reflection » Tue Jul 23, 2013 7:13 am

tiltbillings wrote:
reflection wrote:. But suffering created in the past will still be there, primarily this body aging and the inevitable death.
Which, however, has ceased to have any sort of hold on the arahant/tathagata, and that is why: "Although, for an arahant, there is nothing further to do, and nothing to add to what has been done, still these things — when developed & pursued — lead both to a pleasant abiding in the here-&-now and to mindfulness & alertness" (A iii 443). In other words dukkha, based upon grasping after what reinforces the sense of self, pushing away what threatens the sense of self, and the delusion that there is an unchanging self-agent at the center of it all, has ceased.

Hi,

Dukkha created by a sense of self, that certainly has been ceased, to that we can all agree. However, is that all dukkha? I don't think so. For example one can feel pain without having a sense of self or mine there. But then still the pain is not a pleasurable experience, so fitting to be called dukkha.

The quote you gave "lead to a pleasant abiding" speaks about the jhanas. Why would the Buddha and other arahants still practice the jhanas if they had no suffering? Why speak of a pleasant abiding if there is no dukkha to mirror this pleasant abiding? In my eyes it is clear. The Buddha went into the jhanas to escape bodily pains. The quote you gave even speaks of the arahant reflecting on things as dukkha.

Then there is also the inherent dukkha in all the conditioned, that includes the jhanas. In the nibbana sutta Sariputta explains how reflecting on the jhanas as dukkha leads one to understand nibbana.

But we are both starting to go in circles. I've said before I would leave this discussion, but failed to do so. And I'm sure you'll bring up some nice arguments again, but either way I'll leave this discussion for real now. May our practice both bring us all to arahantship whether it is suffering or not.

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby BlackBird » Tue Jul 23, 2013 7:22 am

Painful feelings bound up with the body and the Dukkha that we are trying to put an end to are two separate things. One couldn't argue that an arahant's body does not give off feelings that are painful. But honestly those painful feelings bound up with the body are irrelevant as they cause no anguish to the Arahant, they do not lead to craving that seeks to be seperated from the painful feeling, they do not lead to craving which seeks to distract one from the painful feeling. No, a painful feeling is experienced with utter equanimity by the arahant, exactly the same as he or she would experience a pleasant feeling or a neutral feeling - There is fundamentally no difference to the arahant. Quite unlike you and I.

The Arahant is free of dukkha.
"For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher's message & lives to penetrate it, what accords with the Dhamma is this:
'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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