something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval

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Re: something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval

Postby Kim OHara » Sun Oct 24, 2010 3:16 am

BlackBird wrote:The point here is not concerned with the specifics (which is what Tilt seems to be caught up in) but that for anything to 'exist' it must remain so for some period of time, or else it cannot be said to be, for it is already something other. Flux presumes perpetual change and that breaks the principle of self identity, for if flux were true, then nothing would in fact exist, because it would not 'be' at all, it would be otherwise.

Now you might say that flux is true in the scientific sense that things are in perpetual motion at a minute level that is far beyond our perception. For example that a chair may 'appear' to be the same chair it was a minute ago, but it is changing all the time, at an atomic level (or however you want to slice it). However to us, the chair remains the same until it changes. So we have a problem, we can either assert the existence of the chair, or we can deny it. To assert the existence of the chair, to say that the chair exists in my experience is to deny the idea of perpetual change. To deny the existence of the chair is to say that although it 'appears' to be a chair, it is in fact in perpetual flux, along with the rest of our world, and we do not see that because we are ignorant of the Buddha's teaching. Now if you re-read the first quote, you will see that this is nothing more than the two contentions that the Mahayanists make. It is the same argument, unfortunately that Orthodox Theravadins make.

In light of the above, this should now make sense. If it doesn't, I'll try to expand when I get home later on.

Hi, Jack,
This does all make sense to me (if I understand it correctly, and I think I do) but the bit I have bolded seems to me to be a typically (perhaps specifically) European dichotomy: A or not-A, with no other possibilities.
There are, in fact, other possible positions to take: A and not-A; neither assert nor deny A; the 'unanswerable question' position. The second and third of these arise repeatedly in the suttas, though I'm not sure about the first. There is also what I think of as the pragmatic contextual response (it probably has a better name) which is that if thinking of A as existing is useful at the moment, consider that A exists; if not, not. It's actually my preferred position, FWIW.
:namaste:
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Re: something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Oct 24, 2010 3:25 am

beeblebrox wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:Ooooh, "It's not my fault if you confuse between all of these. (That's probably a sign of a poorly-developed dhamma vicaya.)" An ad hom. Goodness.

I apologize. :tongue:
An apology with an ugly smilie thingie sticking its tongue out? That has to be sincere.

the two headed guy wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:Ooh, another snap. I do not subscribe to the cartoon notion of “total flux.” It is a straw-man notion. The question I have what does the supposed “endures unchanged for at least a certain interval of time” actually mean.

I'd say that this idea of enduring means 100% "unchanging" is also a cartoon straw-man. The words are not perfect, you know? (That's why I view them as anatta.) I also doubt that these states are literally "standing" like the bipeds do.
You'd say that, but the issue is not what you'd say, but what Naavira likely meant since he is the one using this phrase - something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval - and contrasting it with the idea of 'in continuous flux'. http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=5815&p=94863#p94863
It would seem that Nanavira's point is very poorly drawn.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

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Re: something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval

Postby Nyana » Sun Oct 24, 2010 3:57 am

5heaps wrote:
Ñāṇa wrote:The penetration of conditioned arising (paṭiccasamuppāda) in both forward and reverse sequence will eliminate adherence to any views of existence and non-existence.
many suggest that simply saying that momentary impermanence is produced posits existence and nonexistence -- for it is an existing thing upon which the cessation of the thing depends. one cant really posit any other more offensive instance of existence and nonexistence than this, unless one enters atman land of unchanging essences etc.

Hi 5heaps,

There is no path without the three phases of (i) no analysis, (ii) slight analysis, and (iii) superb analysis which eliminates the extremes of existence and non-existence, etc. The latter is realized by penetrating conditioned arising (paṭiccasamuppāda) in both forward and reverse sequence.

5heaps wrote:functioning things arise in dependence on their respective causes and conditions, and they are empty of independent natures (ie. being independent of their parts). any conceptual designating happens after the fact (or at least separate to), and so when dealing with impermanence we are dealing with factors pertaining to the physical and/or mental aggregate (though we could do it to any compounded object), not concepts.

is that clearer? in other words if compounded things were not dependent on their parts but depended just on linguistic function then your point about a threshold would have some meaning. however if a mere collection of parts occurs separately to linguistic function then how could the threshold idea have much meaning? compounded thing is compounded thing regardless of what you call it or what threshold one imagines there to be.

There is no need to establish functional things as anything more than mere nominal designations (paññattimatta).

All the best,

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Re: something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval

Postby alan » Sun Oct 24, 2010 4:11 am

Let's remember that Nanavira's statement was in reference to a position held by the commentaries, and he made it to point out why he had changed his practice. He is opposed to the prevailing ideology, and challenges it. Good for him. I like his attitude.
Was he correct in his logic? I haven't seen any argument here that convinces me otherwise. Sure have seen the same old emotional responses, however.

By the way, did you know it is not possible to ever get where you want to go?
Zeno shows the way there. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zeno's_paradoxes
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Re: something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval

Postby 5heaps » Sun Oct 24, 2010 4:24 am

Ñāṇa wrote:in both forward and reverse sequence.
what exactly is this referring to? the stages of insight - namely, having enough familiarity with them to be able to induce realization regardless of whether one approaches progressively or from the point of view of the goal then backwards?

There is no need to establish functional things as anything more than mere nominal designations (paññattimatta).
you dont mean that objects are just designations right? you mean that subtle objects (such as cause and effect of physical things, karma, etc) do not need to be directly realized beyond the level of conception for insight to occur?
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Re: something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Oct 24, 2010 4:35 am

alan wrote:Was he correct in his logic? I haven't seen any argument here that convinces me otherwise. Sure have seen the same old emotional responses, however.
So what is meant by something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval? Is the enduring thingie really unchanged?

By the way, did you know it is not possible to ever get where you want to go?
Zeno shows the way there. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zeno's_paradoxes
You still misread Ven P's msg.
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: something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval

Postby alan » Sun Oct 24, 2010 4:38 am

Well I hope you can tell me what it was meant to say.
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Re: something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval

Postby Paññāsikhara » Sun Oct 24, 2010 4:39 am

tiltbillings wrote:
alan wrote:Was he correct in his logic? I haven't seen any argument here that convinces me otherwise. Sure have seen the same old emotional responses, however.
So what is meant by something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval? Is the enduring thingie really unchanged?

By the way, did you know it is not possible to ever get where you want to go?
Zeno shows the way there. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zeno's_paradoxes
You still misread Ven P's msg.


I'm well aware of Zeno's Paradox. Though after consideration, I simply do not think that it is actually that relevant to the question at hand here, and does not at all refute the argument I posted earlier. This is for a number of reasons, but basically they are not talking about the same thing for a start.
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Re: something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Oct 24, 2010 4:47 am

alan wrote:Well I hope you can tell me what it was meant to say.
You can discuss that with Ven P, but you do have the problem, if you are taking Nanavira's msg literally, as it is written, of how something that is changing stops changing for at least a certain interval, then starts changing again. Basically, the problem is that Nanvira's point is not very well made, to understate it.
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: something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Oct 24, 2010 5:01 am

Ñāṇa wrote:
There is no need to establish functional things as anything more than mere nominal designations (paññattimatta).
5heaps does not quite get that.
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: something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval

Postby alan » Sun Oct 24, 2010 5:02 am

Raise your hand if you understand Nanavira.
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Re: something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval

Postby Nyana » Sun Oct 24, 2010 5:02 am

BlackBird wrote:
Nanavira Thera wrote:I think I told you some time ago (in connexion with Huxley and chemical mysticism) that the Mahāyānist view can be summed up in two propositions, the first common to all mystics, and the second supposed to represent the Buddha's solution to the problem raised by the first.

(i) Behind the ordinary appearance of things there lies Reality, which it is the task of the Yogi to seek. Existentialist philosophers do not go as far as this: if they admit such a Reality—Jaspers, for example—they qualify it by saying that it is necessarily out of reach. See Preface (m).

(ii) Reality is the non-existence of things. In other words, things do not really exist, they only appear to do so on account of our ignorance (avijjā). (George Borrow[1] tells of a Spanish gypsy in the last century whose grandfather held this view, so it hardly needs a Buddha to declare it. It seems to be closely allied to the Hindu notion of māyā—that all is illusion.)

Now the Pali texts say that the Buddha taught anicca/dukkha/anattā, and the average Theravādin, monk or layman, seems to take for granted that aniccatā, or impermanence, means that things are perpetually changing, that they do not remain the same for two consecutive moments. Failing to make the necessary distinctions (see PATICCASAMUPPĀDA [c]), they understand this as implying perpetual flux of everything all the time. This, of course, destroys the principle of self-identity, 'A is A'; for unless something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval of time you cannot even make the assertion 'this is A' since the word 'is' has lost its meaning. Bypassing dukkha as something we all know about, they arrive at anattā as meaning 'without self-identity'. (This is Mr. Wettimuny's theme,[2] following Dahlke. I do not think he is aware that he is putting himself among the Mahāyānists.) Granted the premise that anicca means 'in continuous flux', this conclusion is impeccable. Unfortunately, in doing away with the principle of self-identity, you do away with things—including change, which is also a thing. This means that for the puthujjana, who does not see aniccatā, things exist, and for the arahat, who has seen aniccatā, things do not exist. Thus the Mahāyānist contention is proved.


Hi Blackbird & all,

I would suspect that Ven. Ñāṇavīra was probably taking issue with the classical Theravāda theory of radical momentariness. But this theory doesn't negate true, inherent existence (sabhāvasiddhi). Thus, classical Theravāda is a realist school.

It's also worth mentioning that mahāyānikas refute realist positions regarding inherent existence (sabhāva) either by negating the apprehender, apprehended, and apprehension (grāhaka, grāhya, & grahaṇa) in the case of Yogācāra, or by thorough penetration of conditioned arising (paṭiccasamuppāda, pratītyasamutpāda) in the case of Mādhyamaka. Neither of these schools rely on reasonings involving impermanence or momentary change in order to negate realist positions regarding inherent existence.

All the best,

Geoff
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Re: something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval

Postby alan » Sun Oct 24, 2010 5:09 am

Do you understand him?
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Re: something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Oct 24, 2010 5:13 am

Hi Alan,

You don't seem to be reading what has been written.
alan wrote:Let's remember that Nanavira's statement was in reference to a position held by the commentaries, and he made it to point out why he had changed his practice. He is opposed to the prevailing ideology, and challenges it. Good for him. I like his attitude.

Was he correct in his logic? I haven't seen any argument here that convinces me otherwise. Sure have seen the same old emotional responses, however.

Before even examining his logic it might be useful to ask:
1. Is his representation of Mahayana thought ("Reality is the non-existence of things.") correct?
2. Is he actually representing the Commentaries correctly. He says: "...the average Theravādin, monk or layman, seems to take for granted that aniccatā, or impermanence, means that things are perpetually changing, that they do not remain the same for two consecutive moments." So is he criticising people who have studied the issues in detail, or those who haven't?
3. Was he aware of the extensive discussion on these points amongst the early Buddhist schools? I'm no expert on this, but I gave a summary above that indicated that these issues have been considered for over 2000 years. Not that that means that the answers from way back when were completely adequate, but it's clear that scholars from various schools were well aware of such problems, and proposed various approaches to it. I'm reasonably confident that the Abhidhamma text "Points of Controversy" will have a much more extensive and sophisticated discussion than this brief letter. I'll check on that when I have the opportunity.

I'm certainly not against well organised and reasoned critical analyses of the Theravada position(s). I've waded though a lot of material from Ven Nananandanda, for example, which I find quite interesting. You might have noticed that I've posted many quotes and some Sutta translations from him (more Suttas to come, it's very interesting to compare his translations with those from other scholars).

I'll leave the analysis of Ven Nanavira's logic to those more knowledgeable than me. Geoff/Nana seems to have just said that Ven Nanavaira's logic is faulty in the sense that it doesn't actually refute the Therevada position. And since Geoff clearly is no apologist for the Theravada position, perhaps you should take that seriously.

:anjali:
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Re: something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval

Postby Nyana » Sun Oct 24, 2010 5:20 am

5heaps wrote:
Ñāṇa wrote:in both forward and reverse sequence.
what exactly is this referring to?

Conditioned arising (paṭiccasamuppāda) in forward sequence (anuloma) and reverse sequence (paṭiloma). This is how one penetrates the four noble truths.

5heaps wrote:
There is no need to establish functional things as anything more than mere nominal designations (paññattimatta).
you dont mean that objects are just designations right?

Of course things are just nominal designations.

5heaps wrote:you mean that subtle objects (such as cause and effect of physical things, karma, etc) do not need to be directly realized beyond the level of conception for insight to occur?

I mean that the entire notion of inherently existent things is rooted in ignorance. This is why one has to penetrate conditioned arising in reverse sequence in order to eliminate the view that things have inherent existence. And an arahant has done just that. Therefore an arahant can use conventional language without forgetting that s/he is merely employing nominal designations.

All the best,

Geoff
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Re: something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval

Postby cooran » Sun Oct 24, 2010 5:23 am

Hello all,

Have we got a copy of '''A Critical Examination of ~Naa.naviira Thera's "A Note on Pa.ticcasamuppaada"' - Bhikkhu Bodhi anywhere on Dhamma Wheel? and would it be helpful in this thread? (sorry, I haven't read the whole thread).

with metta
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Re: something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Oct 24, 2010 5:26 am

cooran wrote:Have we got a copy of '''A Critical Examination of ~Naa.naviira Thera's "A Note on Pa.ticcasamuppaada"' - Bhikkhu Bodhi anywhere on Dhamma Wheel? and would it be helpful in this thread? (sorry, I haven't read the whole thread).

http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... 791#p73859

And Ven Nanavira's Note: http://nanavira.xtreemhost.com/index.ph ... &Itemid=62

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Re: something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval

Postby BlackBird » Sun Oct 24, 2010 5:27 am

Kim O'Hara wrote:There are, in fact, other possible positions to take: A and not-A;


Oh it's certainly possible, but it depends whether you want to work within the confines of the laws of thought. If you do, then unfortunately you're breaking them in such an assertion, and A must in fact be either A or B but not both, nor neither.

metta
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"And so, because this Teaching is so different from what Westerners are accustomed to, they will try to adapt the Teaching to their own framework. What they need to learn to do is not to adapt the Teaching to their own point of view but to adapt their own point of view to the Teaching. This is called saddhá, or faith, and it means giving oneself to the Teaching even if the Teaching is contrary to one’s own preconceived notions of the way things are."- Ven Bodhesako

Nanavira Thera's teachings - An existential approach to the Dhamma | Ven. Bodhesako's essay on anicca
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Re: something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval

Postby alan » Sun Oct 24, 2010 5:33 am

Goodnight all.
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Re: something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval

Postby BlackBird » Sun Oct 24, 2010 5:35 am

cooran wrote:and would it be helpful in this thread? (sorry, I haven't read the whole thread).


Nope, Paticcasamupada hasn't cropped up at all. That is mostly what Ven. Bodhi's criticisms are concerned with.
"And so, because this Teaching is so different from what Westerners are accustomed to, they will try to adapt the Teaching to their own framework. What they need to learn to do is not to adapt the Teaching to their own point of view but to adapt their own point of view to the Teaching. This is called saddhá, or faith, and it means giving oneself to the Teaching even if the Teaching is contrary to one’s own preconceived notions of the way things are."- Ven Bodhesako

Nanavira Thera's teachings - An existential approach to the Dhamma | Ven. Bodhesako's essay on anicca
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