Is the Chariot No-self Simile in the Pali Canon?

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Re: Is the Chariot No-self Simile in the Pali Canon?

Postby Nibbida » Sat Feb 05, 2011 10:56 pm

Individual wrote:
Nibbida wrote:Is a car more than the sum of its parts?

2066997439_95cf390380.jpg


There is no car.

Suñña Sutta:
"It is said that the world is empty, the world is empty, lord. In what respect is it said that the world is empty?"
"Insofar as it is empty of a self or of anything pertaining to a self: Thus it is said, Ananda, that the world is empty."
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn35/sn35.085.than.html

There is no spoon either.

photo_movieMatrix-quoteSpoon.jpeg

It's the manner in which they are arranged and are continually being re-arranged.

A chariot, a car, a being is nothing more than a particular (and temporary) arrangement.


And concepts superimposed on all that. :anjali:
"Dispositions of the mind, like limbs of the body, acquire strength by exercise." --Thomas Jefferson

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Re: Is the Chariot No-self Simile in the Pali Canon?

Postby Guy » Sun Feb 06, 2011 3:13 am

Hi Dhammapal,

dhammapal wrote:I think that human beings are more than the sum of their parts.


For the sake of clarity, can we assume that by "parts" we are all talking about the five aggregates here?

In that case I think it is up to you, for the sake of the discussion, to specify what exactly it is that you think makes a human being more than just the five aggregates.

Metta,

Guy
Four types of letting go:

1) Giving; expecting nothing back in return
2) Throwing things away
3) Contentment; wanting to be here, not wanting to be anywhere else
4) "Teflon Mind"; having a mind which doesn't accumulate things

- Ajahn Brahm

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Re: Is the Chariot No-self Simile in the Pali Canon?

Postby Guy » Sun Feb 06, 2011 3:30 am

Hi TMingyur,

TMingyur wrote:
dhammapal wrote:I think that human beings are more than the sum of their parts.


The chariot is a simile. Actually since it implies physically detectable parts it can only be applied to the body.


I disagree.

The similes which are used to describe the mind (by which I mean the four aggregates other than the body) can only be physical. Why is that? Because the mind is the only non-physical "thing" (more accurately: process). The mind is often compared to physical things because this is all it can be compared with. Some of Ajahn Chah's similes come to mind: e.g. the simile of the still forest pool and the simile of the water buffalo. These describe different aspects of the mind in a way that is easy to understand because our mind processes pictures and symbols quite easily.

Perhaps the chariot simile is used because it was a relevant (to that time and place) example that everyone could easily understand. If the Buddha was alive today perhaps he would refer to the five aggregates as being like a car, not because all of the aggregates are physical, but because all of the aggregates rely on each other to function as a whole.

Metta,

Guy
Four types of letting go:

1) Giving; expecting nothing back in return
2) Throwing things away
3) Contentment; wanting to be here, not wanting to be anywhere else
4) "Teflon Mind"; having a mind which doesn't accumulate things

- Ajahn Brahm

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Re: Is the Chariot No-self Simile in the Pali Canon?

Postby pulga » Sun Feb 06, 2011 2:52 pm

Guy wrote:The similes which are used to describe the mind (by which I mean the four aggregates other than the body) can only be physical. Why is that? Because the mind is the only non-physical "thing" (more accurately: process).


“That in the world by which one perceives the world and conceives conceits about the world is called ’the world’ in the Noble One’s Discipline. And what is it in the world with which one does that? It is with the eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind.” (SN 35:116) translated by the Ven. Ñánamoli (italics mine)

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Re: Is the Chariot No-self Simile in the Pali Canon?

Postby ground » Sun Feb 06, 2011 3:19 pm

pulga wrote:
Guy wrote:The similes which are used to describe the mind (by which I mean the four aggregates other than the body) can only be physical. Why is that? Because the mind is the only non-physical "thing" (more accurately: process).


“That in the world by which one perceives the world and conceives conceits about the world is called ’the world’ in the Noble One’s Discipline. And what is it in the world with which one does that? It is with the eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind.” (SN 35:116) translated by the Ven. Ñánamoli (italics mine)


In that case "eye, ear, nose, tongue, body" cannot be validly posited as "physical".

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Re: Is the Chariot No-self Simile in the Pali Canon?

Postby pulga » Sun Feb 06, 2011 4:53 pm

TMingyur wrote:In that case "eye, ear, nose, tongue, body" cannot be validly posited as "physical".


What do you mean by "physical"? Since phassa is designated as an aspect of náma (M. 9; D.15; S. XII. 2), I'd say that both the ajjhattikáyataná and the báhiráyataná were abstractions derived from our immediate experience: parts of a given whole ("moments" as opposed to "pieces" in the language of Husserl).

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Re: Is the Chariot No-self Simile in the Pali Canon?

Postby ground » Sun Feb 06, 2011 7:23 pm

pulga wrote:
TMingyur wrote:In that case "eye, ear, nose, tongue, body" cannot be validly posited as "physical".


What do you mean by "physical"?

This term refers to the communication above. I guess the corresponding term may be "form".

Since phassa is designated as an aspect of náma (M. 9; D.15; S. XII. 2), I'd say that both the ajjhattikáyataná and the báhiráyataná were abstractions derived from our immediate experience: parts of a given whole ("moments" as opposed to "pieces" in the language of Husserl).

I don't understand these terms ajjhattikáyataná and báhiráyataná.

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Re: Is the Chariot No-self Simile in the Pali Canon?

Postby pulga » Mon Feb 07, 2011 12:20 am

TMingyur wrote:I don't understand these terms ajjhattikáyataná and báhiráyataná.


The six bases (saláyataná), internal (ajjhattika) and external (báhira), corresponding to the eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind and the objects they come in contact with; i.e. form, sound, odor, taste, tactile object, and idea (dhamma). (Or would image be a better translation for dhamma here? How does one see an "idea" with the mind's eye?).

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Re: Is the Chariot No-self Simile in the Pali Canon?

Postby ground » Mon Feb 07, 2011 2:13 am

pulga wrote:The six bases (saláyataná), internal (ajjhattika) and external (báhira),

Thank you.
Well then "internal" and "external" can harldy be based on immediate experience (referring to the statement "both the ajjhattikáyataná and the báhiráyataná were abstractions derived from our immediate experience"). They are based on thought which I would not consider "immeditate" but habitual.

pulga wrote:(Or would image be a better translation for dhamma here? How does one see an "idea" with the mind's eye?).

"idea" or "determining cognition", yes. One does not "see" but (conceptually) infer the learned (an "idea") from immediate experience. This inference is synthesis.

So in this context of immediate experience Guy's statement "Because the mind is the only non-physical "thing" is invalid. The same holds true for my statement "The chariot is a simile. Actually since it implies physically detectable parts it can only be applied to the body."

But in the context of conventional language it may be acceptable to speak in these ways.

But this
Guy wrote:The similes which are used to describe the mind (by which I mean the four aggregates other than the body) can only be physical. Why is that? Because the mind is the only non-physical "thing" (more accurately: process).

What about "space"? In the context of conventional language ... isn't it a simile for mind but non-physical?


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Re: Is the Chariot No-self Simile in the Pali Canon?

Postby Guy » Mon Feb 07, 2011 4:15 am

Hi TMingyur,

I didn't want to get into a technical debate...I probably shouldn't have started one. You win.

All that I should have said originally was: Just because the simile uses physically detectable parts (i.e. the various components of a chariot) doesn't necessarily mean that it was referring to the body alone. Maybe the reason why the chariot was chosen as a simile was because it was referring to how the various chariot parts (five aggregates) make up a chariot (sentient being). In other words, the theme of the simile (I believe) has nothing to do with physical/non-physical, instead the theme is about how "a being is the sum of its parts" (going back to the original post) like a "chariot is the sum of its parts".

Anyway, it doesn't really matter whether the Buddha was talking about the body alone or all of the five aggregates when he used this simile. The underlying principle is the same (i.e. Anatta), just applied on different levels. This reminds me of the Sutta where the monk and the layperson were arguing about whether the Buddha taught that there are 2 types of feeling or 3 types of feeling. They are just different categorizations that are used for the same ultimate purpose.

I hope this clarifies the main point I was trying to make...maybe it doesn't, oh well, I tried my best.

Metta,

Guy
Four types of letting go:

1) Giving; expecting nothing back in return
2) Throwing things away
3) Contentment; wanting to be here, not wanting to be anywhere else
4) "Teflon Mind"; having a mind which doesn't accumulate things

- Ajahn Brahm

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Re: Is the Chariot No-self Simile in the Pali Canon?

Postby ground » Mon Feb 07, 2011 6:59 am

Guy wrote:Hi TMingyur,

I didn't want to get into a technical debate...I probably shouldn't have started one. You win.


Hmh ... perhaps it is a misunderstanding. I do neither consider it "technical" nor a matter of "win" ... basically it is about the potentiality of a variety of perspectives of viewing and once a view crystalizes one may let it fade away by opposing another view ...
There is no support for any view at all if one does not commit to one of many (numberless?) conventions. The Buddha's teachings certainly are the best of all conventions. When it comes to interpretation then it may be different ...

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Re: Is the Chariot No-self Simile in the Pali Canon?

Postby Ron-The-Elder » Mon Feb 07, 2011 12:32 pm

Rather than worrying about which is physical or mental, internal or external Buddha's simile of The Chariot also points out that no matter where one looks, no matter which aspect of our delusional self is examined there is no self, no soul, no ego, no essence, no me, no my, no mine to be found. Examining the totality, we find that the "concept" or "construction" is empty of any self.

By examining carefully each component from the complete assemblage to the last sliver of wood, leather, lubricants and greases, metals, or jewels none of these components can accurately be labeled "self". Each, therefore, may correctly be categorized as "not self".

Therefore, from two totally different approaches, from two distinct directions of logical approach we have Buddha's instruction as to the emptiness of all constructions, physical/mental, internal/external, each thorough and inclusive of the least sub-atomic and energetic particle to the totalities of the multiverse:

1. There is no self to be found anywhere.
2. Each and every component, every part, every sub-division is not self.

.....therefore stop wasting our time looking for such, nor arguing or debating regarding such nonsensical concepts.

resources for further study:

http://what-buddha-said.net/drops/II/In ... cation.htm
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Re: Is the Chariot No-self Simile in the Pali Canon?

Postby Alex123 » Thu Sep 29, 2011 1:30 am

Some use the famous “chariot simile” to demonstrate that chariot and wholes do not exist. The argument from “Questions of Milinda” goes as follows:
When we take a chariot and ask “Is the axle the chariot?... Are the wheels the chariot?...Is the chariot-body the chariot?...Is the flagstaff...the yoke...the reins...Is the Goad-stick the chariot? ” the answer will be “no” to each one. Thus in such reductionist analysis one fails to find the whole (chariot) in each of its parts.

However such line of inquiry can be used on other complex things:
In order for eye-consciousness (cakkhuviññāṇa) to appear there needs to be such conditions: Eye sensitivity (cakkhuppasāda), visible object (rūpārammaṇa), light (āloka) and attention (manasikāra). Comprehensive Manual of Abhidhamma pg 151

Is Eye-sensitivity equal to eye consciousness ? No.
Is visible object equal to eye consciousness? No.
Is light equal to eye consciousness? No.
Is attention equal to eye consciousness? No.
So does this mean that eye-consciousness doesn’t exist since it cannot be found in any parts of this seeing process?

Is function of eye-consciousness being mental (nāma) reducible to sum of matter (rūpa)? Is mentality (nāma) just a lot of matter (rūpa)? Eye consciousness is an emergent phenomena that has different qualities that are not found in its components. Same with a chariot or any other complex whole.

Lets use a more modern example, an engine. Lets say that this engine produces 1,000 horsepower. We can say, just like with chariot simile, that engine as a whole doesn’t exist because none of its parts is an engine. But, while the engine can produce 1000 hp, none of its parts can. If we reduce that engine into 1000 parts it doesn’t mean that each of those parts has one horse power, so that when we would add them up we would have 1000 hp. It is called “fallacy of division” to propose that if one whole can do something, then its parts can do the same, even if to a lesser degree. If we reduce the chariot into 1000 parts it doesn’t mean that each part fulfills 1000th of chariot’s function. Chariot has a totally new function that is not present within its parts. Same with engine and many other complex wholes. Water molecule is another example. Water molecule is H20, two atoms of hydrogen per one atom of oxygen. Hydrogen and Oxygen have gaseous properties. Together they do not produce more gas, they produce water that has totally new properties not reducible to qualities of Hydrogen and Oxygen. It is fallacy of composition to insist that since water molecule has hydrogen & oxygen have gaseous properties, then water which is made of them has gaseous properties. There is no single atom that has a property of “wetness” or liquidity. At least three non liquid atoms are required for one molecule that has minimal quality of wetness. This is called strong emergence, when totally new quality emerges that was not inherent in its parts. So such a whole is not a mere “sum of its parts”. There is a qualitative jump where the whole supervenes on its parts. So whole (be it engine or chariot) has new functions different from its component parts. Moreover one cannot learn about the emergent qualities of the whole from its parts as the qualities can be very different.



With best wishes,

Alex
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Re: Is the Chariot No-self Simile in the Pali Canon?

Postby chownah » Thu Sep 29, 2011 2:19 am

I checked out "strong emergence" at wikipedia and frankly I can't see that the concept has much substance at all. It basically just says that the whole is not equal to the sum of it's parts.....giving this idea a name like "strong emergence" seems to me like some people have an idea they think is not being taken seriuosly enough so they coin a phrase to give it a name and then weave that name into a tangled mesh of other similarly concocted and ill-defined terms in an attempt to inflate the seeming importance and complexity of the issue.

I'd love to be shown wrong about this....if someone could show me something substantial about this term I would love to see it.....if you look at the bibliography at wikipedia for "strong emergence" you can see that it's pretty sparse....

Also, the Buddha's idea of not self can be taken as just an expression of "the whole is not equal to the sum of its parts" or it can be taken as a much deeper and more meaningful lesson.
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Re: Is the Chariot No-self Simile in the Pali Canon?

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Sep 29, 2011 2:34 am

The sutta about the Lute, discussed here: viewtopic.php?f=25&t=9752 bears some similarities with the Chariot simile, as I pointed out later in the thread: viewtopic.php?f=25&t=9752#p150992

I think that in the case of both the Chariot and Lute the similes are being used to describe insight into the khandhas, not as some sort of philosophical positions. Naturally if one overinterprets them into an analytical view one can poke holes in them...

SN 35.205(246): Vina Sutta - The Lute
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
"Then the king would split the lute into ten pieces, a hundred pieces. Having split the lute into ten pieces, a hundred pieces, he would shave it to splinters. Having shaved it to splinters, he would burn it in a fire. Having burned it in a fire, he would reduce it to ashes. Having reduced it to ashes, he would winnow it before a high wind or let it be washed away by a swift-flowing stream. He would then say, 'A sorry thing, this lute — whatever a lute may be — by which people have been so thoroughly tricked & deceived.'

"In the same way, a monk investigates form, however far form may go. He investigates feeling... perception... fabrications... consciousness, however far consciousness may go. As he is investigating form... feeling... perception... fabrications... consciousness, however far consciousness may go, any thoughts of 'me' or 'mine' or 'I am' do not occur to him."

SN 5.10 Vajira Sutta: Sister Vajira
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
What? Do you assume a 'living being,' Mara?
Do you take a position?
This is purely a pile of fabrications.
Here no living being
can be pinned down.

Just as when, with an assemblage of parts,
there's the word,
chariot,
even so when aggregates are present,
there's the convention of
living being.

For only stress is what comes to be;
stress, what remains & falls away.
Nothing but stress comes to be.
Nothing ceases but stress.

:anjali:
Mike

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Re: Is the Chariot No-self Simile in the Pali Canon?

Postby Alex123 » Thu Sep 29, 2011 2:57 am

chownah wrote:I checked out "strong emergence" at wikipedia and frankly I can't see that the concept has much substance at all. It basically just says that the whole is not equal to the sum of it's parts.....giving this idea a name like "strong emergence" seems to me like some people have an idea they think is not being taken seriuosly enough so they coin a phrase to give it a name and then weave that name into a tangled mesh of other similarly concocted and ill-defined terms in an attempt to inflate the seeming importance and complexity of the issue.


Is seeing, eye-consciousness (cakkhuviññāṇa) is merely sum of its parts: Eye sensitivity (cakkhuppasāda), visible object (rūpārammaṇa), light (āloka) and attention (manasikāra)? Or is it something functionally different?

Of course eye consciousness is not Eye sensitivity, visible object, light or attention.
Eye consciousness is mental (nāma) while eye sensitivity, visible object and light are material (rūpa).

Mental (nāma) is not equal to material (rūpa).
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Re: Is the Chariot No-self Simile in the Pali Canon?

Postby Alex123 » Thu Sep 29, 2011 2:59 am

mikenz66 wrote:I think that in the case of both the Chariot and Lute the similes are being used to describe insight into the khandhas, not as some sort of philosophical positions. Naturally if one overinterprets them into an analytical view one can poke holes in them...


You are right. They need to be properly and pragmatically used for liberation rather than for claiming certain ontological positions.
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Re: Is the Chariot No-self Simile in the Pali Canon?

Postby chownah » Thu Sep 29, 2011 3:50 am

Alex123 wrote:
chownah wrote:I checked out "strong emergence" at wikipedia and frankly I can't see that the concept has much substance at all. It basically just says that the whole is not equal to the sum of it's parts.....giving this idea a name like "strong emergence" seems to me like some people have an idea they think is not being taken seriuosly enough so they coin a phrase to give it a name and then weave that name into a tangled mesh of other similarly concocted and ill-defined terms in an attempt to inflate the seeming importance and complexity of the issue.


Is seeing, eye-consciousness (cakkhuviññāṇa) is merely sum of its parts: Eye sensitivity (cakkhuppasāda), visible object (rūpārammaṇa), light (āloka) and attention (manasikāra)? Or is it something functionally different?

Of course eye consciousness is not Eye sensitivity, visible object, light or attention.
Eye consciousness is mental (nāma) while eye sensitivity, visible object and light are material (rūpa).

Mental (nāma) is not equal to material (rūpa).

My view is that vision is experienced and all of the terms you use to explain it are just fabrications and don't actually represent anything that exist except as mental objects.....and a similar statement can be made for nama and rupa.
chownah

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Re: Is the Chariot No-self Simile in the Pali Canon?

Postby Alex123 » Thu Sep 29, 2011 4:23 pm

chownah wrote:
Alex123 wrote:
Is seeing, eye-consciousness (cakkhuviññāṇa) is merely sum of its parts: Eye sensitivity (cakkhuppasāda), visible object (rūpārammaṇa), light (āloka) and attention (manasikāra)? Or is it something functionally different?

Of course eye consciousness is not Eye sensitivity, visible object, light or attention.
Eye consciousness is mental (nāma) while eye sensitivity, visible object and light are material (rūpa).

Mental (nāma) is not equal to material (rūpa).

My view is that vision is experienced and all of the terms you use to explain it are just fabrications and don't actually represent anything that exist except as mental objects.....and a similar statement can be made for nama and rupa.
chownah


If all the terms I use "are just fabrications and don't actually represent anything that exist except as mental objects" then what about division of a person into 5 aggregates in order to refute the existence of a conventional person?
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Re: Is the Chariot No-self Simile in the Pali Canon?

Postby chownah » Fri Sep 30, 2011 1:58 am

Alex123 wrote:
chownah wrote:My view is that vision is experienced and all of the terms you use to explain it are just fabrications and don't actually represent anything that exist except as mental objects.....and a similar statement can be made for nama and rupa.
chownah


If all the terms I use "are just fabrications and don't actually represent anything that exist except as mental objects" then what about division of a person into 5 aggregates in order to refute the existence of a conventional person?

My view is that the Buddha taught that one should have no doctrine of self whatever....to think that there exist 5 objects which exist in some way other than as mental objects and that there is some "person" which exists as anything other than as a mental object and that this "person" can be divided up into those 5 objects is a doctrine of self.

All of the terms you are using are fabrications and don't actually represent anything that exists except as mental objects.

chownah


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