About experience(s)

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation

Re: About experience(s)

Postby kirk5a » Wed May 18, 2011 1:11 pm

mikenz66 wrote:Hi kirk,

It depends how one interprets the word "know". I'm not interpreting "know" to mean "it's true", but in the sense of what one can be aware of.

"There is this" sounds to me to be too objective, whereas the Buddha talked about first (non- :))person experience. Perhaps "there is this that is experienced" would be a compromise...

:anjali:
Mike

"There is this that is experienced" sounds too subjective to me. :smile:

But first non-person experience - that would probably do away with the usual subjective/objective obsessions.
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
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Re: About experience(s)

Postby pulga » Wed May 18, 2011 1:13 pm

mikenz66 wrote:

But, seriously, isn't the Buddha taking more of a phenomenological approach? Crudely, "we can only know what we experience"?
Mike


Hi Mike,

I would hazard to say that we can only experience what we experience. Epistemology is ultimately derived from ontology: in order for us to know anything, we have to know something, and ontology deals with the nature of the existence of that thing -- which may very well be contigent on our awareness of it. And to be content with being agnostic about the existence of the world -- how it comes to be (yathabhuta), to set such concerns aside, would be to ignore what the Buddha is trying to teach through his exposition of Paticcasamupada. What is the Rohitassasutta if not a poetic exposition of the world's ontology, and the need for us to come to understand it?

As a postscript, the three most influential books on phenomenology written in the past century-- Heidegger's Being and Time, Merleau-Ponty's Primacy of Perception, and Sartre's Being and Nothingness -- dealt with ontology.
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Re: About experience(s)

Postby Alex123 » Wed May 18, 2011 1:35 pm

pulga wrote:Hi MIke,

As I read SN 12.48 it seems the Buddha is putting forth his own ontology, avoiding the extremes of the Lokayata by putting forth his teaching of Paticcasamupada.



The PS in forward order starts with "From ignorance as a requisite condition come fabrications." and ends with "From birth as a requisite condition, then old age and death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, and despair come into play. Such is the origination of this entire mass of stress and suffering."

PS in forward cessation order starts with "From the cessation of ignorance comes the cessation of fabrications." and ends with "From the cessation of birth, then old age and death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, and despair all cease. Such is the cessation of this entire mass of stress and suffering."

So "with arising of ignorance ... -> dukkha" , "with cessation of ignorance ... dukkha ceases".

Sounds more like soteriological, eschatological and psychological teaching that is concerned with experience and with arising or ceasing of dukkha.
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Re: About experience(s)

Postby rowyourboat » Wed May 18, 2011 2:08 pm

pulga wrote:Hi MIke,

As I read SN 12.48 it seems the Buddha is putting forth his own ontology, avoiding the extremes of the Lokayata by putting forth his teaching of Paticcasamupada.


I'm inclined to agree that the Buddha is proposing what I would/could call the 'matrix solition' - there is something there, but not what you think it is or it appears to be'. This method of 'existing' is the DO. It is a (literally?) 'earth shattering'. Radical enough to release Upatissa's (later Ven Sariputta) mind simply by hearing the following:

Whatever phenomena arise from cause: their cause & their cessation. Such is the teaching of the Tathagata, the Great Contemplative.
Then to Sariputta the wanderer, as he heard this Dhamma exposition, there arose the dustless, stainless Dhamma eye: "Whatever is subject to origination is all subject to cessation."

Even if just this is the Dhamma, you have penetrated to the Sorrowless (asoka) State unseen, overlooked (by us) for many myriads of aeons.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... saristream

It would seem that later the radical nature of this view was lost-DO came to describe a thread of cause and effect in the the world that we already know, rather than an altertanative to it. Even more subtlety it might be used a way of explaining a scientific view of the world (how the brain works), again condoning the existence of the world. All this is delusion. Otherwise how can it all cease when avijja/delusion is penetrated? It is the equivalent of the plug being pulled from the matrix. The delusion ceases. :namaste:

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Re: About experience(s)

Postby acinteyyo » Wed May 18, 2011 6:56 pm

pulga wrote:
acinteyyo wrote:
pulga wrote:The world as presented to human sense organs is continuous, dynamic, and fleeting.


Hello acinteyyo,

You've quoted a passage from the excerpt of the article I provided a link to. I would agree that they're inconsistent in the passage you've pointed out. It seems to me that if their thesis is correct any perception of continuity would have to present itself in segmented events. But like Ven. Ñanananda's moving-picture show where a series of segmented frames gives the illusion of continuous motion, it seems their studies have shown that experience is hierarchically structured, composed of discrete events, their meaning being determined by the more general context in which they appear. And of course in order for such a context to have any meaning, it too must be a discrete event, a figure surrounded by other discrete events of the same order that make up the ground. And of course the level of generality needn't stop there.

Hi pulga,

you nicely hit the nail on the head.
mikenz66 wrote:Hi acinteyyo,
I think that this is an interesting point, and illustrates that we probably need to be careful about how exactly we interpret the teachings.

As you are alluding to, it's clearly not logical to take:
    When the Buddha talks about "the world" he is talking about "our experience" (fabrications, etc).
    This "world" is dynamic and fleeting
And conclude that either:
    The external world is dynamic or fleeting.
or
    The Buddha taught that there is no external world.

yep... I think so too...
mikenz66 wrote:Though we could certainly argue that:
    Questions about the nature, or existence, of the external world are irrelevant to the elimination of suffering.
Absolutely. By now sometimes I wonder how "external world" is supposed to be understood at all, I mean external of what?

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

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Re: About experience(s)

Postby Alex123 » Wed May 18, 2011 9:09 pm

acinteyyo wrote:By now sometimes I wonder how "external world" is supposed to be understood at all, I mean external of what?
best wishes, acinteyyo


Buddha taught us to investigate the world of experience, the only place where suffering and its absence can ever be felt.
In His teaching the world (cosmos) is:

"These five strings of sensuality are, in the discipline of the noble ones, called the cosmos. Which five? Forms cognizable via the eye — agreeable, pleasing, charming, endearing, fostering desire, enticing; sounds cognizable via the ear... aromas cognizable via the nose... flavors cognizable via the tongue... tactile sensations cognizable via the body — agreeable, pleasing, charming, endearing, fostering desire, enticing. These are the five strings of sensuality that, in the discipline of the noble ones, are called the cosmos.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Yet it is just within this fathom-long body, with its perception & intellect, that I declare that there is the cosmos, the origination of the cosmos, the cessation of the cosmos, and the path of practice leading to the cessation of the cosmos."
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

The Blessed One said: "And what is the origination of the world? Dependent on the eye & forms there arises eye-consciousness. The meeting of the three is contact. From contact as a requisite condition comes feeling. From feeling as a requisite condition comes craving. From craving as a requisite condition comes clinging/sustenance. From clinging/sustenance as a requisite condition comes becoming. From becoming as a requisite condition comes birth. From birth as a requisite condition, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair come into play. This is the origination of the world.

"And what is the ending of the world? Dependent on the eye & forms there arises eye-consciousness. The meeting of the three is contact. From contact as a requisite condition comes feeling. From feeling as a requisite condition comes craving. Now, from the remainderless cessation & fading away of that very craving comes the cessation of clinging/sustenance. From the cessation of clinging/sustenance comes the cessation of becoming. From the cessation of becoming comes the cessation of birth. From the cessation of birth, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair all cease. Such is the cessation of this entire mass of stress & suffering. This is the ending of the world.

[Alex:repeat for all 6 sense bases]
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

"Insofar as it disintegrates,[2] monk, it is called the 'world.' Now what disintegrates? The eye disintegrates. Forms disintegrate. Consciousness at the eye disintegrates. Contact at the eye disintegrates. And whatever there is that arises in dependence on contact at the eye — experienced as pleasure, pain or neither-pleasure-nor-pain — that too disintegrates.
"The ear disintegrates. Sounds disintegrate...
"The nose disintegrates. Aromas disintegrate...
"The tongue disintegrates. Tastes disintegrate...
"The body disintegrates. Tactile sensations disintegrate...
"The intellect disintegrates. Ideas disintegrate. Consciousness at the intellect consciousness disintegrates. Contact at the intellect disintegrates. And whatever there is that arises in dependence on contact at the intellect — experienced as pleasure, pain or neither-pleasure-nor-pain — that too disintegrates.
"Insofar as it disintegrates, it is called the 'world.'"

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
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Re: About experience(s)

Postby acinteyyo » Fri May 20, 2011 10:08 pm

Hi Alex,

yes I know all this and exactly because of that I wonder how "external world" is supposed to be understood. Because according to my understanding of the teaching it's absurd to attribute the feature "external" to the world. The world and the all,see Sabba Sutta/ Loka Sutta are equal and experience happens within the world/the all. Any experience of externality also happens just within the world and not beyond. That's why I asked:
acinteyyo wrote:By now sometimes I wonder how "external world" is supposed to be understood at all, I mean external of what?

best wishes, acinteyyo
Last edited by acinteyyo on Fri May 20, 2011 10:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Pubbe cāhaṃ bhikkhave, etarahi ca dukkhañceva paññāpemi, dukkhassa ca nirodhaṃ. (M.22)
Api cāhaṃ, āvuso, imasmiṃyeva byāmamatte kaḷevare, sasaññimhi samanake lokañca paññāpemi lokasamudayañca lokanirodhañca lokanirodhagāminiñca paṭipadan. (AN4.45)

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Re: About experience(s)

Postby mikenz66 » Fri May 20, 2011 10:27 pm

Hi acinteyyo,
acinteyyo wrote:yes I know all this and exactly because of that I wonder how "external world" is supposed to be understood. Because according to my understanding of the teachings of the Buddha it's absurd to attribute the feature "external" to the world.

But what did the Buddha mean by "the world" in the context of his teachings?

1. This is how I define "the world": [various experiential stuff] and that's all there is; or

2. This is how I define "the world": [various experiential stuff] and that's all you need to know about for the ending of suffering, etc...".

:anjali:
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Re: About experience(s)

Postby Alex123 » Fri May 20, 2011 10:49 pm

Hello Mike and Acinteyyo,

mikenz66 wrote:2. This is how I define "the world": [various experiential stuff] and that's all you need to know about for the ending of suffering, etc...".


I believe the above is correct and the only useful thing. Modern science has progressed very much since the last 2,500 years, and not to humiliate the teaching, the 2nd option is the preferable one. It is also the useful one. Philosophers were arguing about the nature of the world and validity of perception for thousands of years. It is possible for a clever person to logically prove many things. One philosopher can argue very well and convincingly for "X" when it comes to ontology of the World. Another philosopher with equal skill and very convincingly can argue for "Not-X" ontology of the world. Which one (if anyone) is right? Does it matter?

However, I think that pragmatic teaching of cessation of suffering is what ultimately matters and can be experienced. This is what, IMHO, actually matters.


WIth metta,

Alex
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Re: About experience(s)

Postby mikenz66 » Fri May 20, 2011 11:08 pm

Hi Alex,

That's my preferred interpretation too, and the only one that seems consistent with the Suttas quoted above.

However I don't really think that the modern advances in science makes an enormous difference to this interpretation.

I found Patrick Kearney's comments here a useful summary of some of these issues of experience...

Patrick Kearney wrote:Painting the sky
http://www.dharmasalon.net/Writings/Pai ... nting.html
This essay is an attempt to draw out the meaning of the Buddha's teaching concerning the constructed (saṅkhata) and the unconstructed (saṅkhata) in the Buddha's teaching. It was the basis for Dharma Salon at the 2010 Dharma Gathering at Yarrahapinni, on the mid-north coast of NSW.

A first person discourse

We begin with a technical term central to the Buddha’s understanding of experience:
“dharma” (Pāli, dhamma). This word has complex layers of meaning — the PTS Pāli-
English Dictionary devotes almost four pages of small print to its definition. Very briefly,
the dharma, singular, refers to reality, what’s really happening, and to the teaching that
points to reality. So we can speak of the “Buddha Dharma,” the view of the world as
taught by the Buddha, what we would call “Buddhism.” Dharmas (Pāli, dhammā), plural,
refer to “phenomena,” experienced events that arise and cease dependent upon
conditions.

The emphasis here is on experienced. The Buddha was a meditator, not a scientist or a
philosopher. His teaching is a first person discourse — what we might call a
phenomenology. Science is a third person discourse. Science studies an objective world on
the assumption that it exists independently of the observer. The Buddha studies the
subjective world of experience, where the experiencer remains central because in the
absence of an experiencer there can be no experience, and therefore no experienced world.
This experienced world is not merely subjective, however. We cannot have a (subjective)
experience unless there is an (objective) something that is experienced. The subjective, for
the Buddha, does not exclude the objective, it contains it, just as the objective contains the
subjective — for there could be no (experienced) thing out there without the experience of
it. He explains this perspective in Sabba Sutta (Discourse on everything):

    I will teach you everything (sabba) … And what is “everything?” The eye and forms; ear
    and sounds; nose and odours; tongue and tastes; body and tangible things; mind and
    phenomena.

    Whoever would say, “Rejecting this everything, I declare another everything,” the basis
    for that would only be words, and if questioned would have no response. Furthermore,
    one would become distressed.

    Why? Because it is beyond range. (Saḷāyatana Saṃyutta)

“Everything” (sabba) is the totality of our experience. Anything beyond experience is
unknowable. Anything said about what is unknowable is just speculation — “only
words.” The range of experience is the known universe, and therefore it is, for us, the
universe. If any other universe exists it can mean nothing to us, for we can never have
contact with it, and so we can have no basis for any belief regarding it. The only world the
Buddha is interested in is the experienced world. Since we are humans, endowed with and
defined by a particular set of sense sensitivities, this is the human world (manussa loka).

For the Buddha, the world is not an independently existing entity out there which, within
our limits, we perceive and relate to; the world is our-experience-of-the-world. This does
not mean that the world is merely subjective, that there is no world actually out there, for
we can’t have sense perception without some (objective) sense object. Nor is the world
merely objective, for any sense objects out there remain unknown to us except for our
(subjective) perception of them.

What do we experience? We experience dharmas. Let’s say I have a glass of water beside
me. The glass is a ”thing,” an object, as is the water in it. Its physics can be studied and
mapped. It exists independently of me — if I walk away, the glass of water is still there,
entirely unaffected. This is the objective, independently existing world that we are all
familiar with. This is the world of the constructed as it appears when we have lost sight of
the fact that it is constructed and constructing, and see it as simply given, independent of
our participation.

The Buddha lives in a world of dharmas. I have a glass of water beside me. I feel thirsty. I
reach for the glass. I lift it. I drink, swallow, and replace the glass. I feel better. All these
experienced events are dharmas. “Feeling thirsty” is a dharma; “seeing the glass” is a
dharma; “wanting the water” is a dharma; “reaching for the glass” is a dharma; and so on.
Each of these dharmas requires my participation for its existence. None exist
independently of me. If I walk away, the collection of dharmas which together constitute
drinking-from-the-glass-of-water ceases entirely. Their existence depends on my
participation. This is the world of experience that we are already intimately familiar with,
but which is so familiar that we usually overlook it. This too is the world of the
constructed, but more intimate than the one we normally take for granted as given, as
simply out there.

Dharmas are not “things” which are out there or in here; they are our-experience-of-things. A
dharma is a thing-as-experienced, or the experience-of-a-thing. And remember that this is
not a denial of the objectively existing world that is studied by science. It’s a different
discourse about the same world. The Buddha’s central concern is the problem of dukkha,
of human limitation and pain, which keeps him always close to the feel of experience
itself, rather than getting lost in abstract metaphysics. He is not concerned with
speculating about what is real, but in clarifying how we can experience, realistically.

:anjali:
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Re: About experience(s)

Postby pulga » Sat May 21, 2011 2:44 am

Patrick Kearney wrote:

If I walk away, the collection of dharmas which together constitute
drinking-from-the-glass-of-water ceases entirely.
Their existence depends on my
participation. This is the world of experience that we are already intimately familiar with,
but which is so familiar that we usually overlook it. This too is the world of the
constructed, but more intimate than the one we normally take for granted as given, as
simply out there.



This is where the contextual heirarchy comes in -- and why sankharas are said to determine other sankharas. Does drinking-from-the-glass-of-water "cease entirely' after I've held-the-glass-to-my-lips? When I've poured-a-bit-of-water-into-my-mouth? When I've swallowed-the-water? Can drinking-from-a-glass-of water be experienced in the complete absence of those experiences of a lesser order that instantiate it? (Can we experience a melody in the complete absense of any note, or a note in the absence of its head, stem, or hook?) Is transcendence inherently contigent?
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Re: About experience(s)

Postby ground » Sat May 21, 2011 3:47 am

pulga wrote:Does drinking-from-the-glass-of-water "cease entirely' after I've held-the-glass-to-my-lips?

Is "after" an experience in the same sense applied here?

pulga wrote:When I've poured-a-bit-of-water-into-my-mouth? When I've swallowed-the-water?

"When" ... "when" ... again implying "time" ... an experience in the same sense applied here?

pulga wrote:Can we experience a melody in the complete absense of any note, ...

Yes. Because "absense of any note" is the absence of the thought "this note follows the one that precedes it". Experience here is different from determining thought although in some other sense a thought may be experienced too.

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Re: About experience(s)

Postby pulga » Sat May 21, 2011 1:35 pm

TMingyur wrote: Is "after" an experience in the same sense applied here?



Hello TMingyur,


Drinking-from-a-glass-of-water transcends holding-a-glass-to-my-lips. The implied answer is "no". Drinking-from-a-glass- of-water doesn't "cease entirely" when I remove the glass from my lips, whereas holding-a-glass-to-my-lips does. We're dealing with a hierarchy here, an ontological hierarchy I might add.

TMingyur wrote:"When" ... "when" ... again implying "time" ... an experience in the same sense applied here?


Time is structured hierarchically: the present can be now this moment or now this day, it is all determined by context. The moment can "cease entirely" but the day still goes on. But can the day exist in the complete absence of any moments? Or is the transcendent contigent upon the temporal?


TMingyur wrote:
Yes. Because "absense of any note" is the absence of the thought "this note follows the one that precedes it". Experience here is different from determining thought although in some other sense a thought may be experienced too.


I can't quite follow your argument here, but I still contend that we must experience a note in order to experience a melody, even if on the contextual level of the melody we experience the note as the melody.

I apologize for diverging a bit from Mike's post. I don't know enough about Patrick Kearney's views to make any judgements, but from what Mike provided us I do agree with his point in principle. My only caveat being that the experience of continuity and change needs to be delved into more rigorously.
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Re: About experience(s)

Postby acinteyyo » Sun May 22, 2011 11:50 am

Hi Mike and Alex,
mikenz66 wrote: ... and that's all you need to know about for the ending of suffering,

I'm happy with that, yes it's all I need to know :clap:

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

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Re: About experience(s)

Postby ground » Sun May 22, 2011 2:52 pm

pulga wrote:
TMingyur wrote: Is "after" an experience in the same sense applied here?



Hello TMingyur,


Drinking-from-a-glass-of-water transcends holding-a-glass-to-my-lips. The implied answer is "no". Drinking-from-a-glass- of-water doesn't "cease entirely" when I remove the glass from my lips, whereas holding-a-glass-to-my-lips does. We're dealing with a hierarchy here, an ontological hierarchy I might add.

TMingyur wrote:"When" ... "when" ... again implying "time" ... an experience in the same sense applied here?


Time is structured hierarchically: the present can be now this moment or now this day, it is all determined by context. The moment can "cease entirely" but the day still goes on. But can the day exist in the complete absence of any moments? Or is the transcendent contigent upon the temporal?

What you write is modelled by thought. So this is not the same kind of experience.


pulga wrote:
TMingyur wrote:
Yes. Because "absense of any note" is the absence of the thought "this note follows the one that precedes it". Experience here is different from determining thought although in some other sense a thought may be experienced too.


I can't quite follow your argument here, but I still contend that we must experience a note in order to experience a melody, even if on the contextual level of the melody we experience the note as the melody.

Thinking about we may conclude that "we must experience a note in order to experience a melody". Again this thinking is not the same kind of experience like "experiencing a melody".


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Re: About experience(s)

Postby icyteru » Fri May 27, 2011 4:53 pm

experience is constant changing because of anicca.
to understand the emerge, progress, and cease of things try walking meditation.
The most complete english tipitaka on the internet world. http://realtruthlife.blogspot.com .
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Re: About experience(s)

Postby acinteyyo » Sat May 28, 2011 11:14 am

icyteru wrote:experience is constant changing because of anicca.
to understand the emerge, progress, and cease of things try walking meditation.

Hi,

your sentence is a bit confusing. It seems that you want to say that anicca is in some way the cause for experience to be constantly changing. But that's not quite true. It's not the case that there is some kind of quality called "anicca" which is the cause for experience to be constantly changing but it is the inherent nature of experience to be impermanent which is called anicca.

yam kiñci samudayadhammam sabbam tam nirodhadhammam - 'Whatever is of the nature of arising, all that is of the nature of cessation.'

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

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