Thank-you so very much for your response.
vinasp wrote:Everything that you have said seems correct to me, I cannot see any errors.
What a wonderful relief!
fortunate_being wrote:"Yet, I see many texts and expositions that consider the avoidance of 'eternalism' as being enough to remove one from Samsara."
Perhaps those "expositions" are simply wrong. Could you explain further?
Just to be clear here - I am not saying that avoidance of 'eternalism' alone is what is stated - there is also the paired avoidance of 'nihilism', but I have less of an issue with the 'nihilism' issue.
There really are many texts that appear to conflate 'eternalism' with the extreme of the conviction in a self's efficacy as an object of grasping. Maybe I am missing something still. Here is a tiny sample.
- http://www.buddhanet.net/funbud12.htm : "..avoid the extreme of eternalism.."
Though (in fairness) this article then qualifies 'eternalism' in a reasonably meaningful way, it still says 'avoid the extreme of eternalism' which implies the aforementioned fallacy of affirming the consequent.
- Peter Harvey. An Introduction to Buddhism: Teachings, History and Practices (2007) CUP. ISBN 0-521-31333-3.
"The understanding that sees a 'person' as subsisting in the causal connectedness of dependent arising is often presented in Buddhist thought as 'the middle' (madhyama/majjhima) between the views of 'eternalism' (śaśvata-/sassata-vāda) and 'annihilationism' (uccheda-vāda)". (p58)
- Bhikkhu Bodhi, (ed., trans.) (2005). "In the Buddha's Words: An Anthology of Discourses from the Pāli Canon." Wisdom Publications. ISBN 0-86171-491-1, p315.
"It is a 'teaching by the middle' because it transcends two extreme views that polarise philosophical reflection on the human condition. One extreme, the metaphysical thesis of eternalism (sassatavāda), asserts that the core of human identity is an indestructible and eternal self" (p315)
My reading of this last text identifies sassatavāda in a manner which I reject. As stated in my original post, I believe that Lord Buddha is telling us to avoid something far more subtle, and directly related to paticcasamuppāda - the conviction in a self's efficacy as an object of grasping - a conviction which binds us to samsara and is therefore available and present in all beings that are subject to misery.
vinasp wrote:Also, could you explain your understanding of what anicca means?
My understanding of anicca is weak and, for the most part, intellectual but as I see it, it refers to the inconstancy of the world and all that is in it: subject to change; continually changing; destined to dissipate, change, and vanish – like cloud animals or the fleeting figures that can be seen in incense smoke. By the time we are aware of something, it has already past - we are continually engaged with the shadows of things and yet cling onto them and grasp at them as if they were reliable, stable, sensible objects of our attachment and aversion. Cessations, being permanent absences, are not subject to anicca. Those Nobles who have achieved a cessation of suffering by eliminating it's cause (and are therefore no longer subject to suffering) are worthy objects of refuge.
But, as mentioned before, Lord Buddha made it clear that understanding anicca alone is not enough - there are three marks of existence - we must also understand the inefficacy of the self by it's own nature: Not only is it not constant, but it has no 'centre' or independent nature at all. Clearly we must also avoid the other extreme of disbelieving in karma (and by consequence in the paticcasamuppāda itself).