Confusion about eternally of "soul"

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Kenshou
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Re: Confusion about eternally of "soul"

Postby Kenshou » Wed Apr 07, 2010 5:24 pm

Zom wrote:
On the other hand here stands the discription that nibbana is the highest sukha, it is pleasant (and so here we have that "endless mind" theory of Ven. Thanissaro and some other teachers, and critisism of "no self" as wrong opinion, since Buddha didn't say that there is no self =).


I believe I've seen it stated in the suttas more than once that Nibbbana is the highest happiness for the very reason that it is separate from the aggregates, but not because there is something there which is perceiving "happiness", the lack of any conditioned phenomena is the very thing that makes it peaceful. I cannot cite a source on that, I'm just going by memory, maybe someone knows what I'm talking about? I've heard some teachers rationalize that nibbana must involve some degree of perception, but not Thanissaro or any other Theravadin. I like Thanissaro, though I'm not a follower of Thanissarodhamma over Buddhadhamma, and I can't help but feel like you're misrepresenting him a little on some of these issues.

On "consciousness without feature", maybe I haven't read closely enough, but I haven't read anything that suggests that this is something attained upon the death of the Arahant, but rather is related to the experience of the Arahant while still living. I feel there's a similarity between this, and the simile of "consciousness without landing", meaning non-manifestive consciousness, the consciousness of the Arahant that does not delight in, grasp at and proliferate for the sake of any sense-object, as described by http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html.

"If a monk abandons passion for the property of (whatever object), then owing to the abandonment of passion, the support is cut off, and there is no landing of consciousness. Consciousness, thus not having landed, not increasing, not concocting, is released. Owing to its release, it is steady. Owing to its steadiness, it is contented. Owing to its contentment, it is not agitated.

But then of course even this consciousness will cease upon the death of the Arahant, I don't see any reason to think otherwise.

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Re: Confusion about eternally of "soul"

Postby meindzai » Wed Apr 07, 2010 5:36 pm

Kenshou wrote:
On "consciousness without feature", maybe I haven't read closely enough, but I haven't read anything that suggests that this is something attained upon the death of the Arahant, but rather is related to the experience of the Arahant while still living. I feel there's a similarity between this, and the simile of "consciousness without landing", meaning non-manifestive consciousness, the consciousness of the Arahant that does not delight in, grasp at and proliferate for the sake of any sense-object, as described by http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html.

"If a monk abandons passion for the property of (whatever object), then owing to the abandonment of passion, the support is cut off, and there is no landing of consciousness. Consciousness, thus not having landed, not increasing, not concocting, is released. Owing to its release, it is steady. Owing to its steadiness, it is contented. Owing to its contentment, it is not agitated.

But then of course even this consciousness will cease upon the death of the Arahant, I don't see any reason to think otherwise.


I [we] might be wrong, but this is my thinking as well.

-M

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Re: Confusion about eternally of "soul"

Postby Zom » Wed Apr 07, 2010 8:39 pm

"If a monk abandons passion for the property of (whatever object), then owing to the abandonment of passion, the support is cut off, and there is no landing of consciousness. Consciousness, thus not having landed, not increasing, not concocting, is released. Owing to its release, it is steady. Owing to its steadiness, it is contented. Owing to its contentment, it is not agitated.

But then of course even this consciousness will cease upon the death of the Arahant, I don't see any reason to think otherwise.


Ven. Thanissaro argues that this consciousness will not cease, because it doesn't have a support in 5 aggregates, it is "apart from them", so when they will ruin, it can't ruin together with them. He also says this consciousness is not included in conditional paticca-samuppada:

This consciousness thus differs from the consciousness factor in dependent co-arising, which is defined in terms of the six sense media. Lying outside of time and space, it would also not come under the consciousness-aggregate, which covers all consciousness near and far; past, present, and future. And, as SN 35.23 notes, the word "all" in the Buddha's teaching covers only the six sense media, which is another reason for not including this consciousness under the aggregates. However, the fact that it is outside of time and space — in a dimension where there is no here, there, or in between


However... yes.. there is some fault in this interpretation. Here:

Consciousness without feature, [1]
without end,
luminous all around:
Here water, earth, fire, & wind
have no footing.
Here long & short
coarse & fine
fair & foul
name & form
are all brought to an end.
With the cessation of [the activity of] consciousness
each is here brought to an end.'"


He puts brackets here (the activity of), however, in the sutta itself there are no such brackets, and it says: With the cessation of consciousness. It seems it says about the cessation of this very "Consciousness without feature", however still one may argue that normal type of consciousness is meant here, but not "Consciousness without feature".

Also he says it goes out of space and time - but here we have phrases: "without end... all around". How can we speak that it is out of space and time if it is written: "all around"...

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Re: Confusion about eternally of "soul"

Postby Kenshou » Wed Apr 07, 2010 9:30 pm

If that truly is his position on nibbana, then I do agree that that's weird, sounds kinda like Advaita and seems incongruent with the suttas on the whole.

Funny thing is I've never detected much of this sort of thing in the majority of Than's stuff, and I've read a whole lot of it. I'll set that weird little bit aside.

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Re: Confusion about eternally of "soul"

Postby Nosta » Wed Apr 07, 2010 11:23 pm

So, as a conclusion, is there any form of conscience on nibbana [read: nibbana after death] or not? Any form of inteligence? For example, could it be possible for a "someone" in nibbana, a buddha, come back to life (be it as a spirit, a body, etc) in order to help others??

Other related question: if a living buddha is dying, could he really choose to reborn again?
EDIT: by the way, everybody speaks about that Thanissaro. When reading Theravada texts, i like writers like Bikkhu Boddhi. They present things on a simple, mechanical and pratical way.

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Re: Confusion about eternally of "soul"

Postby Reductor » Thu Apr 08, 2010 2:34 am

Zom wrote:Ven. Thanissaro argues that this consciousness will not cease, because it doesn't have a support in 5 aggregates, it is "apart from them", so when they will ruin, it can't ruin together with them. He also says this consciousness is not included in conditional paticca-samuppada:

This consciousness thus differs from the consciousness factor in dependent co-arising, which is defined in terms of the six sense media. Lying outside of time and space, it would also not come under the consciousness-aggregate, which covers all consciousness near and far; past, present, and future. And, as SN 35.23 notes, the word "all" in the Buddha's teaching covers only the six sense media, which is another reason for not including this consciousness under the aggregates. However, the fact that it is outside of time and space — in a dimension where there is no here, there, or in between



Do you have a link for the above? I would like to read further, thanks.
Michael

The thoughts I've expressed in the above post are carefully considered and offered in good faith.

And friendliness towards the world is happiness for him who is forbearing with living beings. -- Ud. 2:1
To his own ruin the fool gains knowledge, for it cleaves his head and destroys his innate goodness. -- Dhp 72


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Re: Confusion about eternally of "soul"

Postby Sobeh » Thu Apr 08, 2010 3:01 am

thereductor wrote:Do you have a link for the above? I would like to read further, thanks.


It's from Footnote 9 on this page.

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Re: Confusion about eternally of "soul"

Postby Reductor » Thu Apr 08, 2010 3:29 am

Sobeh wrote:
thereductor wrote:Do you have a link for the above? I would like to read further, thanks.


It's from Footnote 9 on this page.


Thanks Sobeh. This note lets Than speak for himself on this topic. It is interesting.

This consciousness thus differs from the consciousness factor in dependent co-arising, which is defined in terms of the six sense media. Lying outside of time and space, it would also not come under the consciousness-aggregate, which covers all consciousness near and far; past, present, and future. And, as SN 35.23 notes, the word "all" in the Buddha's teaching covers only the six sense media, which is another reason for not including this consciousness under the aggregates. However, the fact that it is outside of time and space — in a dimension where there is no here, there, or in between (Ud I.10), no coming, no going, or staying (Ud VIII.1) — means that it cannot be described as permanent or omnipresent, terms that have meaning only within space and time.
Michael

The thoughts I've expressed in the above post are carefully considered and offered in good faith.

And friendliness towards the world is happiness for him who is forbearing with living beings. -- Ud. 2:1
To his own ruin the fool gains knowledge, for it cleaves his head and destroys his innate goodness. -- Dhp 72


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Re: Confusion about eternally of "soul"

Postby Reductor » Thu Apr 08, 2010 7:08 pm

Nosta wrote:So, as a conclusion, is there any form of conscience on nibbana [read: nibbana after death] or not? Any form of inteligence? For example, could it be possible for a "someone" in nibbana, a buddha, come back to life (be it as a spirit, a body, etc) in order to help others??



Hate to break it to you, but no, there is no 'someone' in nibbana, no intellectualizing, no returning from there, no desire even to help others. The notion 'others' is also absent, as is any notion 'self'. The things that can be attributed to yourself, to others, or to any 'thing' have ceased. To say that there is consciousness, or not, or both, or both is and is not, and any of the other positions one might take, all miss the mark.


Other related question: if a living buddha is dying, could he really choose to reborn again?


I don't think it is possible. A Buddha does not cling to his own existence, nor does he cling to the existence of others, or to the world at large. It is clinging that makes for further birth.


EDIT: by the way, everybody speaks about that Thanissaro. When reading Theravada texts, i like writers like Bikkhu Boddhi. They present things on a simple, mechanical and pratical way.


It is helpful to read more than one translation of a sutta, unless you are just looking for a general feel of its content. When reading both Than and Bodhi together, I have been informed by their differing word choices as much as any thing. When I'm trying to get a better feel for some meditation point, I usually side with Than, as I know he has spent a lot of time practicing meditation, while I don't know that to be the case with Bodhi.
Michael

The thoughts I've expressed in the above post are carefully considered and offered in good faith.

And friendliness towards the world is happiness for him who is forbearing with living beings. -- Ud. 2:1
To his own ruin the fool gains knowledge, for it cleaves his head and destroys his innate goodness. -- Dhp 72


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Re: Confusion about eternally of "soul"

Postby Nosta » Fri Apr 09, 2010 1:34 pm

Interesting. So, Nibbana is really "let go" EVERYTHING, since even compassion stops. Sometimes it seems that nibbana is like a suicide! lol

Sometimes, dont you feel some kind of fear about Nibbana?? Sometimes i feel it, i dont know to explain why or how is that fear, but i have it sometimes. Maybe because Nibbana, sometimes, is some kind of boring state lol, maybe because it speaks about the end of "i"...really, i dont know.
...
About my question related with Buddha dying and rebirth again in order to help others: i did that question because many people believe that buddhists believe that Dalai Lama is one reencarnation of Buddha Shakyamuni. And thats wrong. As far as i know, Mahayana beleive that Dalai Lama is the reencarnation of some buddhist monk/master whatever. Am i right to affirm that in Theravada there is no such thing, like sucessive reencarnations of a monk (or even a Buddha) as a way to save all beeings??


Thanks you for answers so far ;-)

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Re: Confusion about eternally of "soul"

Postby Mawkish1983 » Fri Apr 09, 2010 4:33 pm

Nosta wrote:Am i right to affirm that in Theravada there is no such thing, like sucessive reencarnations of a monk (or even a Buddha) as a way to save all beeings??

The Buddha didn't teach reincarnation; the transmigration of atta from one being to the next. The Buddha taught punabbhava; the continuation of kammavipaka from one being to the next. That is my understanding anyway.

A few times I've seen that stock phrase "save all beings" used by Mahayanists as a way of implying Mahayana is more compassion-full than the Theravada. I don't like it, because it implies the ego-centric view "I am higher than all being, thus can save them". Everyone must "save" themselves from samsara. That is what the Buddha taught, that makes rational sense to me, I have confidence in that.

Remember, compassion (Karuna) is a brahmavihara, so should be cultivated by the seeker. I don't think fairytales about reincarnation are needed to encourage one to cultivate compassion.

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Re: Confusion about eternally of "soul"

Postby Wind » Fri Apr 09, 2010 5:55 pm

Nosta wrote:Interesting. So, Nibbana is really "let go" EVERYTHING, since even compassion stops. Sometimes it seems that nibbana is like a suicide! lol

Sometimes, dont you feel some kind of fear about Nibbana?? Sometimes i feel it, i dont know to explain why or how is that fear, but i have it sometimes. Maybe because Nibbana, sometimes, is some kind of boring state lol, maybe because it speaks about the end of "i"...really, i dont know.


I used to have that same fear. But I realize that fear stems from clinging to this current self. I could not live with the idea "I" stop to exist. It's also the natural fear of the unknown. But one day I experience a sudden moment of insight that this "I" is just an illusion of the five Khandas. It's an experience that only lasted a few seconds but enough that I felt like "I" did not matter anymore. Instead of fear, I felt happiness and no stress. After this, I want to attain Nibbana, instead of my previous goal of heavenly realm. Remember the Buddha taught paths to Nibbana and to Good rebirths. It's up to you what you choose. Ultimately any good rebirths in Samsara which is impermanent will prove to be unsatisfactory.

...
About my question related with Buddha dying and rebirth again in order to help others: i did that question because many people believe that buddhists believe that Dalai Lama is one reencarnation of Buddha Shakyamuni. And thats wrong. As far as i know, Mahayana beleive that Dalai Lama is the reencarnation of some buddhist monk/master whatever. Am i right to affirm that in Theravada there is no such thing, like sucessive reencarnations of a monk (or even a Buddha) as a way to save all beeings??



When one becomes a Buddha, their rounds of rebirths comes to an end, so it's impossible for a Buddha to reborn again. The Buddha's compassion is in teaching the Dhamma that is effective in helping everyone to be liberated. When the Buddha left Samsara, it is a testament that the Noble Eightfold Path works. How else can you teach people how to be free if you are still stuck in Samsara? It would be like a poor man teaching you how to be rich. No one can save all beings, they are saved by themselves. The Dhamma is what can lead the way. And when the true Dhamma disappears from the world, another Buddha will rise again and show the way. That's how all beings will continue to benefit from the Dhamma and be liberated.

By the way, A "Buddha" is also known as the "Rightly Self-Awaken One", meaning this person attain Enlightenment all by himself without hearing any Dhamma teaching. There have been many Buddhas in the past, never the same person. In Theravada, everyone will continue on with rebirths except those who attain Enlightenment, so yes monks who are not yet enlighten will be reborn again whether in human realm or other realms. We use the term "rebirth" instead of reincarnation because reincarnation implies there is a soul, which the Buddha rejects. Rebirth works differently so you should study on this subject.

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Re: Confusion about eternally of "soul"

Postby Reductor » Sat Apr 10, 2010 5:33 am

Nosta wrote:Interesting. So, Nibbana is really "let go" EVERYTHING, since even compassion stops. Sometimes it seems that nibbana is like a suicide! lol


Nibbana is the end of suffering by right knowledge, the causes of which are promoted by the eight fold path. Suicide is the clinging to suffering and calling it self, then inflicting new suffering on this self in the hopes of relieving the old suffering, but always returning to this pile of shit that they both love and hate at the same time.

Don't think I'm ragging on the wretches that come to such a sorry end. I've been there. Almost.


Sometimes, dont you feel some kind of fear about Nibbana?? Sometimes i feel it, i dont know to explain why or how is that fear, but i have it sometimes. Maybe because Nibbana, sometimes, is some kind of boring state lol, maybe because it speaks about the end of "i"...really, i dont know.


I don't think your alone on that. Many people, most people, Buddhist and other, all cling to the sense of being individual, with individual plans and notions and views, and so on. They invest a lot of time in this 'self', and the idea of that 'self' ceasing to exist is a little frightful. This is normal.

I think I've said it before, but I'll say it now: nibbana is not something you approach by contemplating it in itself. It is something you approach by contemplating what you are right now. What are you? What is it really like? Why is it like this? Can you-this-now, be any other way than what it is?

When the truth of suffering comes through here and there, Nibbana and what it actually means becomes a little clearer. When it is plain to you that 'self' and suffering are one and the same, not different, then Nibbana is no longer vague in your mind, although it remains indescribable.

All phenomenon is suffering, All phenomenon is not self.
Michael

The thoughts I've expressed in the above post are carefully considered and offered in good faith.

And friendliness towards the world is happiness for him who is forbearing with living beings. -- Ud. 2:1
To his own ruin the fool gains knowledge, for it cleaves his head and destroys his innate goodness. -- Dhp 72


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Re: Confusion about eternally of "soul"

Postby Zom » Sat Apr 10, 2010 10:24 am

"But, lord, might there be agitation over what is internally not present?"

"There might, monk," the Blessed One said. "There is the case where someone has this view: 'This cosmos is the self. After death this I will be constant, permanent, eternal, not subject to change. I will stay just like that for an eternity.' He hears a Tathagata or a Tathagata's disciple teaching the Dhamma for the elimination of all view-positions, determinations, biases, inclinations, & obsessions; for the stilling of all fabrications; for the relinquishing of all acquisitions; the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding. The thought occurs to him, 'So it might be that I will be annihilated! So it might be that I will perish! So it might be that I will not exist!' He grieves & is tormented, weeps, beats his breast, & grows delirious. It's thus that there is agitation over what is internally not present."


MN 22


More:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

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Re: Confusion about eternally of "soul"

Postby Wind » Sun Apr 11, 2010 2:23 am

Excellent post, Zom! :twothumbsup:

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Re: Confusion about eternally of "soul"

Postby Dhammakid » Sun Apr 11, 2010 6:47 am

Ah, Zom, that post is so simple and yet so brilliant. Clear and to the point. The Buddha was so razor sharp. Thanks for that.

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Re: Confusion about eternally of "soul"

Postby Dhammakid » Sun Apr 11, 2010 6:55 am

Wow, I'm just now realizing the wrong view I've held for quite a while. I've fallen for the whole "consciousness is the ground of all being, we are the universe" stuff. I too have felt some fear of Nibbana and maybe this self-view-as-universe was feeding it. This passage from the MN has helped set me straight, as well as inspiring increased faith. Thanks again for that, Zom.

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Re: Confusion about eternally of "soul"

Postby Nosta » Sun Apr 11, 2010 6:32 pm

Hi!
Just a quick thing, since i must be fast right now lol: when i spoke on reencarnation, i just used that word in a "common way" not a "technical" one. I know that difference between reencarnation and rebirth :-)

I would like to comment a thing that dhammakid said: if there is no "i", i can suppose that the 5 aggregates that "build" myself, are just one with the universe. So, i am not "i", but i cant say that i am not either the universe. I am both the universe and the 5 aggregates, and neither them. This is not the same to say that i am the universal consciousness, or to say that there is such thing. In fact, i can conclude there there is just rupa and namo. And there us suffereing because of that. Just my humble opinion :-)

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Re: Confusion about eternally of "soul"

Postby Zom » Mon Apr 12, 2010 12:35 pm

Well, here is more.. - in nibbana there is NO knowledge or vision:

"But, Ananda, when he attained total Unbinding, did Sariputta take the aggregate of virtue along with him? Did he take the aggregate of concentration... discernment... release... the aggregate of knowledge & vision of release along with him?"

"No, lord, when he attained total Unbinding, Ven. Sariputta didn't take the aggregate of virtue... concentration... discernment... release... the aggregate of knowledge & vision of release along with him.


http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

And more...

"In dependence on the intellect & ideas there arises intellect-consciousness. The intellect is inconstant, changeable, of a nature to become otherwise. Ideas are inconstant, changeable, of a nature to become otherwise. Thus this pair is both wavering & fluctuating — inconstant, changeable, of a nature to become otherwise.

"Intellect-consciousness is inconstant, changeable, of a nature to become otherwise. Whatever is the cause, the requisite condition, for the arising of intellect-consciousness, that is inconstant, changeable, of a nature to become otherwise. Having arisen in dependence on an inconstant factor, how could intellect-consciousness be constant?


http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Ven. Thanissaro argues that "nibbanic consciousness (that is "without feature") is not mentioned in Dependent Origination. And indeed, in Dependent Origination scheme the explanation formula for Consciousness is... that 6-class-Consciousness (based on nose, tongue....so on.... mind). But here in this passage (SN 35) we can see that this Dependent Origination Consciousness (that is intellect-consciousness) is based on 2 factors: Mind and Ideas. However here it is also said that this Mind (that is not mentioned in 6-class-consciousness) is also said to be impermanent, changeable. That means that it also arises and exists dependently, dependent on something - though it is not mentioned in Dependent Origination Scheme.

So if we will still ALL fabricated (dependent on something), how can we say that there is some consciousness left? Well, one can say that "nibbanic consciousness" is still a very special kind... but what do we call a consciousness? Something that perceives. But in SN 47 it is said that in parinibbana there is no vision or knowledge, not speaking of perception. If so, would it be proper to say that nibbana is "consciousness"...

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Re: Confusion about eternally of "soul"

Postby Kenshou » Mon Apr 12, 2010 5:20 pm

I think that's a valid argument Zom, however, to throw something else in, on page 132 of this book on Nibbana, it is mentioned that "It is perhaps also significant that both of the instances where this phrase is used by the Buddha are in passages involving the demonstration of his superiority over the brahma gods. It is thus conceivable that the phraseology derives from some spiritual or mythological principle dear to the brahmins, and which the Buddha is employing to expand the familiar meaning, or to turn it around. As we saw in Ch 2, this was a common source of the Buddha’s choice of words and metaphorical images. "

It's not exactly a secret that the Buddha changed up his methods depending on the audience. If these discourses were indeed aimed at a Brahmanic or similar audience it isn't inconceivable that in describing the goal he picked terms that wouldn't have the possibility of being misinterpreted as annihilation and turn away the target audience in this context.

And also, something I've been wondering about, is Buddhist practice in the present at all affected by whichever side of this argument is correct, if either? I'm not trying to encourage that the issue be ignored, things like this should be investigated, but since as far as I can tell the training remains the same, it isn't quite such a big deal.


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