"Nothing exists", or (how) does it?

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Re: "Nothing exists", or (how) does it?

Postby PeterB » Tue Jun 15, 2010 6:50 pm

acinteyyo wrote:What exactely do you mean by activity (operation of the khandhas)? Do you have any example?

The rupa rupas, the citta cittas, etc etc
I dont know what happens after that stops. Unlike all the Zen Buddhists in the world I am not a Buddha.. :lol:

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Re: "Nothing exists", or (how) does it?

Postby Annapurna » Tue Jun 15, 2010 6:54 pm

Shonin wrote:Hi, Anna

What is temporary is your body, your personality, your mental states etc.



Sure. I'm just using the type of language I understand best.

Sometimes Buddhist lingo can be quite.... :thinking:

I'm horribly stubborn too, I have to confess. :anjali:

Yet none of these things is due to being/having a self (in the Buddhist sense), so there is no self that arises and no self that comes to an end.


Ok, I realize it's a choice of words, as you say: In the Buddhist sense.
Last edited by Annapurna on Tue Jun 15, 2010 7:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: "Nothing exists", or (how) does it?

Postby Annapurna » Tue Jun 15, 2010 6:59 pm

I think Anna that your understanding is correct. Of COURSE we have a self. Only the highways and byways of nihilism and /or delusion could possibly cause us to deny it.
Its just that the self we identify with is ever changing and arises dependantly along with everything else.


PeterB wrote:Of course there is a self that arises Shonin. It doesnt arise independantly, and when any of the causes for its arising cease it ceases to arise.
But while it is arising together with its causes, its a self and it exists. The length of rope is not a snake, but it IS a length of rope.
This is not mere semantics but clear blue water...


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Re: "Nothing exists", or (how) does it?

Postby PeterB » Tue Jun 15, 2010 7:06 pm

The point is there are no satisfactory forms of words in this area. We can pick and niggle about whether we do or dont have a self and it wont alter a thing. For start we are having a conversation in a language which like all modern languages does not translate well the meta language of Pali. Much of what passes for Buddhist discussion can be seen as simply a debate about semantics.
As one of my teachers used to say " most of the time all we actually need to do is help someone frame the question properly , which often means deploying a little Pali, and the question answers itself. "
A few days Vipassana equals a hundred years of discussion. Which is not to down play the importance of forums. It is to put them into perspective.

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Re: "Nothing exists", or (how) does it?

Postby EricJ » Tue Jun 15, 2010 7:10 pm

PeterB wrote:The self is an activity,a verb, not a non existent noun object. While that activity ( which is the operation of the kandhas ) continues it does not give rise to permanence . Anicca is already the case. That activity does not proceed from an atta. Anatta is always the case. The identification of any khandic activity with permanence or changelessness is Dukkha, which then becomes the case.
However the activity, the verb, which is the self continues to Enlightenment.
The refracted colours of a pigeons neck are not intrinsic to the feathers, they are refracted light. Nevertheless they exist. As long as the conditions, the pigeon, its feathers arise, the colours continue to arise.
Respectfully, this doesn't answer my question. My question: Are you saying that at some point in time (however small, momentary) an ontologically real/existent self arises? If the answer to this question is yes, can you provide evidence from the suttas that this is a teaching of the Buddha?

Or are you speaking in a conventional/experiential sense? If so, I apologize for my misreading.


Regards,
Eric
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With persistence aroused for the highest goal's attainment, with mind unsmeared, not lazy in action, firm in effort, with steadfastness & strength arisen, wander alone like a rhinoceros.

Not neglecting seclusion, absorption, constantly living the Dhamma in line with the Dhamma, comprehending the danger in states of becoming, wander alone like a rhinoceros.
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Re: "Nothing exists", or (how) does it?

Postby PeterB » Tue Jun 15, 2010 7:15 pm

I am speaking conventional and experientially. I have taken a vow not to do anything else.. :smile:
Apology not needed.

:anjali:

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Re: "Nothing exists", or (how) does it?

Postby EricJ » Tue Jun 15, 2010 7:19 pm

PeterB wrote:I am speaking conventional and experientially. I have taken a vow not to do anything else.. :smile:
Apology not needed.

:anjali:
A wise vow which everybody should probably take. :D

:thumbsup:
I do not want my house to be walled in on sides and my windows to be stuffed. I want the cultures of all the lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible. But I refuse to be blown off my feet by any.- Gandhi

With persistence aroused for the highest goal's attainment, with mind unsmeared, not lazy in action, firm in effort, with steadfastness & strength arisen, wander alone like a rhinoceros.

Not neglecting seclusion, absorption, constantly living the Dhamma in line with the Dhamma, comprehending the danger in states of becoming, wander alone like a rhinoceros.
- Snp. 1.3

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Re: "Nothing exists", or (how) does it?

Postby Shonin » Tue Jun 15, 2010 9:28 pm

PeterB wrote:The point is there are no satisfactory forms of words in this area. We can pick and niggle about whether we do or dont have a self and it wont alter a thing. For start we are having a conversation in a language which like all modern languages does not translate well the meta language of Pali. Much of what passes for Buddhist discussion can be seen as simply a debate about semantics.
As one of my teachers used to say " most of the time all we actually need to do is help someone frame the question properly , which often means deploying a little Pali, and the question answers itself. "
A few days Vipassana equals a hundred years of discussion. Which is not to down play the importance of forums. It is to put them into perspective.


On the other hand, the Buddha taught non-self and he taught it not as idle philosophy but as a key aspect of the path. To insist that there is a self in that context I would suggest is confusing and unhelpful - especially for beginners.

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Re: "Nothing exists", or (how) does it?

Postby Hoo » Wed Jun 16, 2010 12:25 am

PeterB wrote:I am speaking conventional and experientially. I have taken a vow not to do anything else.. :smile:
Apology not needed.

:anjali:


Hear, hear! This is another case where my silence would probably serve better than my speech :) So I think I'd better do that.

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Re: "Nothing exists", or (how) does it?

Postby sukhamanveti » Wed Jun 16, 2010 1:20 am

Shonin wrote:Hi Anna,

I think we need to define our terms clearly here.

Annapurna wrote:I do have a self, I feel. I am clearly not my cat, which had another self, and I am not my best friend, she has her own self.

But we don't have a permanent self. Right. Right?

So the statement "we don't have a self" seems again incomplete to me, because, ideally, it should read: "We don't have a permanent self, but a temporary self".

Is this correct understanding?

I'm sorry if I am giving you all stress with this, but it just makes no sense to me put in any other way, it may be difficulty with words! -please bear with me,- although I have the same trouble in German!


It isn't correct understanding Buddhism to say that you temporarily have a self and then you stop having a self. This sort of view is associated with Annihilationism and Materialism, which Buddha rejected.

Of course you feel, you have a sense of identity, you have a personality, there is physical and mental space between you and your cat. Yes you exist in this way. And so do I. We all have different thoughts and tendencies and we are in different places in space. When you pinch yourself it hurts and you can't read my thoughts. But Anatta is not a denial of that. Atta is an inherent nature, an absolute identity, an essence. Are these phenomena due to an Atta or are they due to causes and conditions with a mere appearance of you having or being an essence?

When 'you feel' what is it that is actually experienced? The phenomena that we call 'feelings' arise. There is also identification with those feelings since you experience them as 'you' or 'yours'. This identification produces the compelling illusion that it is a self or is due to a self, the existence of which is never directly observed, it is just kind of implied by mental processes. In reality identification is another process / phenomenon. So, phenomena of feeling are arising and phenomena of identification (a kind of grasping) are arising. There is no inherent nature involved.

What is temporary is your body, your personality, your mental states etc. Yet none of these things is due to being/having a self (in the Buddhist sense), so there is no self that arises and no self that comes to an end.


I think it is worth noting that the Buddha also often used the word "self" or atta in the conventional sense, as a convenient way to refer to a confluence of the Five Aggregates, like you or me. He denied it in the ultimate sense, as an independently-existing, unchanging, blissful essence, but embraced it as a conventional designation. To quote Maurice Walshe's intro to the Digha Nikaya, "In the same way, all such expressions as 'I', 'self', and so on are always in accordance with conventional truth, and the Buddha never hesitated to use the word atta 'self'... in its conventional and convenient sense." I think that an excellent example of this is chapter 12 of the Dhammapada, as is especially evident in more literal translations. "If one knew the self to be dear, one would guard it well." (Attānañce piyaṃ jaññā...verse 157 or Dh. 12.1) "The self is indeed the lord of the self..." (Attā hi attano nātho, verse 160 or Dh. 12.4) "By the self alone is evil done..." (Attanā hi kataṃ pāpaṃ, v. 161 or Dh. 12.5). These are among the passages that give misinformed people the impression that the Buddha taught an Upanishadic Atman (something he repeatedly refuted in such passages as MN 22:15, 22-23, 25, etc.). Steven Collins also addresses this in section 2.2 of his excellent book Selfless Persons. He mentions such Pali terms attavetana ("supporting oneself," in the ordinary sense, not supporting an Atman), khematta ("at peace with himself"), attanuvada ("self-reproach"), etc.

My point is merely that one can use the word "self" to refer to a confluence of the Five Aggregates without violating the doctrine and method of Anatta or Not-Self. (For a variety of false "Selves," see, for example, the Brahmajala Sutta.)
Sīlaṃ balaṃ appaṭimaṃ.
Sīlaṃ āvudhamuttamaṃ.
Sīlamābharaṇaṃ seṭṭhaṃ.
Sīlaṃ kavacamabbhutaṃ.


Virtue is a matchless power.
Virtue is the greatest weapon.
Virtue is the best adornment.
Virtue is a wonderful armor.

Theragatha 614


Sabbapāpassa akaraṇaṃ,
kusalassa upasampadā,
Sacittapariyodapanaṃ,
etaṃ buddhāna sāsanaṃ.


Refraining from all wrong-doing,
Undertaking the good,
Purifying the mind,
This is the teaching of the buddhas.

Dhammapada v. 183/14.5

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Re: "Nothing exists", or (how) does it?

Postby ground » Wed Jun 16, 2010 3:00 am

If someone says "nothing exists" and believes this then this might be the result of being frustrated by things not existing the way they have been supposed to exist.

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Re: "Nothing exists", or (how) does it?

Postby Shonin » Wed Jun 16, 2010 4:48 am

sukhamanveti wrote:My point is merely that one can use the word "self" to refer to a confluence of the Five Aggregates without violating the doctrine and method of Anatta or Not-Self. (For a variety of false "Selves," see, for example, the Brahmajala Sutta.)


A very reasonable point. I'm sure there was a lot of confusion about what was meant at that time too. So, even though this may be the case, I still think it is worth making clear linguistic distinctions in order to minimise confusion.

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Re: "Nothing exists", or (how) does it?

Postby Annapurna » Wed Jun 16, 2010 7:37 am

Shonin wrote:
PeterB wrote:The point is there are no satisfactory forms of words in this area. We can pick and niggle about whether we do or dont have a self and it wont alter a thing. For start we are having a conversation in a language which like all modern languages does not translate well the meta language of Pali. Much of what passes for Buddhist discussion can be seen as simply a debate about semantics.
As one of my teachers used to say " most of the time all we actually need to do is help someone frame the question properly , which often means deploying a little Pali, and the question answers itself. "
A few days Vipassana equals a hundred years of discussion. Which is not to down play the importance of forums. It is to put them into perspective.


On the other hand, the Buddha taught non-self and he taught it not as idle philosophy but as a key aspect of the path. To insist that there is a self in that context I would suggest is confusing and unhelpful - especially for beginners.


The whole topic is about what is helpful for a beginner, and what will throw him off?

Twinner in ZFI has told us he can't handle "nothing exists", as it flies in the face of his experience of living in a body and having a personality. A simple misunderstanding.

But as long as beginners will get intimated by a terminology that is usually ad hoc misunderstood in the West, then we will continue losing some newcomers.

And who wants this result?
I feel, we should not talk in insider lingo to those who are not prepared to deal with terms like this.

That is basically my whole point.

It would also be helpful to explain words like 'not self', 'anatta' and 'shunyata' with beginners if they are not familiar with them.

A good ol' e sangha rule was to add a short explanation in brackets, and I kindly suggest we do that here in "discovering Theravada " as well.

:anjali:
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Re: "Nothing exists", or (how) does it?

Postby Shonin » Wed Jun 16, 2010 8:31 am

Annapurna wrote:Twinner in ZFI has told us he can't handle "nothing exists", as it flies in the face of his experience of living in a body and having a personality. A simple misunderstanding.

But as long as beginners will get intimated by a terminology that is usually ad hoc misunderstood in the West, then we will continue losing some newcomers.

And who wants this result?
I feel, we should not talk in insider lingo to those who are not prepared to deal with terms like this.

That is basically my whole point.

It would also be helpful to explain words like 'not self', 'anatta' and 'shunyata' with beginners if they are not familiar with them.

A good ol' e sangha rule was to add a short explanation in brackets, and I kindly suggest we do that here in "discovering Theravada " as well.


Good idea :smile:

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Re: "Nothing exists", or (how) does it?

Postby PeterB » Wed Jun 16, 2010 8:42 am

You see Shonin I am of the school that says that THE Buddha taught " No Soul " ( an-atman ) , not no self. I reached that conclusion afer long deliberation. Thats what makes sense to me. You and others are free to reach different conclusions.

:anjali:

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Re: "Nothing exists", or (how) does it?

Postby PeterB » Wed Jun 16, 2010 8:54 am

While not disageeing with your point Anna can I just say that " lingo " is slightly perjorative in this context...lingo translates as "jargon" and I dont think its that.

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Re: "Nothing exists", or (how) does it?

Postby Shonin » Wed Jun 16, 2010 9:11 am

PeterB wrote:You see Shonin I am of the school that says that THE Buddha taught " No Soul " ( an-atman ) , not no self. I reached that conclusion afer long deliberation. Thats what makes sense to me. You and others are free to reach different conclusions.


Yes, but do we? Or are we just using different words?

On this point, I think that it's pretty clear that it's the latter . For me what is important is what terms are the clearest. And I'd argue that 'no soul' is open to much misinterpretation too and that 'self' (with some explanation) is pretty clear and has the advantage of being a literal translation of 'atta'.

But yes 'no soul' is another valid way of saying it.

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Re: "Nothing exists", or (how) does it?

Postby kannada » Wed Jun 16, 2010 10:48 am

Annapurna wrote:When some spiritual dudes explained to me, in my beginner's days:

"Nothing exists."

--I thought: B$. :shock:
Obviously I exist, especially when my body is aching I know it for sure.

Back then, -and I still see it happening to others today, "nothing exists", is the ONE sentence that, tossed into the arena without an explanation, throws people off, before they even get a chance to get to know the teachings of the Buddha.

Therefore, I find it a dangerous sentence, which should be avoided when dealing with unprepared minds.

It makes absolutely no sense to them, and brings Buddhism into discredit.

(From another Forum) And where did you get the idea that nothing exists? I broke my little toe on the base of a bed once, how did that happen? Clearly things exist in that sense.
EDIT TO ADD: They just don't exist in an absolute sense. In fact, if my toe existed in an absolute sense it would be permanent and unchanging and thus would have been impossible to break.


Can we discuss and clarify "existence and non-existence" in a beginner friendly way here?

with metta,

Anna :anjali:

Hi Anna,
'Things', 'existence', 'reality' etc are all products of assertion - that (nama(h)) is their only 'reality'. Where there is assertion there is 'existence' - as the thing-in-itself. Where there is no assertion there is no existent 'thing'.

However this is light years from the erroneous (and philosophically inept) notion that "nothing exists" for the statement implies that an existent can be made from nothing, i.e. nothing actually exists.

k
Just a view - nothing more...

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Re: "Nothing exists", or (how) does it?

Postby Annapurna » Wed Jun 16, 2010 11:44 am

PeterB wrote:While not disageeing with your point Anna can I just say that " lingo " is slightly perjorative in this context...lingo translates as "jargon" and I dont think its that.


Sure, thank you. I admit some English subtleties are still escaping me, but I go after them with a club.... ;)
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Re: "Nothing exists", or (how) does it?

Postby Annapurna » Wed Jun 16, 2010 11:53 am

kannada wrote:
Annapurna wrote:When some spiritual dudes explained to me, in my beginner's days:

"Nothing exists."

--I thought: B$. :shock:
Obviously I exist, especially when my body is aching I know it for sure.

Back then, -and I still see it happening to others today, "nothing exists", is the ONE sentence that, tossed into the arena without an explanation, throws people off, before they even get a chance to get to know the teachings of the Buddha.

Therefore, I find it a dangerous sentence, which should be avoided when dealing with unprepared minds.

It makes absolutely no sense to them, and brings Buddhism into discredit.

(From another Forum) And where did you get the idea that nothing exists? I broke my little toe on the base of a bed once, how did that happen? Clearly things exist in that sense.
EDIT TO ADD: They just don't exist in an absolute sense. In fact, if my toe existed in an absolute sense it would be permanent and unchanging and thus would have been impossible to break.


Can we discuss and clarify "existence and non-existence" in a beginner friendly way here?

with metta,

Anna :anjali:

Hi Anna,
'Things', 'existence', 'reality' etc are all products of assertion - that (nama(h)) is their only 'reality'. Where there is assertion there is 'existence' - as the thing-in-itself. Where there is no assertion there is no existent 'thing'.

However this is light years from the erroneous (and philosophically inept) notion that "nothing exists" for the statement implies that an existent can be made from nothing, i.e. nothing actually exists.

k


What is (nama(h))?

Where there is assertion there is 'existence' - as the thing-in-itself. Where there is no assertion there is no existent 'thing'.


That's again one of the things I can't warp my mind around.

A tree does exist, whether I assert that it is or not, right?
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