"The Deathless" (amata)

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby kirk5a » Wed Mar 14, 2012 12:39 am

tiltbillings wrote:
kirk5a wrote:I am curious to know whether a poster who proclaims views about "the Deathless" actually knows and sees the Deathless for him/herself or whether it's rooted in mere reading, thinking, and reasoning.
Not to worry. There is no "the Deathless" to know or see.

Another proclaimer. What is this, Karaoke for the unawakened? But ok, in the interest of safeguarding the truth, since I don't know anything about you, tell us, proclaimer, based on what, do you say that? Your pet translation of Iti 43? You better be relying on something other than that, if you're going to be so bold. Like say - your actual awakening. Otherwise - pshaw with your statement.
"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: the great rebirth debate

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Mar 14, 2012 12:52 am

kirk5a wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
kirk5a wrote:I am curious to know whether a poster who proclaims views about "the Deathless" actually knows and sees the Deathless for him/herself or whether it's rooted in mere reading, thinking, and reasoning.
Not to worry. There is no "the Deathless" to know or see.

Another proclaimer.
Not at all. "The Deathless" is just bad translation of the Pali.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby kirk5a » Wed Mar 14, 2012 12:56 am

tiltbillings wrote:Not at all. "The Deathless" is just bad translation of the Pali.

Bah.

Open are the doors to the Deathless
to those with ears.
Let them show their conviction.
Perceiving trouble, O Brahma,
I did not tell people the refined,
sublime Dhamma.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
"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: the great rebirth debate

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Mar 14, 2012 1:03 am

kirk5a wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:Not at all. "The Deathless" is just bad translation of the Pali.

Bah.
That is one of the less articulate responses I have seen in a while.

Open are the doors to the Deathless
to those with ears.
Let them show their conviction.
Perceiving trouble, O Brahma,
I did not tell people the refined,
sublime Dhamma.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
A bad translation from the Pali
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Mar 14, 2012 1:30 am

kirk5a wrote:
nowheat wrote: I am not talking about having achieved some ... Release From Death.

Well then you can't say you know what the Buddha meant by "Released" then, can you.
Well, I suppose since one is no longer reborn, one no longer dies. No point in making this complicated.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby kirk5a » Wed Mar 14, 2012 1:39 am

tiltbillings wrote:
kirk5a wrote:Bah.
That is one of the less articulate responses I have seen in a while.


It is perfectly articulate, actually, for it conveys exactly what I think of your response. It's just as I expected - something rooted in mere "translation of Pali."
"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: the great rebirth debate

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Mar 14, 2012 2:04 am

kirk5a wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
kirk5a wrote:Bah.
That is one of the less articulate responses I have seen in a while.


It is perfectly articulate, actually, for it conveys exactly what I think of your response. It's just as I expected - something rooted in mere "translation of Pali."
Which only goes to show how totally inarticulate your response is.

The Dhamma is about letting go, being free from. It is not about trying to get to some state called "the Deathless." Sounds like Hinduism.

    ”Then the group of five monks, being thus exhorted, thus instructed by me [the Buddha], being liable to birth because of self, having known the perils in what is liable to birth, seeking freedom from birth, the uttermost security from the bonds -- nibbana -- won freedom from birth, the uttermost security from the bonds -- nibbana...." -MN I 173

You can strive for "the Deathless" -- whatever that might be -- if you wish. Being free from birth and death by letting go seems to be more in line with the Buddha's teachings.

    Gone to the beyond of becoming,
    you let go of in front,
    let go of behind,
    let go of between.
    With a heart everywhere let-go,
    you don't come again to birth
    & aging.
    Dhp 348
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby nowheat » Wed Mar 14, 2012 2:06 am

tiltbillings wrote:
nowheat wrote:I am not talking about having achieved some ... Release From Death.

Well, I suppose since one is no longer reborn, one no longer dies. No point in making this complicated.


Oh but there is a point, though it's not "making" it complicated, it's in recognizing that it *is* complicated. The Buddha put so many layers into "The Deathless" that if we just latch onto one, all we see is the finger pointing at the moon, and miss the moon by an AU.


kirk5a wrote:Well then you can't say you know what the Buddha meant by "Released" then, can you.


Yes, I can, and do. The confusion here is my fault, for which I apologize. I realize now that when discussing the different universes these terms reside in, I should be careful to be specific about which death I am talking about. I should have said, "Release From Literal Death".

The perception that The Deathless is some mystical state is caused by falling for the romance of the language the Buddha was using as he subverted others' terms for their doctrines and practices to his own. The Deathless is what they sought in the Upanishads -- it's the equivalent of liberation -- and the Buddha uses the same term for the liberation he describes, but obviously he doesn't mean the same thing -- kind of strange if he was saying "after you die something wonderful will happen" just like everyone else was saying.

What I love about his definition, though, is the way his compares to everyone else's Deathless -- which were all about reaching some high state of meditation or practices in this life that would set one up for a blissful, deathless state *after death* (so much for Deathless!) -- whereas the Buddha's Deathless was all about *in this very life* and he offered up an elegantly constructed argument (DA) that not only explained what was going on, and pointed to what could be done about it (and why) but allowed him to use terms like The Deathless in a way that was consistent with his suggestion that we not concern ourselves with lasting selves and where they go at death. The man was brilliant (maybe a little too clever with these sorts of subtleties, which then get too easily misunderstood).

I am saying The Deathless isn't a great mystical state or Release From (literal) Death. I am saying it is a state of being liberated from the specific circumstances of DA, and that it is release from the Death he defined there, which is, really, just dukkha.


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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Mar 14, 2012 2:17 am

nowheat wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
nowheat wrote:I am not talking about having achieved some ... Release From Death.

Well, I suppose since one is no longer reborn, one no longer dies. No point in making this complicated.


Oh but there is a point, though it's not "making" it complicated, it's in recognizing that it *is* complicated. The Buddha put so many layers into "The Deathless" that if we just latch onto one, all we see is the finger pointing at the moon, and miss the moon by an AU.
If you want it to be complicated and that works for you, fine, but I see no point in it, either from a standpoint of practice or from a standpoint of the texts. Why shackle oneself with a confusing and unnecessary locution -- "the Deathless" -- that suggests some sort of thingie?
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby nowheat » Wed Mar 14, 2012 3:19 am

tiltbillings wrote:If you want it to be complicated and that works for you, fine, but I see no point in it, either from a standpoint of practice or from a standpoint of the texts. Why shackle oneself with a confusing and unnecessary locution -- "the Deathless" -- that suggests some sort of thingie?


I definitely agree with you about not shackling oneself, and rue that The Deathless comes with a suggestion of some sort of "thingie" but I am trying to explain that it is, at least, not a mystical thingie.

If the Buddha had been able to put the concept out there in a straightforward manner, with no unnecessary locutions (and still make converts and get his dhamma to survive) then I would not need to try to explain the complications. But we are talking about how rebirth fits in the dhamma, here in this thread, and The Deathless is a part of that.

I don't "want" it to be complicated. What I want is not relevant. I'm talking about *what is* and that is that there are many layers to the meaning the Buddha had for The Deathless.

There is nothing inherently wrong with a simple view, as long as it is accurate. If what you mean by "since one is no longer reborn, one no longer dies" matches what I mean by it, then I have nothing further to show you; but if what you mean by it differs from what I am trying to explain, then making that difference clear will necessarily require "complication". Where there was one definition (yours) there will now be at least two (yours and mine).

But in trying to show others that the dhamma I see is the dhamma in the Pali canon, I need to show the layering of what seems to us now like very complex language -- seems so because we don't have the context people had for the words and ideas when the man was actually living and talking to them -- but will have been much clearer to folks then. This is actually the heart of the argument I am making, that our "keep it simple, take the texts literally as if they were spoken to us here in this age" approach denies the Buddha his complex use of language.

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Mar 14, 2012 4:16 am

:goodpost:

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Mar 14, 2012 6:00 am

nowheat wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:If you want it to be complicated and that works for you, fine, but I see no point in it, either from a standpoint of practice or from a standpoint of the texts. Why shackle oneself with a confusing and unnecessary locution -- "the Deathless" -- that suggests some sort of thingie?


I definitely agree with you about not shackling oneself, and rue that The Deathless comes with a suggestion of some sort of "thingie" but I am trying to explain that it is, at least, not a mystical thingie.
The problem, which I think you are missing, is that the point I am making is that "the Deathless" is a bad translation.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby nowheat » Wed Mar 14, 2012 6:58 am

tiltbillings wrote:The problem, which I think you are missing, is that the point I am making is that "the Deathless" is a bad translation.


I've seen you saying that, but I haven't seen you give convincing evidence that this is so. I don't have anything to say about the supposition without anything to back it up. You cited a sutta, but didn't give any detail.

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Aloka » Wed Mar 14, 2012 11:30 am

tiltbillings wrote:. Why shackle oneself with a confusing and unnecessary locution -- "the Deathless" -- that suggests some sort of thingie?


Hi Tilt,

At Dharma Seed, there's a 25 minute talk from Ajahn Sucitto called 'Openness Merging into the Deathless'.

He says: " 'Deathless' is the mind's liberation from all clinging. "

http://www.dharmaseed.org/teacher/9/

kind regards,

Aloka
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Mar 14, 2012 4:25 pm

nowheat wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:The problem, which I think you are missing, is that the point I am making is that "the Deathless" is a bad translation.


I've seen you saying that, but I haven't seen you give convincing evidence that this is so. I don't have anything to say about the supposition without anything to back it up. You cited a sutta, but didn't give any detail.

:namaste:
Okay. We can start with this: viewtopic.php?f=13&t=10378&p=159172#p159172
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby kirk5a » Wed Mar 14, 2012 6:47 pm

tiltbillings wrote:Okay. We can start with this: viewtopic.php?f=13&t=10378&p=159172#p159172

Does anyone besides you translate it that way?
"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: the great rebirth debate

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Mar 14, 2012 7:26 pm

kirk5a wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:Okay. We can start with this: viewtopic.php?f=13&t=10378&p=159172#p159172

Does anyone besides you translate it that way?
The great Pali scholar K.R. Norman argues at length in a long essay for translating it that way. The first suggestion that I came across for questioning the standard incomprehensible translations was from Rune Johansson in his The Psychology of Nirvana.

Now, the translations I am offering are certainly grammatically defensible, but they are also doctrinally defensible and they are certainly a great deal more clear in content and meaning than the incomprehensible "the Deathless" and "There is, monks, an unborn -- unbecome -- unmade -- unfabricated."

In all the suttas where "the Deathless" is used to refer to bodhi/nibbana, one can easily plug in freedom from death. The problem with "the Deathless" is much like the problem with "buddha-nature"; it seems to suggest some sort of state of being. Freedom from death, on the other hand, refers to the process of letting go, no longer bound by the misapprehension of reality.

    Then the group of five monks, being thus exhorted, thus instructed by me [the Buddha], being liable to death because of self, having known the perils in what is liable to death, seeking the Deathless [amata.m], the uttermost security from the bonds -- nibbana -- won the Deathless, the uttermost security from the bonds -- nibbana...." -- from the PTS translation of the Majjhima Nikaya I 173

What is "the Deathless?" What does it mean? Try this:

    ”Then the group of five monks, being thus exhorted, thus instructed by me [the Buddha], being liable to death because of self, having known the perils in what is liable to death, seeking freedom from death, the uttermost security from the bonds -- nibbana -- won freedom from death, the uttermost security from the bonds -- nibbana...."

What I am offering is grammatically and doctrinally sound, and one does not have to do the mental gymnastics with freedom from death that one has to do with "the Deathless." Also, keep in mind there are no capitol letters in Pali/Sanskrit.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby kirk5a » Thu Mar 15, 2012 1:10 am

Aloka wrote:At Dharma Seed, there's a 25 minute talk from Ajahn Sucitto called 'Openness Merging into the Deathless'.

He says: " 'Deathless' is the mind's liberation from all clinging. "

http://www.dharmaseed.org/teacher/9/

kind regards,

Aloka

Thanks for that! That's the stuff. :thumbsup:

"There is the case, Ananda, where a disciple of the noble ones considers this: 'Sensuality here & now; sensuality in lives to come; sensual perceptions here & now; sensual perceptions in lives to come; forms here & now; forms in lives to come; form-perceptions here & now; form-perceptions in lives to come; perceptions of the imperturbable; perceptions of the dimension of nothingness; perceptions of the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception: that is an identity, to the extent that there is an identity. This is deathless: the liberation of the mind through lack of clinging/sustenance.'

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
"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: the great rebirth debate

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Mar 15, 2012 1:20 am

kirk5a wrote:
"There is the case, Ananda, where a disciple of the noble ones considers this: 'Sensuality here & now; sensuality in lives to come; sensual perceptions here & now; sensual perceptions in lives to come; forms here & now; forms in lives to come; form-perceptions here & now; form-perceptions in lives to come; perceptions of the imperturbable; perceptions of the dimension of nothingness; perceptions of the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception: that is an identity, to the extent that there is an identity. This is deathless: the liberation of the mind through lack of clinging/sustenance.'

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
Deathless in this text is still not an optimal translation, but notice, the translation here is not "the Deathless" which would be a far worse translation.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Thu Mar 15, 2012 9:37 am

tiltbillings wrote:
    ”Then the group of five monks, being thus exhorted, thus instructed by me [the Buddha], being liable to death because of self, having known the perils in what is liable to death, seeking freedom from death, the uttermost security from the bonds -- nibbana -- won freedom from death, the uttermost security from the bonds -- nibbana...."



I came across this passage in AN 7.70, the Arakenanusasani Sutta: Araka's Teaching
( translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu ):

"'Just as a river flowing down from the mountains, going far, its current swift, carrying everything with it, so that there is not a moment, an instant, a second where it stands still, but instead it goes & rushes & flows, in the same way, brahmans, the life of human beings is like a river flowing down from the mountains — limited, trifling, of much stress & many despairs. One should touch this [truth] like a sage, do what is skillful, follow the holy life. For one who is born there is no freedom from death."
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