Everything is impermanent??

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Everything is impermanent??

Postby seeker242 » Tue Mar 13, 2012 2:54 am

I hear people say things like "Everything is impermanent!" but is that really true? What do you all think? I hold the view that the truth of the Dhamma is not impermanent because it is not a thing that is "constructed", etc. The fact that the 5 aggregates have the nature of the 3 marks of existence is not impermanent, correct? They have always had these marks and they will always have these marks, yes? These marks are permanent, can't be removed or changed, always there. That is what the below says to me anyway. Curious to what others think. :)

"Bhikkhus, whether Tathāgatas appear or do not appear, there is always
this constantly established element of Dhamma, this fixed law of Dhamma
:
All that is conditioned and constructed is impermanent. To this aTathāgata
fully awakens and fully understands. So awakened and thus understanding,
he announces, points it out, declares, establishes, expounds, and explains it,
classifies and clarifies it: All that is conditioned is actually impermanent...
Bhikkhus, whetherTathāgatas appear or do not appear, there is always this
precedent condition and absolute of Dhamma
, this anchored law of Dhamma:
All that is conditioned and constructed is unsatisfactory, & thus suffering!
To this aTathāgata fully awakens and fully understands. So awakened and
thus understanding, he announces, points out, declares, establishes, explains,
and clarifies it: All that is conditioned and constructed is indeed Suffering!
Bhikkhus, whether Tathāgatas appear or do not appear, there is always this
situation present, a subtle truth of Dhamma
, this safe doctrine of Dhamma:
All states are without a self! To this fact anyTathāgata fully awakens and
fully understands. So awakened and understanding, he announces, points out,
declares, establishes, explains, and clarifies it: All states are without self!"
Anguttara Nikāya I 285
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Re: Everything is impermanent??

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Mar 13, 2012 3:08 am

Hi Seeker,

Yes. And, of course, the Classical Theravada (and commonsense, if you ask me :)) view is that it also makes no sense to talk about impermanence of concepts (like 1+1=2, or "self").

:anjali:
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Re: Everything is impermanent??

Postby vinasp » Tue Mar 13, 2012 3:39 am

Hi everyone,

"But, Sona, those ascetics and brahmins who understand [form], its
origin, its cessation, and the way leading to its cessation: these
I consider to be ascetics among ascetics and brahmins among brahmins,
and these venerable ones, by realizing it for themselves with direct
knowledge, in this very life enter and abide in the goal of asceticism
and the goal of brahminhood."

Replace [form] with [feeling], [perception], [volitional formations],
and [consciousness].

[ Bhikkhu Bodhi, Connected Discourses, page 889, SN 22.50 - Sona (2) ]

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: Everything is impermanent??

Postby vinasp » Tue Mar 13, 2012 4:36 am

Hi everyone,

"[Form], Ananda, is impermanent, conditioned, dependently arisen, subject
to destruction, to vanishing, to fading away, to cessation. Through its
cessation, cessation is spoken of."

Replace [Form] with [Feeling], [Perception], [Volitional formations],
and [Consciousness].

[ Bhikkhu Bodhi, Connected Discourses, page 871, part of SN 22.21 ]

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: Everything is impermanent??

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Mar 13, 2012 4:58 am

Greetings seeker242,

My apologies in advance that I do not have a source for this, as I cannot recall from where "thus have I heard"... but the Classical position espoused in the commentarial tradition is that nibbana is permanent.

seeker242 wrote:The fact that the 5 aggregates have the nature of the 3 marks of existence is not impermanent, correct? They have always had these marks and they will always have these marks, yes?

As Mike says, Classical Theravada doesn't go there, presumably as it doesn't regards laws/principles etc. as paramattha-dhammas. Principles like the Dhamma, kamma etc. are said in the suttas to be steadfast and such but I don't recall if they're explicitly called permanent. It's tricky, because to say something is permanent is to say that it exists, and there are different and conflicting views on what Classical Theravada regards as "existence", some of which are addressed in...

The Dhamma Theory: Philosophical Cornerstone of the ABHIDHAMMA by Y. Karunadasa
http://www.abhidhamma.org/dhamma_theory ... l_corn.htm

The "fivefold niyama" (specifically the natural phenomenal sequence, aka dhamma-niyama), as discussed in the following link may be of relevance, and may be a more useful way, from a Classical Theravada perspective, of addressing your query...

THE NIYAMA-DIPANI: The Manual of Cosmic Order
by Mahathera Ledi Sayadaw, Aggamahapandita, D.Litt.
http://www.dhammaweb.net/html/view.php?id=5

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


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
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Re: Everything is impermanent??

Postby vinasp » Tue Mar 13, 2012 5:33 am

Hi seeker242,

Quote: "I hear people say things like "Everything is impermanent!" but is that really true?"

In my opinion, the Buddha never said that. Those who say this probably
mean that nothing should be clung to.

Quote:"I hold the view that the truth of the Dhamma is not impermanent because it is not a thing that is "constructed", etc."

I agree. The Buddha said: "All constructed things are impermanent."

Quote:"The fact that the 5 aggregates have the nature of the 3 marks of existence is not impermanent, correct?"

As a general truth it is true at all times for all people. But for a given
individual it may, or may not, be true.

Quote:"They have always had these marks and they will always have these marks, yes?"

Again, as a general truth - yes. For an individual it may not be true.

Quote:"These marks are permanent, can't be removed or changed, always there."

No. Those are characteristics of the aggregates, but when the five aggregates have ceased, then they are no longer present, so they cannot have those characteristics.

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: Everything is impermanent??

Postby Goofaholix » Tue Mar 13, 2012 5:47 am

seeker242 wrote:I hear people say things like "Everything is impermanent!" but is that really true? What do you all think? I hold the view that the truth of the Dhamma is not impermanent because it is not a thing that is "constructed", etc. The fact that the 5 aggregates have the nature of the 3 marks of existence is not impermanent, correct? They have always had these marks and they will always have these marks, yes? These marks are permanent, can't be removed or changed, always there. That is what the below says to me anyway. Curious to what others think. :)


I think you just need to add a space, so "Every thing is impermanent", truths and principles are not things obviously.

I'm not necessarily saying this is exactly what the Buddha meant, but it is also a demonstration of how the way truths and principles can be viewed differently, therefore as a process of evolving understanding are also subject to impermanence.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
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Re: Everything is impermanent??

Postby daverupa » Tue Mar 13, 2012 10:37 am

"sabbe sankhara anicca", not "everything is impermanent". Perhaps "all concoctions are impermanent" or "...fabrications...". It is the case that the N8P is such (MN 44).
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Everything is impermanent??

Postby Kim OHara » Tue Mar 13, 2012 10:54 am

daverupa wrote:"sabbe sankhara anicca", not "everything is impermanent". Perhaps "all concoctions are impermanent" or "...fabrications...". It is the case that the N8P is such (MN 44).

That agrees completely with common sense, since the 8FNP as a set of statements did not exist until the Buddha put it together for us.

:reading:
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Re: Everything is impermanent??

Postby Zom » Tue Mar 13, 2012 12:01 pm

I hear people say things like "Everything is impermanent!" but is that really true? What do you all think? I hold the view that the truth of the Dhamma is not impermanent because it is not a thing that is "constructed",


Don't confuse things with abstractions.

Dhamma is not a thing. Time is not a thing. Triangle is not a thing. Width is not a thing. Length is not a thing. How all these can be permanent/impemanent when they are just conceptions, labels, ideas and not existing things?
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Re: Everything is impermanent??

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Mar 13, 2012 6:57 pm

Zom wrote: How all these can be permanent/impemanent when they are just conceptions, labels, ideas and not existing things?

Exactly...

:anjali:
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Re: Everything is impermanent??

Postby seeker242 » Thu Mar 15, 2012 12:36 pm

Thanks for the comments! Good ones! :)
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Re: Everything is impermanent??

Postby kirk5a » Thu Mar 15, 2012 12:55 pm

mikenz66 wrote:
Zom wrote: How all these can be permanent/impemanent when they are just conceptions, labels, ideas and not existing things?

Exactly...

:anjali:
Mike

How are conceptions, labels, and ideas impermanent? There is no question. Do they arise and cease? Yes.
"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: Everything is impermanent??

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Mar 15, 2012 7:42 pm

Hi Kirk,

Tell me how "1+1=2" arises, exists, and ceases then. How do you observe that?

Thoughts about the concept arise, exist, and cease... We can observe that:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
"And what is the development of concentration that, when developed & pursued, leads to mindfulness & alertness? There is the case where feelings are known to the monk as they arise, known as they persist, known as they subside. Perceptions are known to him as they arise, known as they persist, known as they subside. Thoughts are known to him as they arise, known as they persist, known as they subside. This is the development of concentration that, when developed & pursued, leads to mindfulness & alertness.

"And what is the development of concentration that, when developed & pursued, leads to the ending of the effluents? There is the case where a monk remains focused on arising & falling away with reference to the five clinging-aggregates: 'Such is form, such its origination, such its passing away. Such is feeling, such its origination, such its passing away. Such is perception, such its origination, such its passing away. Such are fabrications, such their origination, such their passing away. Such is consciousness, such its origination, such its disappearance.' This is the development of concentration that, when developed & pursued, leads to the ending of the effluents.


I know this is a point of disagreement and that members such as Retro share your view. So be it. I don't find their arguments convincing, and they don't find mine convincing, so we'll just have to agree to differ.

:anjali:
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Re: Everything is impermanent??

Postby kirk5a » Thu Mar 15, 2012 7:49 pm

mikenz66 wrote:Hi Kirk,

Tell me how "1+1=2" arises, exists, and ceases then. How do you observe that?

Thoughts about the concept arise, exist, and cease...

Other than in thoughts - where else is this "1+1=2" ? We can write it down, type it on a computer screen... ok. All impermanent. Now maybe you are thinking that the truth of 1+1=2 never changes, or the meaning never changes... or something? But where was this "1+1=2" before humans invented math? If it's woven into the very fabric of the universe or something, well then again, it would be something that arises in dependence upon the arising of the universe. Which is impermanent. If there is 1, then I suppose there will be 1+1. What about where 1 has no application?
"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: Everything is impermanent??

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Mar 15, 2012 9:51 pm

Hi Kirk,

As I said, we will probably never agree. But to me, however you want to label it, there is a very obvious difference between the conditioned physical/mental activities (i.e. khandhas) that anicca applies to (as in my above quote) and concepts such as "1+1=2" or "self". The "thinking about" those concepts rises, persists, and ceases. The concepts are just concepts.

It's very likely the labels that are the sticking point...

What I'm saying, is, of course basically standard Theravada doctrine, but I don't think one needs to drag in the whole baggage of paramattha dhammas and so on to appreciate these distinctions.

Some arguments against this view seem to be arguing that the khandhas are conditioned, so therefore are also "conceptual", so the distinction into "conceptual" and "non-conceptual" is useless. There is, of course, some fuzziness in any classification. However, I think that the argument glosses over some important and useful distinctions.

:anjali:
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Re: Everything is impermanent??

Postby Kim OHara » Thu Mar 15, 2012 11:57 pm

mikenz66 wrote:Hi Kirk,

As I said, we will probably never agree. But to me, however you want to label it, there is a very obvious difference between the conditioned physical/mental activities (i.e. khandhas) that anicca applies to (as in my above quote) and concepts such as "1+1=2" or "self". The "thinking about" those concepts rises, persists, and ceases. The concepts are just concepts.

It's very likely the labels that are the sticking point...

Hi, Mike, Kirk, et al,
Platonic idealism could creep in here, for good or ill. It could be argued that any given triangle, for instance, is impermanent but triangularity is permanent ...
:stirthepot:

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Re: Everything is impermanent??

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Mar 16, 2012 12:31 am

Kim O'Hara wrote:[
Platonic idealism could creep in here, for good or ill. It could be argued that any given triangle, for instance, is impermanent but triangularity is permanent ...

Yes, that's exactly the sort of error that I think one makes by assuming that anicca applies everywhere.

It would be meaningless, and certainly not conducive to liberation, to try to discern the anicca-ness of triangularity.

:anjali:
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Re: Everything is impermanent??

Postby Kenshou » Fri Mar 16, 2012 1:41 am

I wonder if part of the difference in perspective is a difference in what part of a "concept" is the most salient.

If we consider a concept in terms of what it represents in general as a single thing, we could say that anicca doesn't apply because that generalized nature of the concept is in fact, not something that actually exists out there somehow, it's just an abstraction. (intentionally avoiding a Platonic implication, here)

If we consider a concept in terms of the parts that comprise it, it might make sense to say that a concept is subject to anicca because all the actual mental pieces and events which make it up it can be seen to change over time. When I saw a green apple for the first time, my concept of "apple" gained a new association. I don't think it's too dangerous to say that at that point, my concept changed. And just as we learn new things, we forget, too.

I don't think either is really wrong but it depends how you look at it.
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