"The Deathless" (amata)

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

Re: "The Deathless" (amata)

Postby nowheat » Fri Mar 30, 2012 7:20 am

tiltbillings wrote:Where I would differ from what you said is this: Rather than saying "Nibanna is not subject to coming or going," I would say: "Not subject to coming and going is nibbana."


Nice phrasing.

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Re: "The Deathless" (amata)

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Mar 30, 2012 9:56 am

nowheat wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:Where I would differ from what you said is this: Rather than saying "Nibanna is not subject to coming or going," I would say: "Not subject to coming and going is nibbana."


Nice phrasing.
I have my moments as few and far between as they may be. So, thanks.
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 Deathless" (amata)

Postby Ben » Sun Apr 01, 2012 6:27 am

Courtesy of Dhammatube on FB

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[The ordinary person] "He perceives Nibbana as Nibbana. Having perceived Nibbana as Nibbana, he conceives [himself as] Nibbana, he conceives [himself] in Nibbana, he conceives [himself apart] from Nibbana, he conceives Nibbana to be 'mine', he delights in Nibbana. Why is that? Because he has not fully understood it..."

[The Sekha disciple in higher training] "Having directly known Nibbana as Nibbana, he should not conceive [himself as] Nibbana, he should not conceive [himself] in Nibbana, he should not conceive [himself apart] from Nibbana, he should not conceive Nibbana to be 'mine', he should not delight in Nibbana. Why is that? So that he may fully understand it..."

[The Arahant] "Having directly known Nibbana as Nibbana, he does not conceive [himself as] Nibbana, he does not conceive [himself] in Nibbana, he does not conceive [himself apart] from Nibbana, he does not conceive Nibbana to be 'mine', he does not delight in Nibbana. Why is that? Because he is free from delusion through the destruction of delusion..."

[The Tathagata] "Having directly known Nibbana as Nibbana, he does not conceive [himself as] Nibbana, he does not conceive [himself] in Nibbana, he does not conceive [himself apart] from Nibbana, he does not conceive Nibbana to be 'mine', he does not delight in Nibbana. Why is that? Because he has understood that delight is the root of suffering, and that with being [as condition] there is birth, and that for whatever has come to be there is ageing and death...through the complete destruction, fading away, cessation, giving up, and relinquishing of cravings, the Tathagata has awakened to supreme full enlightenment."

Mulapariyaya Sutta (Majjhima Nikaya 1)
"One cannot step twice into the same river, nor can one grasp any mortal substance in a stable condition, but it scatters and again gathers; it forms and dissolves, and approaches and departs."

- Hereclitus


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Re: "The Deathless" (amata)

Postby nowheat » Mon May 21, 2012 9:34 pm

I promised, a few months back, to post a note when the paper I've been making reference to in this thread comes out. Here is the note. The paper is available (at a cost, unfortunately) here:

http://www.ocbs.org/journal

and abstracts for the issue can be found here:

http://www.ocbs.org/journal/list-of-abstracts-for-the-current-volume

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Re: "The Deathless" (amata)

Postby tiltbillings » Mon May 21, 2012 11:39 pm

nowheat wrote:I promised, a few months back, to post a note when the paper I've been making reference to in this thread comes out. Here is the note. The paper is available (at a cost, unfortunately) here:

http://www.ocbs.org/journal

and abstracts for the issue can be found here:

http://www.ocbs.org/journal/list-of-abstracts-for-the-current-volume

Metta
Actually, why not quote (fair use a bit of the article that relates to this thread, please. I'd love to see what is said.
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 Deathless" (amata)

Postby nowheat » Tue May 22, 2012 4:22 pm

tiltbillings wrote:]Actually, why not quote (fair use a bit of the article that relates to this thread, please. I'd love to see what is said.

Mostly because I don't think any quotation is going to give the thesis a chance to be understood. 20K words is me at my most succinct on this subject. I've been thinking about this for more than a year and I haven't found the right part of the beast to grasp to get the point across in a paragraph or two. I will keep thinking about it though.

Has anyone read the year-2000 paper by Joanna Jurewicz "Playing With Fire" in the Journal of the PTS? The paper starts from where she left off.

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Re: "The Deathless" (amata)

Postby nowheat » Sun Jun 10, 2012 12:26 pm

tiltbillings wrote:Actually, why not quote (fair use a bit of the article that relates to this thread, please. I'd love to see what is said.


It's not a quote from the article, but you can find a small bit of summary about the structure in this post:

http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=12369&p=192737#p192737

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Re: "The Deathless" (amata)

Postby khaaan » Mon Jul 09, 2012 5:05 am

Tilt, why did you choose to render it as "freedom from death" rather than "the destruction of death" or "the extinction of death"? As you know, those parallel the definition of nibbāna as "the destruction (or extinction) of lust, hate, and delusion", and, like your rendering, they do not reify nibbāna. I expect you considered many alternatives in the process of translation, and I was wondering why you rejected those in particular.
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Re: "The Deathless" (amata)

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Jul 09, 2012 5:41 am

khaaan wrote:Tilt, why did you choose to render it as "freedom from death" rather than "the destruction of death" or "the extinction of death"? As you know, those parallel the definition of nibbāna as "the destruction (or extinction) of lust, hate, and delusion", and, like your rendering, they do not reify nibbāna. I expect you considered many alternatives in the process of translation, and I was wondering why you rejected those in particular.
I was looking for something fairly neutral and process oriented and that would work with the various words and contexts that refer to the attainment of nibbana:


viewtopic.php?f=16&t=10965&p=166961&hilit=freedom+from+birth#p166961

Thanks for asking.
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 Deathless" (amata)

Postby khaaan » Mon Jul 09, 2012 6:34 am

"There is [nibbana], free from birth, free from becoming, free from making, free from conditioning."

Translating ajaata.m etc, by "freedom from birth," etc. supplies the implied noun via the privative a as in asankhata.

:goodpost:
The main line of reasoning behind the "freedom from" rendering seems to be that the "a-" prefix here means "without" or "free of"/"free from". Do you see the phrases "nibbāna is without death", "nibbāna is free from death", and "nibbāna is freedom from death" as all being roughly equivalent?

Also, when you say that you were looking for something fairly neutral, do you mean that you see "freedom from" as more neutral than "the destruction of"? I ask because they seem equally non-neutral to me (whereas "free from" and "without" do seem neutral).

Finally, do you have an example passage at hand in which "freedom from death" fits well, but "the destruction of death" does not? It seems to me that although both renderings introduce an additional concept (freedom and destruction/extinction, respectively) that was not explicit in the original, of the two, the latter wording is to be preferred because it at least occurs in the Suttas.
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Re: "The Deathless" (amata)

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Jul 09, 2012 6:46 am

khaaan wrote:
"There is [nibbana], free from birth, free from becoming, free from making, free from conditioning."

Translating ajaata.m etc, by "freedom from birth," etc. supplies the implied noun via the privative a as in asankhata.

:goodpost:
The main line of reasoning behind the "freedom from" rendering seems to be that the "a-" prefix here means "without" or "free of"/"free from". Do you see the phrases "nibbāna is without death", "nibbāna is free from death", and "nibbāna is freedom from death" as all being roughly equivalent?

Also, when you say that you were looking for something fairly neutral, do you mean that you see "freedom from" as more neutral than "the destruction of"? I ask because they seem equally non-neutral to me (whereas "free from" and "without" do seem neutral).
I think you are correct here. I would have no problem using "free from," except "freedom from birth" or "freedom from death" (see below) works better in the contexts of the texts I have offered.

Finally, do you have an example passage at hand in which "freedom from death" fits well, but "the destruction of death" does not? It seems to me that although both renderings introduce an additional concept (freedom and destruction/extinction, respectively) that was not explicit in the original, of the two, the latter wording is to be preferred because it at least occurs in the Suttas.


    ”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...." -- MN I 173

I don't think one is destroying death; rather, one is destroying that which makes us liable to death, thus we are free from death. Does this make sense? Sometime I get a bit too close to these things, and so it help to have another perspective.
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 Deathless" (amata)

Postby khaaan » Mon Jul 09, 2012 7:33 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...." -- MN I 173

I don't think one is destroying death; rather, one is destroying that which makes us liable to death, thus we are free from death. Does this make sense? Sometime I get a bit too close to these things, and so it help to have another perspective.


Yes, I see what you mean. As you say, it''s not that "one is destroying death", so that rendering is wrong and I understand why you rejected it. It's tricky; maybe there's no way to translate it into English in a way that's both elegant and accurate, but what do you make of this? (a slightly modified version of the translation at http://www.sacred-texts.com/bud/bits/bits071.htm)

    ”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 nibbāna, free from death, the uttermost security from the bonds -- won nibbāna, free from death, the uttermost security from the bonds...." -- MN I 173

I take it you rejected that approach because of it's inelegance, and I can't really argue with you there. It does seem a bit more faithful to the original, though, but I suppose that's rhe curse of the translator: being continually faced with that trade-off.
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Re: "The Deathless" (amata)

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Jul 09, 2012 7:43 am

khaaan wrote:
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...." -- MN I 173

I don't think one is destroying death; rather, one is destroying that which makes us liable to death, thus we are free from death. Does this make sense? Sometime I get a bit too close to these things, and so it help to have another perspective.


Yes, I see what you mean. As you say, it''s not that "one is destroying death", so that rendering is wrong and I understand why you rejected it. It's tricky; maybe there's no way to translate it into English in a way that's both elegant and accurate, but what do you make of this? (a slightly modified version of the translation at http://www.sacred-texts.com/bud/bits/bits071.htm)

    ”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 nibbāna, free from death, the uttermost security from the bonds -- won nibbāna, free from death, the uttermost security from the bonds...." -- MN I 173

I take it you rejected that approach because of it's inelegance, and I can't really argue with you there. It does seem a bit more faithful to the original, though, but I suppose that's rhe curse of the translator: being continually faced with that trade-off.
Wow. It has been a long since I looked at Henry Clarke Warren's Buddhism in Translations. As old as they are, they are still worth reading. I agree with you, that what you are offering works.
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 Deathless" (amata)

Postby kirk5a » Mon Jul 09, 2012 1:50 pm

Whatever is supposed of nibbana as far as how to think about it philosophically, here is how knowing it actually happens:
Ajaan Lee Dhammadharo wrote:The path to stream-entry is the act of focusing on physical and mental phenomena, back and forth. When events are traced back and forth — sometimes two times in succession, sometimes three, depending on the power of one's insight — physical and mental phenomena disband and change-of-lineage knowledge arises in the same instant, enabling one to see the quality within one that isn't subject to arising or passing away. This is the opening onto nibbana, appearing sharp and clear through the power of one's own discernment, bringing with it the fruition of stream-entry, the state of being a Noble Disciple in the Buddha's teaching.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai/lee/craft.html
Last edited by kirk5a on Mon Jul 09, 2012 2:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"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 Deathless" (amata)

Postby daverupa » Mon Jul 09, 2012 1:58 pm

the quality within one that isn't subject to arising or passing away


Would someone mind unpacking this?
    "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: "The Deathless" (amata)

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Jul 09, 2012 2:43 pm

daverupa wrote:
the quality within one that isn't subject to arising or passing away


Would someone mind unpacking this?
The only "quality" that is not subject arising and passing away is that there is no longer any conditioning by greed, hatred, and delusion. Anything else we are entering the realm of Hinduism.
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 Deathless" (amata)

Postby kirk5a » Mon Jul 09, 2012 5:27 pm

Ajahn Lee was not a Hindu. What he says there agrees with what is said here in the Visuddhimagga.

[THE FIRST PATH—FIRST NOBLE PERSON]
3. Herein, nothing further needs to be done by one who wants to achieve,
firstly, the knowledge of the first path. For what he needs to do has already been
done by arousing the insight that ends in conformity knowledge.
4. As soon as conformity knowledge has arisen in him in this way, and the
thick murk that hides the truths has been dispelled by the respective force peculiar
to each of the three kinds of conformity (see XXI.129f.), then his consciousness
no longer enters into or settles down on or resolves upon any field of formations
at all, or clings, cleaves or clutches on to it, but retreats, retracts and recoils as
water does from a lotus leaf, and every sign as object, every occurrence as object,
appears as an impediment.
5. Then, while every sign and occurrence appears to him as an impediment,
when conformity knowledge’s repetition has ended, change-of-lineage
knowledge arises in him, which takes as its object the signless, nonoccurrence, non-formation, cessation, Nibbána,—which knowledge passes
out of the lineage, the category, the plane, of the ordinary man and enters the
lineage, the category, the plane, of the Noble Ones,—which, being the first
adverting, the first concern, the first reaction, to Nibbána as object, fulfils the
state of a condition for the path in six ways, as proximity, [673] contiguity,
repetition, decisive-support, absence, and disappearance conditions,—which
is the culminating peak of insight,—which is irrevocable,—of which it is
said:

“How is it that understanding of emergence and turning away from the
external
1
is change-of-lineage knowledge?
“It overcomes arising, thus it is change-of-lineage. It overcomes occurrence …
[the sign … accumulation … rebirth-linking … destiny … generation … rearising … birth … ageing … sickness … death … sorrow … lamentation … ]. It
overcomes despair, thus it is change-of-lineage. It overcomes the sign of
formations externally, thus it is change-of-lineage.
“It enters into
2
non-arising, thus it is change-of-lineage. It enters into nonoccurrence, thus it is change-of-lineage … (etc.) … It enters into non-despair,
thus it is change-of-lineage. It enters into cessation, Nibbána, thus it is changeof-lineage.
“Having overcome arising, it enters into non-arising, thus it is change-oflineage …” (Paþis I 56) and so on, all of which should be quoted.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... on2011.pdf
p.701
Last edited by kirk5a on Mon Jul 09, 2012 9:47 pm, edited 2 times in total.
"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 Deathless" (amata)

Postby daverupa » Mon Jul 09, 2012 5:38 pm

I don't see the Visuddhimagga saying that the adverting to nibbana is adverting to a quality within one; it's simply not as clear as it might be, when put in such terms, which is why I pressed the point.
    "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: "The Deathless" (amata)

Postby khaaan » Mon Jul 09, 2012 6:52 pm

tiltbillings wrote:The only "quality" that is not subject arising and passing away is that there is no longer any conditioning by greed, hatred, and delusion. Anything else we are entering the realm of Hinduism.


Tilt, I don't understand why you say "there is no longer..." (and the Suttas say "the destruction of ...", which seems to amount amount to the same thing.) Consider the transition fom wordling to ariya. As I understand it, nibbāna interrupts a stream of becoming, which beforehand we refer to as a wordling and afterwards as a stream-winner. So nibbāna is involved, and yet the stream-winner is still conditioned by greed, hatred, and delusion (since the permanent absence of those things is synonymous with the attainment of arahantship). What am I missing?
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Re: "The Deathless" (amata)

Postby Nyana » Mon Jul 09, 2012 7:07 pm

kirk5a wrote:“How is it that understanding of emergence and turning away from the
external
1
is change-of-lineage knowledge?
“It overcomes arising, thus it is change-of-lineage. It overcomes occurrence …
[the sign … accumulation … rebirth-linking … destiny … generation … rearising … birth … ageing … sickness … death … sorrow … lamentation … ]. It
overcomes despair, thus it is change-of-lineage. It overcomes the sign of
formations externally, thus it is change-of-lineage.
“It enters into
2
non-arising, thus it is change-of-lineage. It enters into nonoccurrence, thus it is change-of-lineage … (etc.) … It enters into non-despair,
thus it is change-of-lineage. It enters into cessation, Nibbána, thus it is changeof-lineage.
“Having overcome arising, it enters into non-arising, thus it is change-oflineage …” (Paþis I 56) and so on, all of which should be quoted.

This part is quoted from the Paṭisambhidāmagga Ñāṇakathā. With a little help from other passages from the Psm. and the commentary we can unpack what these terms are referring to.

Arising (uppāda) means arising with previous kamma as condition. Continuance (pavatta) means continuance with kamma as condition. Sign (nimitta) means the sign of aggregates with kamma as condition. Accumulation (āyūhana) means the accumulation of kamma for future rebirth. Rebirth-linking (paṭisandhi) means rebirth-linking for future appearance. Destination (gati) means the destination of future birth. Generation (nibbatti) means the generation of the five aggregates, etc. Re-arising (upapatti) means the arising of kamma-result for the one who has been reborn. Birth (jāti) means birth with becoming (bhava) as condition. Aging (jara) means aging with birth as condition, etc. The sign of external fabrications (bahiddhā saṅkhāranimitta) means the sign of fabrications associated with specific defilements, fetters, underlying tendencies, and outflows.

Their cessations are indicated by the terms non-arising (anuppāda), non-continuance (appavatta), signless (animitta), non-accumulation (anāyūhana), non-rebirth-linking (appaṭisandhi) non-destination (agati), non-generation (anibbatti) not-rearising (anupapatti), not-born (ajāti), not-aging (ajara) without sickness (abyādhi), death-free (amata), sorrowless (asoka), without lamentation (aparideva), without despair (anupāyāsa), cessation (nirodha), and extinguishment (nibbāna).

It's important to keep in mind here that the noble paths and fruitions are always cognitions arising with concomitant mental factors. Attaining a noble path entails the arising of these supramundane minds and metal factors and the non-arising (anuppāda), non-continuance (appavatta), ... cessation (nirodha), and extinguishment (nibbāna) of fetters, mental outflows, and underlying tendencies which are terminated by that particular path. And attaining the fruition of that path entails the full extinguishment (parinibbāna) of those same fetters, etc.

For example, when one attains the fruition of stream-entry then any cognitions and mental factors which would arise in the future for a worldling are completely terminated and cease forever. When one attains the fruition of a once-returner then any cognitions and mental factors which would arise in the future for a stream-entrant are completely terminated and cease forever, and so on, for the other two paths and fruitions.
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