The no-doer in the modern world

Theravāda in the 21st century - modern applications of ancient wisdom

The no-doer in the modern world

Postby Sarva » Tue Apr 10, 2012 11:05 am

Hi All
I would like a right view on the concept of the no-doer and actions to live well in the modern world where mortagages need to be paid, jobs maintained, investment choices, children disciplined and demanding people obeyed etc.

My understanding is that the no-doer will find him/herself in this sitatuion from past karma e.g. from establishing a family and making choices when they considered themselves to be the doer.

How is the no-doer proactive in future decisions and choices regarding family or self maintenance to be made. If there is no-doer of actions and choices, rather choices appear to be made then how is the no-doer proactive and successfull in the modern world? Surely it isn't about dropping out of society?

I have seen this on other threads and sources and feel it is relevant:

"Mere suffering exists, no sufferer is found;

The deeds are, but no doer of the deeds is there;

Nibbāna is, but not the man that enters it;

The path is, but no traveler on it is seen."

example link: http://www.palikanon.com/english/wtb/n_r/nibbaana.htm

Metta :heart:
“Both formerly & now, it is only stress that I describe, and the cessation of stress.” — SN 22:86
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Re: The no-doer in the modern world

Postby daverupa » Tue Apr 10, 2012 11:20 am

Sarva wrote:... :heart:


The passage says no doer is found, yet you seem to want to find a no-doer in order to do what that no-doer would do; in other words, this seems to be a question borne of conceiving.

MN 2 wrote:"This is how he attends inappropriately: ...Or else he is inwardly perplexed about the immediate present: 'Am I? Am I not? What am I? How am I? Where has this being come from? Where is it bound?'
    "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 no-doer in the modern world

Postby DarwidHalim » Tue Apr 10, 2012 12:04 pm

"Mere suffering exists, no sufferer is found;

The deeds are, but no doer of the deeds is there;

Nibbāna is, but not the man that enters it;

The path is, but no traveler on it is seen."


Those quotation are not right.

1. If there is a suffering, how can there is no sufferer? Suffering has to occur to the sufferer. If there is no sufferer but you can have suffering, you are saying there is no sun, but there is light of sun.

2. The deed and the doer has the same issue with no 1. If there are deeds, but there is no doer, it is like you can get slap without anyone slap you.

3. The path is, but no traveler on it is seen.
Since there is no traveler, what is the use of the path?
I am not here nor there.
I am not right nor wrong.
I do not exist neither non-exist.
I am not I nor non-I.
I am not in samsara nor nirvana.
To All Buddhas, I bow down for the teaching of emptiness. Thank You!
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Re: The no-doer in the modern world

Postby Sarva » Tue Apr 10, 2012 12:38 pm

daverupa wrote:
Sarva wrote:... :heart:


The passage says no doer is found, yet you seem to want to find a no-doer in order to do what that no-doer would do; in other words, this seems to be a question borne of conceiving.

MN 2 wrote:"This is how he attends inappropriately: ...Or else he is inwardly perplexed about the immediate present: 'Am I? Am I not? What am I? How am I? Where has this being come from? Where is it bound?'

Dear Dave
Yes, you help me see the error, it is helpful to have been shown, although I need to consider this further it seems. It is now clear that even complicated decisions and actions are still not being done by a doer. The conceit is indeed deep, how are actions to be understood when the conceit is removed completely, is there "just this happening now"?

In the sutta you quoted I came to the final paragraph, quoted below. In this there is abandoning by restraining, tolerating, avoiding, destroying and developing. I understand these actions are put in motion through a being having followed the Eight Fold Noble Path and my impression is that this is the final unbinding in action, so to speak:
"When a monk's fermentations that should be abandoned by seeing have been abandoned by seeing, his fermentations that should be abandoned by restraining have been abandoned by restraining, his fermentations that should be abandoned by using have been abandoned by using, his fermentations that should be abandoned by tolerating have been abandoned by tolerating, his fermentations that should be abandoned by avoiding have been abandoned by avoiding, his fermentations that should be abandoned by destroying have been abandoned by destroying, his fermentations that should be abandoned by developing have been abandoned by developing, then he is called a monk who dwells restrained with the restraint of all the fermentations. He has severed craving, thrown off the fetters, and — through the right penetration of conceit — has made an end of suffering & stress."


This also applies to my more complicated actions e.g. mortgage and making a living. Basically 'success' is relative and it may not be relative to those who are free from greed, hatred and delusion and likewise, those under the influence of these.

Thanks and metta
Last edited by Sarva on Tue Apr 10, 2012 12:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
“Both formerly & now, it is only stress that I describe, and the cessation of stress.” — SN 22:86
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Re: The no-doer in the modern world

Postby Sarva » Tue Apr 10, 2012 12:40 pm

DarwidHalim wrote:
"Mere suffering exists, no sufferer is found;

The deeds are, but no doer of the deeds is there;

Nibbāna is, but not the man that enters it;

The path is, but no traveler on it is seen."


Those quotation are not right.

1. If there is a suffering, how can there is no sufferer? Suffering has to occur to the sufferer. If there is no sufferer but you can have suffering, you are saying there is no sun, but there is light of sun.

2. The deed and the doer has the same issue with no 1. If there are deeds, but there is no doer, it is like you can get slap without anyone slap you.

3. The path is, but no traveler on it is seen.
Since there is no traveler, what is the use of the path?

Hello Darwid
You raise some good questions. My understanding is that all is happening but they are not happening to any person (anatta). So their is still suffering, deeds and a path, but from the inside looking out, these are just occurrences without a witness (so to speak). I would like to leave this for others, more knowledgeable in Buddhism to explain this to us, if they wish, please.

Thanks.
“Both formerly & now, it is only stress that I describe, and the cessation of stress.” — SN 22:86
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Re: The no-doer in the modern world

Postby Alobha » Tue Apr 10, 2012 1:05 pm

Sarva wrote:You raise some good questions. My understanding is that all is happening but they are not happening to any person (anatta).


Because there is no person. The self / the person is just a category, a construct, that sums up many phenomenas (the kkhandas). It's similar to a house. Just like a house is a package of wood, stone, cement, wires, glass and various other material put together in a specific way, there is no "house" itself. It's just a non-existing construct. it's just a term to sum up these processes, but something like a house cannot be found in any of these components.
It's the same with the person. There is suffering. headache, chestpain, thoughts, emotions, a body, but there is no self or person.
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Re: The no-doer in the modern world

Postby santa100 » Tue Apr 10, 2012 1:05 pm

Actually, focusing too much on the "self" is what makes it's much harder for mortgages to be paid, jobs to be maintained, children disciplined, etc..Selfish concerns are responsible for all sort of problems from dysfunctional families, broken homes to the world financial crisis. The non-self practice of not I, not mine, not myself not only brings great fruits and great results in the long term, but also more immediate practical benefits to one's daily life. The more the practice, the more clear the mind becomes, thus allowing one to makes wholesome and intelligent decision quicker, which in turn, solves a lot of the daily problems one's facing..
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Re: The no-doer in the modern world

Postby SDC » Tue Apr 10, 2012 1:23 pm

Due to a habitual, life long, misinterpretation of reality, the process of perception and conception continues to lead to the brazen conclusion that within every experience there “exists”, with 100% certainty, both a subject and an object. This extra step of breaking down the experience into parts (a self in a world), something which we could/would never imagine as being wrong, is where the Buddha explains the mistake is made. With this extra step the experience as whole is completely overlooked and only the self and the world are being considered. In other words, the canvas is irrelevant - the details of the painting are all that are considered.

There should never be any doubt that something is happening in life (in modern or ancient times), because the experience is happening, but only the experience. Allowing that extra step to be the foundation goes too far. It is an attempt at an explanation of experience and life which the Buddha shows us is ultimately not correct and causes suffering.

An “I” does not exist in a “world”; although from a conventional standpoint this understanding CAN NOT BE DENIED, especially when it comes to social purposes. Even the arahant, in order to communicate, will permit it.

Just my 2 cents.
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Re: The no-doer in the modern world

Postby Ben » Tue Apr 10, 2012 1:26 pm

DarwidHalim wrote:
"Mere suffering exists, no sufferer is found;

The deeds are, but no doer of the deeds is there;

Nibbāna is, but not the man that enters it;

The path is, but no traveler on it is seen."


Those quotation are not right.


For there is suffering, but none who suffers;
Doing exists although there is no doer.
Extinction is but no extinguished person;
Although there is a path, there is no goer.

-- Vism XVI:90


Are you sure that its not your understanding that's in error?
kind regards,

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Re: The no-doer in the modern world

Postby DarwidHalim » Tue Apr 10, 2012 1:48 pm

Your topic is actually the topic of emptiness of inherent existence.

This is a very big topic.

We have to be able to see that in our daily appearances, those appearances are the prove that you cannot have self inside it. We have to be able to see it precisely that at any time, whatever things occurring, they are the affirmative fact that they themselves cannot have self.

BEcause there is no self, all those diversity of appearances are then possible.

No experiencer, no experiencing.
It is not total blankness because there are appearances.

Inside those appearances, there are no subject (experiencer), no verb (because no subject), and no object (because without subject and verb, you cannot have object).

If you can see the affirmative between emptiness of self and appearances, the confusion will clear or at least the journey will be much smoother.

But, if we see the emptiness of self and appearances are contradicting each other, it is really really difficult to hit the essence of buddhism.
I am not here nor there.
I am not right nor wrong.
I do not exist neither non-exist.
I am not I nor non-I.
I am not in samsara nor nirvana.
To All Buddhas, I bow down for the teaching of emptiness. Thank You!
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Re: The no-doer in the modern world

Postby DarwidHalim » Tue Apr 10, 2012 1:53 pm

Ben wrote:
DarwidHalim wrote:
"Mere suffering exists, no sufferer is found;

The deeds are, but no doer of the deeds is there;

Nibbāna is, but not the man that enters it;

The path is, but no traveler on it is seen."


Those quotation are not right.


For there is suffering, but none who suffers;
Doing exists although there is no doer.
Extinction is but no extinguished person;
Although there is a path, there is no goer.

-- Vism XVI:90


Are you sure that its not your understanding that's in error?
kind regards,

Ben


Well, if you can accept there is verb without subject, probably you can accept that.
I am not here nor there.
I am not right nor wrong.
I do not exist neither non-exist.
I am not I nor non-I.
I am not in samsara nor nirvana.
To All Buddhas, I bow down for the teaching of emptiness. Thank You!
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Re: The no-doer in the modern world

Postby kirk5a » Tue Apr 10, 2012 2:20 pm

Sarva wrote: The conceit is indeed deep, how are actions to be understood when the conceit is removed completely, is there "just this happening now"?

If I said "please pass the sugar" would there be any confusion about that action?
"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 no-doer in the modern world

Postby piotr » Tue Apr 10, 2012 2:29 pm

Hi,

DarwidHalim wrote:Well, if you can accept there is verb without subject, probably you can accept that.


Why one should assume that conventions of language are perfect reflection of how things are? One could argue that idiom of language is sometimes very deceitful.
Bhagavaṃmūlakā no, bhante, dhammā...
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Re: The no-doer in the modern world

Postby Sarva » Tue Apr 10, 2012 3:22 pm

Thank you, all for the replies!

kirk5a wrote:
Sarva wrote: The conceit is indeed deep, how are actions to be understood when the conceit is removed completely, is there "just this happening now"?

If I said "please pass the sugar" would there be any confusion about that action?

Hi Kirk
No, no confusion, just thought and action.


There is no doer, no-self. What seem unclear is why action continues to occour.
Even a sense of responsibility to engage in the world as I intially proposed above, can be reduced to an idea, but ultimately it is known that it is not "my idea."

I feel close to the brink of a form of hard determinism in this approach; evenything just happening, even choice is made because choice is being made. Is that correct?
“Both formerly & now, it is only stress that I describe, and the cessation of stress.” — SN 22:86
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Re: The no-doer in the modern world

Postby DarwidHalim » Tue Apr 10, 2012 3:26 pm

Regarding emptiness of self, there are actually two groups:
1. The emptiness of self in person, but not in phenomena.
2. The emptiness of self in person, and the emptiness of self in phenomena.

Some people think if 1 thing is empty of self, everything must be empty of self. But, there is also another group that see only emptiness of self in person which is true, but not phenomena.

The above quote is actually valid for the group who assert the emptiness of self in person, but assert phenomena has a character, such as a character of suffering, pleasure, neutral etc. In other words, they do not accept the emptiness of self in phenomena.

There is a big debate about the suffering.

Is suffering real?

If we accept the emptiness of self in phenomena, you will not accept that this is suffering, this is pleasure, or this neutral.

If phenomena can have a character such as suffering, it means there is a self of suffering that we regard it as the inherent and inseparable entity inside that phenomena.

Some people see everything is suffering, because of that they constraint themselves so hard not to involve in it. Because they have the sense that suffering is real, it is better not to touch it. For this kind of people, we cannot say they accept the emptiness of self in phenomena (outside person). Because they have very clear view, there is suffering outside there. There is a very clear separation here between samsara and nirvana.

But for some people who assert the emptiness of self in phenomena, they cannot find any suffering, or pleasure, or neutral in whatever phenomena that they see. Just because there is no self of suffering, there is no self of pleasure, there is no self of neutral. There is really no identity at all in the phenomena that they experience. Absolutely naked. Because of that, they do not see any separable between samsara and nirvana.

It is really up to us as the practitioner to see which one suits him and which one he directly experience from his meditation and his study.
I am not here nor there.
I am not right nor wrong.
I do not exist neither non-exist.
I am not I nor non-I.
I am not in samsara nor nirvana.
To All Buddhas, I bow down for the teaching of emptiness. Thank You!
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Re: The no-doer in the modern world

Postby kirk5a » Tue Apr 10, 2012 3:39 pm

Sarva wrote:Thank you, all for the replies!

kirk5a wrote:
Sarva wrote: The conceit is indeed deep, how are actions to be understood when the conceit is removed completely, is there "just this happening now"?

If I said "please pass the sugar" would there be any confusion about that action?

Hi Kirk
No, no confusion, just thought and action.

Good. That's it.

There is no doer, no-self. What seem unclear is why action continues to occour.
Even a sense of responsibility to engage in the world as I intially proposed above, can be reduced to an idea, but ultimately it is known that it is not "my idea."

I feel close to the brink of a form of hard determinism in this approach; evenything just happening, even choice is made because choice is being made. Is that correct?

That is an idea. Don't cling to that and there won't be a problem. If someone says "please pass the sugar" you do it because it is the appropriate and harmonious thing to do. Just thinking and action. No philosophical confusion.
Last edited by kirk5a on Tue Apr 10, 2012 3:47 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 no-doer in the modern world

Postby daverupa » Tue Apr 10, 2012 3:43 pm

Sarva wrote:What seem unclear is why action continues to occour... I feel close to the brink of a form of hard determinism in this approach; evenything just happening, even choice is made because choice is being made. Is that correct?


So, action occurs because one clings. Clinging, one is reckoned a being, and beings intend this or that, for good or ill. So it is that a being can desire to put an end to desire, and train themselves according to the Dhamma, eventually resulting in the cessation of being due to the cessation of clinging. You may grasp that the phrase "I am the doer" is incorrect, but when this isn't seen for oneself, one must practice - and the practice is not to stare at the phrase and repeat "that is a mistaken view", but instead to simply engage with the gradual path. As MN 2 recommends, setting aside this confusion about "me" is correct, not pursuing the confusion and seeking a satisfying intellectual resolution.

As to determinism, it is the case that all conditioned things have a cause, including behavior, but of the many causes and conditions which are at work, "choice" is among them. One can still choose, even though that choice is informed by other facts (one cannot choose to grow feathers, but one can choose to meditate versus watching television). The fact that the Dhamma is now a cause and a condition in the world, according to which we can choose truly wholesome behaviors which lead onwards, is the reason why it's so precious.
    "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 no-doer in the modern world

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Tue Apr 10, 2012 6:13 pm

The not-doer should not do any evil action — Sabbapāpassa akaraṇaṃ.

The doer shoud do any wholesome actions they can — kusalassa upasampadā.

The followers of the Buddha should purify their minds — Sacittapariyodapanaṃ

Whenever unwholesome mental states arise, or whenever one meets circumstances in which they might arise, which is pretty much inevitable in this world, there is an opportunity to develop Right Effort to prevent and remove defilements.

Inactivity in the case of things that should be done is also due to lack of mindfulness, effort, and other skilful mental states, or the presence of unskilful states such as fear, laziness, miserliness, etc.
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Re: The no-doer in the modern world

Postby ground » Tue Apr 10, 2012 7:15 pm

Sarva wrote:How is ... If there is ... then how is ...? Surely it isn't ... ?

Don't know where all the 'is' and 'isn't' arise from. If there is 'is' then there will be the arising of 'isn't' and vv. If there is 'if' then there will be the arising of 'then'. Mysterious. :smile:
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Re: The no-doer in the modern world

Postby ground » Wed Apr 11, 2012 2:46 am

All this confusion may arise from thinking mind or - to put it differently, to put it "more digestible for ordinary mind" - this confusion may arise when a householder wants to achieve what cannot be achieved by a householder. Reason is that all the teachings are available today for everybody. The Buddha seemed to be more careful with dispensing his teachings.

So for the time being pragmatism may be helpful: Just do what necessarily needs to be done but don't get involved (caught up) in this doing.

Kind regards
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