is there a conventional self who decides?

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Re: is there a conventional self who decides?

Postby Coyote » Fri Jan 25, 2013 10:38 am

Perhaps I am wrong, but isn't one of the issues that separated Theravada from other early schools of Buddhism the idea that there exists a conventional person i.e the difference between conventional and ultimate reality? I am sure I heard somewhere that other early schools did not share this idea. Perhaps someone with better knowledge can comment because I can't remember where I heard this.

:anjali:
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Re: is there a conventional self who decides?

Postby robertk » Fri Jan 25, 2013 10:43 am

Yes the puggalavadins believed in a real conventional self
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Re: is there a conventional self who decides?

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Jan 25, 2013 10:43 am

Greetings Coyote,

I suspect you're talking about the Pudgalavādins...

http://www.iep.utm.edu/pudgalav/

Metta,
Retro. :)
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Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


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One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: is there a conventional self who decides?

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Jan 25, 2013 10:45 am

Coyote wrote:Perhaps I am wrong, but isn't one of the issues that separated Theravada from other early schools of Buddhism the idea that there exists a conventional person i.e the difference between conventional and ultimate reality? I am sure I heard somewhere that other early schools did not share this idea. Perhaps someone with better knowledge can comment because I can't remember where I heard this.

:anjali:
Yes. The pudgala, a vexed notion that seemed to annoy the crap out of some schools (such as the Theravadins), but what I am talking about is simply the sense of self, which when carefully looked at is seen as a product of the khandhas and ignorance.
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.
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Re: is there a conventional self who decides?

Postby Coyote » Fri Jan 25, 2013 11:16 am

Thanks, yes that is who I am thinking of.

tiltbillings wrote:Yes. The pudgala, a vexed notion that seemed to annoy the crap out of some schools (such as the Theravadins), but what I am talking about is simply the sense of self, which when carefully looked at is seen as a product of the khandhas and ignorance.


Couldn't this be seen in terms of determinism - I seem to remember that in several places the Buddha argues against the view of no-choice for the reason that it stops a person properly applying themselves to the path, particularly Sila, or any kind of morality.

I.e http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

"Monks, there are these three sectarian guilds that — when cross-examined, pressed for reasons, & rebuked by wise people — even though they may explain otherwise, remain stuck in [a doctrine of] inaction. Which three?

"There are brahmans & contemplatives who hold this teaching, hold this view: 'Whatever a person experiences — pleasant, painful, or neither pleasant nor painful — that is all caused by what was done in the past.'

'Then in that case, a person is a killer of living beings because of what was done in the past. A person is a thief... unchaste... a liar... a divisive speaker... a harsh speaker... an idle chatterer... greedy... malicious... a holder of wrong views because of what was done in the past.' When one falls back on what was done in the past as being essential, monks, there is no desire, no effort [at the thought], 'This should be done. This shouldn't be done.' When one can't pin down as a truth or reality what should & shouldn't be done, one dwells bewildered & unprotected. One cannot righteously refer to oneself as a contemplative. This was my first righteous refutation of those brahmans & contemplatives who hold to such teachings, such views.


Not saying anyone is arguing this - just putting it out there because I think it is pertinent to the discussion.

:anjali:
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Re: is there a conventional self who decides?

Postby equilibrium » Fri Jan 25, 2013 12:15 pm

robertk wrote:Is there a conventional self who decides?
Conventional self is the same as a deluded self, a self that is fabricated by wrong views.....all based on believe supported by the deluded mind.
A decision can be made either one is deluded or not. As the mind is deluded, one cannot be certain ones decisions are right.

Was it not the Buddha noted the followings:
That to admit oneself is deluded is a wise man.....and for one who does not admit oneself is deluded is in fact a fool.

Now if we were to travel to the other side where one is not deluded or have reached Nibbana, one must be able to see this former deluded/fabricated self that only exist by the mind.....yet there is nothing to be found.
Yet the word "self" is just a word we use to say there is something that can be found or tracked down but as the teaching suggest it is empty.....therefore it cannot be found which corresponds.
The "conventional self" is only there because the deluded mind is supporting it.....it clings and cannot let go because the mind believes in it.....wonderful don't you think?
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Re: is there a conventional self who decides?

Postby beeblebrox » Fri Jan 25, 2013 2:04 pm

equilibrium wrote:The "conventional self" is only there because the deluded mind is supporting it.....it clings and cannot let go because the mind believes in it.....wonderful don't you think?


When someone says, "I am going to do this," do you think:

"That poor person is deluded... I think I should say something about it to him, because I have a deep compassion."

or:
"I see some conditions that are coming together right now... and I think that this will cause something."


:?:

Personally, I think I will go with the 2nd one in my own practice.

:anjali:
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Re: is there a conventional self who decides?

Postby kirk5a » Fri Jan 25, 2013 3:09 pm

robertk wrote:
kirk5a wrote:Who decided to start this thread? Robert. Case closed.

Ok but since there have been other posts after your one I guess some members thought there was still some opening in the case.

Let's look at when I decided to begin this thread . Is there really an "I" or is that merely a conventional and useful description of a complex set of processes?

That wasn't the question of this thread. You asked about "conventional." That means, for example, if you were in a court of law and you were asked, did you, Robert, start this thread? You would say, yes. You would not start talking about the aggregates and the factors arising momentarily and passing away. Not just because the court wouldn't understand you, but because any other answer other than "Yes I started this thread" would be a lie. You, robert, did this. That is "conventional self."
"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: is there a conventional self who decides?

Postby robertk » Fri Jan 25, 2013 4:04 pm

kirk5a wrote:
robertk wrote:
kirk5a wrote:Who decided to start this thread? Robert. Case closed.

Ok but since there have been other posts after your one I guess some members thought there was still some opening in the case.

Let's look at when I decided to begin this thread . Is there really an "I" or is that merely a conventional and useful description of a complex set of processes?

That wasn't the question of this thread. You asked about "conventional." That means, for example, if you were in a court of law and you were asked, did you, Robert, start this thread? You would say, yes. You would not start talking about the aggregates and the factors arising momentarily and passing away. Not just because the court wouldn't understand you, but because any other answer other than "Yes I started this thread" would be a lie. You, robert, did this. That is "conventional self."

Thanks for that. As my purpose in starting this thread was to bring out some Dhamma points I guess the lawyers on both sides must be happy. I take it you agree with these quotes:

Visuddhimagga XIX19
"There is no doer of a deed, or one who reaps the result. Phenomena alone flow on, no other view than this right."

XVIII24
"This is mere mentality-materiality, there is no being, no person
"

"XVII31The mental and material (nama rupa) are really here
But here is no human being to be found, for it is void and merely fashioned like a doll"

with regard to choosing:

Visuddhimagga says (xvii312)

"
The absence of interestedness on the part of ignorance, such as 'Formations [sankhara] must be made to occur by me, or on the part of formations, such as 'vinnana must be made to ocur by us'. One who sees this rightly abandons self view by understanding the absence of a maker."
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Re: is there a conventional self who decides?

Postby kirk5a » Fri Jan 25, 2013 4:23 pm

robertk wrote:Thanks for that. As my purpose in starting this thread was to bring out some Dhamma points I guess the lawyers on both sides must be happy. I take it you agree with these quotes:

These quotes are not talking about the question of what is, conventionally speaking, "myself." So again, they are not especially relevant to the topic.

Which, just to be clear: conventionally speaking - just this very body+mind sitting typing away at this computer, given a name at birth, is me. It's not you. You are a different person, a different body+mind.
"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: is there a conventional self who decides?

Postby robertk » Fri Jan 25, 2013 4:38 pm

yes that is right and so we can use conventional terms. As it says:

DN 9, Potthapada Sutta:‘....these are merely names, expressions, turns of speech, designations in common use in the world, which the Tathagata uses without misapprehending them,’


occasionally though Buddhists use terms like 'self' , 'him' and 'they' as if they have some subtle existence rather than being mere designations. That is why I thought it was useful to bring out what is really happening in a long process like starting a topic.
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Re: is there a conventional self who decides?

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Jan 25, 2013 7:42 pm

equilibrium wrote:
robertk wrote:Is there a conventional self who decides?
Conventional self is the same as a deluded self, a self that is fabricated by wrong views.....all based on believe supported by the deluded mind.
A decision can be made either one is deluded or not. As the mind is deluded, one cannot be certain ones decisions are right.
It is a rather interesting question. If we are deluded, having to start from where we are, a state of delusion, how do we get undeluded all the while having to deal with a deluded mind, having to deal with a deluded sense of self?
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: is there a conventional self who decides?

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Jan 25, 2013 8:04 pm

:

Visuddhimagga says (xvii312)

"
The absence of interestedness on the part of ignorance, such as 'Formations [sankhara] must be made to occur by me, or on the part of formations, such as 'vinnana must be made to ocur by us'. One who sees this rightly abandons self view by understanding the absence of a maker."
Sure. As with the other quotes, it is a matter of perspective, and until we get the point of "One who sees this rightly" the sense of self is a "reality" with which we must cope.

    "As I am, so are others;
    as others are, so am I."
    Having thus identified self and others,
    harm no one nor have them harmed.
    Sn 705
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: is there a conventional self who decides?

Postby manas » Fri Jan 25, 2013 9:22 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
equilibrium wrote:
robertk wrote:Is there a conventional self who decides?
Conventional self is the same as a deluded self, a self that is fabricated by wrong views.....all based on believe supported by the deluded mind.
A decision can be made either one is deluded or not. As the mind is deluded, one cannot be certain ones decisions are right.
It is a rather interesting question. If we are deluded, having to start from where we are, a state of delusion, how do we get undeluded all the while having to deal with a deluded mind, having to deal with a deluded sense of self?


I recall reading, that great distress leads to either of two things: bewilderment, or to search (as in, "is there anyone who knows of a way to end this sorrow?") And so, a being might be deluded, and admit as much, but with dukkha as the goad, might investigate the Teachings, seeking a solution.

A personal note: there is a fair amount of dukkha in my life at present. But without what I have thus far learned from the Buddha's teachings, I would be in vastly more distress. The Dhamma actually works, it can alleviate *some* sorrow even in the early stages (one who just has faith, or one who has 'a modicum of discernment' ) and that could be what keeps a deluded mind on the Path, imho.
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Re: is there a conventional self who decides?

Postby polarbuddha101 » Fri Jan 25, 2013 10:06 pm

robertk wrote:
Visuddhimagga XIX19
"There is no doer of a deed, or one who reaps the result. Phenomena alone flow on, no other view than this right."

XVIII24
"This is mere mentality-materiality, there is no being, no person
"

"XVII31The mental and material (nama rupa) are really here
But here is no human being to be found, for it is void and merely fashioned like a doll"

with regard to choosing:

Visuddhimagga says (xvii312)

"
The absence of interestedness on the part of ignorance, such as 'Formations [sankhara] must be made to occur by me, or on the part of formations, such as 'vinnana must be made to ocur by us'. One who sees this rightly abandons self view by understanding the absence of a maker."


Robert, what do you think about this sutta then:

I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Savatthi at Jeta's Grove, Anathapindika's monastery. Then Ven. Radha went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down to him sat to one side. As he was sitting there he said to the Blessed One: "'A being,' lord. 'A being,' it's said. To what extent is one said to be 'a being'?"

"Any desire, passion, delight, or craving for form, Radha: when one is caught up[1] there, tied up[2] there, one is said to be 'a being.'[3]

"Any desire, passion, delight, or craving for feeling... perception... fabrications...

"Any desire, passion, delight, or craving for consciousness, Radha: when one is caught up there, tied up there, one is said to be 'a being.'

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


One is only no longer a being when they have done away with all craving that would classify them as such, so we are beings because we still have craving for the five khandas.

Then the Blessed One, leaving the road, went to sit at the root of a certain tree — his legs crossed, his body erect, with mindfulness established to the fore. Then Dona, following the Blessed One's footprints, saw him sitting at the root of the tree: confident, inspiring confidence, his senses calmed, his mind calmed, having attained the utmost control & tranquility, tamed, guarded, his senses restrained, a naga.[1] On seeing him, he went to him and said, "Master, are you a deva?"[2]

"No, brahman, I am not a deva."

"Are you a gandhabba?"

"No..."

"... a yakkha?"

"No..."

"... a human being?"

"No, brahman, I am not a human being."

"When asked, 'Are you a deva?' you answer, 'No, brahman, I am not a deva.' When asked, 'Are you a gandhabba?' you answer, 'No, brahman, I am not a gandhabba.' When asked, 'Are you a yakkha?' you answer, 'No, brahman, I am not a yakkha.' When asked, 'Are you a human being?' you answer, 'No, brahman, I am not a human being.' Then what sort of being are you?"

"Brahman, the fermentations by which — if they were not abandoned — I would be a deva: Those are abandoned by me, their root destroyed, made like a palmyra stump, deprived of the conditions of development, not destined for future arising. The fermentations by which — if they were not abandoned — I would be a gandhabba... a yakkha... a human being: Those are abandoned by me, their root destroyed, made like a palmyra stump, deprived of the conditions of development, not destined for future arising.

"Just like a red, blue, or white lotus — born in the water, grown in the water, rising up above the water — stands unsmeared by the water, in the same way I — born in the world, grown in the world, having overcome the world — live unsmeared by the world. Remember me, brahman, as 'awakened.'
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


Translator's note for the sutta below:

Some people have said that the Buddha's teachings on the aggregates constitute his analysis of what we truly are; and that because the aggregates are impermanent and interdependent, we have an impermanent, interdependent self. This sutta, however, shows that we can be analyzed into the aggregates only if we feel obsession or attachment for them. If we don't feel these things, there's no way we can be measured, classified, or defined.


At Savatthi. Then a certain monk went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As he was sitting there, he said to the Blessed One: "It would be good, lord, if the Blessed One would teach me the Dhamma in brief such that, having heard the Dhamma from the Blessed One, I might dwell alone, secluded, heedful, ardent, & resolute."

"Monk, whatever one stays obsessed with,[1] that's what one is measured by. Whatever one is measured by, that's how one is classified. Whatever one doesn't stay obsessed with, that's not what one is measured by. Whatever one isn't measured by, that's not how one is classified."

"I understand, O Blessed One! I understand, O One Well-gone!"

"And how, monk, do you understand the detailed meaning of what I have said in brief?"

"If one stays obsessed with form, lord, that's what one is measured by. Whatever one is measured by, that's how one is classified.

"If one stays obsessed with feeling...

"If one stays obsessed with perception...

"If one stays obsessed with fabrications...

"If one stays obsessed with consciousness, that's what one is measured by. Whatever one is measured by, that's how one is classified.[2]

"But if one doesn't stay obsessed with form, lord, that's not what one is measured by. Whatever one isn't measured by, that's not how one is classified.

"If one doesn't stay obsessed with feeling...

"If one doesn't stay obsessed with perception...

"If one doesn't stay obsessed with fabrications...

"If one doesn't stay obsessed with consciousness, that's not what one is measured by. Whatever one isn't measured by, that's not how one is classified. [3]

"Lord, this is how I understand the detailed meaning of what you have said in brief."

"Good, monk. Very good. It's good that this is how you understand the detailed meaning of what I have said in brief.

"If one stays obsessed with form, monk, that's what one is measured by. Whatever one is measured by, that's how one is classified.

"If one stays obsessed with feeling...

"If one stays obsessed with perception...

"If one stays obsessed with fabrications...

"If one stays obsessed with consciousness, that's what one is measured by. Whatever one is measured by, that's how one is classified.

"But if one doesn't stay obsessed with form, monk, that's not what one is measured by. Whatever one isn't measured by, that's not how one is classified.

"If one doesn't stay obsessed with feeling...

"If one doesn't stay obsessed with perception...

"If one doesn't stay obsessed with fabrications...

"If one doesn't stay obsessed with consciousness, that's not what one is measured by. Whatever one isn't measured by, that's not how one is classified.

"This is how the detailed meaning of what I have said in brief should be seen."

Then the monk, delighting in and approving of the Blessed One's words, got up from his seat and bowed down to the Blessed One, circled around him, keeping the Blessed One to his right, and departed. Then, dwelling alone, secluded, heedful, ardent, & resolute, he in no long time reached & remained in the supreme goal of the holy life for which clansmen rightly go forth from home into homelessness, knowing & realizing it for himself in the here & now. He knew: "Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for the sake of this world." And thus he became another one of the arahants.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
"I don't envision a single thing that, when developed & cultivated, leads to such great benefit as the mind. The mind, when developed & cultivated, leads to great benefit."

"I don't envision a single thing that, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about such suffering & stress as the mind. The mind, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about suffering & stress."
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Re: is there a conventional self who decides?

Postby equilibrium » Fri Jan 25, 2013 10:30 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
equilibrium wrote:
robertk wrote:Is there a conventional self who decides?
Conventional self is the same as a deluded self, a self that is fabricated by wrong views.....all based on believe supported by the deluded mind.
A decision can be made either one is deluded or not. As the mind is deluded, one cannot be certain ones decisions are right.
It is a rather interesting question. If we are deluded, having to start from where we are, a state of delusion, how do we get undeluded all the while having to deal with a deluded mind, having to deal with a deluded sense of self?

One must be deluded unless one has reached Nibbana and beyond, even then, there are still traces of delusion left until one is a fully enlightened Buddha.
Should one achieve Nibbana (Arahart) one is no longer deluded as such, well, enough for one to escape samsara that is.....so the deluded mind needs to get undeluded.

When we say delusion/ignorance, the mind is simply not knowing.....so the mind needs to know something so to escape, this is where the teaching comes in.
Yet the teaching is only just a tool, a purpose.....so the mind can realize for itself reality. This reality must replace what the mind previously believed so the mind itself no longer do things which are deluded.
One cannot be undeluded if there is no realization in the mind as it is the mind that needs to be set free.

It must be a constant battle while one tries to learn from the teaching while the same time, the deluded self is having its own opinions.....so we need to be mindful that these opinions are nothing but self created fabrications which cannot be trusted on.
Maybe we should rely on the teaching and the N8P to keep us being right.
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Re: is there a conventional self who decides?

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Jan 25, 2013 11:39 pm

polarbuddha101 wrote: . . .
Excellent choice of suttas to illustrate difference between the unawakened and awakened.
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: is there a conventional self who decides?

Postby danieLion » Sat Jan 26, 2013 2:11 am

Tilt, RobertK, et al
Which "side" shall we put Gil Fronsdal on?
Self and Not-Self
You can do it! It's only a ten minute talk.
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Re: is there a conventional self who decides?

Postby robertk » Sat Jan 26, 2013 4:40 am

Some people have said that the Buddha's teachings on the aggregates constitute his analysis of what we truly are; and that because the aggregates are impermanent and interdependent, we have an impermanent, interdependent self. This sutta, however, shows that we can be analyzed into the aggregates only if we feel obsession or attachment for them. If we don't feel these things, there's no way we can be measured, classified, or defined.

Polabuddhist
This is rather unorthodox and I think not classical Buddhist. Perhaps you could begin a new thread in another forum to discuss these ideas.
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Re: is there a conventional self who decides?

Postby robertk » Sat Jan 26, 2013 4:41 am

danieLion wrote:Tilt, RobertK, et al
Which "side" shall we put Gil Fronsdal on?
Self and Not-Self
You can do it! It's only a ten minute talk.

10 minutes is time I don't have. Could you cite the important parts.
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