Becoming

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Re: Becoming

Postby Spiny Norman » Tue Feb 05, 2013 1:30 pm

SDC wrote:In the “non-three lives interpretation” of the paṭicca-samuppāda, bhāva is the idea that “I am” or “I exist”


Isn't the idea "I am" actually self-view, one of the fetters ( sakkāya-diṭṭhi )? I'm not clear how you're equating this to "bhava".

Also your interpretation of bhava seems to be contradicted by the way the nidanas are defined in MN9 and SN12.2 ( see my earlier post with sections from SN12.2 ).
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Re: Becoming

Postby Spiny Norman » Tue Feb 05, 2013 1:32 pm

Does the meaning of bhava depend on context?
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Re: Becoming

Postby SDC » Tue Feb 05, 2013 1:33 pm

daverupa wrote:Is there any reason why we might want to differentiate bhava "being" from satta "being"?


Good call, Dave.

Bhāva - 'being' as a verb - the belief of the thought "I am".

Satta - 'being' as a noun - a living entity.
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Re: Becoming

Postby SDC » Tue Feb 05, 2013 6:35 pm

porpoise wrote:Isn't the idea "I am" actually self-view, one of the fetters ( sakkāya-diṭṭhi )? I'm not clear how you're equating this to "bhava".


Exactly. It is an affirmation of this self view. As I said, bhāva in the PS is pointing out a mistake in understanding.

EDIT - Well not exactly. Sakkāya-diṭṭhi a personality perspective, but even when eliminated there can still be a belief in a self. So not exactly, but yes it is along the same lines in regard to a misinterpretation of experience. I understand sakkāya-diṭṭhi as the character that is played and even though we stop behaving like that character, we still hold a more subtle and fundamental idea that there is a self.

porpoise wrote:Also your interpretation of bhava seems to be contradicted by the way the nidanas are defined in MN9 and SN12.2 ( see my earlier post with sections from SN12.2 ).


Not at all, although I can see that it appears so especially when trying to understand it using the three lives interpretation.

porpoise wrote:"And what is becoming? These three are becomings: sensual becoming, form becoming, & formless becoming. This is called becoming."

"From becoming as a requisite condition comes birth. From birth as a requisite condition, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair come into play. Such is the origination of this entire mass of stress & suffering.

"And what is birth? Whatever birth, taking birth, descent, coming-to-be, coming-forth, appearance of aggregates, & acquisition of [sense] media of the various beings in this or that group of beings, that is called birth.

"Now what is aging and death? Whatever aging, decrepitude, brokenness, graying, wrinkling, decline of life-force, weakening of the faculties of the various beings in this or that group of beings, that is called aging. Whatever deceasing, passing away, breaking up, disappearance, dying, death, completion of time, break up of the aggregates, casting off of the body, interruption in the life faculty of the various beings in this or that group of beings, that is called death."


When experience is seen as ‘being’, there is the thought “I am” or “I exist”. This is the affirmation in the belief in a self. When a self exists, this prompts the identification of where the self came from and where the self is going. In other words, “Where did I come from and where am I going?” First birth is seen as where “I” came from and then aging and death is seen as where “I” am going. Being > Birth > Aging and Death.

So it is due to the thought “I am” that brings about the idea of birth, the idea of death and, in turn, this whole mass of suffering. If there is no idea that “I am” – if a self is no longer identified in experience – then there will be no analysis of the birth and death of the self and no suffering.
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Re: Becoming

Postby kirk5a » Tue Feb 05, 2013 8:23 pm

SDC wrote:So it is due to the thought “I am” that brings about the idea of birth, the idea of death and, in turn, this whole mass of suffering. If there is no idea that “I am” – if a self is no longer identified in experience – then there will be no analysis of the birth and death of the self and no suffering.

Maybe it's not quite what you mean, but the trouble goes deeper than easily spotted thoughts or ideas concerning "I am."
"In the same way, friends, it's not that I say 'I am form,' nor do I say 'I am other than form.' It's not that I say, 'I am feeling... perception... fabrications... consciousness,' nor do I say, 'I am something other than consciousness.' With regard to these five clinging-aggregates, 'I am' has not been overcome, although I don't assume that 'I am this.'

"Friends, even though a noble disciple has abandoned the five lower fetters, he still has with regard to the five clinging-aggregates a lingering residual 'I am' conceit, an 'I am' desire, an 'I am' obsession.

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

Even setting aside the work remaining for non-returners, an infant doesn't have any "ideas" per se, about self.
Would not the wanderers of other sects confute you with the simile of the infant? For a young tender infant lying prone does not even have the notion 'personality,' so how could personality view arise in him? Yet the underlying tendency to personality view lies within him.

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"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: Becoming

Postby SDC » Tue Feb 05, 2013 11:25 pm

kirk5a wrote:Maybe it's not quite what you mean, but the trouble goes deeper than easily spotted thoughts or ideas concerning "I am."


Correct, kirka5. This is what upādāna explains in this particular interpretation – taṇhā prompts a distinction to be drawn in the experience. More specifically, a distinction between internal aspects of experience and external aspects experience, and these internal aspects (which are the five aggregates) receive special attention for obvious reasons. This special attention can be explained as an implied possessiveness (upādāna) over these internal aspects. This prompts this idea that what has been possessed is a self (bhāva). Taṇhā > upādāna > bhāva.
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Re: Becoming

Postby Spiny Norman » Wed Feb 06, 2013 9:32 am

SDC wrote:
porpoise wrote:Isn't the idea "I am" actually self-view, one of the fetters ( sakkāya-diṭṭhi )? I'm not clear how you're equating this to "bhava".


Exactly. It is an affirmation of this self view. As I said, bhāva in the PS is pointing out a mistake in understanding.


I still don't understand how you're equating self-view ( an underlying tendency ), and bhava ( a process of becoming ).
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Re: Becoming

Postby Spiny Norman » Wed Feb 06, 2013 9:42 am

SDC wrote:
porpoise wrote:Also your interpretation of bhava seems to be contradicted by the way the nidanas are defined in MN9 and SN12.2 ( see my earlier post with sections from SN12.2 ).


Not at all, although I can see that it appears so especially when trying to understand it using the three lives interpretation.


I'm not promoting the 3-lives model of DO, I'm just observing that the birth, aging and death nidanas are described in physical terms, not in terms of a self being born, aging and dying.
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Re: Becoming

Postby kirk5a » Wed Feb 06, 2013 1:11 pm

SDC wrote:Correct, kirka5. This is what upādāna explains in this particular interpretation – taṇhā prompts a distinction to be drawn in the experience. More specifically, a distinction between internal aspects of experience and external aspects experience, and these internal aspects (which are the five aggregates) receive special attention for obvious reasons. This special attention can be explained as an implied possessiveness (upādāna) over these internal aspects. This prompts this idea that what has been possessed is a self (bhāva). Taṇhā > upādāna > bhāva.

That's interesting. I'm not sure about that characterization of internal and external though. Given the range of possibilities for bhava, surely the clinging, the possessiveness could apply to both internal and external, or even in the case where the distinction was gone. For example "the universe is my 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: Becoming

Postby kirk5a » Wed Feb 06, 2013 2:25 pm

gavesako wrote:An relevant quote from Ajahn Thate:

There will be just bare awareness paired with its preoccupation in the present. ... This is the mind coming to its own level: the bhavanga.


http://www.dhammatalks.net/Books/Ajahn_ ... e_Path.htm

Thank you for that Bhante. In looking through that link, the glossary there defines "bhavanga" as:
Bhavanga: The mind's underlying preoccupation or resting state, which determines its state of being and to which it reverts in between its responses to stimuli.

Bhava-anga. This explanation of "underlying preoccupation" is helping me understand how there are sensual, form, and formless "preoccupations" and hence, bhava - being, existence. And the relationship of all that to craving.

My next question then is how do we understand the difference between sensuality bhava and form bhava?
"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: Becoming

Postby gavesako » Wed Feb 06, 2013 4:59 pm

That is not difficult to see: kama (sensual desires) --> sensual becoming (mainly preoccupied with the alluring "strands of sensuality" through the five senses); rupa-raga (passion for refined forms) --> form becoming (on the level of jhana or the deva realms); arupa-raga (passion for formless states) --> formless becoming (the formless spheres).
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Re: Becoming

Postby SDC » Wed Feb 06, 2013 11:39 pm

porpoise wrote:
SDC wrote:
porpoise wrote:Isn't the idea "I am" actually self-view, one of the fetters ( sakkāya-diṭṭhi )? I'm not clear how you're equating this to "bhava".


Exactly. It is an affirmation of this self view. As I said, bhāva in the PS is pointing out a mistake in understanding.


I still don't understand how you're equating self-view ( an underlying tendency ), and bhava ( a process of becoming ).


I corrected that in my edit, although I kept the original statement (the one you quoted) which is unclear. There is a difference between sakkāya-diṭṭhi and bhāva --- sakkāya-diṭṭhi is the assumption of an identity, while bhāva is the belief in the existence of a self. While this identity can be eliminated with stream entry, this belief in a self will still remain.

porpoise wrote:I'm not promoting the 3-lives model of DO, I'm just observing that the birth, aging and death nidanas are described in physical terms, not in terms of a self being born, aging and dying.


I apologizing for assuming.

This interpretation is an ongoing patchwork of ideas drawn mostly from the work of Ven. Punnaji and Ven. Ñāṇavīra. In this interpretation, the PS is not seen in physical terms and it is non-temporal. To quote Ven. Punnaji, “The paṭicca-samuppāda is a logical antecedental concurrence”, meaning that it is a logical, 12 part sequence happening all at once.

Believe me, although this interpretation is known, I realize it is sort of obscure and I am not trying to declare that it is correct. However, I will say that it makes a great deal of sense to me as opposed to other interpretations.

EDIT - Please let me know if anything is unclear and I will try to explain it.
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Re: Becoming

Postby SDC » Wed Feb 06, 2013 11:55 pm

kirk5a wrote:
SDC wrote:Correct, kirka5. This is what upādāna explains in this particular interpretation – taṇhā prompts a distinction to be drawn in the experience. More specifically, a distinction between internal aspects of experience and external aspects experience, and these internal aspects (which are the five aggregates) receive special attention for obvious reasons. This special attention can be explained as an implied possessiveness (upādāna) over these internal aspects. This prompts this idea that what has been possessed is a self (bhāva). taṇhā > upādāna > bhāva.


That's interesting. I'm not sure about that characterization of internal and external though. Given the range of possibilities for bhava, surely the clinging, the possessiveness could apply to both internal and external, or even in the case where the distinction was gone. For example "the universe is my self."


Oh, absolutely. However, it is ultimately the internal aspect that (I guess for our purposes here we could say) assumes the responsibility for parts of the external aspect in varying degrees, because the reaction (taṇhā) to these objects is seen as part of the internal aspect. In other words, the taṇhā is felt in the body, so no matter the object that prompts this reaction it is the reaction itself that ends up possessed and then is believed to be part of a self.

Now for the case where someone possesses everything, I suppose it is likely that they are choosing to ignore the distinction because they think it is the wrong way to think. Eventually they may completely convince themselves that it is true.
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Re: Becoming

Postby Spiny Norman » Thu Feb 07, 2013 10:32 am

SDC wrote:
porpoise wrote:I still don't understand how you're equating self-view ( an underlying tendency ), and bhava ( a process of becoming ).


I corrected that in my edit, although I kept the original statement (the one you quoted) which is unclear. There is a difference between sakkāya-diṭṭhi and bhāva --- sakkāya-diṭṭhi is the assumption of an identity, while bhāva is the belief in the existence of a self. While this identity can be eliminated with stream entry, this belief in a self will still remain.


I'm still not clear what basis there is for saying that bhava is the belief in the existence of a self. While there doesn't seem to be a clear definition of bhava in the suttas, it is described as operating in the 3 realms and it appears to be a dynamic process.

There may well be a relationship between self-view and bhava, but I don't think they are the same thing.
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Re: Becoming

Postby SDC » Fri Feb 08, 2013 12:44 am

To be continued, porpoise. Heading to the hill country to slay some dragons in the monster storm that is about to clobber the east coast of the US. In other words, I'm going skiing. I look forward to continuing this discussion.
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Re: Becoming

Postby Spiny Norman » Fri Feb 08, 2013 3:04 pm

Jason wrote:.....however, becoming is treated slightly differently, and Thanissaro Bhikkhu notes at the bottom of his translation that:

    Notice that the Buddha, instead of giving a definition of becoming (bhava) in response to this question, simply notes that becoming occurs on three levels. Nowhere in the suttas does he define the term becoming, but a survey of how he uses the term in different contexts suggests that it means a sense of identity in a particular world of experience: your sense of what you are, focused on a particular desire, in your personal sense of the world as related to that desire.


Jason, it sounds like you're familiar with Thanissaro's ideas, so could you say briefly what evidence he provides to support the assertion that becoming means a sense of identity in a particular world of experience? I can't see any support for this idea in sutta descriptions of dependent origination, so presumably this relates to the use of bhava in other contexts?
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Re: Becoming

Postby Jason » Fri Feb 08, 2013 9:54 pm

porpoise wrote:
Jason wrote:.....however, becoming is treated slightly differently, and Thanissaro Bhikkhu notes at the bottom of his translation that:

    Notice that the Buddha, instead of giving a definition of becoming (bhava) in response to this question, simply notes that becoming occurs on three levels. Nowhere in the suttas does he define the term becoming, but a survey of how he uses the term in different contexts suggests that it means a sense of identity in a particular world of experience: your sense of what you are, focused on a particular desire, in your personal sense of the world as related to that desire.


Jason, it sounds like you're familiar with Thanissaro's ideas, so could you say briefly what evidence he provides to support the assertion that becoming means a sense of identity in a particular world of experience? I can't see any support for this idea in sutta descriptions of dependent origination, so presumably this relates to the use of bhava in other contexts?


Yes, I'm somewhat familiar with his ideas; but seeing as how we've had this discussion many times before without coming to any agreement, I sincerely doubt there's anything I can say or references I can offer that will change that. That said, I think his book, The Paradox of Becoming, which he mentions at the end of that particular note, is the best place to start.
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Re: Becoming

Postby Spiny Norman » Sun Feb 10, 2013 11:00 am

Looking at MN9, SN12.2 and AN32, bhava is described as a process of becoming in the 3 realms.

Is there anything in the suttas that directly supports the alternative idea of bhava as self-view?
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Re: Becoming

Postby Aloka » Sun Feb 10, 2013 11:32 am

porpoise wrote:Does the meaning of bhava depend on context?


In the section The Flood of Sensuality in "Food for the Heart", Ajahn Chah said:

"Becoming" (bhava) means "the sphere of birth." Sensual desire is born at sights, sounds, tastes, smells, feelings and thoughts, identifying with these things. The mind holds fast and is stuck to sensuality.

Some cultivators get bored, fed up, tired of the practice and lazy. You don't have to look very far, just look at how people can't seem to keep the Dhamma in mind, and yet if they get scolded they'll hold on to it for ages. They may get scolded at the beginning of the Rains, and even after the Rains Retreat has ended they still haven't forgotten it. Their whole lives they still won't forget it if it goes down deep enough.

But when it comes to the Buddha's teaching, telling us to be moderate, to be restrained, to practice conscientiously... why don't people take these things to their hearts? Why do they keep forgetting these things? You don't have to look very far, just look at our practice here. For example, establishing standards such as: after the meal while washing your bowls, don't chatter! Even this much seems to be beyond people. Even though we know that chattering is not particularly useful and binds us to sensuality... people still like talking. Pretty soon they start to disagree and eventually get into arguments and squabbles. There's nothing more to it than this.

Now this isn't anything subtle or refined, it's pretty basic, and yet people don't seem to really make much effort with it. They say they want to see the Dhamma, but they want to see it on their own terms, they don't want to follow the path of practice. That's as far as they go. All these standards of practice are skillful means for penetrating to and seeing the Dhamma, but people don't practice accordingly.

To say "real practice" or "ardent practice" doesn't necessarily mean you have to expend a whole lot of energy -- just put some effort into the mind, making some effort with all the feelings that arise, especially those which are steeped in sensuality. These are our enemies.

But people can't seem to do it. Every year, as the end of the Rains Retreat approaches, it gets worse and worse. Some of the monks have reached the limit of their endurance, the "end of their tether." The closer we get to the end of the Rains the worse they get, they have no consistency in their practice. I speak about this every year and yet people can't seem to remember it. We establish a certain standard and in not even a year it's fallen apart. Almost finished the Retreat and it starts -- the chatter, the socializing and everything else. It all goes to pieces. This is how it tends to be.

Those who are really interested in the practice should consider why this is so. It's because people don't see the adverse results of these things.

When we are accepted into the Buddhist monkhood we live simply. And yet some of them disrobe to go to the front, where the bullets fly past them every day -- they prefer it like that. They really want to go. Danger surrounds them on all sides and yet they're prepared to go. Why don't they see the danger? They're prepared to die by the gun but nobody wants to die developing virtue. Just seeing this is enough... it's because they're slaves, nothing else. See this much and you know what it's all about. People don't see the danger.

This is really amazing, isn't it? You'd think they could see it but they can't. If they can't see it even then, then there's no way they can get out. They're determined to whirl around in samsara. This is how things are. Just talking about simple things like this we can begin to understand.

If you were to ask them, "Why were you born?" They'd probably have a lot of trouble answering, because they can't see it. They're sunk in the world of the senses and sunk in becoming (bhava). [37] Bhava is the sphere of birth, our birthplace. To put it simply, where are beings born from? Bhava is the preliminary condition for birth. Wherever birth takes place, that's bhava.

For example, suppose we had an orchard of apple trees that we were particularly fond of. That's a bhava for us if we don't reflect with wisdom. How so? Suppose our orchard contained a hundred or a thousand apple trees... it doesn't really matter what kind of trees they are, just so long as we consider them to be "our own" trees... then we are going to be "born" as a "worm" in every single one of those trees. We bore into every one, even though our human body is still back there in the house, we send out "tentacles" into every one of those trees.

Now, how do we know that it's a bhava? It's a bhava (sphere of existence) because of our clinging to the idea that those trees are our own, that that orchard is our own. If someone were to take an ax and cut one of the trees down, the owner over there in the house "dies" along with the tree. He gets furious, and has to go and set things right, to fight and maybe even kill over it. That quarreling is the "birth." The "sphere of birth" is the orchard of trees that we cling to as our own. We are "born" right at the point where we consider them to be our own, born from that bhava. Even if we had a thousand apple trees, if someone were to cut down just one it'd be like cutting the owner down.

Whatever we cling to we are born right there, we exist right there. We are born as soon as we "know." This is knowing through not-knowing: we know that someone has cut down one of our trees. But we don't know that those trees are not really ours. This is called "knowing through not-knowing." We are bound to be born into that bhava.

Vatta the wheel of conditioned existence, operates like this. People cling to bhava, they depend on bhava. If they cherish bhava, this is birth . And if they fall into suffering over that same thing, this is also a birth. As long as we can't let go we are stuck in the rut of samsara, spinning around like a wheel. Look into this, contemplate it. Whatever we cling to as being us or ours, that is a place for birth.

There must be a bhava, a sphere of birth, before birth can take place. Therefore the Buddha said, whatever you have, don't "have" it. Let it be there but don't make it yours. You must understand this "having" and "not having," know the truth of them, don't flounder in suffering.


http://www.what-buddha-taught.net/Books/Ajahn_Chah_Food_for_the_Heart.htm#flood
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Re: Becoming

Postby Spiny Norman » Sun Feb 10, 2013 11:38 am

Aloka wrote:In the section The Flood of Sensuality in "Food for the Heart", Ajahn Chah said:

"Becoming" (bhava) means "the sphere of birth." Sensual desire is born at sights, sounds, tastes, smells, feelings and thoughts, identifying with these things. The mind holds fast and is stuck to sensuality.


Interesting interpretation, but is it based on something in the suttas? And how would this approach apply to becoming in the form and formless realms?
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