Understanding Paticcasamuppada

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Re: Understanding Paticcasamuppada

Postby Sylvester » Thu Feb 28, 2013 7:25 am

Looking back again at Jurewicz' essay, I note that her parody theory hinges on many correspondences she says exists between the sutta nidanas with the Vedic counterparts.

For avijja, she acknowledges that there is no avidya in the Vedas. Thus, she resorts to the mysterious state in which neither sat (Being) nor asat (Non-Being) exist, which is expressed in the Nasadiya Sukta. She equates this state as the Vedic antecedent to the Buddha's description of avijja.

Now, here's the bummer. Doubt has now been thrown on the age of the Nasadiya Sukta. It has been suggested that the Nasadiya Sukta is a very, very late addition to the Vedas, and it was composed as a reaction to the Dualism of Sankhya, during the first centuries of the Common Era. This seems to be borne out by the fact that in the Chandogya Upanishad, the zeroth point was represented not by this neither Being nor Non-Being, but by just sat/Being. At least in the Chandogya's time, the controversy was simply over whether the First was Being or Non-Being, not the neither-nor of the Nasadiya Sukta. As for the position in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, the First was simply Atman. I cite these 2 Upanishads, as there is general consensus that the Buddha was familiar with their concepts.

Jurewicz then goes on to trace the Buddhist sankhara as corresponding to the abhisamskaroti of the Satapatha Brahmana. This is a document which does not appear to be controversial and is agreed to be pre-Buddhist. I think there's some merit in the equation, as abhisamskaroti pops up many time in the Pali suttas as abhisankaroti as the verbal synonym for sankhara in discussions of DO.

If we now discount the Nasadiya Sukta as furnishing any Vedic antecedent to DO, I think we can safely say that during the Buddha's career, the First Point in Indian cosmogony was either Sat or Atman. The Buddha made 2 innovations to address the pre-Buddhist cosmogenic cycles -

1. He went further back in denying Sat/Being (see SN 12.15, where the sabbam atthi/sabbam natthi reference could have been in reference to the Chandogya debate about sat and asat) and Atman, and putting in their place avijja; and

2. Instead of the prevailing discussion of the causal structure of "this leads to that", the Buddha emphasized the "conditionality" aspect of causation by asking the negative question in analysing the reverse order of Dependant Cessation, ie "When what does not exist does X not come to be?" (SN 12.10, which interestingly took place before His awakening, perhaps suggestive of His time spent putting aside the Upanishads).

Perhaps the parody theory needs to be re-examined :stirthepot:
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Re: Understanding Paticcasamuppada

Postby nowheat » Thu Feb 28, 2013 1:39 pm

Thanks for all this, Sylvester. I would love to see more discussion of what Vedic ideas were likely available to the Buddha when he worked out his classic formulation of paticcasamuppada (PS), since it is clear that he was using them in building the final shape of the thing.

Sylvester wrote:Looking back again at Jurewicz' essay... she acknowledges that there is no avidya in the Vedas. Thus, she resorts to the mysterious state in which neither sat (Being) nor asat (Non-Being) exist, which is expressed in the Nasadiya Sukta. She equates this state as the Vedic antecedent to the Buddha's description of avijja.

Now, here's the bummer. Doubt has now been thrown on the age of the Nasadiya Sukta. It has been suggested that the Nasadiya Sukta is a very, very late addition to the Vedas...

If we now discount the Nasadiya Sukta as furnishing any Vedic antecedent to DO, I think we can safely say that during the Buddha's career, the First Point in Indian cosmogony was either Sat or Atman.

...Perhaps the parody theory needs to be re-examined...


If it turns out that "neither existence nor non-existence" as the precursor state was not a known concept in the Buddha's day, this wouldn't really matter if the Buddha was building the first part of PS on a creation myth that was known at the time, that the Nasadiya Sukta referred to later. I don't see PS as tied to one particular view of the cosmology and one only (I see at least two versions of the Prajapati myth referred to in DN 15). It doesn't have to be the wording in that sutta -- or any particular sutta -- that the Buddha was talking about. What I see of the underlying structure makes it clear that he's speaking to the unknowable state of what comes before our births (likely because the creation myth he was working with was also talking about that state), and that the whole of the Vedic system of thinking about the world-as-self revolving around the importance of knowing, of coming to know. Thus, avijja is saying that it's not knowledge that underpins the construction of self, it's ignorance. I hear this as sharply pointed, so I suppose it could be called "lampooning".

:namaste:
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Re: Understanding Paticcasamuppada

Postby ancientbuddhism » Thu Feb 28, 2013 2:33 pm

daverupa wrote:
nowheat wrote:
daverupa wrote:I agree that tying English "self" to sakkayaditthi and asmimana is best.

Atta is probably worth discussing in terms of English "soul", since paticcasamuppada-12 is already pedagogically structured to counter a theistic model which relies on such a thing.

You're saying that dependent arising in its 12 step formula denies a god-created soul?

:namaste:


I'm saying it lampoons an Upanisadic understanding of the creation of the cosmos and the soul, and therefore denies that claim. It's an instance of idapaccayata being held against a prevailing metaphysics in order to accomplish Dhamma instruction, which means it's possible that it can serve this purpose against modern understandings of a soul as well.


Indeed, the Buddha deconstructed the Upaniṣadic claims of an ātman principle at play in the psychophysical experience of pañcakkhandha, and established paṭiccasamuppāda to reconstruct what is in ignorance taken up as self.

daverupa wrote:...This is probably something I read, perhaps Gombrich somewhere.


mikenz66 wrote:Yes, see here:
viewtopic.php?f=29&t=7464

Gombrich wrote: " My conclusion is that Frauwallner and Hwang are right, and the Buddha's chain originally went back only five links, to thirst. (It could also go back six, seven, or eight links - nothing hangs on the difference.) Then, at another point, the Buddha produced a different causal chain to ironize and criticise Vedic cosmogony, and noticed that it led very nicely into the earlier chain - perhaps because it is natural for the creation of the individual to lead straight on to the six senses, and these, via 'contact' and 'feeling', to thirst. It is quite plausible, however, that someone failed to notice that once the first four links become part of the chain, it's negative version meant that in order to abolish ignorance one first had to abolish consciousness!"


:anjali:
Mike


Also read:

The Buddhist Tantric Deconstruction and Reconstruction: Their Sūtra Orgin, by David J. Kalupahana
Fingers walk the darkness down
Mind is on the midnight
Gather up the gold you've found
You fool, it's only moonlight.
If you try to take it home
Your hands will turn to butter
You better leave this dream alone
Try to find another. – Townes Van Zandt ‘Lungs’

Secure your own mask before assisting others. – NORTHWEST AIRLINES (Pre-Flight Instruction)

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Re: Understanding Paticcasamuppada

Postby Sylvester » Thu Feb 28, 2013 2:55 pm

ancientbuddhism wrote:Indeed, the Buddha deconstructed the Upaniṣadic claims of an ātman principle at play in the psychophysical experience of pañcakkhandha, and established paṭiccasamuppāda to reconstruct what is in ignorance taken up as self.



Hi Bhante

I've not had the time to read every page of the 2 main Upanishads, but do you get the impression that none of them had actually strung together a coherent and systematic causal model like the Buddhist model of causation in paṭiccasamuppāda? If anything, I see the scholarly opinion that some of the Upanishadic cosmogenies are mutually inconsistent. It appears that the Buddha may have lifted disparate Upanishadic concepts, those which He may have thought to be critical to the problem of sakkāya, and put them in 2 coherent sequences to explain the origin of suffering and the cessation of suffering.
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Re: Understanding Paticcasamuppada

Postby ancientbuddhism » Thu Feb 28, 2013 3:15 pm

Sylvester wrote:
ancientbuddhism wrote:Indeed, the Buddha deconstructed the Upaniṣadic claims of an ātman principle at play in the psychophysical experience of pañcakkhandha, and established paṭiccasamuppāda to reconstruct what is in ignorance taken up as self.


I've not had the time to read every page of the 2 main Upanishads, but do you get the impression that none of them had actually strung together a coherent and systematic causal model like the Buddhist model of causation in paṭiccasamuppāda? If anything, I see the scholarly opinion that some of the Upanishadic cosmogenies are mutually inconsistent. It appears that the Buddha may have lifted disparate Upanishadic concepts, those which He may have thought to be critical to the problem of sakkāya, and put them in 2 coherent sequences to explain the origin of suffering and the cessation of suffering.


Neither do I. A theory that there is a paṭiccasamuppāda source in the Upaniṣads, although interesting, is specious and overreaching.

The impression I come away with is that the Tathāgata’s referencing of Upaniṣadic thought was mainly polemical to the ātman dynamic, as was necessary for an audience that was well aware of these claims. But I also have to wonder that if there was no accretion of Upaniṣadic ontology at the time of the Nikāyas, that the Buddha would still have identified the same culprit of self-identity to be overcome toward liberation, only of a different name?
Fingers walk the darkness down
Mind is on the midnight
Gather up the gold you've found
You fool, it's only moonlight.
If you try to take it home
Your hands will turn to butter
You better leave this dream alone
Try to find another. – Townes Van Zandt ‘Lungs’

Secure your own mask before assisting others. – NORTHWEST AIRLINES (Pre-Flight Instruction)

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Re: Understanding Paticcasamuppada

Postby Sylvester » Sat Mar 02, 2013 4:16 am

ancientbuddhism wrote:[... But I also have to wonder that if there was no accretion of Upaniṣadic ontology at the time of the Nikāyas, that the Buddha would still have identified the same culprit of self-identity to be overcome toward liberation, only of a different name?


Well, there is "sarvam", which in the context of SN 12.15 is typically interpreted these days as "everything", ie as an indefinite pronoun of plurality. BB, IMO, comes closest to the Upanishadic roots of this duality, when he translates it as "all", although he would have been spot on if he translated it as "The All".

Based on Olivelle's readings, it appears that to the Upanishads, "sarvam" is a definite noun (not pronoun) of singularity, which is identified as the hypostasis/ground/fountain of sat/Being. Looks like the Buddha also made light of those attempts to merge the atman with the Sarvam...
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Re: Understanding Paticcasamuppada

Postby Gena1480 » Sat Mar 02, 2013 5:22 am

craving for form, there is clinging to form ,becoming of form,there is birth of form, there is origination of aging and death to form
with cessation of craving for form,there cessation of clinging to form ,with cessation of becoming of form, there is cessation of birth of form, there is cessation of aging and death of form)
with depending origination of form
the origination and cessation of form
this goes to all six types of craving for sense becoming (form sound and so on)
now with origination of form and sense, there is sense consciousness, with meeting of three, there is contact, with contact, there is craving
you can see that this cycle, which we must escape
as for existance and non existance
if we talk about cessation of feeling and perception
according to suttas
with cessation, existence does not come to mind
with origination of feeling and perception, non existence does not come to mind
in short with origination, there is no non existence
with cessation there is no existence
and according too suttas cessation of existence is unbinding
if we look at sutta
Nagara Sutta on depending origination
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
birth exist when what exist (becoming)
birth does not exist when what does not exist (becoming)
it is according to this that cessation of existence is unbinding
or in another words
when does birth cease, when becoming cease
this way you can understand cessation, cessation
when does birth arise, when becoming arise
this way you can understand arising, arising.
metta.
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Re: Understanding Paticcasamuppada

Postby Sylvester » Sun Mar 03, 2013 7:28 am

Just adding on to my earlier post, I found this interesting passage from the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, which might furnish some historical context and inkling of what the Buddha might have had to contend with -

taddhedaṁ tarhy avyᾱkṛtam ᾱsīt, tan nᾱma-rῡpᾱbhyᾱm eva vyᾱkriyata, asau nᾱma, ayam idaṁ rῡpa iti, tad idam apy etarhi nᾱma-rῡpᾱbhyᾱm eva vyᾱkriyate, asau nᾱma, ayam idaṁ rῡpa iti. sa eṣa iha praviṣṭa ᾱnakhᾱgrebhyaḥ yathᾱ, kṣuraḥ kṣuradhᾱne' vahitaḥ syᾱt, viśvam-bharo vᾱ viśvam-bhara-kulᾱye, taṁ na paśyanti. a-kṛtsno hi saḥ, prᾱṇann eva prᾱṇo nᾱma bhavati, vadan vᾱk, paśyaṁś cakṣuḥ, śṛṇvan śrotram, manvᾱno manaḥ, tᾱny asyaitᾱni karma-nᾱmᾱny eva. sa yo'ta ekaikam upᾱste, na sa veda, akṛtsno hy eṣo'ta ekaikena bhavati, ᾱtmety evopᾱsīta, atra hi ete sarva ekam bhavanti. tad etat padanīyam asya sarvasya yad ayam ᾱtmᾱ, anena hy etat sarvaṁ veda, yathᾱ ha vai padenᾱnuvindet. evaṁ kīrtiṁ ślokaṁ vindate ya evaṁ veda.

At that time, all of this (the World) was undifferentiated. By means of name and form, it became differentiated - "This has this name, this has this form". And even now, people say, "This is his name, this is his form", distinguishing by means of name and form. He entered in here, right up to the tips of his fingernails, as a razor is hidden in a razor sheath, or fire is inside firewood. People do not see him, for (whatever they see) is incomplete. Whenever one breaths, he becomes breath; whenever one speaks, he is speech; seeing, he is the eye; hearing, the ear; thinking, the mind. These are just the names for his acts. Whoever worships one (aspect) or another does not understand, for he is incomplete in any one or another. Rather, one should worship with the thought, "This is the Self", for all of these become one in that. That by which one can follow in the footsteps of this All, that is the Self, through which this All is known, just as one might track down and find something by a footprint. Whoever knows this finds fame and praise.

BAU 1.4.7, trans Wendy Doniger O'Flaherty


Note the sarvaṁ (all) is demonstrated by the singular pronoun etat. Food for thought when we next read SN 12.15.

Namarupa is pretty obvious, as should be the eternalist notion of fire going into hiding inside firewood. The suttas borrowed some of the other imagery, eg the sheath. Let's see how many other borrowed forms there are and how the Buddha dealt with them. He obviously retained some of the old notions about namarupa as identifying marks (see DN 15 for the foetus), but He also expanded it to capture its role in the 2 types of contact (also DN 15) in cognition and "naming".

I still find no evidence in this Upanishad that there was ever any attempt at a systematic project to build up a model of causation that can be said to have been the precursor to the Buddhist version...

:anjali:
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