What are we ?

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation

What are we ?

Postby purple planet » Tue Apr 09, 2013 5:45 pm

i guess there are some threads on this now but i would appreciate if someone could explain it to me in a simple way -
we are just a chain of actions (karma) that effect one another - or are we the "mindfulness" who watches the actions
Please send merit to my dog named Mika who has passed away - thanks in advance
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Re: What are we ?

Postby polarbuddha101 » Tue Apr 09, 2013 5:50 pm

"This is how he attends inappropriately: 'Was I in the past? Was I not in the past? What was I in the past? How was I in the past? Having been what, what was I in the past? Shall I be in the future? Shall I not be in the future? What shall I be in the future? How shall I be in the future? Having been what, what shall I be in the future?' 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?'

"As he attends inappropriately in this way, one of six kinds of view arises in him: The view I have a self arises in him as true & established, or the view I have no self... or the view It is precisely by means of self that I perceive self... or the view It is precisely by means of self that I perceive not-self... or the view It is precisely by means of not-self that I perceive self arises in him as true & established, or else he has a view like this: This very self of mine — the knower that is sensitive here & there to the ripening of good & bad actions — is the self of mine that is constant, everlasting, eternal, not subject to change, and will stay just as it is for eternity. This is called a thicket of views, a wilderness of views, a contortion of views, a writhing of views, a fetter of views. Bound by a fetter of views, the uninstructed run-of-the-mill person is not freed from birth, aging, & death, from sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair. He is not freed, I tell you, from suffering & stress.

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


"[Then if they ask,] 'But what, friends, is the reason, what the cause, why unarisen delusion arises, or arisen delusion tends to growth & abundance?' 'Inappropriate attention,' it should be said. 'For one who attends inappropriately, unarisen delusion arises and arisen delusion tends to growth & abundance...'

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




Whatever phenomena arise from cause:
their cause
& their cessation.
Such is the teaching of the Tathagata,
the Great Contemplative.

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


"'I am' is a objectification. 'I am this' is a objectification. 'I shall be' is a objectification. 'I shall not be'... 'I shall be possessed of form'... 'I shall not be possessed of form'... 'I shall be percipient'... 'I shall not be percipient'... 'I shall be neither percipient nor non-percipient' is a objectification. Objectification is a disease, objectification is a cancer, objectification is an arrow. Therefore, monks, you should train yourselves: 'We will dwell with an awareness free of objectifications.'

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


Edit: Here's another good sutta to read: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

:namaste:
Last edited by polarbuddha101 on Tue Apr 09, 2013 7:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"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: What are we ?

Postby ground » Tue Apr 09, 2013 6:31 pm

What produces these forms "What are we ?" ? :sage:
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Re: What are we ?

Postby lojong1 » Tue Apr 09, 2013 6:32 pm

:rofl:
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Re: What are we ?

Postby manas » Tue Apr 09, 2013 6:50 pm

purple planet wrote:i guess there are some threads on this now but i would appreciate if someone could explain it to me in a simple way -
we are just a chain of actions (karma) that effect one another - or are we the "mindfulness" who watches the actions


Hi PP,

I have asked that question many times as well, even as a practicing Buddhist. Training my mind not to think in that way is one of my own personal challenges.

We have to train our minds not to think in terms of 'who am I' or 'what am I' or 'am I' or even 'am I not' because all of those are self-views. Even to worry 'so I don't really exist then?' is a self-view, and won't lead away from suffering & stress. Even to ask the question 'so are we just piles of form, feeling, perception, volitional formations and consciousness?' is also to fall into that thicket of views. Leave aside the lot of them.

When we catch our mind pondering such things, we can, if we wish, redirect it to a more suitable topic for contemplation: 'what is stress? What is it's cause? ...cessation? ...Path to it's cessation?'

In my experience, this mental redirection takes practice but it can be learned. We can actually train ourselves to learn how to ask the right questions.

metta :anjali:
Last edited by manas on Tue Apr 09, 2013 7:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What are we ?

Postby manas » Tue Apr 09, 2013 7:10 pm

Here's a short essay I've found very helpful regarding this issue:

'Questions of Skill'
by
Thanissaro Bhikkhu

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... tions.html

kind regards :anjali:
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Re: What are we ?

Postby manas » Tue Apr 09, 2013 7:20 pm

Another reference for you, just to show we are not the first to wonder about such things!

Phagguna Sutta: To Phagguna
translated from the Pali by
Thanissaro Bhikkhu
© 2005–2013
_________________________________

Dwelling at Savatthi. "Monks, there are these four nutriments for the maintenance of beings who have come into being or for the support of those in search of a place to be born. Which four? Physical food, gross or refined; contact as the second; intellectual intention the third; and consciousness the fourth. These are the four nutriments for the maintenance of beings who have come into being or for the support of those in search of a place to be born.

When this was said, Ven.-Moliya-Phagguna said to the Blessed One, "Lord, who feeds on the consciousness-nutriment?"

"Not a valid question," the Blessed One said. "I don't say 'feeds.' If I were to say 'feeds,' then 'Who feeds on the consciousness-nutriment?' would be a valid question. But I don't say that. When I don't say that, the valid question is 'Consciousness-nutriment for what?' And the valid answer is, 'Consciousness-nutriment for the production of future coming-into-being. When that has come into being and exists, then the six sense media. From the six sense media as a requisite condition comes contact.'"

"Lord, who makes contact?"

"Not a valid question," the Blessed One said. "I don't say 'makes contact.' If I were to say 'makes contact,' then 'Who makes contact?' would be a valid question. But I don't say that. When I don't say that, the valid question is 'From what as a requisite condition comes contact?' And the valid answer is, 'From the six sense media as a requisite condition comes contact. From contact as a requisite condition comes feeling.'"

"Lord, who feels?"

"Not a valid question," the Blessed One said. "I don't say 'feels.' If I were to say 'feels,' then 'Who feels?' would be a valid question. But I don't say that. When I don't say that, the valid question is 'From what as a requisite condition comes feeling?' And the valid answer is, 'From contact as a requisite condition comes feeling. From feeling as a requisite condition comes craving.'"

"Lord, who craves?"

"Not a valid question," the Blessed One said. "I don't say 'craves.' If I were to say 'craves,' then 'Who craves?' would be a valid question. But I don't say that. When I don't say that, the valid question is 'From what as a requisite condition comes craving?' And the valid answer is, 'From feeling as a requisite condition comes craving. From craving as a requisite condition comes clinging/sustenance.'"

"Lord, who clings?"

"Not a valid question," the Blessed One said. "I don't say 'clings.' If I were to say 'clings,' then 'Who clings?' would be a valid question. But I don't say that. When I don't say that, the valid question is 'From what as a requisite condition comes clinging?' And the valid answer is, 'From craving as a requisite condition comes clinging. From clinging as a requisite condition comes 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.[1]

"Now from the remainderless fading & cessation of the six sense media[2] comes the cessation of contact. From the cessation of contact comes the cessation of feeling. From the cessation of feeling comes the cessation of craving. From the cessation of craving comes the cessation of clinging/sustenance. From the cessation of clinging/sustenance comes the cessation of becoming. From the cessation of becoming comes the cessation of birth. From the cessation of birth, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair all cease. Such is the cessation of this entire mass of stress & suffering."

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


:anjali:
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Re: What are we ?

Postby manas » Tue Apr 09, 2013 7:54 pm

Finally, examine mindfulness itself. Is it always present, or are there times when it is present, and times when it disappears? If the latter, is it fitting to regard mindfulness as self or as belonging to self, either?

Maybe best to drop the whole question of 'who am I' or 'what am I' altogether. It only leads to vexation.

Our duty then, is to ask what is stress? what is it's cause? what is it's cessation? what is the Path to it's cessation? Asking those questions won't lead to vexation, it will lead to ease.

I hope I don't sound like I'm pretending to have realised all of this. I'm just another being striving to attain the Path, that's all. It's very hard work. I have struggled with these same issues and sometimes still do. So I hope something in my posts was of assistance.

kind regards,
manas :anjali:
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Re: What are we ?

Postby purple planet » Wed Apr 10, 2013 6:49 am

yes it helps - thanks
Please send merit to my dog named Mika who has passed away - thanks in advance
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Re: What are we ?

Postby Nyorai » Wed Apr 10, 2013 7:17 am

purple planet wrote:i guess there are some threads on this now but i would appreciate if someone could explain it to me in a simple way -
we are just a chain of actions (karma) that effect one another - or are we the "mindfulness" who watches the actions

It is the false minds that set partitions :spy: that deters your true mind from appearing :popcorn:
ImageTo become vegetarian is to step into the stream which leads to nirvana.
If you light a lamp for somebody, it will also brighten your path. He who experiences the unity of life sees his own Self in all beings, and all beings in his own Self.Image
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Re: What are we ?

Postby binocular » Wed Apr 10, 2013 8:26 pm

purple planet wrote:yes it helps - thanks


Two more from Thanissaro Bhikkhu:

"And it bogs you down. If you assume that the mind is basically bad, you won't feel capable of following the path, and will tend to look for outside help to do the work for you. If you assume that the mind is basically good, you'll feel capable but will easily get complacent. This stands in the way of the heedfulness needed to get you on the path, and to keep you there when the path creates states of relative peace and ease that seem so trustworthy and real. If you assume a Buddha nature, you not only risk complacency but you also entangle yourself in metaphysical thorn patches: If something with an awakened nature can suffer, what good is it? How could something innately awakened become defiled? If your original Buddha nature became deluded, what's to prevent it from becoming deluded after it's re-awakened?"

Freedom From Buddha Nature

What is Wrong with Buddha Nature
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