Is there a real world out there?...

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Re: Is there a real world out there?...

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Jun 28, 2013 1:53 am

Greetings,

Sylvester, channeling Sue Hamilton wrote:The "transcendental" bit is to account for the other limb of experience, ie the external bases (bāhira āyatana) that make up one-third of contact. These are the sense objects. As these things are never known directly, but only through the mediation of contact, she says they are "transcendental". Not in the sense of supramundane or anything mystical as such, but simply in the sense that nobody (not even the Buddha) could transcend the subject-object duality inherent in contact.

Well that would accord with the Buddha's grouping of the All...

"What is the All? Simply the eye & forms, ear & sounds, nose & aromas, tongue & flavours, body & tactile sensations, intellect & ideas"

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Is there a real world out there?...

Postby Sylvester » Fri Jun 28, 2013 2:03 am

Hi Retro

It's a valid perspective. On the other hand, I think that when the Buddha gave that teaching, He had in mind espousing it as a very specific antidote to another "All" (sarvam) out there. It was the Upanisadic "sarvam" that was thought to be "Existence" itself. This Upanisadic "All" is immanent and transcendent blah blah blah. The Buddhist "All", as I'm sure you'll notice, is totally amenable to establishing contact.

In fact, in the very next sutta which espouses the abandonment of the "All", you can see the central pivot to the "All" is contact.
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Re: Is there a real world out there?...

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Jun 28, 2013 2:43 am

Greetings Sylvester,

I think the "hands" are mutually reconcilable... whilst the Buddha often taught against the background of prevaling ideas (either leveraging them, redefining them, or using them for comparative purposes), he always taught Dhamma.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Is there a real world out there?...

Postby chownah » Fri Jun 28, 2013 3:16 am

Sylvester wrote:but simply in the sense that nobody (not even the Buddha) could transcend the subject-object duality inherent in contact.

Is Sue Hamilton mistaken then when she suggests what you have quoted above in that the Buddha directs us to transcend The All?
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Re: Is there a real world out there?...

Postby pegembara » Fri Jun 28, 2013 3:26 am

How does one know about the world if not through our senses? Xrays, infrared etc. need to be made visible for our eyes to see with instruments. What is real for one person is different for another. Is the human world more real than a dog's or fish? What is real?

"There are these four unconjecturables that are not to be conjectured about, that would bring madness & vexation to anyone who conjectured about them. Which four?

"The Buddha-range of the Buddhas[1] is an unconjecturable that is not to be conjectured about, that would bring madness & vexation to anyone who conjectured about it.

"The jhana-range of a person in jhana...[2]

"The [precise working out of the] results of kamma...

"Conjecture about [the origin, etc., of] the world is an unconjecturable that is not to be conjectured about, that would bring madness & vexation to anyone who conjectured about it.

"These are the four unconjecturables that are not to be conjectured about, that would bring madness & vexation to anyone who conjectured about them."

Acintita Sutta: Unconjecturable


"I tell you, friend, that it is not possible by traveling to know or see or reach a far end of the cosmos where one does not take birth, age, die, pass away, or reappear. But at the same time, I tell you that there is no making an end of suffering & stress without reaching the end of the cosmos. Yet it is just within this fathom-long body, with its perception & intellect, that I declare that there is the cosmos, the origination of the cosmos, the cessation of the cosmos, and the path of practice leading to the cessation of the cosmos."
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
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Re: Is there a real world out there?...

Postby Sylvester » Fri Jun 28, 2013 4:31 am

chownah wrote:
Sylvester wrote:but simply in the sense that nobody (not even the Buddha) could transcend the subject-object duality inherent in contact.

Is Sue Hamilton mistaken then when she suggests what you have quoted above in that the Buddha directs us to transcend The All?
chownah



I think SN 35.24 uses the term "pahātabbaṃ" (to be abandoned), instead of transcend (which implies something else to take its place). Death, I suppose, is the only way an Arahant transcends the subject-object duality permanently, since that will be the final and irreversible abandonment of contact.
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Re: Is there a real world out there?...

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Jun 28, 2013 6:12 am

Greetings,

Sylvester wrote:subject-object duality...

I'm not convinced that it's apt to regard "eye & forms" as a subject-object duality. I would have thought "subject" implies a being ~ an entity, a puggala, an atman, a satta, or at least the perception thereof... thus, in this sense the subject would be asmi-mana (i.e. the "I am" conceit).

Taking my definition (which you're welcome to disagree with), the arahant does transcend the subject-object duality through the eradication of asmi-mana.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Is there a real world out there?...

Postby Spiny Norman » Fri Jun 28, 2013 8:47 am

retrofuturist wrote:
Sylvester wrote:subject-object duality...

I'm not convinced that it's apt to regard "eye & forms" as a subject-object duality.


I think it's describing a distinction between internal and external, and as I observed previously the distinction between internal and external is made in the suttas, eg in MN10 and in the suttas about the elements.

I certainly don't think the Buddha was denying an external world, rather I think his focus was pragmatically on our immediate experience because it's directly observable. I think in a way it's analogous to Thanissaro's idea of a not-self strategy.
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Re: Is there a real world out there?...

Postby Spiny Norman » Fri Jun 28, 2013 8:49 am

retrofuturist wrote:"What is the All? Simply the eye & forms, ear & sounds, nose & aromas, tongue & flavours, body & tactile sensations, intellect & ideas"


But this isn't intended as an ontological statement. It's really just saying that our knowledge of the world depends on our senses.
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Re: Is there a real world out there?...

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Jun 28, 2013 9:01 am

Spiny Norman wrote:I certainly don't think the Buddha was denying an external world, rather I think his focus was pragmatically on our immediate experience because it's directly observable. I think in a way it's analogous to Thanissaro's idea of a not-self strategy.

Yes, I was thinking about how were parallels between taking a stand on views such as:
Whether or not there is a real world out there;
Whether there is or is not a self.

:anjali:
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Re: Is there a real world out there?...

Postby Sylvester » Fri Jun 28, 2013 9:02 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

Sylvester wrote:subject-object duality...

I'm not convinced that it's apt to regard "eye & forms" as a subject-object duality. I would have thought "subject" implies a being ~ an entity, a puggala, an atman, a satta, or at least the perception thereof... thus, in this sense the subject would be asmi-mana (i.e. the "I am" conceit).

Taking my definition (which you're welcome to disagree with), the arahant does transcend the subject-object duality through the eradication of asmi-mana.

Metta,
Retro. :)



Don't worry Retro. It's just a definitional issue. Hamilton defines subject-object in a way that acknowledge your concerns. How she defines the dichotomy, if I understand her correctly, is that there is the object and there is the experience of it, ie the Aggregates. It's an unbridgeable divide.

On the other hand, I'm not too convinced that this duality is such that it does not allow some form of knowledge that is accurate and useful enough for liberation. She has a heavy-duty analysis of DN 15's analysis of the 2 types of contact (like your fav Ven Nanavira and Ven Nanananda) but does not deal with the "sphere of wisdom" promised by that sutta in relation to "designation contact". I wonder why?

It's interesting that Spiny raises Ven T's not-self strategy. Hamilton is also an advocate of such a reading, even going to the extent of challenging Norman's translation of MN 22 on a key term that is traditionally cited as proof that the Buddha did teach No-Self. My Pali is not good enough to comment if her critique is valid.
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Re: Is there a real world out there?...

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Jun 28, 2013 9:06 am

Hi Sylvester,

Could you give us the reference for the Hamilton article?

:anjali:
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Re: Is there a real world out there?...

Postby Spiny Norman » Fri Jun 28, 2013 9:06 am

mikenz66 wrote:To me, any attempt to confirm or deny that there is a "real world" misses the point. That most of us, in ordinary life, or in more technical areas such as science, use a working model that there is something out there, and that is what we are measuring or experiencing, and use language that builds in that assumption.


I think in everyday life we behave with the assumption that there's a real world out there. But I agree that in terms of Buddhist practice it's a mute point.
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Re: Is there a real world out there?...

Postby Spiny Norman » Fri Jun 28, 2013 9:17 am

Sylvester wrote:The "transcendental" bit is to account for the other limb of experience, ie the external bases (bāhira āyatana) that make up one-third of contact. These are the sense objects. As these things are never known directly, but only through the mediation of contact, she says they are "transcendental". Not in the sense of supramundane or anything mystical as such, but simply in the sense that nobody (not even the Buddha) could transcend the subject-object duality inherent in contact.


Interesting. I've been using the word "external" instead of "transcendental", but the meaning is possibly similar?
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Re: Is there a real world out there?...

Postby Sylvester » Fri Jun 28, 2013 10:08 am

mikenz66 wrote:Hi Sylvester,

Could you give us the reference for the Hamilton article?

:anjali:
Mike



Hi Mike

Oops! Should have done that earlier. :embarassed:

There are 2 books by her -

1. Identity and Experience : the Constitution of the Human Being according to Early Buddhism, 1996
2. Early Buddhism : A New Approach - The I of the Beholder, 2000

The first one does a critical reading of the Aggregates from the perspective of the Pali suttas and shows how much of how we understand the Aggregates is actually Abhidhammic. Loads of interesting stuff on Name & Form and Contact as well. The 2nd goes into Subjectivity-Objectivity, Anatta and Dependant Origination.

Not for the faint-hearted, as she has a dense style of writing.
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Re: Is there a real world out there?...

Postby Sylvester » Fri Jun 28, 2013 10:14 am

Spiny Norman wrote:
Sylvester wrote:The "transcendental" bit is to account for the other limb of experience, ie the external bases (bāhira āyatana) that make up one-third of contact. These are the sense objects. As these things are never known directly, but only through the mediation of contact, she says they are "transcendental". Not in the sense of supramundane or anything mystical as such, but simply in the sense that nobody (not even the Buddha) could transcend the subject-object duality inherent in contact.


Interesting. I've been using the word "external" instead of "transcendental", but the meaning is possibly similar?


You'll love Hamilton, as she spends loads of ink on the internal-external dichotomy.

I tried (acting on a post by daverupa) to link "external" with DN 15's concept of bare sensory contact (paṭighasamphassa) and the experiential verbs predicated by kāyena. Not quite there yet. Perhaps you should enlist AncientBuddhism, as he has some very appealing ideas about Form and Name/Naming.
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Re: Is there a real world out there?...

Postby Aloka » Fri Jun 28, 2013 10:58 am

Sylvester wrote:
You'll love Hamilton, as she spends loads of ink on the internal-external dichotomy.



I started reading "Early Buddhism" A New Approach" a couple of years ago but didn't get to finish it.

There was also a thread - "Sue Hamilton -anyone read her work"

http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=8657

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Re: Is there a real world out there?...

Postby kirk5a » Fri Jun 28, 2013 2:08 pm

Sylvester wrote: How she defines the dichotomy, if I understand her correctly, is that there is the object and there is the experience of it, ie the Aggregates. It's an unbridgeable divide.

The unbridgeable divide is a figment of the imagination. It happens when philosophers start wondering about "the object in itself." Really that is asking what it would be like if their consciousness could reside in the object. But if that was possible, that would simply be a different experience. That would not be superior knowledge, it would just be different knowledge.
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Re: Is there a real world out there?...

Postby Spiny Norman » Fri Jun 28, 2013 3:19 pm

Sylvester wrote:
Spiny Norman wrote:
Sylvester wrote:The "transcendental" bit is to account for the other limb of experience, ie the external bases (bāhira āyatana) that make up one-third of contact. These are the sense objects. As these things are never known directly, but only through the mediation of contact, she says they are "transcendental". Not in the sense of supramundane or anything mystical as such, but simply in the sense that nobody (not even the Buddha) could transcend the subject-object duality inherent in contact.


Interesting. I've been using the word "external" instead of "transcendental", but the meaning is possibly similar?


You'll love Hamilton, as she spends loads of ink on the internal-external dichotomy.


I read the "I of the beholder" some time ago and found her ideas interesting ( well, at least the ones I understood ;) )
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Re: Is there a real world out there?...

Postby binocular » Fri Jun 28, 2013 5:25 pm

mikenz66 wrote:I agree with Chownah and Reflection that all we have to work with is our experience

But this is just a step away from solipsism!

To me, any attempt to confirm or deny that there is a "real world" misses the point. That most of us, in ordinary life, or in more technical areas such as science, use a working model that there is something out there, and that is what we are measuring or experiencing, and use language that builds in that assumption. We don't necessarily take it seriously, but we don't waste time thinking:
"I will go into the laboratory and measure the wavelength of this light that may or may not be real with this apparatus that also may or may not be real. And, by the way, my very concept of wavelength is built on the assumption of ..."

It's not a "waste of time." It's acknowledging the assumptions one works with. It is sometimes indeed counterproductive to do so, but the solution isn't to take them for granted. It's by taking things for granted that we can get into all kinds of problems.
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