Goodness! So much discussed while I was in slumberland.
A Q for nowheat - when you say "field", were you referring to a nidāna
or to a type of constituent within the nidāna
? I get the sense that you meant the latter from your earlier post -
...Contact is a field we can study to try to identify *which* contacts are a problem
...because if we're talking "where" not "what" then it's not that we have to do away with all consciousness to interrupt the process, it's only a certain kind of consciousness.
On the other hand, this seems suggestive of the former -
They would have *known* he was talking about a field, and they would not have expected (the way we expect) that when he named a link, he was saying enough to actually understand the "what".
Could you clarify?
While I think there is some merit in looking at the teaching on DO as being an exposition on fields (in the latter sense above), I'm not sure if the suttas actually employ such a pedagogy consistently. Looking at SN 12.2 as an exemplar, you might be able to get some of the components of DO explained as attributive/restrictive appositionals which would support the field reading, eg avijjā
(ignorance = ignorance about certain things). But, I cannot see how the other components are amenable to a "field" distinction between good/bad etc, when it looks to me to be an exhaustive listing of all possible types of states within that class. Eg saḷāyatana
(the 6 sense bases) or even nāmarūpa
. It might help if we could actually see a more explicit "field" or restrictive pronouncement, which would be typically prefaced "yaṃ kiñci
" or something similar to indicate that intent.
The example of nāmarūpa
leads me to wonder if the Buddha's audience brought up on an Upanisadic diet of nāmarūpa
would have lensed the enquiry via the "field" method. Certainly, it is not until DN 15 that we actually see the Buddha give a much more sophisticated explanation of nāmarūpa
in relation to the 2 types of contact. There, the potential for the field reading is available, as adhivacanasamphassa
seems to be the knife's edge that could lead to either wisdom or proliferation.
Re the apex, I'd go with Alex' definition, and add to it the Attainment of Cessation. But we do have a very problematic sutta on the post-awakening possibility of "volition". It's SN 12.51 and that makes the odd declaration that an Arahant cannot abhisaṅkharoti
any kind of saṅkhāra
whatsoever. This does lend credence to what reflection is hinting at, namely an Arahant's post-Awakening consciousness would have arisen in dependence on a pre-Awakening saṅkhāra
. On this, I am largely guided by a boring grammatical view that locative absolutes formed from as/bhu
auxillary verbs (such as idappaccayatā's
formula) don't function the same way as locative absolutes formed from action verbs.
Of course, one could spill much more ink on what the Buddha meant by abhisaṅkharoti
, and whether this was one of those clever digs as the Upanisadic abhisamskaroti
. After all, this absence of abhisaṅkharoti
is not the monopoly of Arahants - apparently, even Trainees can practise in this manner : AN 4.235.
PS - Re the Black and Falk citation above, do they explain whether the Upanisadic teaching of sequences is one of "sufficient conditions" (ie if you make this karma, you will reap this result)? I've read this said before. And this is an interesting distinction in the Buddha's conception of idappaccayatā
as a foil to the Upanisads - the nidānas
are not sufficient conditions, but necessary ones (leaving aside the later Abhidhamma attempts to distinguish hetu