What does by Buddhaghosa mean by "continuous oppression"?

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What does by Buddhaghosa mean by "continuous oppression"?

Postby EmptyCittas1by1 » Sun Jan 05, 2014 12:02 am

On page 668 of The Path to Purification, Buddhaghosa starts to talk about the three characteristics. He says the characteristic of pain (dukkha) is "continuous oppression". What does he mean by this? The quote:

Herein, the five aggregates are impermanent. Why? Because they rise and fall and change, or because of their non-existence after having been. Rise and fall and change are the characteristic of impermanence; or mode alteration, in other words, non-existence after having been [is the characteristic of impermanence].4
7. Those same five aggregates are painful because of the words, “What is impermanent is painful” (S III 22). Why? Because of continuous oppression. The mode of being continuously oppressed is the characteristic of pain.


So as we know, whatever is impermanent must be stressful. The word "pain" seems to take it to a whole new level though. I'm having trouble with this because pleasures are impermanent and the thing is, when I experience pleasure, I don't feel oppressed at all. Are we therefore supposed to see pleasure as pain in the way that a vampire sees the sun as pain? Are we supposed to contemplate all feelings so that they eventually are all treated as pain during their occurrence?

Buddhaghosa says that the characteristic of impermanence is "rise and fall", or "non-existence after having been". Then in the next paragraph he states that what is impermanent is painful. So the meaning I get is: "The falling away or non-existence of what has been existing is painful". The problem with this is that it would mean that pleasant feelings are painful only on their passing away, and painful feelings are as well. To counter this, one can say that pleasant feelings are painful only on their passing away, but painful feelings are painful during their occurrence. But this doesn't make sense, because all feelings are painful, and it contradicts what he said.


:shrug: :shrug:
"Eat little! Sleep little! Speak little! Whatever it may be of worldly habit, lessen them, go against their power. Don't just do as you like, don't indulge in your thought. Stop this slavish following. You must constantly go against the stream of ignorance. This is called "Discipline." When you discipline your heart, it becomes very dissatisfied and begins to struggle. It becomes restricted and oppressed. When the heart is prevented from doing what it wants to do, it starts wandering and struggling. Suffering becomes apparent to us."

— Ajahn Chah
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Re: What does by Buddhaghosa mean by "continuous oppression"

Postby santa100 » Sun Jan 05, 2014 2:21 am

The four modes of continuous oppression are defined on the previous page 667 in footnote #3.

About the pain of sensual pleasures, since we're still un-enlightened beings, we're still subjected to the "four perversions" as described in AN 4.49 ( http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html ). Also refer to the leper analogy in MN 75 ( http://suttacentral.net/mn75/en ) who, due to the disease, continues to scratch his open wounds with his nails, or causterise his body over a burning charcoal pit to "feel" better. For the leper, the only way to get to the truth is to take the "doctor"'s medicines to be completely cured, not to dwell on some illusional make-believe about his state.
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Re: What does by Buddhaghosa mean by "continuous oppression"

Postby EmptyCittas1by1 » Sun Jan 05, 2014 3:53 am

santa100 wrote:The four modes of continuous oppression are defined on the previous page 667 in footnote #3.

About the pain of sensual pleasures, since we're still un-enlightened beings, we're still subjected to the "four perversions" as described in AN 4.49 ( http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html ). Also refer to the leper analogy in MN 75 ( http://suttacentral.net/mn75/en ) who, due to the disease, continues to scratch his open wounds with his nails, or causterise his body over a burning charcoal pit to "feel" better. For the leper, the only way to get to the truth is to take the "doctor"'s medicines to be completely cured, not to dwell on some illusional make-believe about his state.


While the sutta cleared some things up, the footnote is still confusing, because it still seems to be only referring to pain, e.g. a prick of the needle.

"sense of burning, of being hard to bear, of being the basis for pain, and of opposing pleasure"

Pleasures aren't burning, pleasures aren't hard to bear, pleasures are the basis of future pain if that's what he means, and pleasure does oppose the pleasure of nibbana. Does it work like this?:

Pain
—Burning
—Hard to bear

Pleasures
—Basis for future pain
—Opposes pleasure (bliss) of nibbana

Or are do all 4 reasons apply to all types of feeling? According to MN 75, the answer would be yes, but the commentaries and such seem to have a much different way of explaining things when compared to the suttas.
"Eat little! Sleep little! Speak little! Whatever it may be of worldly habit, lessen them, go against their power. Don't just do as you like, don't indulge in your thought. Stop this slavish following. You must constantly go against the stream of ignorance. This is called "Discipline." When you discipline your heart, it becomes very dissatisfied and begins to struggle. It becomes restricted and oppressed. When the heart is prevented from doing what it wants to do, it starts wandering and struggling. Suffering becomes apparent to us."

— Ajahn Chah
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Re: What does by Buddhaghosa mean by "continuous oppression"

Postby santa100 » Sun Jan 05, 2014 5:35 am

The Three Characteristics are: impermanence(anicca), suffering(dukkha), and not-self(anatta). Notice that the rendering of dukkha as "suffering" or "unsatisfactoriness" is probably better than "pain" (as Ven. Nanamoli used in the Vism. translation) for it's much deeper than simple painful or pleasant feelings. So for example, if we substitute "pain" with "unsatisfactoriness", it'll make it easier for us to see that sensual pleasures are "unsatisfactory" because of the continuous "sense of burning oppression". Ever heard of that common phrase "burning with desire"? So, there's no contradiction between Vism. and the suttas afterall.
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Re: What does by Buddhaghosa mean by "continuous oppression"

Postby EmptyCittas1by1 » Sun Jan 05, 2014 1:28 pm

santa100 wrote:The Three Characteristics are: impermanence(anicca), suffering(dukkha), and not-self(anatta). Notice that the rendering of dukkha as "suffering" or "unsatisfactoriness" is probably better than "pain" (as Ven. Nanamoli used in the Vism. translation) for it's much deeper than simple painful or pleasant feelings. So for example, if we substitute "pain" with "unsatisfactoriness", it'll make it easier for us to see that sensual pleasures are "unsatisfactory" because of the continuous "sense of burning oppression". Ever heard of that common phrase "burning with desire"? So, there's no contradiction between Vism. and the suttas afterall.


Thanks :thumbsup:

Last night I listened to a talk by Ajahn Jayasaro. His interesting translation of dukkha was "not-nibbana"
"Eat little! Sleep little! Speak little! Whatever it may be of worldly habit, lessen them, go against their power. Don't just do as you like, don't indulge in your thought. Stop this slavish following. You must constantly go against the stream of ignorance. This is called "Discipline." When you discipline your heart, it becomes very dissatisfied and begins to struggle. It becomes restricted and oppressed. When the heart is prevented from doing what it wants to do, it starts wandering and struggling. Suffering becomes apparent to us."

— Ajahn Chah
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