The Buddha and Temporal "Neccessities".

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation

The Buddha and Temporal "Neccessities".

Postby MayaRefugee » Sat Jan 23, 2010 1:02 pm

Hi Guys,

I'm hoping someone here can steer me in the right direction.

I am intrigued as to how the Buddha saw ones responsibility to feed and protect the physical form if one has no-self i.e. anatta.

How does nourishment and self-protection fit into the Buddha's teachings?

Are there any terms, concepts or teachings that you know of that would help me learn more about this topic?

I know I'm only new but any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you very much.

Peace.
MayaRefugee
 
Posts: 66
Joined: Thu Jan 21, 2010 6:15 am

Re: The Buddha and Temporal "Neccessities".

Postby yuuki » Sat Jan 23, 2010 3:01 pm

I have read that the Buddha remained agnostic about the self. What anatta means, and I think this is very important, is that none of the five aggregates are self. I tend to take Thanissaro Bhikkhu's view on this that he gives in "No-self or Not-self?": http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... self2.html

He also has an essay with more detail called "The Not-self Strategy": http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... tself.html

I remember him saying in a dhamma talk that, like any other strategy, not-self must be used at the proper time. If not-self makes you want to not sustain your body with nourishment, then you may be applying not-self at the wrong time. The appropriate attitude in that situation might be metta; if anything we tend to not give ourselves the love we need.

The short answer to why I think we should care about our own nourishment: We can't develop the qualities of the path without support from our bodies, and the fruit of the path, nibbana, is what we wish for all beings, including ourselves. :)
yuuki
 
Posts: 25
Joined: Tue Dec 01, 2009 5:21 am

Re: The Buddha and Temporal "Neccessities".

Postby Cittasanto » Sat Jan 23, 2010 4:14 pm

just because ultimately there is no self to be found, doesn't mean that what this self can be applied to doesn't exist.

there are useful conventions such as I, me, my . . . and then there are attachments to an I, me, my . . .
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
User avatar
Cittasanto
 
Posts: 5688
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 10:31 pm
Location: Ellan Vannin

Re: The Buddha and Temporal "Neccessities".

Postby SDC » Sun Jan 24, 2010 5:04 am

Maha-Saccaka Sutta — The Greater Discourse to Saccaka

This may help explain. The Buddha describes his practice of austerities (not taking care of the body).

Edit - Maybe I should explain why I think this will help answer your question. The Buddha could not fully awaken while following a way of life in which he did not take care of himself. He needed to be nourished to the point where his mind would be able to function at the high level that his awakening would require. As far as this sutta having a relation to anatta; during his awakening he was able to fully realize that there is no self.
User avatar
SDC
 
Posts: 982
Joined: Mon Dec 14, 2009 11:08 pm
Location: North Jersey

Re: The Buddha and Temporal "Neccessities".

Postby MayaRefugee » Sun Jan 24, 2010 1:47 pm

SDC, just read the piece you linked.

It deals with the theme i'm pondering very well, thank you so much for your help.

yuuki, it's too late at the moment for me to read your links but I will definately read them tomorrow, thank you also for your help.

Peace.
MayaRefugee
 
Posts: 66
Joined: Thu Jan 21, 2010 6:15 am

Re: The Buddha and Temporal "Neccessities".

Postby SDC » Sun Jan 24, 2010 2:41 pm

MayaRefugee wrote:SDC, just read the piece you linked.

It deals with the theme i'm pondering very well, thank you so much for your help.

yuuki, it's too late at the moment for me to read your links but I will definately read them tomorrow, thank you also for your help.

Peace.


Glad to help.
User avatar
SDC
 
Posts: 982
Joined: Mon Dec 14, 2009 11:08 pm
Location: North Jersey

Re: The Buddha and Temporal "Neccessities".

Postby MayaRefugee » Mon Jan 25, 2010 9:40 am

yuuki, just read your links - BRILLIANT!

Thanks so much...

Peace.
MayaRefugee
 
Posts: 66
Joined: Thu Jan 21, 2010 6:15 am

Re: The Buddha and Temporal "Neccessities".

Postby Chula » Mon Jan 25, 2010 7:25 pm

yuuki wrote:I have read that the Buddha remained agnostic about the self. What anatta means, and I think this is very important, is that none of the five aggregates are self. I tend to take Thanissaro Bhikkhu's view on this that he gives in "No-self or Not-self?": http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... self2.html


Thanissaro Bhikkhu's point in a nut-shell is that not-self is a teaching to be used - not a metaphysical statement. This doesn't mean being "agnostic" about the self - that would imply that the Buddha thought that it could be either way - which falls into the wrong view similar to the "eel-wriggling" evasive Sañjaya Bellattaputta. It means that the teaching of not-self is to let go of suffering - not for making metaphysical statements about the nature of reality. What the Buddha says is that whatever is inconstant and suffering is unworthy of regarding as a self.

Regarding the view that the Buddha only taught that the five aggregates were not-self and didn't talk about anything outside of that, this is a misrepresentation of the teaching. Quoting Thanissaro Bhikkhu's introduction to MN 22 (Alagaddupama Sutta):

Two mistaken inferences are particularly relevant here. The first concerns the range of the not-self teaching. Some have argued that, because the Buddha usually limits his teachings on not-self to the five aggregates — form, feeling, perceptions, fabrications, and consciousness — he leaves open the possibility that something else may be regarded as self. Or, as the argument is often phrased, he denies the limited, temporal self as a means of pointing to one's identity with the larger, unlimited, cosmic self. However, in this discourse the Buddha explicitly phrases the not-self teaching in such a way as to refute any notion of cosmic self. Instead of centering his discussion of not-self on the five aggregates, he focuses on the first four aggregates plus two other possible objects of self-identification, both more explicitly cosmic in their range: (1) all that can be seen, heard, sensed, cognized, attained, sought after, pondered by the intellect; and (2) the cosmos as a whole, eternal and unchanging. In fact, the Buddha holds this last view up to particular ridicule, as the teaching of a fool, for two reasons that are developed at different points in this discourse: (1) If the cosmos were "me," then it must also be "mine," which is obviously not the case. (2) There is nothing in the experience of the cosmos that fits the bill of being eternal, unchanging, or that deserves to be clung to as "me" or "mine."
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
Last edited by Chula on Mon Jan 25, 2010 7:32 pm, edited 2 times in total.
User avatar
Chula
 
Posts: 80
Joined: Fri Oct 09, 2009 5:58 am
Location: NYC

Re: The Buddha and Temporal "Neccessities".

Postby Chula » Mon Jan 25, 2010 7:31 pm

The next paragraphs of the introduction are also relevant and provide further clarification:

The second mistaken inference is that, given the thoroughness with which the Buddha teaches not-self, one should draw the inference that there is no self. This inference is treated less explicitly in this discourse, although it is touched upon briefly in terms of what the Buddha teaches here and how he teaches.

In terms of what: He explicitly states he cannot envision a doctrine of self that, if clung to, would not lead to sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, & despair. He does not list all the possible doctrines of self included under this statement, but MN 2 provides at least a partial list:

I have a self... I have no self... It is precisely by means of self that I perceive self... It is precisely by means of self that I perceive not-self... It is precisely by means of not-self that I perceive self... or... 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 endure as long as 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.

Thus the view "I have no self" is just as much a doctrine of self as the view "I have a self." Because the act of clinging involves what the Buddha calls "I-making" — the creation of a sense of self — if one were to cling to the view that there is no self, one would be creating a very subtle sense of self around that view (see AN 4.24). But, as he says, the Dhamma is taught for "the elimination of all view-positions, determinations, biases, inclinations, & obsessions; for the stilling of all fabrications; for the relinquishing of all acquisitions; the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding."

Thus it is important to focus on how the Dhamma is taught: Even in his most thoroughgoing teachings about not-self, the Buddha never recommends replacing the assumption that there is a self with the assumption that there is no self. Instead, he only goes so far as to point out the drawbacks of various ways of conceiving the self and then to recommend dropping them. For example, in his standard series of questions building on the logic of the inconstancy and stress of the aggregates, he does not say that because the aggregates are inconstant and stressful there is no self. He simply asks, When they are inconstant and stressful, is it proper to assume that they are "me, my self, what I am"? Now, because the sense of self is a product of "I-making," this question seeks to do nothing more than to induce disenchantment and dispassion for that process of I-making, so as to put a stop to it. Once that is accomplished, the teaching has fulfilled its purpose in putting an end to suffering and stress. That's the safety of the further shore. As the Buddha says in this discourse, "Both formerly and now, monks, I declare only stress and the cessation of stress."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
User avatar
Chula
 
Posts: 80
Joined: Fri Oct 09, 2009 5:58 am
Location: NYC

Re: The Buddha and Temporal "Neccessities".

Postby yuuki » Tue Jan 26, 2010 1:09 pm

Chula wrote:Thanissaro Bhikkhu's point in a nut-shell is that not-self is a teaching to be used - not a metaphysical statement. This doesn't mean being "agnostic" about the self - that would imply that the Buddha thought that it could be either way - which falls into the wrong view similar to the "eel-wriggling" evasive Sañjaya Bellattaputta. It means that the teaching of not-self is to let go of suffering - not for making metaphysical statements about the nature of reality. What the Buddha says is that whatever is inconstant and suffering is unworthy of regarding as a self.


Hey Chula! Thank you for the detailed response.

"Agnostic" was the wrong word for me to use, because I definitely did not mean that the Buddha thought it could be either way. Rather, my understanding is that he thought it could be neither way; I've read that the Buddha refused to answer the question, "Is there a self?" I took this to mean that the Buddha thought that answering yes or no to the question of a metaphysical self would lead to absurd conclusions. I can imagine the problems being that Yes-Self seems to imply that something in the five aggregates is self, and therefore anatta becomes inapplicable in general; No-Self seems begs the question, "What is reborn if there is no Self?"

When I emphasized the five aggregates in relation to anatta, I was trying to shift the focus away from Self as a metaphysical idea, which is the more dangerous misinterpretation of the teaching. I haven't read very many suttas and there may well be many other entities described as being anatta.

But I think think the critical issue here for the OP is that anatta isn't a teaching to be applied by someone who is unsure about whether or not to nourish themselves.
yuuki
 
Posts: 25
Joined: Tue Dec 01, 2009 5:21 am

Re: The Buddha and Temporal "Neccessities".

Postby yuuki » Tue Jan 26, 2010 1:10 pm

MayaRefugee wrote:yuuki, just read your links - BRILLIANT!

Thanks so much...

Peace.


Glad you liked them!

Peace to you, too.
yuuki
 
Posts: 25
Joined: Tue Dec 01, 2009 5:21 am

Re: The Buddha and Temporal "Neccessities".

Postby Chula » Tue Jan 26, 2010 6:11 pm

yuuki wrote:No-Self seems begs the question, "What is reborn if there is no Self?"


Yes, it takes you to a "tangle of views".
"What" is reborn would be the wrong question to ask, it would be more useful to ask how there is rebirth:

SN 44.9 - Kutuhalasālāsutta:
I designate the rebirth of one who has sustenance, Vaccha, and not of one without sustenance. Just as a fire burns with sustenance and not without sustenance, even so I designate the rebirth of one who has sustenance and not of one without sustenance."
"But, Master Gotama, at the moment a flame is being swept on by the wind and goes a far distance, what do you designate as its sustenance then?"
"Vaccha, when a flame is being swept on by the wind and goes a far distance, I designate it as wind-sustained, for the wind is its sustenance at that time."
"And at the moment when a being sets this body aside and is not yet reborn in another body, what do you designate as its sustenance then?"
"Vaccha, when a being sets this body aside and is not yet reborn in another body, I designate it as craving-sustained, for craving is its sustenance at that time."
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

I recommend reading the Avyākatasaṃyutta (Connected Discourses on the Undeclared) about what questions are not worth asking for one looking for the end of stress and suffering:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... l#avyakata

Hope this is useful.
User avatar
Chula
 
Posts: 80
Joined: Fri Oct 09, 2009 5:58 am
Location: NYC

Re: The Buddha and Temporal "Neccessities".

Postby Sanghamitta » Wed Jan 27, 2010 10:45 am

The term " No- self " is a thorny problem. " Anatta" literally means, " No Atman ". Atman is and was the Hindu concept that equates to the western term "soul". i.e. something permanent that exists apart from the body and mind. The Buddha was saying that the Atman does not exist. Not that there is no self. There is a self, but it is constantly changing, has no permanence, and its attempts to find something permanent results in Dukkha, in stress and unease. So we are a changing body and a changing mind, and they need taking care of as long as they last. There is no "us" that HAS a changing body and mind, that is what we are. A process of change.
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

Bhikku Bodhi.
Sanghamitta
 
Posts: 1614
Joined: Wed Jul 29, 2009 9:21 am
Location: By the River Thames near London.

Re: The Buddha and Temporal "Neccessities".

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Jan 28, 2010 12:23 am

Greetings,

Sanghamitta wrote:The term " No- self " is a thorny problem. " Anatta" literally means, " No Atman ".

I've heard that claimed, but based on its grammatical use, I believe it's more accurate to translate it as not-self or not-Atman... which, upon reflection, is different in its meaning to "No Atman".

"No Atman" is an unproveable speculative theory, much like "no unicorn". How does one prove the non-existence of something throughout all dimensions of time and space?

Anyway, I'll leave it at that, to save from taking the topic too far off course. This matter has been discussed elsewhere in topics such as...

The Not-Self Strategy
viewtopic.php?f=24&t=309

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


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
User avatar
retrofuturist
Site Admin
 
Posts: 14622
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: The Buddha and Temporal "Neccessities".

Postby Dan74 » Thu Jan 28, 2010 12:46 am

I heard a teacher once say that before one is truly ready to let go of a self, one's got to have a strong healthy self.

What this means in practice is that if my life is in shambles because I am unable to carry out my responsibilities I may long for a "no-self" kind of thing as a release from this "burden" but this is completely wrong. Or if I think my life is fantastic and I am having so much fun, then the Dhamma appears to be pessimistic with it's talk of suffering, anatta etc. This is wrong too, because if one scratches the surface of such a happy life one inevitably finds a swarm of insecurities and anxieties that one needs constant distraction from. The provisional "middle way" is a well-adjusted person carrying out their responsibilities and living a moral life who recognizes the fact of dukkha and turns to Dhamma.

This is a good place to start from, but of course few of us do. So it's important not to misunderstand anatta teachings as a carte blanche to neglect one's responsibilities and become absorbed in oneself only.

_/|\_
_/|\_
User avatar
Dan74
 
Posts: 2617
Joined: Sun Mar 01, 2009 11:12 pm

Re: The Buddha and Temporal "Neccessities".

Postby Kim OHara » Thu Jan 28, 2010 10:27 am

Dan74 wrote:I heard a teacher once say that before one is truly ready to let go of a self, one's got to have a strong healthy self.

What this means in practice is that if my life is in shambles because I am unable to carry out my responsibilities I may long for a "no-self" kind of thing as a release from this "burden" but this is completely wrong. Or if I think my life is fantastic ... it's important not to misunderstand anatta teachings as a carte blanche to neglect one's responsibilities and become absorbed in oneself only.
_/|\_

That's why we need the Eight-fold Path and the Five Precepts. All the meditation and analysis in the world won't help unless we have a secure foundation of morality to build on.

:namaste:
Kim
User avatar
Kim OHara
 
Posts: 3002
Joined: Wed Dec 09, 2009 5:47 am
Location: North Queensland, Australia


Return to Open Dhamma

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: maitreya31, Viscid and 8 guests