The four noble truths - and craving.

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Re: The four noble truths - and craving.

Postby vinasp » Thu Feb 25, 2010 9:44 am

Hi retro,

retrofuturist wrote:Do you see this as different to the expression I have used a few times, namely "a false dichotomy between experiencer and experience".


I was going to ask what you meant by that! And do you mean no distinction between 'self' and 'not-self'?

Best wishes, Vincent.
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Re: The four noble truths - and craving.

Postby vinasp » Thu Feb 25, 2010 9:46 am

Hi retro,

Let me try to shed some light on that difficult passage that you quoted from the Kaccanagotta Sutta SN 12. 15. Here is Bodhi's translation, and extracts from his notes with my comments in square brackets [ ].

"This world, Kaccana, for the most part depends upon a duality - upon the notion of existence and the notion of non-existence. (29)"

[ "This world" means 'people generally']
Extracts from note 29 page 734:
Spk: "For the most part" means for the great multitude, with the exception of the noble individuals. The notion of existence (atthita) is eternalism (sassata); the notion of non-existence (natthita) is annihilationism (uccheda).
Spk-pt: The notion of existence is eternalism because it maintains that the entire world (of personal existence) exists forever. The notion of non-existence is annihilationism because it maintains that the entire world does not exist (forever) but is cut off.
Bodhi: In view of these explanations it would be misleading to translate the two terms, 'atthita' and 'natthita', simply as "existence" and "nonexistence" and then to maintain (as is sometimes done) that the Buddha rejects all ontological notions as inherently invalid. The Buddha's utterances at [SN] 22:94, for example, show that he did not hesitate to make pronouncements with a clear ontological import when they were called for.
....
Unfortunately, 'atthita' and 'bhava' both had to be rendered by "existence", which obscures the fact that in Pali they are derived from different roots. While 'atthita' is the notion of existence in the abstract, 'bhava' is concrete individual existence in one or another of the three realms.

[ What is being talked about here is not 'existence' or 'nonexistence' in our modern sense. It is about whether the 'self and world' which one has made is eternal or not. The eternalists said "yes", the annihilationists said "it ends at the death of the body". The Buddha's position was a new one: It can end now before the death of the body. Therefore, one should not think that it is eternal, nor should one think that it will end at some point in the future. One should end it now - this is nibbana. ]

To be continued.

Best wishes, Vincent.
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Re: The four noble truths - and craving.

Postby vinasp » Thu Feb 25, 2010 12:46 pm

Hi retro,

Kaccanagotta Sutta continued:

"But for one who sees the origin of the world as it really is with correct wisdom, there is no notion of nonexistence in regard to the world. And for one who sees the cessation of the world as it really is with correct wisdom, there is no notion of existence in regard to the world (30)."

[ The 'world' here is the world that one has made. 'self' and 'world' are constructed together. In the nikaya teachings the five aggregates of clinging are 'self and world', and so too are the last eight links of the dependent origination formula. ]

Extracts from note 30 page 735:
Spk: The origin of the world: the production of the world of formations.
...
Spk: The cessation of the world: the dissolution of formations.
...
Spk: Further, "the origin of the world" is direct-order conditionality (anuloma-paccayakara); "the cessation of the world", reverse-order conditionality (patiloma-paccayakara).

[ See: SN 12. 49, "Bhikkhus, when a noble disciple thus understands as they really are the origin and the passing away of the world, he is then called a noble disciple who is accomplished in view ... one who stands squarely before the door to the deathless."]

[ This 'self and world', the five aggregates of clinging, are dependently arisen (note the past tense) they have arisen over many years. One who sees with wisdom how this 'world' has arisen, and how it can come to complete cessation, does not regard it as eternal, nor does he think that it can only end with the death of the body. So he does not have the eternalist view (existence) in relation to this 'world', nor does he have the annihilationist view (nonexistence) in relation to this 'world'. Instead, he sees it as dependently arisen, and seeks to bring about its cessation. Hence the D.O. formula which shows that this 'world' depends, ultimately, on ignorance.]

Best wishes, Vincent.
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Re: The four noble truths - and craving.

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Feb 25, 2010 11:06 pm

Greetings Vincent,

I'm not really saying anything new here (just the same thing in relation to a different quote!) but when Spk seemingly takes this sentence.... "This world, Kaccana, for the most part depends upon a duality - upon the notion of existence and the notion of non-existence." to be solely referring to 'atta' (and the eternal existence or destruction thereof), it is severely limiting its import and again, to use Bhikkhu Bodhi's words, is "too narrow" a definition. At the level of aggregates, it could refer to the existence or non-existence of a particular feeling, perception, or an aspect of the body... but these things are like a bubble, like foam etc. in their emptiness and lack of essence. These are things that are perceived to "exist" or "not-exist" and are therefore intended to be included... it isn't just the annihilation or existence of some kind of an "all".

Also, in relation to craving, I believe it's what you want something be (or not to be)... not your view on what it is. Let's say there's someone whose view is annihilationist, but they wish eternalism were true. They believe in 'self' but think it will be destroyed at death, but oh, how they wish there were eternal heavens etc. In your mind, is that vibhava-tanha or bhava-tanha?

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)


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One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: The four noble truths - and craving.

Postby vinasp » Fri Feb 26, 2010 2:27 am

Hi retro,

For me, bhava tanha is the craving which produces bhava, which I understand to be 'self-existence', and which I think is nothing more than the view (obsession) of 'an existing self'.

You clearly understand it in some other way. So what, for you, does bhava mean?

"Nibbana is the cessation of existence (bhava)." What for you does this mean?

Best wishes, Vincent.
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Re: The four noble truths - and craving.

Postby vinasp » Fri Feb 26, 2010 2:44 am

Hi everyone,

The term 'bhava' is translated as 'existence', 'being' or 'becoming'. It should be understood as 'self-existence' or 'self-becoming'. There is a bhava-asava (corruption of becoming) but the asava's are not described in detail. However, there are four 'yokes' or 'bonds' which are similar to the asava's. They are craving for sense-pleasures (kama), craving for becoming (bhava), craving for views (ditthi) and ignorance (avijja).

"And how is there the yoke of becoming? There is the case where a certain person does not discern, as it actually is present, the origination, the passing away, the allure, the drawbacks, & the escape from becoming. When he does not discern, as it actually is present, the origination, the passing away, the allure, the drawbacks, & the escape from becoming, then — with regard to states of becoming — he is obsessed with becoming-passion, becoming-delight, becoming-attraction, becoming-infatuation, becoming-thirst, becoming-fever, becoming-fascination, becoming-craving. This is the yoke of sensuality & the yoke of becoming. [AN 4.10 PTS: A ii 10]

Another reference to bhava is found in SN 12. 68 :

"Nibbana is the cessation of existence." Bhikkhu Bodhi, Connected Discourses.

The cessation of bhava is the cessation of 'self-existence', the ending of the illusion of the continuing existence of a self.

Best wishes, Vincent.
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Re: The four noble truths - and craving.

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Feb 26, 2010 3:35 am

Greetings Vincent,

vinasp wrote:For me, bhava tanha is the craving which produces bhava, which I understand to be 'self-existence', and which I think is nothing more than the view (obsession) of 'an existing self'.

How would you classify the following cravings...

- Craving for those noisy people over there to shut the hell up
- Craving for the working day to come to an end
- Craving for the train to arrive on time, so you don't miss your connecting bus
- Craving for the body to be other than how it is (10kg lighter perhaps)

Bhava-tanha, vibhava-tanha, or kama-tanha? How do these cravings fit into these boxes, as you have defined them?

Is an obsession with self and its perpetuation or cessation the proximite cause or result of these cravings? Is a person's view of the post-mortem destination of the soul the decisive factor in how they react when they see their connecting bus riding off into the sunset without them?

Out of interest, have you ever watched the mind and observed craving in its myriad forms?

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: The four noble truths - and craving.

Postby vinasp » Fri Feb 26, 2010 6:36 am

Hi retro,

You raise some good points. Craving in the teachings is not easy to understand.

If you are saying that you do not think that the 'three cravings' include every kind of desire - you may be correct. But that is no reason to re-interpret the meaning of bhava tanha.
If you hear a noise which you do not find pleasant, then unpleasant feeling arises, from this comes hatred or aversion. This is hating a sound which clearly relates to the sense-spheres. This raises the question of whether hatred or aversion should be understood as being included in craving. This is an interesting question. Although kama means pleasure, kama-tanha can be understood as craving in relation to the five spheres of sense. It may, therefore, include aversion to any sense object.

It may be that the 'three cravings' in the second truth are not meant to include every sort of desire, but only the main causes of suffering. There are other ways in which cravings are classified, for example the sixfold analysis.

Bhava tanha may be difficult to see, which might explain why all sorts of wrong explanations of it have arisen outside of the tradition and its practitioners.

Best wishes, Vincent.
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Re: The four noble truths - and craving.

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Feb 26, 2010 7:16 am

Greetings Vincent,

vinasp wrote: If you are saying that you do not think that the 'three cravings' include every kind of desire - you may be correct.


Actually, I do think they are fully comprehensive... craving for, craving against, and craving for sensory gratification. No craving falls outside the scope of the three.

vinasp wrote:But that is no reason to re-interpret the meaning of bhava tanha.


I don't see any re-interpretation taking place.

Tanha = craving, bhava = becoming.... put them together and you've got craving for becoming (i.e. craving for - attraction)
Tanha = craving, vibhava = non-becoming.... put them together and you've got craving for un-becoming (i.e. craving against - repulsion)

vinasp wrote: You raise some good points. Craving in the teachings is not easy to understand.

It is easier when study and practice are combined and one's real-world experiencing constitute the testing ground for the Dhamma of the suttas. Then craving is known as a reality and not as an abstraction.

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: The four noble truths - and craving.

Postby vinasp » Sat Feb 27, 2010 11:46 pm

Hi retro,

It seems that I was wrong in thinking that kama tanha was understood, and that it was bhava tanha and vibhava tanha which needed to be explained. Not only is kama tanha not understood, but tanha itself seems to be completely mis-understood.

This is not a criticism of you in particular, the mis-understanding of tanha is very widespread. Only recently have I myself started to realise the depth of the confusion.

What you (and many others) are doing is confusing tanha with chando (desire). I am still researching this at present, so I am unable to give a full explanation. It would seem that there is really no word in english for tanha, so translating it as 'thirst' or 'craving' only adds to the problems.

Here is the best explanation that I can give at this stage: Tanha is a special 'mental volition' which 'feeds' the illusory 'self'. It arises whenever some sense object is present and causes pleasant feeling to arise. It (tanha) is a sort of 'indulgence' in something already present and available for 'indulgence'. This is why monks have to 'gaurd the sense doors', mindfulness is used to prevent the arising of tanha even when experiencing pleasant things. This tanha is always related to present objects. It has no connection whatsoever with 'desire' as used in English to mean the motivation, volition, and actions required to obtain some object of pleasure, or to bring about some desired state of affairs. For things of that kind, other words such as 'chando' are used. Chando (desire) can be wholesome or unwholesome, depending on the motivation and the
object of the desire. An arahant can, and does, still have chando, how else could he be effective in his interactions with the world. Also, the chando (desire) for enlightenment is a good desire.

Best wishes, Vincent.
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Re: The four noble truths - and craving.

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Feb 28, 2010 12:14 am

Greetings Vincent,

Don't worry, I won't take offense.

As for the difference between chanda and tanha... to me chanda is the initial desire, but tanha is the clinging/craving or "latching on" that arises after the initial desire arises.

I desire (chanda) a drink, and this desire conditions craving (tanha). If you are indeed researching the term tanha, you'll realise that the use of a beverage as an expository device was far from arbitrary.

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: The four noble truths - and craving.

Postby rowyourboat » Wed Mar 03, 2010 11:19 pm

There is a sutta where chanda is also said to be lost at the end of the path. Chanda is considered wholesome because it aids the path- not anything else. Even then, it can be the cause of suffering (suffering which arises from not progressing as much as we want to). We can do things with and without craving. If we do things without craving then we will know -when we dont get to do what we wanted there is no suffering.

(whats with all the wolves?!)
With Metta

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Re: The four noble truths - and craving.

Postby vinasp » Thu Mar 04, 2010 12:12 pm

Hi retro,

I have reviewed the uses of the terms 'tanha' and 'chando' in the Digha Nikaya. It seems that we are both correct, it just depends on whether one means the puthujjana's understanding or the ariya-savaka's.

My understanding is that the Digha Nikaya contains the teachings for lay followers, most of whom will be puthujjana's. The main presentation of dependent origination is found in the Mahanidana Sutta (DN 15), which is very biased towards the 'three life interpretation'. It seems that this is how puthujjana's are intended to understand D.O.

When D.O. is understood in this way, feeling, craving and clinging represent 'this life' and each can be understood only in the most general way. For example, craving will mean all the desires, aspirations and wishes generated in the course of this life. Also the term 'upadana' will be understood as clinging - all the clinging which has accumulated over the course of this life.

The real question is whether D.O. is understood in a different way by an ariya-savaka, my opinion is that it is. For me, the ariya-savaka uses D.O. as a 'template' for analysing the things which arise in the mind. This can be on a much shorter time scale, days, hours even minutes. This requires not only a different understanding of tanha, but a different understanding of 'clinging' also.

Best wishes, Vincent.
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Re: The four noble truths - and craving.

Postby vinasp » Fri Mar 05, 2010 4:15 am

Hi rowyourboat,

"There is a sutta where chanda is also said to be lost at the end of the path."

I wonder if you mean SN 51. 15 The Brahmin Unnabha? Link:

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

It says: "Brahman, the holy life is lived under the Blessed One with the aim of abandoning desire."

And later it says: "Whatever desire he first had for the attainment of arahantship, on attaining arahantship that particular desire is allayed."

I am not sure how to interpret this. It could be saying that all desires are abandoned. But there are suttas which suggest otherwise, for example SN 45. 12 :

"Bhikkhus, I wish to go into seclusion for three months, I should not be approached by anyone except the one who brings me almsfood."

Of course, this is 'wish' not 'desire' but can we really argue that arahants have no volition, or no motivation? How would they feed themselves?

Best wishes, Vincent.
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Re: The four noble truths - and craving.

Postby lovediction » Sat Mar 13, 2010 5:54 pm

Cravings are desires that have yet to be fulfilled. But they must be confronted with and dealt with. The Buddha resolved his craving for food by going out for alms. That was part of that solution. The other part was his ability to fast for many days and offering his teachings as an exchange for invitation to palace meals. He was not explicit about this but he never refused a sumptuous invitation to a feast--same difference.

So therefore a craving is a desire that has not been met with. But resolved they must be.
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Re: The four noble truths - and craving.

Postby clw_uk » Fri May 21, 2010 8:55 pm

My understanding is that craving to become and craving for non-existence can mean many things such as


A) wanting to live after death

B) wanting to die after death

C) wanting to become famous

D) wanting to "remove" and irritating itch


in other words i see them as general terms for wanting to get something and wanting to get rid of something


Ajahn Sumedho said that there is only one craving and what is mentioned above are just different routes it can take (paraphrased)


metta
Last edited by clw_uk on Fri May 21, 2010 10:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The four noble truths - and craving.

Postby mikenz66 » Fri May 21, 2010 9:24 pm

Welcome back Craig!

:hello:
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