The Buddha, Imagination and The Artistic Process

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation

Re: The Buddha, Imagination and The Artistic Process

Postby christopher::: » Sun Feb 21, 2010 2:30 am

meindzai wrote:Many artists, musicians, etc. talk about the creative "force" in terms that imply that they do not take personal responsibility for their "creation." In theistic or mystical terms, which typically don't involve a great deal of analysis, this is simply described as channeling some mystic force, or channeling God or whatever. Because that's exactly how it feels. If you've ever really been involved in a creative act it seems to come from absolutely nowhere.

Somebody versed in psychology could probably give you a good explanation of what's happening, using terms like ego, consious, subconsious, maybe superconsious. But the visceral experience is that it's not "me" that's creating anything. I've written compositions, songs, whatever that people have complimented me on and it's hard to even take the compliment seriously or have any pride around the work - it almost feels like you're taking credit for something somebody else did.

I've mentioned before that really Zen Buddhism, much moreso than Theravada has explored this in relation to the Buddhism, and they typically do it with reference to "non-duality." Or "no separation between subject and object." And it is looked at as a kind of expression of the not-self teaching. But there's a big caution here, which is that Buddhism doesn't take the non-separation of subject and object as an absorption into any cosmic entity. It simply says that there is no barrier. It doesn't say that "you are me and I am you and I am art and I am the universe." Becuase that still implies an "I." The Buddha denied all fabrications of an "I" no matter how cosmic or humble.

What *is* happening often during the creative process, and what Zen arts take advantage of, is that our normal discursive thinking fades into the background or is of secondary importance. Zen arts involve a complete and total mastery of the craft so that there is no "thought" involved in terms of technique or whatever, in other words a very quiet and meditative mindset.

Without analysing all of this from a standpoint of anatta or dependent origination it can look and feel very much like the will of a cosmic or divine power of some sort.

-M


Nice description. This has been my experience as well.

I came to the dharma as an artist, drawn by the possibility that meditation and mindfulness practice might have some positive effect, changing how and what "I" created.

The change was dramatic. As i started meditating and cultivated greater mindfulness i found that i was able to create art without getting emotionally and mentally involved with the process and outcomes, just as you've described. Drawing then became a kind of meditative activity- it was like finding a new form of creative freedom, being in the world without trying to "control" what's happening... responding to what was happening in the moment, as the works were created- just observing very carefully- as the composition formed.

Not being attached to outcome or trying to make things fit some imagined model in your head. I think in this way one can use creative opportunities as a means of dharma practice, mindfulness and concentration practice.

And while its true that more emphasis has been placed on creativity and art by Mahayana schools (especially Tibetan and Zen) i think it fits very well with Theravada as well, especially in regards to mindfulness training. You can find ways to be creative without getting attached to what "you" are doing. It's also a good method for cultivating upekkha, imo, as calmness and equanimity seem to arise naturally when one lets the imagined "self" drop away...


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"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
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Re: The Buddha, Imagination and The Artistic Process

Postby MayaRefugee » Thu Feb 25, 2010 8:28 am

The Aesthetic Dimension of the Emotions (an unfinished postscript)
Having dealt with the psychological and ethical aspects of the emotions in Buddhism, it would naturally fall in line with our discussion to say a few words on the aesthetic aspects too. These comments are made as an incentive to further reflection rather than in the form of a definitive statement.

In the course of our discussion it was observed that Buddhism upholds the cultivation of good emotions and the elimination of unwholesome emotions. Art and aesthetics is basically a medium of human communication. Is there a facet of the aesthetic that can enhance the education of the emotions? There are two sides to the question, one from the standpoint of art, the other from the standpoint of Buddhism.

Let us take the standpoint of art first. There are three views on the relationship between art and morality, out of which philosophers like R.W. Beardsmore favor the third.37 The view called "Moralism" upholds that the aim of art is to teach morality; "Autonomism" is the belief that the art has nothing to do with morality. Both points are mistaken on Beardsmore's view; art does not crudely teach morality or deliberately eliminate it; rather, art can give an understanding which makes moral judgment sensitive and intelligent. In the recent development of what is called "Situational Ethics," examples from literature are used for the discussion of moral issues. By thus reflecting on the conflicts and dilemmas of the characters we can enrich our own sensibility. Without having undergone the experience ourselves, moral and religious problems can be viewed with a "sense of detachment." Thirdly, the uses of pure reason are sometimes limited, and the use of literary techniques are extremely effective on occasions; the fact is quite obviously seen in the importance of the Jatakas, the Thera- and Theri-gathas etc. Finally, philosophers like Aristotle discovered a certainly cathartic purpose in art. By the use of the sympathetic imagination, one tends to see the common human nature that exists behind the façade of divisive doctrines.38

Now can a Buddhist absorb the aims of art and aesthetics in this manner? As we have already mentioned, for the purpose of efficient communication a wide variety of techniques have been used by the Buddha: stories, fables, poetry, paradoxes, similes, etc. Some of these techniques are well developed — for instance, in Zen Buddhism. Drama and song are used today as media for depicting thematically a Buddhist idea. Sculpture and painting have developed over the years with a Buddhist inspiration.

But there are problems in this area. Though the five precepts do not directly prohibit artistic activity, the call to restrain the senses is important. Also in the more stringent code of morality (the ten precepts), and for monks, seeing dances and such forms of amusements is prohibited. The crucial question is how do we differentiate between the "sensuous" with its harmful effects and the "aesthetic"? O.H. de A. Wijesekera, discussing the relationship between "Buddhism and Art,"39 says: "In the Sigala homily we have one of the best abstracts of the Buddha's attitude as to what a lay disciple should do and not do. One will find that the Buddha there admonishes Sigala not to fall into the error of developing a habitual liking for amusements, but he certainly does not ask Sigala to cut himself off completely from all aesthetic pursuits, only that which is bad and demoralizing." Thus if we do not adopt a very limited notion of the "sensuous" to eliminate the aesthetic, education of the emotion through aesthetic media is possible.

Jothiya Dhirasekera says "...the Buddhist recognizes beauty where the senses can perceive it. But in the beauty he also sees its own change and destruction. He remembers what the Buddha said with regard to all components things, that they come in to being, undergo change and are destroyed."40 It is because of the ability to look at life with equanimity that Buddhism provided a base for the development of a very rich nature poetry: the images of peace and tranquility, of change and continuity — all these find graphic expression in Buddhist poetry.

There is also a devotional aspect of religion which finds fitting expression in aesthetic media, and within the concept of saddhaa, art and aesthetic can stimulate faith and reverence for the Dhamma.

To conclude — In the depiction of human tragedy, the lure of power, the pitfalls of ambition, the roots of passion and the springs of compassion, the Jatakas have already provided a veritable gold mine for the education of the emotions. With the tranquility and peace that one sees in the Samadhi statue or the beauty of the ancient cave paintings, we enter into a dimension which is predominantly Buddhistic. These observations are offered to re-activate a facet of human nature (namely the affective side) that comes most naturally to man and harness this potential in the wake of a higher spiritual transformation.



http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/desilva-p/wheel237.html
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Re: The Buddha, Imagination and The Artistic Process

Postby Kim OHara » Fri Feb 26, 2010 4:21 am

:goodpost:
I agree with everything in that quote so it must be right :tongue:
Well, not necessarily ... but I do agree with it all the way.
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Re: The Buddha, Imagination and The Artistic Process

Postby MayaRefugee » Sun Feb 28, 2010 1:29 pm

Hey Guys,

A couple of pages back I brought up some terms that seemed to provide a clue as to where the material we use to mentally conceive a work of art resides within us - I was told I was diverging from Theravada traditions by bringing up these concepts.

I've done a bit of looking around and think I've found a Theravadian equivalent.

Before I get into it, the post where I went AWOL from the Theravada is here: http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=3404&start=100#p53163

To refresh your memory these were the terms I previously brought up:

Seventh consciousness:
"The manas consciousness ","Obscuration-consciousness" (Tibetan: nyon-yid rnam-shes); (Sanskrit: klistamanas = klesha "obscuration", "poison", "enemy"; manas "ideation", "moving mind", "mind monkey" (volition?); a consciousness which through apprehension, gathers the hindrances, the poisons, the karmic formations (c.f. Manas (early Buddhism)).

Eighth consciousness:
"store-house consciousness" (Tibetan: kun-gzhi rnam-shes; Sanskrit: ālāyavijñāna); " The seed consciousness (bi^ja-vijn~a^na); "the consciousness which is the basis of the other seven. The seven prior consciousnesses are based and founded upon the eighth. It serves as the container for all experiential impressions termed metaphorically as bija or "seeds". It is the aggregate which administers and yields rebirth; this idea may in some respects be compared to the usage of the word "citta" in the agamas. In the early texts the sankhara-khandha plays some of the roles ascribed to the store-house consciousness by later Yogacara thinkers.


My recent enquiry has me honing in on the notion of Bhavanga-Sota which is metioned in the Abhidhamma:

This law of rebirth can be made comprehensible only by the subconscious life-stream (in Pali, bhavanga-sota), which is mentioned in the Abhidhamma Pitaka and further explained in the commentaries, especially the Visuddhimagga. The fundamental import of bhavanga-sota, or the subconscious life-stream, as a working hypothesis for the explanation of the various Buddhist doctrines, such as rebirth, kamma, remembrance of former births, etc., has up to now not yet sufficiently been recognized, or understood, by Western scholars. The term bhavanga-sota, is identical with what the modern psychologists, such as Jung, etc., call the soul, or the unconscious, thereby not meaning, of course, the eternal soul-entity of Christian teaching but an ever-changing subconscious process. This subconscious life-stream is the necessary condition of all life. In it, all impressions and experiences are stored up, or better said, appear as a multiple process of past images, or memory pictures, which however, as such, are hidden to full consciousness, but which, especially in dreams, cross the threshold of consciousness and make themselves fully conscious.

Professor James (whose words I here retranslate from the German version) says: "Many achievements of genius have here their beginning. In conversion, mystical experience, and as prayer, it co-operates with religious life. It contains all momentarily inactive reminiscences and sources of all our dimly motivated passions, impulses, intuitions, hypotheses, fancies, superstitions; in short, all our non-rational operations result therefrom. It is the source of dreams, etc."

Jung, in his Soul Problems of the Present Day, says: "From the living source of instinct springs forth everything creative." And in another place: "Whatever has been created by the human mind, results from contents which were really unconscious (or subconscious) germs." And: "The term 'instinct' is of course nothing but a collective term for all possible organic and psychic factors, whose nature is for the greater part unknown to us."

The existence of the subconscious life-stream, or bhavanga-sota, is a necessary postulate of our thinking. If whatever we have seen, heard, felt, perceived, thought, experienced and done were not, without exception, registered somewhere and in some way, either in the extremely complex nervous system (comparable to a phonograph record or photographic plate) or in the subconscious or unconscious, we would not even be able to remember what we were thinking at the preceding moment; we would not know anything of the existence of other beings and things; we would not know our parents, teachers, friends, and so on; we would not even be able to think at all, as thinking is conditioned by the remembrance of former experiences; and our mind would be a complete tabula rasa and emptier than the actual mind of an infant just born, nay even of the embryo in the mother's womb.

Thus this subconscious life-stream, or bhavanga-sota, can be called the precipitate of all our former actions and experiences, which must have been going on since time immemorial and must continue for still immeasurable periods of time to come. Therefore what constitutes the true and innermost nature of man, or any other being, is this subconscious life-stream, of which we do not know whence it came and whither it will go. As Heraclitus says: "We never enter the same stream. We are identical with it, and we are not." Just so it is said in the Milindapañha: "na ca so, na ca añño; neither is it the same, nor is it another (that is reborn)." All life, be it corporeal, conscious or subconscious, is a flowing, a continual process of becoming, change and transformation. No persistent element is there to be discovered in this process. Hence there is no permanent ego, or personality, to be found, but merely these transitory phenomena.

About this unreality of the ego, the Hungarian psychologist Volgyesi in his Message to the Nervous World says:

Under the influence of the newest knowledge the psychologists already begin to realize the truth about the delusive nature of the ego-entity, the mere relative value of the ego-feeling, the great dependency of this tiny man on the inexhaustible and complex working factors of the whole world... The idea of an independent ego, and of a self-reliant free will: these ideas we should give up and reconcile ourselves to the truth that there does not exist any real ego at all. What we take for our ego-feeling, is in reality nothing but one of the most wonderful fata-morgana plays of nature.

In the ultimate sense, there do not even exist such things as mental states, i.e. stationary things. Feeling, perception, consciousness, etc., are in reality mere passing processes of feeling, perceiving, becoming conscious, etc., within which and outside of which no separate or permanent entity lies hidden.

Thus a real understanding of the Buddha's doctrine of kamma and rebirth is possible only to one who has caught a glimpse of the egoless nature, or anattata, and of the conditionality, or idappaccayata, of all phenomena of existence. Therefore it is said in the Visuddhimagga (Chap. XIX):

Everywhere, in all the realms of existence, the noble disciple sees only mental and corporeal phenomena kept going through the concatenation of causes and effects. No producer of the volitional act or kamma does he see apart from the kamma, no recipient of the kamma-result apart from the result. And he is well aware that wise men are using merely conventional language, when, with regard to a kammical act, they speak of a doer, or with regard to a kamma-result, they speak of the recipient of the result.

No doer of the deeds is found,
No one who ever reaps their fruits;
Empty phenomena roll on:
This only is the correct view.

And while the deeds and their results
Roll on and on, conditioned all,
There is no first beginning found,
Just as it is with seed and tree...

No god, no Brahma, can be called
The maker of this wheel of life: Empty phenomena roll on, Dependent on conditions all.


This was taken from here: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el394.html
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Re: The Buddha, Imagination and The Artistic Process

Postby pt1 » Mon Mar 01, 2010 5:19 am

Just my thoughts on this. If the stream of bhavanga cittas was to be some sort of a storehouse or a memory bank for all past experiences, perceptions, etc, then it would have to run all the time in the background, right? But it doesn't. Afaik, bhavanga cittas happen when no other cittas are arising. So when seeing consciousness, or hearing consciousness, or any other citta arises, there's no more bhavanga cittas. So, bhavanga cittas cannot act as a permanent storehouse. Furthermore, each bhavanga citta also arises only once and never again. So it can't be really said to have the function of storing.

The questions is then, how exactly am I able to (or at least there's an illusion that I'm able to) remember the face of my father, or where does a sudden idea come from, etc? A part of the answer might be that the question is misleading - i.e. it is predicated on the western conceptual approach to this area that relies on such terms as memory, permanent entities, etc, all of which take the perspective away from conditionality, which is central to explaining these things in dhamma terms, i.e. in such terms that would encourage direct insight instead of just thinking about things.

As far as I understand conditionality, the present dhamma (like citta) happens based on the current and past conditions (all of which are/were dhammas as well) and then disappears forever in the next moment as the conditions have already changed. So, there's no storage place and retrieval of data of sorts from it. Only a presently changing process of sorts. Basically, I find this pretty hard to figure out conceptually, but apparently that's how things are seen to happen with direct insight.

One analogy I found useful (though not sure how accurate it is) is that of two billiard balls - one ball is moving under the influence of certain forces-conditions (speed, direction, air resistance, etc) just like one citta arises due to various conditions. And then that ball hits another ball - kind of like past citta conditioning the present citta. Now, is there anything substantial that's transmitted from one ball to the other? No, both balls remain of the same weight so nothing substantial was transfered from one to the other. But, the influence of the conditions working on the first ball have now influenced the second bowl in such way that this ball now also starts moving with a certain speed, direction, etc. Of course, speed, direction, etc, are now different for the second ball when compared to the first, but they still condition how the second ball is moving.

So, in a way, there's no substantial transmission in this process, and the forces/conditions themselves also change every time another ball/citta happens, and so the process goes. So, in a way, no storage and recall of data from some permanent place were necessary for the balls to move/cittas to happen. So, when I remember my father's face, it happens as a consequence of various conditions exerting force in the present moment, even though it looks as if I'm remembering the past and that the picture of my father's face came from some permanent entity I call my father.

Not sure if this helps. Not an easy topic. The tricky thing to remember is that every time there's the need to find some sort of permanence, it's usually the self-view creeping in. E.g. in theravada there's something called unwholesome latent tendencies (anusaya - greed, hate, etc) which are said to be eradicated only with awakening. To my knowledge, they are not said to exist at any time, but they are said to condition the arising of unwholesome cittas. Now, the moment I start thinking about this, I immediately start conceiving anusaya as some entities existing in the background and causing unwholesome cittas to arise. But, this is not the correct way of considering this topic. I suspect the same would apply if considering the other 2 extra types of consciousness you brought up the last time.

Best wishes
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Re: The Buddha, Imagination and The Artistic Process

Postby Kim OHara » Mon Mar 01, 2010 7:06 am

MayaRefugee wrote:Hey Guys,
A couple of pages back I brought up some terms that seemed to provide a clue as to where the material we use to mentally conceive a work of art resides within us - I was told I was diverging from Theravada traditions by bringing up these concepts.
I've done a bit of looking around and think I've found a Theravadian equivalent.
...bhavanga-sota ...

Thanks, MayaRefugee,
Bhavanga-sota does seem to be a close equivalent to Mahayana store-consciousness and it's good to know that we have the same idea in both traditions. I'm not actually very interested in the details, though - I feel that spending too much time elaborating theories is a waste of time that could be spent actually doing stuff. :smile:
:namaste:
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Re: The Buddha, Imagination and The Artistic Process

Postby ground » Mon Mar 01, 2010 7:07 am

MayaRefugee wrote:Hey Guys,

Does anyone know if the Buddha ever talked about the imagination?


Yes he did. However I am not certain whether he applied the term "imagination" and if yes in what context he applied it. But a special type of imagination he called "ignorance" and another he called "wholesome", "conducive" or "right".
The assumption here is that anything added by conceptual mind to sensation and immediate experience may be called "imagination".

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Re: The Buddha, Imagination and The Artistic Process

Postby MayaRefugee » Tue Mar 02, 2010 7:51 am

TMingyur wrote:The assumption here is that anything added by conceptual mind to sensation and immediate experience may be called "imagination".


I like what you say - :clap:

pt1,

Here's a PDF link that explains what's going on with the Bhavanga and it's "conditioned-tonality": http://www.ayukusala.org/cittavithi_en.pdf

Here's some more stuff suggesting the persistence of something over a course of moments, it was taken from here: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/bodhi/bps-essay_46.html

It is mental activity, in the form of volition, that constitutes kamma, and it is our stock of kamma that steers the stream of consciousness from the past life into a new body. Thus the Buddha says: "This body, O monks, is old kamma, to be seen as generated and fashioned by volition, as something to be felt" (SN XI.37). It is not only the body, as a composite whole, that is the product of past kamma, but the sense faculties too (see SN XXV.146). The eye, ear, nose, tongue, body-sense, and mind-base are also fashioned by our past kamma, and thus kamma to some degree shapes and influences all our sensory experience. Since kamma is ultimately explained as volition (cetana), this means that the particular body with which we are endowed, with all its distinguishing features and faculties of sense, is rooted in our volitional activities in earlier lives. Precisely how past volition can influence the development of the zygote lies beyond the range of scientific explanation, but if the Buddha's words are to be trusted such an influence must be real.

The channel for the transmission of kammic influence from life to life across the sequence of rebirths is the individual stream of consciousness. Consciousness embraces both phases of our being — that in which we generate fresh kamma and that in which we reap the fruits of old kamma — and thus in the process of rebirth, consciousness bridges the old and new existences. Consciousness is not a single transmigrating entity, a self or soul, but a stream of evanescent acts of consciousness, each of which arises, briefly subsists, and then passes away. This entire stream, however, though made up of evanescent units, is fused into a unified whole by the causal relations obtaining between all the occasions of consciousness in any individual continuum. At a deep level, each occasion of consciousness inherits from its predecessor the entire kammic legacy of that particular stream; in perishing, it in turn passes that content on to its successor, augmented by its own novel contribution. Thus our volitional deeds do not exhaust their full potential in their immediately visible effects. Every volitional deed that we perform, when it passes, leaves behind a subtle imprint stamped upon the onward-flowing stream of consciousness. The deed deposits in the stream of consciousness a seed capable of bearing fruit, of producing a result that matches the ethical quality of the deed.

When we encounter suitable external conditions, the kammic seeds deposited in our mental continuum rise up from their dormant condition and produce their fruits. The most important function performed by kamma is to generate rebirth into an appropriate realm, a realm that provides a field for it to unfold its stored potentials. The bridge between the old existence and the new is, as we said above, the evolving stream of consciousness. It is within this stream of consciousness that the kamma has been created through the exercise of volition; it is this same stream of consciousness, flowing on, that carries the kammic energies into the new existence; and it is again this same stream of consciousness that experiences the fruit. Conceivably, at the deepest level all the individual streams of consciousness are integrated into a single all-embracing matrix, so that, beneath the surface of events, the separate kammic accumulations of all living beings crisscross, overlap, and merge. This hypothesis — though speculative — would help account for the strange coincidences we sometimes meet that prick holes in our assumptions of rational order.

The generative function of kamma in the production of new existence is described by the Buddha in a short but pithy sutta preserved in the Anguttara Nikaya (AN III.76). Venerable Ananda approaches the Master and says, "'Existence, existence' is spoken of, venerable sir. In what way is there existence?" The Buddha replies: "If there were no kamma ripening in the sensory realm, no sense-sphere existence would be discerned. If there where no kamma ripening in the form realm, no form-sphere existence would be discerned. If there were no kamma ripening in the formless realm, no formless-sphere existence would be discerned. Therefore, Ananda, kamma is the field, consciousness the seed, and craving the moisture for beings obstructed by ignorance and fettered by craving to be established in a new realm of existence, either low (sense-sphere), middling (form-sphere), or high (formless-sphere)."

As long as ignorance and craving, the twin roots of the round of rebirths, remain intact in our mental continuum, at the time of death one especially powerful kamma will become ascendant and propel the stream of consciousness to the realm of existence that corresponds to its own "vibrational frequency." When consciousness, as the seed, becomes planted or "established" in that realm it sprouts forth into the rest of the psycho-physical organism, summed up in the expression "name and form" (nama-rupa). As the organism matures, it provides the site for other past kammas to gain the opportunity to produce their results. Then, within this new existence, in response to our various kammically induced experiences, we engage in actions that engender fresh kamma with the capacity to generate still another rebirth. Thereby the round of existence keeps turning from one life to the next, as the stream of consciousness, swept along by craving and steered by kamma, assumes successive modes of embodiment.

The ultimate implication of the Buddha's teaching on kamma and rebirth is that human beings are the final masters of their own destiny. Through our unwholesome deeds, rooted in greed, hatred, and delusion, we create unwholesome kamma, the generative cause of bad rebirths, of future misery and bondage. Through our wholesome deeds, rooted in generosity, kindness, and wisdom, we beautify our minds and thereby create kamma productive of a happy rebirth. By using wisdom to dig more deeply below the superficial face of things, we can uncover the subtle truths hidden by our preoccupation with appearances. Thereby we can uproot the binding defilements and win the peace of deliverance, the freedom beyond the cycle of kamma and its fruit. This aspect of the Buddhist teaching on rebirth will be explored more fully in the third part of this essay.1
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Re: The Buddha, Imagination and The Artistic Process

Postby Kim OHara » Tue Mar 02, 2010 11:21 am

MayaRefugee wrote:
TMingyur wrote:The assumption here is that anything added by conceptual mind to sensation and immediate experience may be called "imagination".

I like what you say - :clap:

Hate to rain on your parade, but I don't like it, for a reason I gave literally (it's a long-running thread!) months ago:
Kim wrote:I think that if you spent a bit of time clarifying your language ... you would simultaneously clarify your thinking and maybe resolve a lot of your own questions.
Words aren't thoughts, but the right words do help us think.

In this case, if you lump together all mental events other than than sensation, by calling them 'imagination', you can no longer discriminate between them. IMO, it is very often useful to distinguish between them.
:juggling:
memory = desire = prayer = vision = illusion = dream = contemplation = hatred = transcendence = fantasy = passion = curiosity?
I don't think so.

:namaste:
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Re: The Buddha, Imagination and The Artistic Process

Postby Sanghamitta » Tue Mar 02, 2010 12:31 pm

Could you MayaRefugee, or anyone else point to a canonical reference that indicates the Pali term for imagination, and which sees that supposed faculty in a positive or neutral light ?
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

Bhikku Bodhi.
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Re: The Buddha, Imagination and The Artistic Process

Postby MayaRefugee » Tue Mar 02, 2010 1:08 pm

Sanghamitta,

I can't help you ATM I'm sorry.

Kim,

From the cessation of fabrications comes the cessation of consciousness. From the cessation of consciousness comes the cessation of name-&-form. From the cessation of name-&-form comes the cessation of the six sense media. From the cessation of the six sense media comes the cessation of contact. From the cessation of contact comes the cessation of feeling. From the cessation of feeling comes the cessation of craving. From the cessation of craving comes the cessation of clinging/sustenance. From the cessation of clinging/sustenance comes the cessation of becoming. From the cessation of becoming comes the cessation of birth. From the cessation of birth, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair all cease. Such is the cessation of this entire mass of stress & suffering

This is the noble method that he has rightly seen & rightly ferreted out through discernment.

This was taken from the Vera Sutta: Animosity (AN 10.92)


Clearly fabrications are a requisite for becoming, fabrications are imaginary symbols associated with sensations or direct experiences - one with no penchant to become anything i.e. a talker, teacher, good-person, communicator, smarter, a student, etc - has no need for fabrications.

I don't remember the name of the Sutta but there's one that tells of someone that crossed a river then carried their raft around everywhere they went, the Sutta then suggested when you make it to the other side you should leave the raft cause you don't need it anymore and carrying the raft is uneccessary.

A complex of fabrications might be the vehicle that gets you somewhere but once you're there what good is carrying around the vehicle?
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Re: The Buddha, Imagination and The Artistic Process

Postby ground » Tue Mar 02, 2010 6:55 pm

Kim O'Hara wrote:
MayaRefugee wrote:
TMingyur wrote:The assumption here is that anything added by conceptual mind to sensation and immediate experience may be called "imagination".

I like what you say - :clap:

Hate to rain on your parade, but I don't like it, for a reason I gave literally (it's a long-running thread!) months ago:
Kim wrote:I think that if you spent a bit of time clarifying your language ... you would simultaneously clarify your thinking and maybe resolve a lot of your own questions.
Words aren't thoughts, but the right words do help us think.

In this case, if you lump together all mental events other than than sensation, by calling them 'imagination', you can no longer discriminate between them. IMO, it is very often useful to distinguish between them.
:juggling:
memory = desire = prayer = vision = illusion = dream = contemplation = hatred = transcendence = fantasy = passion = curiosity?
I don't think so.

:namaste:
Kim


It is not true that you cannot discriminate between imaginations. There are helpful ones and those that lead you astray. There are those that guide sucessful human actions and those that do not. There are harmful ones and those that are wholesome/conducive.

"helpful", "guiding" and "wholesome/conducive" is not necessarily mutally exclusive with "imagination".

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Re: The Buddha, Imagination and The Artistic Process

Postby pt1 » Wed Mar 03, 2010 4:12 am

MayaRefugee wrote:pt1,

Here's a PDF link that explains what's going on with the Bhavanga and it's "conditioned-tonality": http://www.ayukusala.org/cittavithi_en.pdf

Here's some more stuff suggesting the persistence of something over a course of moments, it was taken from here: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/bodhi/bps-essay_46.html

Thanks for the quotes, I didn't think it would be the right time to suggest this earlier, but you seem very keen on all this technical stuff, so I'd highly recommend reading Bhikkhu Bodhi's edition of A comprehensive manual of abhidhamma - this electronic version available for free on google books. Imo it's the greatest book in the history of mankind, but aside from that, it's been generally regarded as the best introduction to abhidhamma for some 6-7 centuries now. If you find it a bit too technical, then reading Nina Van Gorkom's books in parallel might be helpful. Anyway, in that book you'll find all about bhavanga and other kinds of cittas, conditions and much, much more.

Regarding Bhikkhu Bodhi's quote you provided, on my reading it doesn't really suggest that something persists over a course of moments. I mean, sure, some of the more conventional explanations (seeds, continuum, legacy, etc) that you bolded can be interpreted that way, but I see them more as just analogies meant to help us understand how these things happen on the ultimate level of cittas, rather than signifying some sort of a persisting entity that defies impermanence. Might be wrong of course.

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Re: The Buddha, Imagination and The Artistic Process

Postby Kim OHara » Wed Mar 03, 2010 5:08 am

MayaRefugee wrote:I don't remember the name of the Sutta but there's one that tells of someone that crossed a river then carried their raft around everywhere they went, the Sutta then suggested when you make it to the other side you should leave the raft cause you don't need it anymore and carrying the raft is uneccessary.

Sure, MayaRefugee.
But if you need to show anyone how to cross the river, you need the raft again.
If you need to talk to anyone about how to cross the river, or how to make a raft, you need language.
What you do elsewhere may be beyond my understanding (or it may not :tongue: ) but to participate in this discussion, you need that raft, that language.
TMingyur wrote:It is not true that you cannot discriminate between imaginations. There are helpful ones and those that lead you astray. There are those that guide sucessful human actions and those that do not. There are harmful ones and those that are wholesome/conducive.

"helpful", "guiding" and "wholesome/conducive" is not necessarily mutally exclusive with "imagination".

... and helpful memory, guiding anger, wholesome vision, conducive dream, etc, etc.?
:juggling:
Both of you:
The clearest language leads to the best outcomes - the clearest communication, and the most productive insights.
:namaste:
Kim
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Re: The Buddha, Imagination and The Artistic Process

Postby ground » Wed Mar 03, 2010 5:36 am

Kim O'Hara wrote:
TMingyur wrote:It is not true that you cannot discriminate between imaginations. There are helpful ones and those that lead you astray. There are those that guide sucessful human actions and those that do not. There are harmful ones and those that are wholesome/conducive.

"helpful", "guiding" and "wholesome/conducive" is not necessarily mutally exclusive with "imagination".

... and helpful memory, guiding anger, wholesome vision, conducive dream, etc, etc.?
:juggling:

Memory is imagination and the object of anger is imagination too since the reason for anger is not inherent in the object itself. Dream is imagination as far as conceptual addition to the immediate sense experience is concerned. In that sense it is no different from waking state.
So still: imagination is what is added to sensation and immediate experience by conceptual thought

What are you trying to get at?

Kim O'Hara wrote:Both of you:
The clearest language leads to the best outcomes - the clearest communication, and the most productive insights.
:namaste:
Kim

What is the measure of "clear" based on? "Clear" language is based on convention in a certain context, right? But the convention of terms and terminology is based on imagination which has been here defined to be an addition to sensation and immediate experience.

I feel you should transparently expound your hidden assumptions. What do you think of when reading "imagination"? Do you feel there is a discrepancy with what is called "reality"? If so what is the mark of this "reality" and the assumed "discrepancy"?


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Re: The Buddha, Imagination and The Artistic Process

Postby Kim OHara » Wed Mar 03, 2010 7:27 am

Hi, TMingyur, MayaRefugee and all - but especially the first -
No hidden assumptions.
You seem to be having some difficulty with what I thought was a very clear explanation, so here is a demonstration:
The Imaginary Imagination of the Imagination(an unfinished postscript)
(with sincere apologies to deSilva)

In the course of our imagination it was imagined that Buddhism upholds the imagination of good imagination and the elimination of unwholesome imagination . Imagination and imagination is basically a medium of human communication. Is there a facet of the imagination that can enhance the education of the imagination ? There are two sides to the imagination , one from the standpoint of imagination, the other from the standpoint of Buddhism.

Let us take the standpoint of imagination first. There are three imaginations on the relationship between imagination and imagination , out of which imaginers like R.W. Beardsmore favor the third.37 The imagination called " imagination" upholds that the aim of imagination is to teach imagination ; " imagination " is the belief that the imagination has nothing to do with imagination . Both points are mistaken on Beardsmore's imagination ; imagination does not crudely teach imagination or deliberately eliminate it; rather, imagination can give an understanding which makes moral imagination sensitive and intelligent. In the recent development of what is called "Situational imagination," examples from imagination are used for the imagination of moral imaginings. By thus reflecting on the imaginings and imaginings of the imaginary beings we can enrich our own imagination. Without having undergone the experience ourselves, imaginary and imaginary imaginings can be imagined with a "sense of imagination." Thirdly, the uses of pure imagination are sometimes limited, and the use of imaginary techniques are extremely effective on occasions; the fact is quite obviously seen in the importance of the Jatakas, the Thera- and Theri-gathas etc. Finally, imaginers like Aristotle discovered a certainly imaginary purpose in imaginings. By the use of the sympathetic imagination, one tends to see the common human nature that exists behind the imagining of divisive imaginations.38

Now can a Buddhist absorb the aims of imagination and imagination in this manner?


:popcorn:
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Re: The Buddha, Imagination and The Artistic Process

Postby Sanghamitta » Wed Mar 03, 2010 9:19 am

Frankly I think this whole thread is a muddle of crossed purposes, many undefined terms and a definition of other terms so elastic as to collapse under its own weight. I think that you are all talking passed each other. I think that there is a basic and underlying issue... you are trying to address an issue with is a modern western preoccupation and which actually has no equivilant in Buddhadhamma. You are then trying to shoehorn the issue into the Buddhadhamma retrospectively. But good luck with it.
As Coorans sig says." The problem is you think you have time ".
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

Bhikku Bodhi.
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Re: The Buddha, Imagination and The Artistic Process

Postby Kim OHara » Wed Mar 03, 2010 11:32 am

Sanghamitta wrote:Frankly I think this whole thread is a muddle of crossed purposes, many undefined terms and a definition of other terms so elastic as to collapse under its own weight. I think that you are all talking passed each other. I think that there is a basic and underlying issue... you are trying to address an issue with is a modern western preoccupation and which actually has no equivilant in Buddhadhamma. You are then trying to shoehorn the issue into the Buddhadhamma retrospectively. But good luck with it.
As Coorans sig says." The problem is you think you have time ".

Thanks, Sanghamitta. I agree with most of what you say, though I do have an immature egocentric temptation to say, 'but I have been trying to keep the discussion sensible.' :tongue:
Overall, the thread has had some good posts as well as its low points ... pretty normal, really.
:namaste:
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Re: The Buddha, Imagination and The Artistic Process

Postby ground » Wed Mar 03, 2010 6:14 pm

Kim O'Hara wrote:Hi, TMingyur, MayaRefugee and all - but especially the first -
No hidden assumptions.
You seem to be having some difficulty with what I thought was a very clear explanation, so here is a demonstration:
The Imaginary Imagination of the Imagination(an unfinished postscript)
(with sincere apologies to deSilva)

In the course of our imagination it was imagined that Buddhism upholds the imagination of good imagination and the elimination of unwholesome imagination . Imagination and imagination is basically a medium of human communication. Is there a facet of the imagination that can enhance the education of the imagination ? There are two sides to the imagination , one from the standpoint of imagination, the other from the standpoint of Buddhism.

Let us take the standpoint of imagination first. There are three imaginations on the relationship between imagination and imagination , out of which imaginers like R.W. Beardsmore favor the third.37 The imagination called " imagination" upholds that the aim of imagination is to teach imagination ; " imagination " is the belief that the imagination has nothing to do with imagination . Both points are mistaken on Beardsmore's imagination ; imagination does not crudely teach imagination or deliberately eliminate it; rather, imagination can give an understanding which makes moral imagination sensitive and intelligent. In the recent development of what is called "Situational imagination," examples from imagination are used for the imagination of moral imaginings. By thus reflecting on the imaginings and imaginings of the imaginary beings we can enrich our own imagination. Without having undergone the experience ourselves, imaginary and imaginary imaginings can be imagined with a "sense of imagination." Thirdly, the uses of pure imagination are sometimes limited, and the use of imaginary techniques are extremely effective on occasions; the fact is quite obviously seen in the importance of the Jatakas, the Thera- and Theri-gathas etc. Finally, imaginers like Aristotle discovered a certainly imaginary purpose in imaginings. By the use of the sympathetic imagination, one tends to see the common human nature that exists behind the imagining of divisive imaginations.38

Now can a Buddhist absorb the aims of imagination and imagination in this manner?


:popcorn:
Kim


You do no have to be serious if you do not want to.

Some get nihilistic and some abandon reasonable speech. Both are extreme behaviours.

Everything added to mere sensation and immediate experience is imagination. This just means that things do not exist the way they seem to exist in the context of conceptuality entering the sphere of mere sensation and immediate experience. This of course also holds true for your reading my written words and my concepts associated with the words that I writing.

There is however a causal relationship entailing imaginations. Otherwise all imaginations would be useless in terms of guiding human actions.

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Re: The Buddha, Imagination and The Artistic Process

Postby MayaRefugee » Thu Mar 04, 2010 12:13 am

Anyway, in dealing with language, we are really dealing with conceptuality.

Both continental philosophy and Buddhism recognise that language--which is to say conceptuality or thought--shape the 'self'. But they also recognise that language and meaning is inconstant. Meaning is not fixed but is shaped by conditions; language/conceptuality is thoroughly unstable. So if conceptuality shapes the self but is itself inconstant and unstable, then the self is not a fixed entity or essence.

Both bodies of thought argue (in their own way) that it is important to understand the workings of language for what it really is. So to answer your question, I suppose a good attitude is to learn how to use language without clinging onto meaning/conceptuality/thought too tightly--for it is, after all, always slipping and sliding.


This was said on page 1 by zavk.
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