Anattā

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Re: Anattā

Postby Jechbi » Sun Feb 01, 2009 4:55 pm

Hello Bhante,

Dhammanando wrote:
Jechbi wrote:Seems like we just end up with the same basic either/or choice. The idea of "phenomenological reality" relates to the self.
Well, I’m not so sure about that. It would of course be true if one were talking strictly about Husserlian phenomenology, with its transcendental ego etc.; but my impression is that hardly any of the Buddhists who like to go tossing the word “phenomenological” about are using it in a Husserlian or any other narrowly technical sense (the exceptions are Ñāṇavīra with the Theravada and Dan Lusthaus with the Yogācāra). What they really seem to mean is something rather vaguer, like “experiential”.


The cool thing about this discussion is that it takes us straight back to the heart of what is understood by "self," I think. Even "experiential" implies a plurality of phenomena, a division in some sense between the experiencer and that which is experienced. Otherwise it's just a variety of ontology. We can make this division as vague as we want, but on some level it still seems to be there.

Dhammanando wrote:
The idea of "ontological reality" takes self out of the equation (but you still need to understand the notion of self to understand why ontological is ontological and not phenomenological).
Could you expand on this?


I'm probably oversimplifying, so I hope you'll set me straight if that's the case. The whole idea of "ontological reality" seems to pretend that there is some reality out there that stands on its own regardless of whether we're there or not to experience it. That seems to be the sense in which Retro was using it, any way. But it's not even possible to consider the question of whether this reality is "ontological" without (at least in the background) having the thought about the relative absence of an experiencer.

So both ways of thinking about reality (ontological and phenomenological) seem to stem from some understanding of the role (or lack thereof) of self, at least as an underlying assumption. So we just end up where we started.


Hi Retro,
retrofuturist wrote:phenomenology
1. A philosophy or method of inquiry based on the premise that reality consists of objects and events as they are perceived or understood in human consciousness and not of anything independent of human consciousness.

The argument I was making earlier was that if something cannot be verified phenomenologically, it is not thereby disproved ontologically.

I think I know what you're saying. It seems like either way, there's an underlying assumption about self. Not that there's anything wrong with that. It just seems like we keep coming back to the same core question.

Metta
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Re: Anattā

Postby Jechbi » Sun Feb 01, 2009 4:58 pm

I hope my comments are not out of place in this forum.
:namaste:
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But never soddens what is open;
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Lest it be soddened by the rain.
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Re: Anattā

Postby cooran » Mon Feb 02, 2009 6:09 am

Hello all,

Yesterday after meditation, I asked Ven. Dhammasiha the same question as in the OP (minus the remark about Thanissaro Bhikkhu). He answered the question in an hour and a half. :D His response was extremely interesting and kept us all (about 20 or so) listening and discussing.

The major thing I took away from the session was that the Buddha wasn't giving an answer like a text book or a computer - he refused to do that. What he was doing in the many suttas about Anatta - especially in the discussions with those like Vachagotta - was to try to encourage learners to continuously look for themselves at whatever was arising and see that there was no self in any thing they were considering (be it sights, sounds, smells, tastes, bodily feelings, thoughts, emotions, etc), time and time and time again. After doing this continuously one arrives at certainty about the answer to the question "Is there a Self, and if so where/what is it?" by oneself. No one else can give you that certain knowledge, and once the knowledge is arrived at, no one else can shake that understanding.

metta
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Re: Anattā

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Feb 02, 2009 7:09 am

Greetings Chris,

You have a good teacher there! :thumbsup:

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: Anattā

Postby kc2dpt » Mon Feb 02, 2009 4:06 pm

Chris wrote:No one else can give you that certain knowledge

Nevertheless, there will always be people who keep insisting others try to give them that knowledge. :shrug:
- Peter

Be heedful and you will accomplish your goal.
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Re: Anattā

Postby Prasadachitta » Mon Feb 02, 2009 6:01 pm

Peter wrote:Nevertheless, there will always be people who keep insisting others try to give them that knowledge.


Yes indeed

May the effort to give said knowledge persist even if it cannot be given.

Metta

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"Beautifully taught is the Lord's Dhamma, immediately apparent, timeless, of the nature of a personal invitation, progressive, to be attained by the wise, each for himself." Anguttara Nikaya V.332
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Re: Anattā

Postby rowyourboat » Tue Feb 03, 2009 4:08 pm

"This is how he attends inappropriately: 'Was I in the past? Was I not in the past? What was I in the past? How was I in the past? Having been what, what was I in the past? Shall I be in the future? Shall I not be in the future? What shall I be in the future? How shall I be in the future? Having been what, what shall I be in the future?' Or else he is inwardly perplexed about the immediate present: 'Am I? Am I not? What am I? How am I? Where has this being come from? Where is it bound?'

"As he attends inappropriately in this way, one of six kinds of view arises in him: The view I have a self arises in him as true & established, or the view I have no self... or the view It is precisely by means of self that I perceive self... or the view It is precisely by means of self that I perceive not-self... or the view It is precisely by means of not-self that I perceive self arises in him as true & established, or else he has a view like this: 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 stay just as it is for 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.
.....
He attends appropriately, This is stress... This is the origination of stress... This is the cessation of stress... This is the way leading to the cessation of stress. As he attends appropriately in this way, three fetters are abandoned in him: identity-view, doubt, and grasping at precepts & practices. These are called the fermentations to be abandoned by seeing.

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

The sabbasava sutta describes how certain types of thinking about the self just digs the hole a little deeper. The next bit goes onto explain that other types of attention reduces craving aversion and delusion (read satipatthana practice) and culminates in understanding the four noble truths in stream entry ('fermentations abandoned by seeing').

There's no point trying to come to a philosophical understanding about what the buddha said about this matter. Even if you hear a stream entrant explain it, you will only be able to grasp it with muddy hands and when the explanation is repeated it will be muddy. Best to resign to the fact that we cannot understand this using the usual tools but attempt to see it yourself using practice. That is when the conversation stops.
With Metta

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& Upekkha
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Re: Anattā

Postby Jechbi » Tue Feb 03, 2009 4:20 pm

rowyourboat wrote:Best to resign to the fact that we cannot understand this using the usual tools but attempt to see it yourself using practice. That is when the conversation stops.
Yeah, but ...

Never mind.
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Re: Anattā

Postby elaine » Thu Feb 05, 2009 5:01 am

Dhammanando wrote:The arahant and the person of wrong view both resort to the term 'self', but whereas the one is misled by his concept, the other knows that dhammas are real but paññattis are not, and so is not misled.


What is an example of a paññatti? What's the difference between "not real", "conventional reality", and paññatti?

Can you please elaborate? Thank you.

Sadhu, sadhu, sadhu.
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Re: Anattā

Postby Dhammanando » Thu Feb 05, 2009 12:22 pm

Hi Elaine,

elaine wrote:What is an example of a paññatti?


Leaving aside consciousness, the 52 mental factors that arise with consciousness, the 28 material dhammas, and Nibbāna, everything else that can be denoted by a noun is a concept.

What's the difference between "not real", "conventional reality", and paññatti?


I would recommend that you read chapter viii of Narada's Manual of Abhidhamma:
http://buddhanet.net/budsas/ebud/abhisgho/abhis08.htm

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu
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Re: Anattā

Postby elaine » Fri Feb 06, 2009 2:53 am

Hello Bhante, all,

Thank you for the link. I don't have a formal education on Abhidhamma, so it'll take a while to read and understand the article. But I'll ask a few questions that have been bothering me.
Dhammanando wrote:Leaving aside consciousness, the 52 mental factors that arise with consciousness, the 28 material dhammas, and Nibbāna, everything else that can be denoted by a noun is a concept.

A human being is a concept (pannati). But Without the existence of a conceptual human being, what IS the meaning of these 52 mental factors? Imho, it will be meaningless, right? It doesn't matter whether they are ultimate or not, they have to "belong" to a human mind-made body, right?

Can these 52 mental factors "exist" on its own, without the presence of a human being?? Do these 52 mental states exist in the formless realm?


I think studying abhidhamma is similar to studying molecular genetics. It is useful in many ways (hopefully stem cells, genetic engineering can cure all diseases in the future). But I think abhidhamma is not "superior" compared to conventional Dhamma. I also think that if we study Too much Abhidhamma, we'll loose our sense of compassion, loving-kindness and sympathetic-joy. No?
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Re: Anattā

Postby nathan » Sun Feb 08, 2009 2:17 pm

I very much appreciate this discussion. Thank you everyone.

There are two things I would appreciate further clarified if possible.

1. Given that the impersonality of anatta is a universal constant, I don't understand why there would necessarily be any inconqruity between a conventional or conditional cognition of and the absolute or ultimate cognition of not-self, essence-less-ness, insubstantiality or impersonality? There is of course the distinction that conditional cognitions are variously limited and the absolute cognition would be comprehensive, absolute and extends to the cognition of nibbana as anatta. Thus anatta is cognized as truly universal in that it pertains even to the non-conditionally dependent or nibbana even if in regards to nibbana it looses much of the context for it's significance.

2. I would like to better understand the expressions of doctrine on how the three marks might be said to pertain or relate to nibbana. That nibbana is in no way atta is quite straightforward. How it is that the other two characteristics could applied or related to the featureless and condition-less dhamma is difficult to understand. It can be more easily seen that there is a conditionally dependent relationship to impermanence; in the arising of dependent conditions for inclination to relinquishment giving rise to nibbana, and also upon exiting cessation. I don't see that nibbana could be determined to be dukkha or related apart from the absence of conception or perception of dukkha, to describe dukkha as characteristic of nibbana seems contrary to the nature of both dukkha and nibbana.

How can the characteristics be said to pertain to the duration of a cessation apart from reference to the remainder or the continuity of the form of a living body during cessation? Mind or at the least the mental quality of cognition, contact or clinging does not arise for the period of cessation and so (if at such a time there could even be said to be any) any other persisting mental qualities and the body are then not even objects of perception or cognition.
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}
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Re: Anattā

Postby cooran » Mon Feb 09, 2009 3:10 am

Hello Nathan, all,

Nathan said: 2. I would like to better understand the expressions of doctrine on how the three marks might be said to pertain or relate to nibbana. That nibbana is in no way atta is quite straightforward. How it is that the other two characteristics could applied or related to the featureless and condition-less dhamma is difficult to understand. It can be more easily seen that there is a conditionally dependent relationship to impermanence; in the arising of dependent conditions for inclination to relinquishment giving rise to nibbana, and also upon exiting cessation. I don't see that nibbana could be determined to be dukkha or related apart from the absence of conception or perception of dukkha, to describe dukkha as characteristic of nibbana seems contrary to the nature of both dukkha and nibbana.

Nibbana does not have the Three Marks. They all apply only to conditioned dhammas. Nibbana only has the Third Mark - No Self.

"In the Dhammapada there are three verses extremely important and essential in the Buddha's teaching. They are nos. 5,6, and 7 or chapter XX (or verses 277, 278 279).
The first two verses say:
'All conditioned things are impermanent' (sabbe sa.nkhara anicca) and 'All conditiioned things are dukkha" ( Sabbe sa.nkhara dukkha).
The Third verse says:
"All dhammas are without self" (Sabbe Dhamma anatta).
Here it should be carefully observed that in the first two verses the word sa.nkhara 'conditioned things' is used. But in its place in the third verse the word dhamma is used. Why didn't the third verse use the word sa.nkara 'conditioned things' as the previous two verses, and why did it use the term dhammas instead?
Here lies the crux of the whole matter'
The term sa.nkhara denotes the Five Aggregates, all conditioned, interdependent, relative things and states, both physical and mental. If the third verse said: 'All sa.nkharas (conditioned things) are without self', then one might think that, although conditioned things are without self, yet there may be a Self outside conditioned things, outside the Five Aggregates. It is in order to avoid misunderstanding that the term dhammas is used in the third verse.

The term dhamma is much wider than sa.nkhara. There is no term in Buddhist terminology wider than dhamma. It includes not only the conditioned things and states, but also the non-conditioned, the Absolute, Nirvana. There is nothing in the universe of outside, good or bad, conditioned or non-conditioned, relative or absolute, which is not inclluded in this term. Therefore, it is quite clear that, according to this statement: 'All dhammas are without Self', therfe is no Self, no Atman, not ony in the Five Aggregates, butnoowhere else too outside them or apart from them."
pp57-58 "What the Buddha Taught" by Walpola Rahula ISBN 1-85168=142-6 Oneworld Pblications, Oxford, England.

metta
Chris
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---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
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Re: Anattā

Postby nathan » Mon Feb 09, 2009 9:01 pm

Chris wrote:'All dhammas are without Self', there is no Self, no Atman, not only in the Five Aggregates, but nowhere else too outside them or apart from them."

metta
Chris
Unquestionably. An - atta. One could say fully and indisputably anatta. Overcomingly anatta. It is only in relation to the conditions from which there can be temporary releases into cessation and re-arising into conditions of conscious perception after that it could be said there is impermanence. But it is not the nibbana that is impermanent, it is the conditions before and after which are impermanent. Nibbana has no direct relationship to impermanence, nibbana neither sustains nor is sustained by impermanence of any kind, right? Dukkha pertains to the impermanent only and so nibbana is not dukkha.
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}
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