retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Mike,mikenz66 wrote:Frankly, I have little interest in re-hashing arguments for or against particular points of view.
Frankly, I have little interest in you rehashing your batallion of off-topic meta-discussion quibbles every time you post either.
retrofuturist wrote:Well I agree with this assertion personally. The Buddha never taught this notion of bhavanga.
I think Theravada undertook speculation primarily for the purpose of explaining the mechanics behind kamma and transmigration... a concept the Buddha never gave a particularly detailed account of. As for "answering" the questions posed by the Puggalavadins, they do this in the Points Of Controversy. Both groups kind of "talk past each other", which is often the case when different people have different doctrinal bases.
Explaining that which was never explained in the suttas somehow became more important than what was in the suttas themselves. In the process, key doctrines the Buddha taught repeatedly (i.e. anatta, dependent origination) were diminished in importance, and often misrepresented against later frameworks....
Here is what he has to say (the only place where bhavanga is explicitly mentioned, as far as I remember in my reading):mikenz66 wrote:Hi Eric, Would you (or someone else) like to elaborate on how Conze sees bhavanga as "pseudo-selfhood"? I recall Ven Huifeng posted some material about how bhavanga was partly an answer to how the "cessation of perception and feeling" attainment could work, which other schools dealt with using "storehouse consciousness". I'll see if I can locate that, but unfortunately it may have been an E-Sangha thread.
Later, Conze claims that the Theravadins minimized the importance of "luminous mind" by connecting it to bhavanga citta (subconscious thought).Buddhist Thought in India, Part II, Chapter 2.1 wrote:Personal 'continuities' [I put Conze's definition of a continuity in my OP] perform at least two functions of a 'self' in that (1) each continuity is separate from others, and (2) is constantly there, thoguht not 'permanent'. The Buddhists reject a 'self' which runs like a single thread through a string of pearls. There are only the pearls, and no thread to hold them together. But the collection of pearls is one and the same because strictly continous, i.e. each pearl sticks to the one before and the one behind, without any interval between. The Sthaviras saw little reason to comment on the multiplicity and separateness of these 'continuities', which they seem to have just accepted as one of the facts of life. But they took great care that this chain of events, though continuously replacing its constituents, should be constantly there, and that no interstices should interrupt the continuous flow of causality through the threadless pearls, packed closely to one another. In order to definitely eliminate the disruptive effect of such gaps, the later Theravadins put forward the theory of a 'life-continuum' (bhavanga) which is subconscious and subliminal. Even when nothing happens in the surface-consciousness the subconscious supplies the continuous process required, since the mind, otherwise unoccupied, never ceases to function even for a moment, though lapsed into subconscousness. Likewise the Sautrantikas taught the 'continuous existence of a very subtle consciousness' and also the Mahasanghikas had a basic (mula) consciousness and believed that karma matures in the subconscious mind where thought has no definite object.
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EricJ wrote:Conze seems to be claiming that bhavanga citta carries self-view in that it is posited as being always there....
I thought that the most [basic] supporting cause of consciousness is the contact between sense object and sense base? Without a base/object contact, consciousness cannot arise. Death brings with it the absence of both a perceived object and sense base, and therefore consciousness as associated with a specific 'individual'.Peter wrote:He seems to regard a process as a single thing. Thus he takes the continuity of that process as equating to the persistence of a thing. Thus he faults the process for not bearing the mark of anicca. But as far as I know, the Buddha did not teach the 3 marks in this way. Simply, Theravada teaches the supporting condition for a moment of consciousness to be a previous moment of consciousness.
I don't think that this is what Conze is getting at. Rather, he seems to be claiming that various schools posited the continuity of a single substratum/consciousness which persists across the process of becoming. It is a khanda which persists even whenever the other khandas arise and fall and then cease at death.Peter wrote:Each consciousness moment arises and passes, thus bearing the mark of anicca, inconstancy. Thus not-self. That a process continues to function as long as the supporting conditions continue to arise does not mean constancy is to be found in the process.
This not the only function of a supposed atta.Peter wrote:Something is atta because it does not become ill or broken or troublesome; it is atta because it is controllable. The Buddha does not say (here or elsewhere as far as I know) that something is atta simply because it continues. Here's the other important thing he teaches about anatta:
In this context, the Buddha claims that self-view occurs whenever someone claims that one of the five aggregates has, among other qualities, the qualities of "stability," "immutability," and "abiding eternally in the same condition."Alagaddupama Sutta wrote: "Lord, can there be anxiety about unrealities, in the internal?"
"There can be, monk," said the Blessed One. "In that case, monk, someone has this view: 'The universe is the Self. That I shall be after death; permanent, stable, eternal, immutable; eternally the same shall I abide in that very condition.' He then hears a Perfect One expounding the Teaching for the removal of all grounds for views, of all prejudices, obsessions, dogmas and biases; for the stilling of all (kamma-) processes, for the relinquishment of all substrata (of existence)..."
"You may well take hold of a possession, O monks, that is permanent, stable, eternal, immutable, that abides eternally the same in its very condition. (But) do you see, monks, any such possession?" — "No, Lord." — "Well, monks, I, too, do not see any such possession that is permanent, stable, eternal, immutable, that abides eternally the same in its very condition..."
"Whatever feeling... whatever perception... whatever mental formations... whatever consciousness, whether past, future or present, in oneself or external, gross or subtle, inferior or superior, far or near — all... consciousness should, with right wisdom, thus be seen as it is: 'This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self.'"
I quote this particular sutta because it is related to one of the self-functions these 'continuities' perform according to Conze: a continuity is separate from others. That is, each 'person' being reborn has his/her own personal continuity which abides separately from other continuities. Basically, this is a proposition that beings, which are not the same from life to life, are all connected by a singular property, which is the 'substratum' of kamma fruition ("things coming out of earth [consciousness in this case]"). Now, regardless of whether or not this is a self-view under the guise of depersonalized dhammas, the idea of a singular property which is present across cycles of birth, death and becoming seems to lend itself to "I-making" and especially to "my-making." This seems to be the natural result of trying to cognize the mechanism of rebirth in the context of anatta. In this context, why even bother accepting such notions?Mulapariyaya Sutta wrote:The Blessed One said: "There is the case, monks, where an uninstructed run-of-the-mill person — who has no regard for noble ones, is not well-versed or disciplined in their Dhamma; who has no regard for men of integrity, is not well-versed or disciplined in their Dhamma — perceives earth as earth. Perceiving earth as earth, he conceives [things] about earth, he conceives [things] in earth, he conceives [things] coming out of earth, he conceives earth as 'mine,' he delights in earth. Why is that? Because he has not comprehended it, I tell you.
Conze is not referring to the process of the arising of consciousness. Conze is referring to 'continuities/substratums' of consciousness which persist. This means that these continuities/substratums are there whether or not there is contact between sense organ and sense object, which are the conditions the Buddha gave for the arising of consciousness.Peter wrote:To call a process a "psuedo-self" merely because that process continues appears to me to be using one's own definition of "self" in place of the Buddha's.
Precisely. Which is why I find it so strange that these schools, including the later Theravadins with reference to the commentaries, proposed the existence of a citta dhamma which is stable (constantly there, unlike other cittas which arise and fall constantly with relation to the sense object-base relationship) and not subject to change within the context of samsara.Peter wrote:[It is not] fitting to regard what is unstable, stressful, subject to change as: 'This is mine. This is my self. This is what I am'.
Mogharaja-manava-puga Sutta wrote:"Look upon the world as empty, Mogharaja, ever mindful; uprooting the view of self you may thus be one who overcomes death. So regarding the world one is not seen by the King of Death."
EricJ wrote:I don't think that this is what Conze is getting at. Rather, he seems to be claiming that various schools posited the continuity of a single substratum/consciousness which persists across the process of becoming. It is a khanda which persists even whenever the other khandas arise and fall and then cease at death.
Conze is referring to 'continuities/substratums' of consciousness which persist. This means that these continuities/substratums are there whether or not there is contact between sense organ and sense object, which are the conditions the Buddha gave for the arising of consciousness.
Well, I'm not particularly knowledgable about this issue. As far as I know, the Mahavihara dhamma theory is based on the idea of instantaneousness/momentariness (one of the more difficult concepts I encountered in Buddhist Thought in India, which has implications for this topic/Abhidhammic theory but is an entire other topic in and of itself) and that no two citta can occur at the same time. Conze himself claims in a footnote that although bhavanga is "subconscious" and "subliminal" it is always accompanied by a degree of awareness. I suppose I could see this in the case of gaps in daily consciousness, but it seems harder to believe whenever I consider the role of bhavanga citta in dreamless sleep. I can't remember ever having any sort of awareness of dreamless sleep. Then again perception is "a mirage" and consciousness is "a magic trick" so its not as if my ability to remember being aware is of any consequence. However, I think Conze may have included the bhavanga citta in this discussion because it is a dhamma which will always occur (since there moments, while asleep and awake, in which there is no other citta) where as, for me as an example, sight-consciousnesses with the Mahabodhi Temple as an object have yet to occur and may never occur if I don't get to Bodh Gaya at some point in my life. Then, of course, there is the identification of bhavanga citta with the 'luminous mind'.retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Eric,
Thanks for the quotes.EricJ wrote:Conze seems to be claiming that bhavanga citta carries self-view in that it is posited as being always there....
Is it though? What about when there is a different citta present? Is it inferred in the Mahavihara model that an unchanging bhavanga citta remains constant throughout all that?
jcsuperstar wrote:here is an interesting article about the Puggalavadins
admittedly i have always found the Puggalavadin argument a bit convincing. it's also interesting how some of their ideas have manifested in modern Thai Buddhism. I've even seen ajahn Thanissaro compared to them. it is also interesting that they were pretty much the largest school of Buddhism in India, maybe we are the unorthodox, and just by luck of history made it through the years.
The Kathāvatthu is an extensive refutation of heretical views, but of Buddhist heretical views. Thus there is a decided tension in the story: are we supposed to see this account as a purification of the Sangha from non-Buddhist heresies (eternalism, etc.), or wrong interpretations of Buddhist teachings? Perhaps we are tempted to synthesize these perspectives; after all, the first and main debate in the Kathāvatthu is against the puggala, the ‘person’, who, in a suspiciously Self-like manner, is supposed to somehow exist outside the 5 aggregates and to pass on from one life to the next. No doubt there is something to this, as Buddhists, sometimes justifiably, often suspect ‘innovations’ of practice or doctrine to be ‘Hindu’ influences. This is perhaps suggested when the Kathāvatthu commentary ascribes the puggala controversy to: ‘In the sasana, the Vajjiputtakas and Saṁmitiyas, and many other teachers not belonging to the sasana.’
Yet the debate on the puggala would seem to primarily revolve around a tension within Buddhist doctrine. When the Buddha taught, he was largely surrounded by ‘Self’ religions, and of necessity had to emphasize ‘not-self’; that is, against those who would assert the absolute unity of the person, he emphasized that what we call a ‘self’ is an abstraction inferred from experience, motivated by fear of death and dissolution, but which, when we look for it in experience, cannot be found. Thus, against those who asserted to absolute primacy of unity, he proposed the contemplation of diversity, without, however, reifying that diversity into another absolute.
This is effective as a philosophical counter to self-theories, but leaves us having to seek an explanation for why we feel or experience a sense of ‘identity’: why, if there is no truly eternal core or essence, do we nevertheless feel as if we are a person? Certain indications in the canonical texts suggest ways of approaching this problem, but the schools were left to work out their own definitive solutions. For some schools, such as the Mahāvihāravāsins, the sense of identity was explained in terms of causal relations among disparate elements. But for the Puggalavādins this was not enough, so they attempted to ‘draw out’ certain Sutta passages as implying the existence of a ‘person’ (puggala) in some sense outside the five aggregates, which was, however, not the Self spoken of by the non-Buddhists. For them, this was a ‘middle way’ between the self-theories and the absolute ‘no-self’ of the Abhidhamma theorists.
Thus we are justified in thinking of the Puggalavāda schism as primarily an internal matter among Buddhists, and while not denying any connection with non-Buddhist teachings, would resist an attempt to simply ‘collapse’ the two issues we are presented with at the Third Council: the infiltration of non-Buddhist heretics, and the development of Buddhist philosophical ideas as debated in the Kathāvatthu. Our text makes no attempt at a synthesis of these perspectives, but rather leaves us with an impression of disparate, although perhaps related, agendas.
EricJ wrote:I thought that the most [basic] supporting cause of consciousness is the contact between sense object and sense base?
I don't think that this is what Conze is getting at. Rather, he seems to be claiming that various schools posited the continuity of a single substratum/consciousness which persists across the process of becoming. It is a khanda which persists even whenever the other khandas arise and fall and then cease at death.
i.e. they persist without arising and falling
Now, regardless of whether or not this is a self-view under the guise of depersonalized dhammas, the idea of a singular property which is present across cycles of birth, death and becoming seems to lend itself to "I-making" and especially to "my-making."
why even bother accepting such notions?
Which is why I find it so strange that ... the later Theravadins with reference to the commentaries, proposed the existence of a citta dhamma which is stable (constantly there, unlike other cittas which arise and fall constantly with relation to the sense object-base relationship) and not subject to change within the context of samsara.
my response to Peter was not tied specifically to Conze's views of the Theravada, but to the general tendency of various schools to construct "pseudo-selves".
retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Mike,mikenz66 wrote:The intention was simply to provide a possible of example of how how some sort of "pseudo-self beyond the khandas", might be expressed in early Buddhism, which is the point of this thread, I think.
That's fine. I just didn't see any "pseudo-self" in Thanissaro Bhikkhu's teachings comments on the Dhamma, so was interested in clarifying what you may have seen in this space. Mind you, I've focused more on his writings on anatta than his writing on nibbana... so am speaking primarily in relation to the anatta material.
FWIW, I don't see any "pseudo-self" in the suttas either.
In other words, normal sensory consciousness is experienced because it has a "surface" against which it lands: the sense organs and their objects, which constitute the "all." For instance, we experience visual consciousness because of the eye and forms of which we are conscious. Consciousness without surface, however, is directly known, without intermediary, free from any dependence on conditions at all.
This consciousness thus differs from the consciousness factor in dependent co-arising, which is defined in terms of the six sense media. Lying outside of time and space, it would also not come under the consciousness-aggregate, which covers all consciousness near and far; past, present, and future. And, as SN 35.23 notes, the word "all" in the Buddha's teaching covers only the six sense media, which is another reason for not including this consciousness under the aggregates. However, the fact that it is outside of time and space — in a dimension where there is no here, there, or in between (Ud I.10), no coming, no going, or staying (Ud VIII.1) — means that it cannot be described as permanent or omnipresent, terms that have meaning only within space and time.
from http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
Ultimately, by following this program to greater and greater levels of refinement through the higher levels of mental absorption, one finds less and less to relish and enjoy in the six senses and the mental processes based on them. With this sense of disenchantment, the processes of feeling and thought are stilled, and there is a breakthrough to the cessation of the six sense spheres. When these spheres cease, is there anything else left? Ven. Sariputta, in AN 4.174, warns us not to ask, for to ask if there is, isn't, both-is-and-isn't, neither-is-nor-isn't anything left in that dimension is to papañcize what is free from papañca. However, this dimension is not a total annihilation of experience. It's a type of experience that DN 11 calls consciousness without feature, luminous all around, where water, earth, fire, & wind have no footing, where long/short, coarse/fine, fair/foul, name/form are all brought to an end. This is the fruit of the path of arahantship — a path that makes use of dualities but leads to a fruit beyond them.
from http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
Sylvester wrote:It's hard to tell how "consciousness" which is dependant on Nama-Rupa can transcend the 6 sense-bases and the 5 Aggregates and still survive post-mortem