Idealism

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
Spiny Norman
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Re: Idealism

Post by Spiny Norman »

SDC wrote: Mon Jul 08, 2019 1:14 pm Idealism implies a materialism that is inaccessible, and materialism implies in idealism that is imagined. No matter which view is held, both aspects endure and are influential to the experience as a whole. They can never be "pure" in either direction.

The Dhamma is the view that would encompass all views. On a particular level, within the confines of its own nature, any view can have some validity, but when that shared nature of manifestation is understood as the most prominent aspect of any arisen thing, it gradually becomes clear that there is no view more fundamental (SN 22.37).
Sure, in SN22.37 the focus is on the aggregates. But one of the aggregates is form, and MN140 makes a clear distinction between internal and external elements of form, which contradicts idealism.

Do you know of any suttas which contradict MN140, and clearly support the idealist position? I can't think of any.
Last edited by Spiny Norman on Mon Jul 08, 2019 2:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Dan74
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Re: Idealism

Post by Dan74 »

Antaradhana wrote: Sun Jun 23, 2019 5:04 pm The suttas speak very clearly about the perception of the external rupa (4 elements). The five perceptions > consciousnesses focus mainly on the perception of the external rupa, and the consciousness of the mind equally on the perception of external ideas and ideas constructed by own mind. The distinction between the internal / external is outlined by the boundaries of the body, everything is pretty trite.
They also speak of the place where the 4 elements have no footing, as well as 'The All' that is bound by the senses. Some sound materialist, some idealist. But promulgating this or that position was not the aim, as far as I can tell. The aim was to teach appropriately.

So above all, AFAICT, the suttas speak to practice, not to postulate a philosphical system or any absolute truth(s). "Suffering I teach and the ending of suffering." that sort of thing.
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Re: Idealism

Post by Antaradhana »

Dan74 wrote: Mon Jul 08, 2019 2:24 pmThey also speak of the place where the 4 elements have no footing, as well as 'The All' that is bound by the senses.
Nibbana dhatu or ayatana - this is not the place.
All that is subject to arising is subject to termination, all formations are non-permanent. And that which is impermanent is suffering. Regarding what is impermanent and prone to suffering, one cannot say: "This is mine, I am this, this is my self".
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SDC
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Re: Idealism

Post by SDC »

Dinsdale wrote: Mon Jul 08, 2019 2:21 pm Sure, in SN22.37 the focus is on the aggregates. But one of the aggregates is form, and MN140 makes a clear distinction between internal and external elements of form, which contradicts idealism.

Do you know of any suttas which contradict MN140, and clearly support the idealist position? I can't think of any.
You're taking the distinction from MN 140 as something more fundamental than rupa, i.e. that there are broader aspects of rupa not covered in terms of the aggregate itself. The aggregate form/matter is the most fundamental designation, the most fundamental notion of rupa. The distinction between internal and external is a more detailed, more particular, less fundamental way of looking at rupa. It is a merely breakdown of rupa into more specific parts, which has no affect on the form aggregate's nature to manifest.

Edit: Where did I lead on that there was support for idealism in SN 22.37? My point is that any view if held against itself has a certain amount of validity, but when measured against something as fundamental as the nature to manifest, that validity does not stand. Both idealism and materialism fall under that criteria. Neither hold water against the nature of manifestation - they are just too specific, too narrow to have any validity at that level. Nevertheless, if you do try to hold to one, the other still has influence. They support each other in that sense and, if nothing else, that is a good enough reason not to deal in such fixed views.
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Re: Idealism

Post by Antaradhana »

About what internal elements are:

"Contemplating the Elements
Recognising the Solid/Extension Element - Calm
“Whatever, Rāhula, is hard, solid, is internal, referable to an individual and derived therefrom, that is to say: the hair of the head, the hair of the body, nails, teeth, skin, flesh, sinews, bones, marrow of the bones, kidney, heart, liver, pleura, spleen, lungs, intestines, mesentery, stomach, excrement, or whatever other thing is hard, solid, is internal, referable to an individual and derived therefrom, this, Rāhula, is called the internal element of extension. Whatever is an internal element of extension and whatever is an external element of extension, just these are the element of extension.

Contemplating the Solid/Extension Element - Insight
By means of perfect intuitive wisdom it should be seen of this as it really is, thus: This is not mine, this am I not, this is not my self. Having seen it thus as it really is by means of perfect intuitive wisdom, he disregards the element of extension, he cleanses his thought of the element of extension.

Recognising the Liquid Element - Calm
And what, Rāhula, is the liquid element? The liquid element may be internal, it may be external. And what, Rāhula, is the internal liquid element? Whatever is liquid, fluid, is internal, referable to an individual and derived therefrom, that is to say: bile, phlegm, pus, blood, sweat, fat, tears, serum, saliva, mucus, synovial fluid, urine or whatever other thing is liquid, fluid, is internal, referable to an individual and derived therefrom, this, Rāhula, is called the internal liquid element. Whatever is an internal liquid element and whatever is an external liquid element, just these are the liquid element.

Contemplating the Liquid Element - Insight
By means of perfect intuitive wisdom it should be seen of this as it really is, thus: This is not mine, this am I not, this is not my self. Having seen this thus as it really is by means of perfect intuitive wisdom, he disregards the liquid element, he cleanses his thought of the liquid element.

Recognising the Heat Element - Calm
And what, Rāhula, is the element of heat? The heat element may be internal, it may be external. And what, Rāhula, is the internal heat element? Whatever is heat, warmth, is internal, referable to an individual and derived therefrom, such as by whatever one is vitalised, by whatever one is consumed, by whatever one is burnt up, and by whatever one has munched, drunk, eaten and tasted that is properly transformed (in digestion), or whatever other thing is heat, warmth, is internal, referable to an individual and derived therefrom, this, Rāhula, is called the internal heat element. Whatever is an internal element of heat and whatever is an external element of heat, just these are the element of heat.

Contemplating the Heat Element - Insight
By means of perfect intuitive wisdom it should be seen of this as it really is, thus: This is not mine, this am I not, this is not my self. Having seen this thus as it really is by means of perfect intuitive wisdom, he disregards the heat element, he cleanses his thought of the heat element.

Recognising the Motion Element - Calm
And what, Rāhula, is the element of motion? The element of motion may be internal, it may be external. And what, Rāhula, is the internal element of motion? Whatever is motion, wind, is internal, referable to an individual and derived therefrom, such as winds going upwards, winds going downwards, winds in the abdomen, winds in the belly, winds that shoot across the several limbs, in-breathing, out-breathing, or whatever other thing is motion, wind, is internal, referable to an individual and derived therefrom, this, Rāhula, is called the internal element of motion. Whatever is an internal element of motion and whatever is an external element of motion, just these are the element of motion.

Contemplating the Motion Element - Insight
By means of perfect intuitive wisdom it should be seen of this as it really is, thus: This is not mine, this am I not, this is not my self. Having seen this thus as it really is by means of perfect intuitive wisdom, he disregards the element of motion, he cleanses his thought of the element of motion.

Recognising the Space Element - Calm
And what, Rāhula, is the element of space? The element of space may be internal, it may be external. And what, Rāhula, is the internal element of space? Whatever is space, spacious, is internal, referable to an individual and derived therefrom, such as the auditory and nasal orifices, the door of the mouth and that by which one swallows what is munched, drunk, eaten and tasted, and where this remains, and where it passes out of (the body) lower down, or whatever other thing is space, spacious, is internal, referable to an individual and derived therefrom, this, Rāhula, is called the internal element of space. Whatever is an internal element of space and whatever is an external element of space, just these are the element of space.

Contemplating the Space Element - Insight
By means of perfect intuitive wisdom it should be seen of this as it really is, thus: This is not mine, this am I not, this is not my self. Having seen this thus as it really is by means of perfect intuitive wisdom, he disregards the element of space, he cleanses his thought of the element of space".
MN 62
All that is subject to arising is subject to termination, all formations are non-permanent. And that which is impermanent is suffering. Regarding what is impermanent and prone to suffering, one cannot say: "This is mine, I am this, this is my self".
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Re: Idealism

Post by binocular »

Dinsdale wrote: Mon Jul 08, 2019 6:59 amPhilosophical titallation, but of no practical use.
Having a view that enables one to see oneself as having power (over oneself, over others) has plenty of practical use.

Why do you think men do philosophy? For fun? Because they are oh so honorably interested in The Truth? Or perhaps because they have some more mundane, practical goals in mind?
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Re: Idealism

Post by Spiny Norman »

binocular wrote: Mon Jul 08, 2019 5:10 pm
Dinsdale wrote: Mon Jul 08, 2019 6:59 amPhilosophical titallation, but of no practical use.
Having a view that enables one to see oneself as having power (over oneself, over others) has plenty of practical use.

Why do you think men do philosophy? For fun? Because they are oh so honorably interested in The Truth? Or perhaps because they have some more mundane, practical goals in mind?
How does adopting an idealist view give one more power?
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Re: Idealism

Post by binocular »

Dinsdale wrote: Tue Jul 09, 2019 6:06 amHow does adopting an idealist view give one more power?
By seeing oneself as the arbiter of what other people are supposed to consider true/real. We've been talking about this for the past week.
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Re: Idealism

Post by Spiny Norman »

binocular wrote: Tue Jul 09, 2019 9:01 am
Dinsdale wrote: Tue Jul 09, 2019 6:06 amHow does adopting an idealist view give one more power?
By seeing oneself as the arbiter of what other people are supposed to consider true/real. We've been talking about this for the past week.
Do you mean telling other people that what they think is real isn't real?
Isn't that just trying to impose an opinion?
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Re: Idealism

Post by Ceisiwr »

I don’t have time to reply to everyone’s points in full due to workload atm however I’d like to say that I’m not imposing my views on everyone. I’m not even 100% sure of them myself, it’s just something I’ve been moving towards as of late (I used to be a dualist). I certainly don’t think I’m the arbiter of what other people should or shouldn’t believe.
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Sherab
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Re: Idealism

Post by Sherab »

If the most fundamental level of phenomena is material, then mental phenomena are ultimately emergences of the material. It would also imply that there is no way that the mind/consciousness, being an emergent of that fundamental level can ever access that level. If so, then there is no possibility of the Buddha being totally confident in his Dhamma because there can be something outside his range, e.g. an Almighty Creator God.

If the most fundamental level of phenomena is ideal, then all physical phenomena are ultimately emergences of the ideal.

If the most fundamental level of phenomena is both material and ideal, that would beg the question as to how the two can interact given that they are mutually exclusive.

If the most fundamental level of phenomena is neither material nor ideal, then both mental phenomena and physical phenomena are emergences of that most fundamental level. Again, it would also imply that there is no way that the mind/consciousness, being an emergent of that fundamental level can ever access that level. If so, then there is no possibility of the Buddha being totally confident in his Dhamma because there is something outside his range, e.g. an Almighty Creator God.

Therefore, if we assume that the Buddha has access to whatever he turns his mind to, the most reasonable position to take is idealism, or at the very least, some form of idealism.
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Re: Idealism

Post by Sam Vara »

Sherab wrote: Tue Jul 09, 2019 10:17 am If the most fundamental level of phenomena is material, then mental phenomena are ultimately emergences of the material. It would also imply that there is no way that the mind/consciousness, being an emergent of that fundamental level can ever access that level. If so, then there is no possibility of the Buddha being totally confident in his Dhamma because there can be something outside his range, e.g. an Almighty Creator God.
Wouldn't materialism in this sense preclude the existence of God?
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Re: Idealism

Post by Sherab »

Sam Vara wrote: Tue Jul 09, 2019 10:32 am
Sherab wrote: Tue Jul 09, 2019 10:17 am If the most fundamental level of phenomena is material, then mental phenomena are ultimately emergences of the material. It would also imply that there is no way that the mind/consciousness, being an emergent of that fundamental level can ever access that level. If so, then there is no possibility of the Buddha being totally confident in his Dhamma because there can be something outside his range, e.g. an Almighty Creator God.
Wouldn't materialism in this sense preclude the existence of God?
You are one step ahead of me. :embarassed:

I want to correct this to:
If the most fundamental level of phenomena is material, then mental phenomena are ultimately emergences of the material. It would also imply that there is no way that the mind/consciousness, being an emergent of that fundamental level can ever access that level. If so, then there is no way to explain the miracles performed by the Buddha that involves the so-called elements such as spouting fire from one half of his body and water from his other half.

Also if the most fundamental level of phenomena is ideal, then acts of the Buddha that are seen as miraculous by beings is miraculous insofar as they are beyond the range of the beings concerned.
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Re: Idealism

Post by Spiny Norman »

Sherab wrote: Tue Jul 09, 2019 10:35 am
Sam Vara wrote: Tue Jul 09, 2019 10:32 am
Sherab wrote: Tue Jul 09, 2019 10:17 am If the most fundamental level of phenomena is material, then mental phenomena are ultimately emergences of the material. It would also imply that there is no way that the mind/consciousness, being an emergent of that fundamental level can ever access that level. If so, then there is no possibility of the Buddha being totally confident in his Dhamma because there can be something outside his range, e.g. an Almighty Creator God.
Wouldn't materialism in this sense preclude the existence of God?
You are one step ahead of me. :embarassed:

I want to correct this to:
If the most fundamental level of phenomena is material, then mental phenomena are ultimately emergences of the material. It would also imply that there is no way that the mind/consciousness, being an emergent of that fundamental level can ever access that level. If so, then there is no way to explain the miracles performed by the Buddha that involves the so-called elements such as spouting fire from one half of his body and water from his other half.

Also if the most fundamental level of phenomena is ideal, then acts of the Buddha that are seen as miraculous by beings is miraculous insofar as they are beyond the range of the beings concerned.
Sorry but I'm not following your analysis here. The Suttas describe sense-consciousness arising in dependence upon sense-bases and sense-objects, which are derived from form. Eg eye-consciousness arises in dependence on eye and visible form

The fact that there are sense-objects pretty much rules out idealism, doesn't it?

There must be some basis for sense-objects "out there", which in the suttas is explained as (external) form.
I don't see any other logical explanation for the sense-objects described in the suttas, ie sights, sounds, sensations, odours and flavours

And the fact that consciousness arises dependently upon form appears to rule out consciousness as the "fundamental level of phenomena" - that might be true for Hinduism, but not for Buddhism.
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Spiny Norman
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Re: Idealism

Post by Spiny Norman »

Ceisiwr wrote: Tue Jul 09, 2019 9:45 am I don’t have time to reply to everyone’s points in full due to workload atm however I’d like to say that I’m not imposing my views on everyone. I’m not even 100% sure of them myself, it’s just something I’ve been moving towards as of late (I used to be a dualist). I certainly don’t think I’m the arbiter of what other people should or shouldn’t believe.
I wasn't suggesting that, but I was questioning the point of adopting an idealist position. How is this useful, practically speaking?
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