Is there a sutta in the Pali Canon where someone holds the view "all is unreal" and the Buddha addresses this view?

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zan
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Is there a sutta in the Pali Canon where someone holds the view "all is unreal" and the Buddha addresses this view?

Post by zan »

Is there a sutta in the Pali Canon where someone holds the view "all is unreal" and the Buddha addresses this view?

Perhaps under different wording like "nothing is true," "nothing exists," "all is imaginary/illusory/mind/etc.,"

Anything that could even cover this idea broadly?

He discussed so many views with hundreds, maybe thousands of people. It would be odd if no one ever presented this view.
I am just a learner. Keep that in mind when you read my words.

Just to be safe, assume all of my words could be incorrect. Look to an arahant for total accuracy and confirmation.
skandha
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Re: Is there a sutta in the Pali Canon where someone holds the view "all is unreal" and the Buddha addresses this view?

Post by skandha »

Form is like a lump of foam, Feeling like a water bubble; Perception is like a mirage, Volitions like a plantain trunk, and consciousness like an illusion
- SN 22.95

Note that the Buddha did not say "is" but instead "is like".
Form is like a lump of foam, Feeling like a water bubble; Perception is like a mirage, Volitions like a plantain trunk, and consciousness like an illusion
- SN 22.95
SteRo
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Re: Is there a sutta in the Pali Canon where someone holds the view "all is unreal" and the Buddha addresses this view?

Post by SteRo »

“Monks, it’s not that I dispute with the world, but that the world disputes with me. A proponent of the Dhamma doesn’t dispute with anyone with regard to the world.1 Whatever is agreed upon by the wise as not existing in the world, of that I too say, ‘It doesn’t exist.’ Whatever is agreed upon by the wise as existing in the world, of that I too say, ‘It exists.’
https://www.dhammatalks.org/suttas/SN/SN22_94.html
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Re: Is there a sutta in the Pali Canon where someone holds the view "all is unreal" and the Buddha addresses this view?

Post by confusedlayman »

everything is deceitful ... u dont need buddha to acknowledge, u can know it for yourself...

I dont know if buddha said anything about unreal or real...

but conventionally all is unreal but I dont cling to this view as real or unreal is way of perception or way of creating own world with own dimension which I dont like... but sometimes happens u know!
I may be slow learner but im at least learning...
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Ceisiwr
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Re: Is there a sutta in the Pali Canon where someone holds the view "all is unreal" and the Buddha addresses this view?

Post by Ceisiwr »

zan wrote: Sun Jan 17, 2021 4:36 am Is there a sutta in the Pali Canon where someone holds the view "all is unreal" and the Buddha addresses this view?

Perhaps under different wording like "nothing is true," "nothing exists," "all is imaginary/illusory/mind/etc.,"

Anything that could even cover this idea broadly?

He discussed so many views with hundreds, maybe thousands of people. It would be odd if no one ever presented this view.
The Buddha says it himself:

“The monk who hasn't slipped past or turned back,
knowing with regard to the world
that "All this is unreal,"
sloughs off the near shore & far —
as a snake, its decrepit old skin.”

Sn 1.1

What that means though is a different matter. I would notice that he says the loka is unreal, not the Totality (Sabbam). In my view lokas are the worlds we personally create through namarupa & craving based on the Totality. I would say this is what is alluded to here, when discussing all the other ascetics of the time and their theories:

'I know. I see. That's just how it is!' —
Some believe purity's in terms of view.
But even if a person has seen,
what good does it do him?
Having slipped past,
they speak of purity
in connection with something
or somebody else.

A person, in seeing,
sees name & form.

Having seen, he'll know
only these things.

No matter if he's seen little, a lot,
the skilled don't say purity's
in connection with that.


Mahābyūha Sutta
“The mental and material are really here,
But here there is no human being to be found,
For it is void and merely fashioned like a doll—
Just suffering piled up like grass and sticks.”


Visuddhimagga
SteRo
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Re: Is there a sutta in the Pali Canon where someone holds the view "all is unreal" and the Buddha addresses this view?

Post by SteRo »

skandha wrote: Sun Jan 17, 2021 4:53 am Form is like a lump of foam, Feeling like a water bubble; Perception is like a mirage, Volitions like a plantain trunk, and consciousness like an illusion
- SN 22.95

Note that the Buddha did not say "is" but instead "is like".
This is a very tricky issue.
Saying "like an illusion" or "illusion-like" is applying the simile "illusion". Saying "is an illusion" is applying an equation and thus asserting an objective reality of this or that being truly an illusion.

There a difference for conceptuality between a simile and and an equation/reality statement but there no difference between the non-conceptual experience expressed with the concepts "like an illusion" and "is an illusion"?
Why?
Because the expression "like an illusion" is meant to be an instruction "handle it as if it were truly an illusion" (i.e. practice a kind of nibbida) and the expression "is an illusion" is having put the instruction into practice and expressing the effected experience with a concept representing it.
If after putting the instruction into practice the concept "like an illusion" would still appear to be appropriate but the concept "is an illusion" would appear to be inappropriate then the instruction "handle it as if it were truly an illusion" would not have been put into practice.
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Re: Is there a sutta in the Pali Canon where someone holds the view "all is unreal" and the Buddha addresses this view?

Post by coffeendonuts »

zan wrote: Sun Jan 17, 2021 4:36 am "all is imaginary/illusory/mind/etc.,"
The Pali canon supports it. Wynne comes to the conclusion that:
The ultimate truth to which Gotama has awakened is that our world of experience belongs in the mind:

"I declare that the world, its arising, cessation and the way thereto occurs in this very fathom-long ‘cadaver’ (kaḷevare), endowed with perception and mind."

This peculiar teaching suggests that the world in which we live is a state of experience, not an objectively real entity. This explains Gotama’s focus on the painful nature of human experience, and especially the means of deconstructing it.

-Who was the Buddha?
Iddhipāda implies this more directly:
"Before" Discourse (Pubba Sutta, SN 51.11) states:

"When the four bases of spiritual power have been developed and cultivated in this way, a bhikkhu wields the various kinds of spiritual power: having been one, he becomes many; having been many, he becomes one; he appears and vanishes; he goes unhindered through a wall, through a rampart, through a mountain as though through space; he dives in and out of the earth as though it were water; he walks on water without sinking as though it were earth; seated cross-legged, he travels in space like a bird; with his hands he touches and strokes the moon and sun so powerful and mighty; he exercises mastery with the body as far as the brahmā world."

-Wikipedia
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Re: Is there a sutta in the Pali Canon where someone holds the view "all is unreal" and the Buddha addresses this view?

Post by Nicolas »

Nicolas wrote: Sun Jan 17, 2021 5:32 am Kaccānagotta Sutta (SN 12.15)
For one who sees the origin of the world as it really is with correct wisdom, there is no notion of nonexistence in regard to the world.
[...]
‘All does not exist’: this is the second extreme.
(Adding the actual quote.)
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Ceisiwr
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Re: Is there a sutta in the Pali Canon where someone holds the view "all is unreal" and the Buddha addresses this view?

Post by Ceisiwr »

Nicolas wrote: Sun Jan 17, 2021 3:20 pm
Nicolas wrote: Sun Jan 17, 2021 5:32 am Kaccānagotta Sutta (SN 12.15)
For one who sees the origin of the world as it really is with correct wisdom, there is no notion of nonexistence in regard to the world.
[...]
‘All does not exist’: this is the second extreme.
(Adding the actual quote.)
The "All" here (Sabbaṃ) does not refer to the world (loka) but to Brahman, which is the Totality (Sabbaṃ) that is above the world and encompasses it.
“The mental and material are really here,
But here there is no human being to be found,
For it is void and merely fashioned like a doll—
Just suffering piled up like grass and sticks.”


Visuddhimagga
zan
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Re: Is there a sutta in the Pali Canon where someone holds the view "all is unreal" and the Buddha addresses this view?

Post by zan »

Ceisiwr wrote: Sun Jan 17, 2021 1:28 pm
zan wrote: Sun Jan 17, 2021 4:36 am Is there a sutta in the Pali Canon where someone holds the view "all is unreal" and the Buddha addresses this view?

Perhaps under different wording like "nothing is true," "nothing exists," "all is imaginary/illusory/mind/etc.,"

Anything that could even cover this idea broadly?

He discussed so many views with hundreds, maybe thousands of people. It would be odd if no one ever presented this view.
The Buddha says it himself:

“The monk who hasn't slipped past or turned back,
knowing with regard to the world
that "All this is unreal,"
sloughs off the near shore & far —
as a snake, its decrepit old skin.”

Sn 1.1

What that means though is a different matter. I would notice that he says the loka is unreal, not the Totality (Sabbam). In my view lokas are the worlds we personally create through namarupa & craving based on the Totality. I would say this is what is alluded to here, when discussing all the other ascetics of the time and their theories:

'I know. I see. That's just how it is!' —
Some believe purity's in terms of view.
But even if a person has seen,
what good does it do him?
Having slipped past,
they speak of purity
in connection with something
or somebody else.

A person, in seeing,
sees name & form.

Having seen, he'll know
only these things.

No matter if he's seen little, a lot,
the skilled don't say purity's
in connection with that.


Mahābyūha Sutta
Indeed. Thanks. Good thinking. Questioning what it means is wise. It is a poem, first,

poetry should not decide doctrine
-Bhikkhu Sujato
second, it is not always translated thus but sometimes as
Who neither goes too far nor lags behind,
who delusion-free has Known, “All is not thus”;
a bhikkhu such leaves here and there
as a serpent sloughs its worn-out skin.
It's also possible that, like some other suttas in the Sutta Nipata, this one is influenced by Ajnana doctrine.
Interpretations
Speaking generally, the Aṭṭhakavagga and the Pārāyanavagga tend more strongly to emphasize the negative (i.e. those of abstention) sides of asceticism,[note 2] and show a strong concern with letting go of views, regulating everyday bodily activities, and sexual desires.[4] The Atthakavagga does not give a clear-cut goal such as nirvana, but describes the ideal person.[5] This ideal person is especially characterized by suddhi (purity) and santi (calmness).[5] The Aṭṭhakavagga also places considerable emphasis on the rejection of, or non-attachment to, all views, and is reluctant to put forward positions of their own regarding basic metaphysical issues.[1][5][6][7]

Pre-Buddhist or proto-Madhyamaka
Gomez compared them to later Madhyamaka philosophy, which in its Prasaṅgika form especially makes a method of rejecting others' views rather than proposing its own.[1]

Interpretation as heterodox
Tillman Vetter, although agreeing overall with Gomez's observations, suggests some refinements on historical and doctrinal grounds.[8] First, he notes that neither of these short collections of suttas are homogeneous and hence are not all amenable to Gomez' proposals. According to Vetter, those suttas which do lend support to Gomez probably originated with a heterodox ascetic group[clarification needed] that pre-dated the Buddha, and were integrated into the Buddhist Sangha at an early date, bringing with them some suttas that were already in existence and also composing further suttas in which they tried to combine their own teachings with those of the Buddha.[8]

If we do have to take it literally, as your translation, it could be interpreted in the Madhyamaka way where "unreal" means "not ultimately existent" and concerns emptiness, which allows for conventional reality to be accepted, as opposed to saying everything is literally false with no exception, like a hares horn.
Last edited by zan on Sun Jan 17, 2021 5:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
I am just a learner. Keep that in mind when you read my words.

Just to be safe, assume all of my words could be incorrect. Look to an arahant for total accuracy and confirmation.
zan
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Re: Is there a sutta in the Pali Canon where someone holds the view "all is unreal" and the Buddha addresses this view?

Post by zan »

Ceisiwr wrote: Sun Jan 17, 2021 3:24 pm
Nicolas wrote: Sun Jan 17, 2021 3:20 pm
Nicolas wrote: Sun Jan 17, 2021 5:32 am Kaccānagotta Sutta (SN 12.15)
For one who sees the origin of the world as it really is with correct wisdom, there is no notion of nonexistence in regard to the world.
[...]
‘All does not exist’: this is the second extreme.
(Adding the actual quote.)
The "All" here (Sabbaṃ) does not refer to the world (loka) but to Brahman, which is the Totality (Sabbaṃ) that is above the world and encompasses it.
But when you truly see the origin of the world with right understanding, you won’t have the notion of non-existence regarding the world.
Lokasamudayaṃ kho, kaccāna, yathābhūtaṃ sammappaññāya passato yā loke natthitā sā na hoti.

...

‘All doesn’t exist’: this is the second extreme.
Sabbaṃ natthī’ti ayaṃ dutiyo anto.


Brahman is not mentioned, the "all" referred to is almost definitely either just the usual sense of the word "all", and this is supported because "loka" is mentioned, or perhaps more likely, the "all" that the Buddha personally taught.
At Sāvatthī.
Sāvatthinidānaṃ.

“Mendicants, I will teach you the all.
Sabbaṃ vo, bhikkhave, desessāmi.
Listen …
Taṃ suṇātha.

And what is the all?
Kiñca, bhikkhave, sabbaṃ?
It’s just the eye and sights, the ear and sounds, the nose and smells, the tongue and tastes, the body and touches, and the mind and thoughts.
Cakkhuñceva rūpā ca, sotañca saddā ca, ghānañca gandhā ca, jivhā ca rasā ca, kāyo ca phoṭṭhabbā ca, mano ca dhammā ca—
This is called the all.
idaṃ vuccati, bhikkhave, sabbaṃ.

Mendicants, suppose someone was to say:
Yo, bhikkhave, evaṃ vadeyya:
‘I’ll reject this all and describe another all.’ They’d have no grounds for that,
‘ahametaṃ sabbaṃ paccakkhāya aññaṃ sabbaṃ paññāpessāmī’ti, tassa vācāvatthukamevassa;
they’d be stumped by questions, and, in addition, they’d get frustrated.
puṭṭho ca na sampāyeyya, uttariñca vighātaṃ āpajjeyya.
Why is that?
Taṃ kissa hetu?
Because they’re out of their element.”
Yathā taṃ, bhikkhave, avisayasmin”ti.

Paṭhamaṃ.
-SN 35.23
At Sāvatthī. “Bhikkhus, I do not dispute with the world; rather, it is the world that disputes with me (Nāhaṃ, bhikkhave, lokena vivadāmi, loko va mayā vivadati). A proponent of the Dhamma does not dispute with anyone in the world. Of that which the wise in the world agree upon as not existing, I too say that it does not exist. And of that which the wise in the world agree upon as existing, I too say that it exists.

...


“And what is it, bhikkhus, that the wise in the world agree upon as existing, of which I too say that it exists? Form that is impermanent, suffering, and subject to change: this the wise in the world agree upon as existing, and I too say that it exists. Feeling … Perception … Volitional formations … Consciousness that is impermanent, suffering, and subject to change: this the wise in the world agree upon as existing, and I too say that it exists.
-SN 22.94
185 This portion of the sutta offers an important counterpoint
to the message of the Kaccānagotta Sutta (12:15). Here the
Buddha emphasizes that he does not reject all ontological
propositions, but only those that transcend the bounds of
possible experience. While the Kaccānagotta Sutta shows
that the “middle teaching” excludes static, substantialist
conceptions of existence and nonexistence, the present text
shows that the same “middle teaching” can accommodate
definite pronouncements about these ontological issues.
The affirmation of the existence of the five aggregates, as
impermanent processes, serves as a rejoinder to illusionist
theories, which hold that the world lacks real being.

186 Lokadhamma. Spk: The five aggregates are called thus
because it is their nature to disintegrate (lujjanasabhāvattā).
Loka is derived from lujjati at 35:82. The etymology cannot
be accepted literally but serves a pedagogic purpose.

187 Spk: In this sutta three types of world are spoken of. When
it is said, “I do not dispute with the world,” it is the world
of beings (sattaloka). “A world-phenomenon in the world”:
here, the world of formations (sańkhāraloka). “The
Tathāgata was born in the world”: here, the geographic world
(okāsaloka)....
The simile is also at AN II 38,30–39,3; see too AN V 152,12–16.
-Commentary by Bhikkhu Bodhi
Last edited by zan on Sun Jan 17, 2021 7:41 pm, edited 3 times in total.
I am just a learner. Keep that in mind when you read my words.

Just to be safe, assume all of my words could be incorrect. Look to an arahant for total accuracy and confirmation.
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Ceisiwr
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Re: Is there a sutta in the Pali Canon where someone holds the view "all is unreal" and the Buddha addresses this view?

Post by Ceisiwr »

zan wrote: Sun Jan 17, 2021 5:37 pm
Indeed. Thanks. Good thinking. Questioning what it means is wise. It is a poem, first,


poetry should not decide doctrine -Bhikkhu Sujato
I disagree.
second, it is not always translated thus but sometimes as

Who neither goes too far nor lags behind,
who delusion-free has Known, “All is not thus”;
a bhikkhu such leaves here and there
as a serpent sloughs its worn-out skin.
This means the same thing.
It's also possible that, like some other suttas in the Sutta Nipata, this one is influenced by Ajnana doctrine.
It can't be. It is antithetical to the Ajñana doctrine since it asserts knowledge.

If we do have to take it literally, as your translation, it could be interpreted in the Madhyamaka way where "unreal" means "not ultimately existent" and concerns emptiness, which allows for conventional reality to be accepted, as opposed to saying everything is literally false with no exception, like a hares horn.
I don't see that conclusion since what is being claimed to be unreal/not true is the loka, not the Sabbaṃ.
Brahman is not mentioned, the "all" referred to is almost definitely either just the usual sense of the word "all", and this is supported because "loka" is mentioned, or perhaps more likely, the "all" that the Buddha personally taught.
Sarvām asti is a direct reference to the Upanishads, since it refers to Brahman. Brahman is the Sarvām/Sabbaṃ there:

"ब्रह्म वा इदमग्र आसीत्, तदात्मानमेवावेत्, अहम् ब्रह्मास्मीति । तस्मात्तत्सर्वमभवत्; तद्यो यो देवानाम् प्रत्यबुभ्यत स एव तदभवत्, तथार्षीणाम्, तथा मनुष्याणाम्; तद्धैतत्पश्यन्नृषिर्वामदेवः प्रतिपेदे, अहम् मनुरभवं सूर्यश्चेति । तदिदमप्येतर्हि य एवं वेद, अहम् ब्रह्मास्मीति, स इदं सर्वम् भवति, तस्य ह न देवाश्चनाभूत्या ईशते, आत्मा ह्येषां स भवति; अथ योऽन्यां देवतामुपास्ते, अन्योऽसावन्योऽहमस्मीति, न स वेद, यथा पशुरेवम् स देवानाम् । यथा ह वै बहवः पशवो मनुष्यम् भुञ्ज्युः, एवमेकैकः पुरुषो देवान् भुनक्ति; एकस्मिन्नेव पशावादीयमानेऽप्रियम् भवति, किंउ बहुषु? तस्मादेषाम् तन्न प्रियम् यदेतन्मनुष्याविद्युः ॥ १० ॥

brahma vā idamagra āsīt, tadātmānamevāvet, aham brahmāsmīti | tasmāttatsarvamabhavat; tadyo yo devānām pratyabubhyata sa eva tadabhavat, tathārṣīṇām, tathā manuṣyāṇām; taddhaitatpaśyannṛṣirvāmadevaḥ pratipede, aham manurabhavaṃ sūryaśceti | tadidamapyetarhi ya evaṃ veda, aham brahmāsmīti, sa idaṃ sarvam bhavati, tasya ha na devāścanābhūtyā īśate, ātmā hyeṣāṃ sa bhavati; atha yo'nyāṃ devatāmupāste, anyo'sāvanyo'hamasmīti, na sa veda, yathā paśurevam sa devānām | yathā ha vai bahavaḥ paśavo manuṣyam bhuñjyuḥ, evamekaikaḥ puruṣo devān bhunakti; ekasminneva paśāvādīyamāne'priyam bhavati, kiṃu bahuṣu? tasmādeṣām tanna priyam yadetanmanuṣyāvidyuḥ || 10 ||

10. Verily, in the beginning this world was Brahman. It knew only itself (atmanam): "I am Brahman!" Therefore it became the All. Whoever of the gods became awakened to this, he indeed became it; likewise in the case of seers (rsi), likewise in the case of men. Seeing this, indeed, the seer Vamadeva began:- I was Manu and the sun (surya)! This is so now also. Whoever thus knows "I am Brahman!" becomes this All; even the gods have not power to prevent his becoming thus, for he becomes their self (atman). So whoever worships another divinity [than his Self], thinking "He is one and I another," he knows not. He is like a sacrificial animal for the gods. Verily, indeed, as many animals would be of service to a man, even so each single person is of service to the gods. If even one animal is taken away, it is not pleasant. What, then, if many? Therefore it is not pleasing to those [gods] that men should know this."

Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, verse 1.4.10

If we at the ideas found in SN 12.15 of "All exists" (Sabbamatthī’ti) or "All does not exist" (Sabbaṃ natthī’ti) we can see that they crop up again in SN 12.48:
At Savatthī. Then a brahmin who was a cosmologist approached the Blessed One … and said to him:

“How is it, Master Gotama: does all exist?”

“‘All exists’: this, brahmin, is the oldest cosmology.”

“Then, Master Gotama, does all not exist?”

“‘All does not exist’: this, brahmin, is the second cosmology.”

“How is it, Master Gotama: is all a unity?”

“‘All is a unity’: this, brahmin, is the third cosmology.”

“Then, Master Gotama, is all a plurality?”

“‘All is a plurality’: this, brahmin, is the fourth cosmology. Without veering towards either of these extremes, the Tathagata teaches the Dhamma by the middle….”
This is a direct reference to the metaphysical debates we see in the Upanishads:
“In the beginning, son, this world was simply what is existent—one only, without a second. Now, on this point some do say: 'In the beginning this world was simply what is nonexistent—one only, without a second. And from what is nonexistent was born what is existent.'
2"But, son, how can that possibly be?" he continued. "How can what is existent be born from what is nonexistent? On the contrary, son, in the beginning this world was simply what is existent—one only, without a second.
3 "And it thought to itself: 'Let me become many. Let me propagate myself.' It emitted heat. The heat thought to itself: 'Let me become many. Let me propagate myself.' It emitted water. Whenever it is hot, therefore, a man surely perspires; and thus it is from heat that water is produced. 4The water thought to itself: 'Let me become many. Let me propagate myself.' It emitted food. Whenever it rains, therefore, food becomes abundant; and thus it is from water that foodstuffs are produced.”
Chandogya Upanisad 6.2

We find the these ideas again in MN 1:
“He perceives unity as unity. Having perceived unity as unity, he conceives himself as unity, he conceives himself in unity, he conceives himself apart from unity, he conceives unity to be ‘mine,’ he delights in unity. Why is that? Because he has not fully understood it, I say.

“He perceives diversity as diversity. Having perceived diversity as diversity, he conceives himself as diversity, he conceives himself in diversity, he conceives himself apart from diversity, he conceives diversity to be ‘mine,’ he delights in diversity. Why is that? Because he has not fully understood it, I say.

“He perceives all as all. Having perceived all as all, he conceives himself as all, he conceives himself in all, he conceives himself apart from all, he conceives all to be ‘mine,’ he delights in all. Why is that? Because he has not fully understood it, I say.
So, the "Sabbaṃ exists" in SN 12.15 is a reference to Brahman/Atman, whilst the "Sabbaṃ does not exist" is a reference to the annihilationists. Metaphysical debates like this go back even further, stemming from the Rig Veda's Hymn of Creation (Nāsadīyasūkta):
The non-existent did not exist, nor did the existent exist at that time.
There existed neither the midspace nor the heaven beyond.
What stirred? From where and in whose protection?
Did water exist, a deep depth? (1)

Death did not exist nor deathlessness then.
There existed no sign of night nor of day.
That One breathed without wind through its inherent force.
There existed nothing else beyond that. (2)

Darkness existed, hidden by darkness, in the beginning.
All this was a signless ocean.
When the thing coming into being was concealed by emptiness,
then was the One born by the power of heat. (3)

Then, in the beginning, from thought there developed desire,
which existed as the primal semen.
Searching in their hearts through inspired thinking,
poets found the connection of the existent in the non-existent. (4)

Their cord was stretched across:
Did something exist below it? Did something exist above?
There were placers of semen and there were powers.
There was inherent force below, offering above. (5)

Who really knows? Who shall here proclaim it?
From where it was born, from where this creation?
The gods are on this side of the creation of this world.
So then who does know from where it came to be? (6)

This creation—from where it came to be,
if it was produced or if not—
He who is the overseer of this world in the highest heaven,
he surely knows. Or if he does not know…?
The Buddha obviously rejected all of this (no pun intended) as being a "thicket of views". What he did instead was to take the concept of the Totality (Sabbaṃ), which is the ultimate of what can be known and which encompasses everything, and stripped it of Brahman. He then redefined it as being:
At Savatthi. “Bhikkhus, I will teach you the Sabbaṃ. Listen to that….

“And what, bhikkhus, is the Sabbaṃ? The eye and forms, the ear and sounds, the nose and odours, the tongue and tastes, the body and tactile objects, the mind and mental phenomena. This is called the Sabbaṃ.

“If anyone, bhikkhus, should speak thus: ‘Having rejected this Sabbaṃ, I shall make known another Sabbaṃ’—that would be a mere empty boast on his part. If he were questioned he would not be able to reply and, further, he would meet with vexation. For what reason? Because, bhikkhus, that would not be within his domain.”
The Totality of what can be known and which encompasses everything has had all metaphysics removed from it, and has instead been reduced to direct sense experience. Vision & forms etc are the epistemological limit of what can be known, with the Buddha stating quite clearly that if someone were to posit some metaphysical thing above this (such as Brahman) as the other, or real, Sabbaṃ that would be "a mere empty boast on his part". What is being rejected here is synesthetic a priori reasoning, which leads people to form metaphysical views such as Brahman. Metaphysics, of course, being a collection of doctrines and ideas which are never actually experienced. A more empiricist epistemology is being offered here instead by the Buddha. It is then within this Totality, the Sabbaṃ of vision & forms, mind & ideas etc that we each create our own lokas:
And what, bhikkhus, is the origin of the world? In dependence on the eye and forms, eye-consciousness arises. The meeting of the three is contact. With contact as condition, feeling comes to be; with feeling as condition, craving; with craving as condition, clinging; with clinging as condition, existence; with existence as condition, birth; with birth as condition, aging-and-death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, displeasure, and despair come to be. This, bhikkhus, is the origin of the world.
https://suttacentral.net/sn12.44/en/bodhi

With all of this in mind, if we go back to Sn 1.1 we see that here:

“The monk who hasn't slipped past or turned back,
knowing with regard to the world
that "All this is unreal,"
sloughs off the near shore & far —
as a snake, its decrepit old skin.”

What is being called "unreal" or "not true" is the loka. That is to say, the very world that we create within the Totality (Sabbaṃ) of vision & forms etc. It is this which is being criticised as being unreal, not the vision & forms etc themselves. In other words, the world is very much unreal but the Totality (Sabbaṃ) is not. On this reading we can then see that what is being claimed in Sn 1.1 (and in the rest of the Sutta Nipāta) is not Madhyamaka nor Ajñana.

:anjali:
“The mental and material are really here,
But here there is no human being to be found,
For it is void and merely fashioned like a doll—
Just suffering piled up like grass and sticks.”


Visuddhimagga
zan
Posts: 1138
Joined: Sun Aug 28, 2016 1:57 pm

Re: Is there a sutta in the Pali Canon where someone holds the view "all is unreal" and the Buddha addresses this view?

Post by zan »

coffeendonuts wrote: Sun Jan 17, 2021 1:53 pm
zan wrote: Sun Jan 17, 2021 4:36 am "all is imaginary/illusory/mind/etc.,"
The Pali canon supports it. Wynne comes to the conclusion that:
The ultimate truth to which Gotama has awakened is that our world of experience belongs in the mind:

"I declare that the world, its arising, cessation and the way thereto occurs in this very fathom-long ‘cadaver’ (kaḷevare), endowed with perception and mind."

This peculiar teaching suggests that the world in which we live is a state of experience, not an objectively real entity. This explains Gotama’s focus on the painful nature of human experience, and especially the means of deconstructing it.

-Who was the Buddha?
Iddhipāda implies this more directly:
"Before" Discourse (Pubba Sutta, SN 51.11) states:

"When the four bases of spiritual power have been developed and cultivated in this way, a bhikkhu wields the various kinds of spiritual power: having been one, he becomes many; having been many, he becomes one; he appears and vanishes; he goes unhindered through a wall, through a rampart, through a mountain as though through space; he dives in and out of the earth as though it were water; he walks on water without sinking as though it were earth; seated cross-legged, he travels in space like a bird; with his hands he touches and strokes the moon and sun so powerful and mighty; he exercises mastery with the body as far as the brahmā world."

-Wikipedia
This reply, of course, is in no way meant to say anything negative about the Yogacarin outside of the purely hypothetical context of this post, which is written from the hypothetical stance of being in agreement with the perspective of Chandrakirti, Vyasa and traditional orthodox Theravada (where rupa is an ultimate reality per the Abhidhammattha Sangaha, and is deemed objective and land declared to not be generated by kamma [and so not mind either] in the Katthavatthu), and others who disagree with or criticize the Yogacara.

Surely in other respects, like from the perspective of a Yogacarin, they can be a wonderful school that helps many.

But, for the sake of consistency, arguments will be presented from the perspective mentioned above throughout this post:

Here are a couple Sujato quotes, he was speaking about the vinnana =/= nibbana issue, but it applies here too as the debate surrounds the purport that there is a special consciousness outside the five aggregates, and frequently, that this consciousness is all there is ultimately:
The notion of "manifest" and "non-manifest" consciousness does rather remind me of the Hindu idea of Samsara as a vast ocean of consciousness, from which the cycles of the world arise from time to time like a dream, only to lapse once more into the trackless waters. This idea, however, is not directly attested in the time of the Buddha (although certain Upanishadic precedents are found: nāmarūpa is like the rivers with their ‘names’ and ‘shapes’ that all return to the ocean of viññāṇa.)
-Bhikkhu Sujato, Nibbana is still not vinnana
If what the Buddha taught is really in essence the same as the Upanishads–and the ideas that you good gentlemen are talking about are, indeed, Upanishadic–then why was he so chronically unable to say so clearly?
-Bhikkhu Sujato's comment on "Vinnana is not nibbana really it just isn't"
So it just doesn't make any sense to say that the Buddha taught "all is mind", in fact this possibility is categorically ruled out in the suttas, many of which present doctrine and rules that would be impossible, contradictory, or incomprehensible if all were mind.

This notion is also brilliantly disproven by Venerable Dhammanando:
Dhammanando wrote:
zan wrote: What suttas support the commentarial position that matter exists and that all is not mind or consciousness?
It can be inferred from the fact that in the blind man simile the assertion of the contrary view is used as a simile for stupidity by the Buddha in MN 99 and Kumārakassapa in DN 23. Had the Buddha or his disciple held esse est percipi to be the case (or some other view along similar lines), then the simile would make no sense.
“Student, suppose there were a man born blind who could not see dark and light forms, who could not see blue, yellow, red, or carmine forms, who could not see what was even and uneven, who could not see the stars or the sun and moon. He might say thus: ‘There are no dark and light forms, and no one who sees dark and light forms; there are no blue, yellow, red, or carmine forms, and no one who sees blue, yellow, red, or carmine forms; there is nothing even and uneven, and no one who sees anything even and uneven; there are no stars and no sun and moon, and no one who sees stars and the sun and moon. I do not know these, I do not see these, therefore these do not exist.’ Speaking thus, student, would he be speaking rightly?”

“No, Master Gotama. There are dark and light forms, and those who see dark and light forms…there are the stars and the sun and moon, and those who see the stars and the sun and moon. Saying, ‘I do not know these, I do not see these, therefore these do not exist,’ he would not be speaking rightly.”

“So too, student, the brahmin Pokkharasāti is blind and visionless.
(Subhasutta, MN 99)
And Bhikkhu Bodhi:
At Sāvatthī. “Bhikkhus, I do not dispute with the world; rather, it is the world that disputes with me. A proponent of the Dhamma does not dispute with anyone in the world. Of that which the wise in the world agree upon as not existing, I too say that it does not exist. And of that which the wise in the world agree upon as existing, I too say that it exists
-SN 22.94
This portion of the sutta offers an important counterpoint to the message of the Kaccānagotta Sutta (12:15). Here the Buddha emphasizes that he does not reject all ontological propositions, but only those that transcend the bounds of possible experience. While the Kaccānagotta Sutta shows that the “middle teaching” excludes static, substantialist conceptions of existence and nonexistence, the present text shows that the same “middle teaching” can accommodate definite pronouncements about these ontological issues. The affirmation of the existence of the five aggregates, as impermanent processes, serves as a rejoinder to illusionist theories, which hold that the world lacks real being.
-Commentary by Bhikkhu Bodhi

And Chandrakirti (who would have thought the Mahayana would be a help here?). Since this notion has no roots in the Pali Canon, it makes perfect sense to present an argument directed at the actual source of this teaching, the Yogacara school:
Some selections from a relevant work translated by C. W. Huntington, Jr. (Vijnanavada is the Yogacara or Mind Only school):

Candrakirti's Madhyamakavatarabhasya 6.86-97

A Madhyamaka Critique of Vijnanavada Views of Consciousness

C. W. Huntington, Jr.

(68)An opponent is refuted by perceiving that each and every response he offers is nothing but an unsubstantiated thesis. The buddhas did not teach that any entity whatsoever [ultimately] exists.

(69) The meditator who follows his teacher's instructions sees the surrounding area to be filled with skeletons. In this case it is obvious that all three [factors of sensation] are unproduced, because this is an exercise in artificial mentation.

(70) According to our opponent, even these impure mental [visualizations] are just like [conventional] objects of sense perception. If this were so, then anyone else [besides the meditator] who looked at the place where they appear should perceive the skeletons. They are fictitious, however and are not [perceived by anyone other that the meditator].

[Refutation of a noncognized entity (reflexive awareness) as the ultimate truth]

(72) If this "dependent entity" exists in the absence of both subject and object, then who is aware of its existence? It would be unacceptable to assert that it exists unapprehended.

(73) It is not proven that [a cognition] is aware of itself. Nor can this be proven by using the subsequent memory [of a previous event as evidence], for in this case the thesis intended to substantiate your claim itself embodies an unproven premise, and therefore it cannot be admitted [as valid proof].

(76) Therefore, without [this notion of] reflexive awareness who (or what) will apprehend your dependent [form]? The actor, the object [of the action], and the action are not identical, and for this reason it is illogical to maintain that [a cognition] apprehends itself.

(77) However, if the entity which is [a manifestation of this] dependent form (paratantrarupavastu) exists without ever having been produced or cognized, then why should our opponent insist that [belief in] the son of a barren woman is irrational? What harm could the son of a barren woman inflict on him [that he has not already suffered through belief in his concept of dependent form]?

(78) And in the event that this dependent [form] in no way whatsoever exists, then what will function as the cause for the screen [of conventional truth]? All the ordered structure of everyday experience is laid waste by this clinging to a real substance inherent in our opponents philosophical views.

[The true meaning of teachings on "mind alone"]

(79) There is no means of finding peace for those walking outside the path trodden by the master Nagarjuna. Such people have strayed from the truth of the screen and from the reality [expressed in the truth of the highest meaning], and on account of this they will never be free.

(80) Conventional truth is the means, the truth of the highest meaning is the goal, and one who does not appreciate the distinction between these two treads a wrong path through his reified concepts.

(81) We [Madhyamikas] do not have the same attitude toward our [concept of] the screen as you [Yogacarins] have toward your [concept of] dependent being (paratantrabhava). With reference to the nature of everyday experience, we say: "Even though things do not exist, they exist" - and this is done for a specified purpose.

(82) [The things of the world] do not exist for the saints who have abandoned the pyschophysical aggregates and found peace. If, in a similar manner, they did not exist in the context of everyday experience, then we would not maintain that they do - even in this qualified sense.

(83) If everyday experience poses no threat to you, then you may persist in this denial of the evidence provided by such experience. Quarrel with the evidence of everyday experience, and afterward we will rely on the winner.

...

The word “only” has no capacity to negate the objective component of knowledge (jneya).

"(87)...the Lankavatara sutra substitutes "mind alone" for "mind alone is preeminent in the context of everyday experience." The meaning of this scripture is not to be understood as a negation of form.”

...When the scripture says "mind alone exists; form does not," this is taught to deny the importance of form and so forth, not to negate their very existence....

(88) If he intended to deny the existence of objective reality wen he said that [the world] is mind alone, then why would the mahatma declare, in the same text, that mind is produced from delusion (moha) and volitional action (karman)?

What sensible person would look at a passage from this same [Dasabhumikasutra] and imagine that consciousness exists as an independent thing (vastutah)? A notion like this is nothing more than dogmatic opinion. It follows that the expression "mind only" serves only to clarify that mind is the most significant element [in experience] This text should not be understood to assert that there is no objective form (rupa).

(90a-b) Even though objective form does indeed exist, it is not, like mind, an agent


This means that objective form is inert.


(90c-d) Therefore, denying any other agent besides mind is not the same as negating objective form altogether.


Some people take (the Samkhya) idea of "matter" (pradhana) and such things as agent, others believe it is mind, but everyone agrees that objective form is not an agent. To prevent pradhana and so forth from being taken as agent, it is explained that they do not have any such characteristic. Seeing that it has the capacity to serve as agent, one declares that mind alone is the agent, and in doing so one gains the high ground in any debate concerning the agency of pradhana and so forth. It is as if two kings desire power in a single land, and one of the two rivals is expelled while the other assumes control of the country. No matter who wins, the citizens are indispensable and would suffer no harm. So it is here, because objective form is indispensable to both, it suffers no loss. One can certainly maintain that objective form exists. Therefore, continuing in the same manner, the text declares:


(91) Within the context of everyday affairs, all five psychophysical constituents taken for granted in the world do exist. However, none of the five appears to a yogi who pursues illuminating knowledge of reality.


Therefore, seeing as this is so,


(92a-b) If form does not exist, then do not cling to the existence of mind; and if mind exists, then do not cling to the nonexistence of form.


When, for some reason, one does not admit the existence of form, then the existence of both is equally unreasonable and one must admit the nonexistence of mind, as well. And when one admits the existence of mind, then it is necessary to admit the existence of form, for both are conventionally real.

"O Subhuti, objective form is empty of inherent existence." The same is said concerning the others, including consciousness. This is established both in scripture and through recourse to reason.


(93a-b) You destroy the relationship of the two truths, and even then your "real thing" (vastu) [i.e. mind] is not established, because it has been refuted.


In arguing that consciousness alone exists, without objective form, you destroy the relationship between conventional and ultimate truth as it has been explained. And even when you have destroyed this relationship between the two truths, your absolute reality will not be established. Why not? Once the reality [of form] is denied, your efforts [to establish consciousness] are pointless.

(93c-d) It would be better to hold, in conformity with this relationship, that in reality nothing arises; the arising of things is merely conventional.

(94a-b) Where a scripture declares that there is no external object and that mind (citta) alone appears as various things,


This scripture requires interpretation:


(94c-d) the refutation of form is provisional, directed specifically at those who are overly attached to it.


The meaning of such a text is strictly provisional. There are those who have lost themselves in clinging or anger or pride that is rooted in an extreme attachment to form; such people commit grievous errors and fail to cultivate merit or understanding. It is for these people, who are clinging, that the Blessed One taught "mind alone" even though it is not actually so. He did this in order to destroy the afflictions that are rooted in material form.
But how do you know this scripture is provisional, and not definitive?
Through both textual evidence and reason. The master has said precisely this:

(95a-b) The master has said that this [scripture] is of strictly provisional meaning; reason [as well] dictates it is of provisional meaning.

Not only is this scripture of provisional meaning, but also

(95c-d) This text makes it clear that other scriptures of this type are of provisional meaning.

And if one inquires which scriptures are of “of this type,” there is the following passage from the Sandhinirmocanasutra, explaining the “three natures”-the imaginary, the dependent, and the perfected:

The imaginary is nonexistent, only what is dependent exists.

(96) The Buddhas teach that the subject, or knower (jnatr), may easily be dispensed with once the object of knowledge, or the known (jneya), is no longer present. For this reason they begin by refuting the object of knowledge, for, when it is no longer present, refutation of the subject is already accomplished.
And, here's the real kicker, even the Hindus disagree with this baseless, illogical idea of consciousness with nothing to be dependent on, nothing to produce it. For even in Hinduism, which does teach "all is consciousness", they do not allow for consciousness alone, nor even state such things, as for them this "consciousness" that is all, is also God, a substantial, eternal, ultimately existent entity that is beyond mind and matter, and consciousness is just one epithet of many. "All is consciousness BUT is ultimately Brahman (God), which is beyond all understanding and is utterly transcendent." Is utterly different from "All is mind/consciousness."
This is the English translation of the Brahma-sutras including the commentary (Bhashya) of Shankara. The Brahma-sutra (or, Vedanta-sutra) is one of the three canonical texts of the Vedanta school of Hindu philosophy and represents an early exposition the Vedantic interpretation of the Upanishads. This edition has the original Sanskrit text, the r...

Chapter II, Section II, Adhikarana V
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Adhikarana summary: Refutation of the Bauddha Idealists

Brahma-Sutra 2.2.28: Sanskrit text and English translation.

नाभावः, उपलब्धेः ॥ २८ ॥

nābhāvaḥ, upalabdheḥ || 28 ||

na—not; abhāvaḥ—non-existence; upalabdheḥ—on account of their being experienced.

28. Non-existence (of things external) is not (true), on account of their being experienced.

From this Sutra begins the refutation of the Idealists among the Bauddhas, according to whom only ideas exist and nothing else.

According to them the external world is nonexistent. Does it mean that the objective world is absolutely non-existent like the horns of a hare, or does it mean that it is unreal even as the world seen in a dream is unreal. The Sutra refutes the former view. In that case we could not have experienced it. The external world is an object of experience through the senses, and cannot therefore be altogether non-existent like the horns of a hare. The Buddhist may say that he does not affirm that he is conscious of no object, but only that what is seen in his consciousness alone shines as something external. But then the very nature of consciousness itself proves the existence of external things different from consciousness, for men are conscious of things or objects of perception, and nobody is conscious of his perception merely. The very fact that the Bauddhas say that the internal cognition appears ‘as something external’ shows that the external world is real. If it were not real, the comparison ‘like something external’ would be meaningless. No one says that Devadatta is like the son of a barren woman.



Brahma-Sutra 2.2.29: Sanskrit text and English translation.

वैधर्म्याच्च न स्वप्नादिवत् ॥ २९ ॥

vaidharmyācca na svapnādivat || 29 ||

vaidharmyāt—Owing to the difference of nature; ca—and; na—is not; svapnādivat—like dreams etc.

29. And owing to the difference of nature (in consciousness between the waking and the dream state, the experience of the waking state) is not like dreams etc.

This Sutra refutes the alternative view given in the previous Sutra. The Bauddhas may say that perception of the external world is to be considered similar to dreams and the like. In a dream there are no external objcts; yet the ideas appear in a twofold form as subject and object. The appearance of an external world is similarly independent of any objective reality. This Sutra refutes that view. There is a difference between the dream state and the waking state. What is seen in a dream is contradicted by waking experience, it is unreal. The dream state is a kind of memory, but the waking state is a real perception; so it cannot be rejected as untrue. Moreover, what is the proof of the existence of consciousness except experience? If that is so, why should not an object which is experienced be taken also as existing ? It may be said that even the Vedantins acknowledge the unreality of the external world, since it is contradicted by the knowledge of Brahman, and that this view is based on the Srutis. But if the Bauddhas accept the authority of the Vedas, then they would be included within the Vedantic school and no longer remain outside it, but as a matter of fact they do not accept the Vedas.



Brahma-Sutra 2.2.30: Sanskrit text and English translation.

न भावः, उनुपलब्धेः ॥ ३० ॥

na bhāvaḥ, anupalabdheḥ || 30 ||

na—Is not; bhāvaḥ—existence; anupalabdheḥ—because (external things) are not experienced.

30. The existence (of Samskaras) is not (possible according to the Bauddhas), because (external things) are not experienced.

The Bauddhas say that though external things do not exist, yet the actual variety of notions like pot, cloth, etc. can be accounted for by the preceding Samskaras or mental impressions left by previous experience, even as the impressions of the waking state give rise to the variety of experience in the dream state. This view is not tenable, says the Sutra, for mental impressions are impossible without the perception of external objects, and this the Bauddhas deny. The assumption of a beginningless series of mental impressions as cause rnd effect would only lead to a regressus in infinitum and not solve the difficulty.



Brahma-Sutra 2.2.31: Sanskrit text and English translation.

क्षणिकत्वाच्च ॥ ३१ ॥

Kṣaṇikatvācca || 31 ||

Kṣaṇikatvāt—On account of the momentariness; ca—and.

31. And on account of the momentariness (of the ego-consciousness it cannot be the abode of the Samskaras).

The mental impressions must have an abode. Without that they cannot exist. But the doctrine of momentariness denies permanency to everything. Even the Alayavijnana or ego-consciousness, is momentary and cannot be that abode. Unless there is a permanent principle connecting the past, present, and future, there cannot be remembrance or recognition of an experience originating at a particular time and place. If the Alayavijnana is said to be something permanent, then that would go counter to the doctrine of momentariness.



Brahma-Sutra 2.2.32: Sanskrit text and English translation.

सर्वथानुपपत्तेश्च ॥ ३२ ॥

sarvathānupapatteśca || 32 ||

sarvathā—In every way; nupapatteḥ—being illogical; ca—and.

32. And (as the Bauddha system is) illogical in every way (it cannot be accepted).

This Sutra can also be interpreted as refuting the Nihilists: The translation would then be : And (as Nihilism) is illogical etc.

Nihilism of the Bauddhas goes counter to everything. It goes against the Sruti, the Smriti, perception, inference, and every other means of right knowledge and so has to be entirely disregarded by those who are mindful of their welfare.
This, of course, does away with the eel wriggling and word juggling to keep the "all is mind" idea alive by saying the mind is not existent, yet "all is mind". This is the normal way crypto Yogacarins escape from the charge that the Buddha taught all is empty and nothing exists ultimately (save nibbana), hence mind cannot exist any more than, and so certainly cannot be the source for, matter, ultimately, while conventionally both exist. Now the Yogacarin appropriates some Madhyamaka and says they mean the same thing. However, this does not follow.

The two truths state that:

1.) Conventionally mind and matter exist.

2.) Ultimately nothing exists.

So saying "All is mind" can never be true. "All is mind conventionally" is false, because conventionally both mind and matter exist. "All is mind ultimately" is false, because ultimately neither exist.

For the Yogacarins who stick to just "All is mind" meaning "Ultimately nothing exists", the sentence then should read "All is non existent" for "mind" has become synonymous with "non-existence".

So, can Yogacara be teaching Madhyamaka? Only if we redefine words, and why do such a thing, which only serves to obfuscate the Dharma? "All is
mind" reifies the mind dramatically, no matter how you slice it. It requires redefining of many words and a full education on Yogacara to understand how it ostensibly doesn't in the later version of Yogacara (early Yogacara likely was astika [mind exists], and later ostensibly was nastika [as mind was said not to exist then]). Even then, Yogacara still constantly denies conventional reality on both the ultimate and conventional level in this and many other ways. And we saw above the prediction of how that likely will turn out, outside of like minded individuals, talking with people in the world at large:
(81) We [Madhyamikas] do not have the same attitude toward our [concept of] the screen as you [Yogacarins] have toward your [concept of] dependent being (paratantrabhava). With reference to the nature of everyday experience, we say: "Even though things do not exist, they exist" - and this is done for a specified purpose.

(82) [The things of the world] do not exist for the saints who have abandoned the pyschophysical aggregates and found peace. If, in a similar manner, they did not exist in the context of everyday experience, then we would not maintain that they do - even in this qualified sense.

(83) If everyday experience poses no threat to you, then you may persist in this denial of the evidence provided by such experience. Quarrel with the evidence of everyday experience, and afterward we will rely on the winner.
Last edited by zan on Sun Jan 17, 2021 7:28 pm, edited 2 times in total.
I am just a learner. Keep that in mind when you read my words.

Just to be safe, assume all of my words could be incorrect. Look to an arahant for total accuracy and confirmation.
zan
Posts: 1138
Joined: Sun Aug 28, 2016 1:57 pm

Re: Is there a sutta in the Pali Canon where someone holds the view "all is unreal" and the Buddha addresses this view?

Post by zan »

Nicolas wrote: Sun Jan 17, 2021 3:20 pm
Nicolas wrote: Sun Jan 17, 2021 5:32 am Kaccānagotta Sutta (SN 12.15)
For one who sees the origin of the world as it really is with correct wisdom, there is no notion of nonexistence in regard to the world.
[...]
‘All does not exist’: this is the second extreme.
(Adding the actual quote.)
Thank you!
I am just a learner. Keep that in mind when you read my words.

Just to be safe, assume all of my words could be incorrect. Look to an arahant for total accuracy and confirmation.
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