superzach wrote: ↑Tue Jul 27, 2021 2:49 pm
Bhikkhus, this saṃsāra is without discoverable beginning....Suppose, bhikkhus, a man would cut up whatever grass, sticks, branches, and foliage there are in this Jambudı̄pa and collect them together into a single heap. Having done so, he would put them down, saying [for each one]: ‘This is my mother, this my mother’s mother.’ The sequence of that man’s mothers and grandmothers would not come to an end, yet the grass, wood, branches, and foliage in this Jambudı̄pa would be used up and exhausted. (SN 15:1)
I do not understand this (nor indeed the other analogies in the SN about samara having no discoverable beginning). I understand from the analogy that the pile of sticks, etc., is very large, but it does have an end, i.e., when the pile is eventually consumed. How does this passage demonstrate that samara has no beginning?
The analogies are to give a sense of vastness. As in "imagine all the grains of sand from here to the river Ganges represent an Aeon, the grains of sand could be counted and still there would be more Aeons that have passed"
So it just means that whatever limit you put, the past goes back further because there is no discernable beginning.
Beginningless time without being able to discover the beginning actually makes the most sense;
- If Samsara has a beginning, it would postulate a first cause (something like 'God'). But then the question remains what created or instigated the first cause? Postulating a 'beginning' and first cause is no real answer as one would need to account for what caused the first cause... ad infinitum. We are back to beginningless causes
- If Samsara has no beginning, of course no beginning could ever be found as one could spend ones entire life recalling past lives and would reach the end of ones life without discovering any beginning to Samsara.
So one would only ever be able to say about beginningless time that there is no discoverable beginning, for to say for sure that there is 'no beginning' would imply one has surveyed all of time, indicating a limit and thus not beginningless which is infinite.
Beginningless can only be called undiscoverable beginning.
- The answer is that within Samara there cannot be any answer so will appear only paradoxical. Like the destination of the Tathagata after death there are only paradoxes and undeclared statements. So too understanding Samsara's nature and begininglesness cannot be comprehended and will lead to only befuddlement. The question is to be put aside.
"There are these four unconjecturables that are not to be conjectured about, that would bring madness & vexation to anyone who conjectured about them. Which four?
"The Buddha-range of the Buddhas is an unconjecturable that is not to be conjectured about, that would bring madness & vexation to anyone who conjectured about it.
"The jhana-range of a person in jhana...
"The [precise working out of the] results of kamma...
"Conjecture about [the origin, etc., of] the world is an unconjecturable that is not to be conjectured about, that would bring madness & vexation to anyone who conjectured about it.
"These are the four unconjecturables that are not to be conjectured about, that would bring madness & vexation to anyone who conjectured about them."
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html