Dhammas beyond experience?

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
SamKR
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Re: Dhammas beyond experience?

Post by SamKR »

mikenz66 wrote: Having said that, I wonder if those numbers are just hyperboble, to make a point about meditative experiences. The primary purpose of these texts (Sutta, Abhidhamma, Commentary..) is, in my view, an aid to making sense of experience. Even without any meditative experience at all, it's not hard to see that sense impressions appear at the six sense doors with extreme rapidity. You don't need some ancient text to figure that out... With some development of mindfulness and calm, the rising and passing of the sense impressions can be seen with increased rapidity.
Hello Mike,

Yes, it's not hard to see such extreme rapidity -- but only when such rapidity is directly experienced. But we may not have such experience all the time; usually we may encounter sensations which we perceive to be lasting for some time. When there is no such experience of rapidity, the rapidity is simply not there; I mean it is not even in the background.
The idea that Cittas are arising and passing away with extreme rapidity even when not experienced as such, does not make sense to me. I would appreciate if you or someone else could correct if my understanding seems to be wrong.
Coyote
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Re: Dhammas beyond experience?

Post by Coyote »

Does the body disappear when we have no perception of it, i.e in unconsciousness or in deep states of meditation? Why is it not the same with the mind? I don't see the logic here, maybe I am missing something. Or maybe you are saying that our experience is all that "exists"?
Either side is inappropriate attention, IMO.

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mikenz66
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Re: Dhammas beyond experience?

Post by mikenz66 »

Hi Sam,

My take on the Commentaries, and descriptions from modern teachers, seems to be a bit more relaxed than those who worry about whether or not they are proposing some ontology, or whatever. I don't find that particularly interesting or important.

To me, the importance of the Commentaries is as a summary of what can be experienced, how to see it, how it plays out, and so on. I read them as instructions and advice, not philosophy. Worrying about whether the phenomena are arising and falling away rapidly when we don't notice them doesn't seem to me to be a helpful line of reasoning when it comes to practice.

:anjali:
Mike
SamKR
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Re: Dhammas beyond experience?

Post by SamKR »

Coyote wrote:Does the body disappear when we have no perception of it, i.e in unconsciousness or in deep states of meditation? Why is it not the same with the mind? I don't see the logic here, maybe I am missing something. Or maybe you are saying that our experience is all that "exists"?
Either side is inappropriate attention, IMO.
If by body you mean body-consciousness, then yes when we don't experience body there is no arising of consciousness of body. In other words, you could say body-consciousness passed away for the duration of inexperience.
If by body you mean the physical body, then we do not have direct access to any physical matter (including physical body) of the universe. So, the question of whether body disappears when we have no perception simply does not apply.
I believe (so far, until my views change) that experience is all that matters. Since we have no direct access to physical world we cannot definitely say that physical matter actually exists. All we can say is that we can indirectly experience physical matter through the appearances of experiences.
SamKR
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Re: Dhammas beyond experience?

Post by SamKR »

mikenz66 wrote: My take on the Commentaries, and descriptions from modern teachers, seems to be a bit more relaxed than those who worry about whether or not they are proposing some ontology, or whatever. I don't find that particularly interesting or important.

To me, the importance of the Commentaries is as a summary of what can be experienced, how to see it, how it plays out, and so on. I read them as instructions and advice, not philosophy. Worrying about whether the phenomena are arising and falling away rapidly when we don't notice them doesn't seem to me to be a helpful line of reasoning when it comes to practice.
Hi Mike,
Fair enough. Thanks.
Rasko
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Re: Dhammas beyond experience?

Post by Rasko »

SamKR wrote:My question is: when there is no such direct experience of rapid arising and falling away, how can it be be said that cittas are in reality arising and passing away with such rapidity?
Isn't the currently ongoing actual experience (whatever it is -- whether changing very slowly or rapidly) the only reality of the moment? How can there be any "real" experience that exists beyond experience?
Isn't the assumption that "in the background there always are rapidly arising and falling dhammas with such rapidity" just a false assumption without the actual base of direct experience?
I just started watching these Abhidhamma lectures by Prof. Karunadasa recorded at the International Buddhist College (IBC):
http://korat.ibc.ac.th/multimedia/karunadasa

Some quotes (video/sound quality, my english and understanding of philosophy aren't that great, so there might be mistakes):
video 2:
one way to look at the development of the buddhist thought:
1) hinayana abhidharma systematization: realism
2) madhyamaka: emptiness
3) yogacara: idealism

"if we say that the five kinds of objects exist, that is realism, whether we experience them or not"
"abhidhamma recognizes the reality of the external world, therefore abhidhamma is realism"

"abhidhamma says dhammas are real"
"madhyamaka says dhammas are not real, they are empty"
"according to yogacara only mind is real, we call it idealism"
video 5:
"early buddhism is more empirical, abhidhamma is more rational"
"abhidhamma is an attempt to explain what the buddha taught within a rationalist framework"

"when early buddhism says things are impermanent you can observe impermanence"
"in the abhidhamma such characteristics as impermanence, suffering, they are applied not to things, but to the dhammas, the ultimate elements into which the world is analyzed, we can not see them"
"can be realized only at the level of high meditation"
"according to abhidhamma, dhammas are impermanent, but we can't observe that, it's based on rationalism"
So abhidhamma is rational realism? The existence of "dhammas beyond experience" is usually inferred, but there's a chance that abhidhamma is based on the experiences of advanced meditators? Or something like that?
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Alex123
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Re: Dhammas beyond experience?

Post by Alex123 »

Commenterial Abhidhamma, or at least how it is interpreted in some circles seems to reject conceptual, whole objects such as: trees, rocks, etc.

The only "realism" is that they posit that there are objectively existing dhammas (rūpa-s) and that all 4 "paramattha" dhammas are "real".
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5heaps
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Re: Dhammas beyond experience?

Post by 5heaps »

SamKR wrote:My question is: when there is no such direct experience of rapid arising and falling away, how can it be be said that cittas are in reality arising and passing away with such rapidity?
Isn't the currently ongoing actual experience (whatever it is -- whether changing very slowly or rapidly) the only reality of the moment? How can there be any "real" experience that exists beyond experience?
because theres a difference between a consciousness and the mental factor of ascertainment. an object can create an image in the mind but this does not necessarily mean it can is ascertained. there are very many subtle physical and mental things that constantly appear in our mind which are not ascertained. it is not a contradiction to say that 1 moment of experience has extremely many parts yet none of them are ordinarily ascertainable. another example is if you are reading something on the screen and someone talks, an ear consciousness is produced however there is no ascertainment or extremely little ie. just enough to say 'yes someone said something' but not enough at all to know what was said
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SamKR
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Re: Dhammas beyond experience?

Post by SamKR »

5heaps wrote: because theres a difference between a consciousness and the mental factor of ascertainment. an object can create an image in the mind but this does not necessarily mean it can is ascertained. there are very many subtle physical and mental things that constantly appear in our mind which are not ascertained. it is not a contradiction to say that 1 moment of experience has extremely many parts yet none of them are ordinarily ascertainable.
But whatever appears is what is present; presence of appearance is consciousness, and whatever is present is just what should be ascertained. Whatever does not appear is not present, is not conjoined with consciousness, and can not be ascertained. Conversely, whatever thing is not ascertained is not present, and there no presence or consciousness of that thing.

Assumption of the presence of a thing that is actually non-present or non-ascertainable may result into lapsed-mindfulness (sati muṭṭhā) of something actually present that is to be ascertained as it actually is.

(edited after thinking about the meaning of ascertainment you might have intended)
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