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Things you can control

24

Comments

  • ERoseERose Earth, North America, west. Explorer

    @Jason said:
    Or, control is an illusion, and the choices you think you're making are conditioned by a myriad of factors a la causal determinism.

    If this were so, no effort would make any differenve, and everything is just a cosmic pinball machine.

    but I think there are 3 things which can be controlled: thoughts, speech, behavior. (It takes commitment and practice, a lot of practice maybe.) Controlling these aids eradicating greed, ill will, and delusion. With the causes eradicated, liberation from suffering, with happiness and peace along the way.

    This thread was the one which got me to join NewBuddhist. This is my first post.

    person
  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    @ERose said:

    @Jason said:
    Or, control is an illusion, and the choices you think you're making are conditioned by a myriad of factors a la causal determinism.

    If this were so, no effort would make any difference, and everything is just a cosmic pinball machine.

    but I think there are 3 things which can be controlled: thoughts, speech, behavior. (It takes commitment and practice, a lot of practice maybe.) Controlling these aids eradicating greed, ill will, and delusion. With the causes eradicated, liberation from suffering, with happiness and peace along the way.

    This thread was the one which got me to join NewBuddhist. This is my first post.

    Welcome, @ERose, and thanks for your comments. :)

    The one thing that helps me take any course of action, in any way, is a five-word sentence I picked up some time ago, in a random article I found on how to make one's mind up more effectively, productively and successfully.

    Most Decisions Can Be Undone.

    That made me realise that whatever conclusion I came to, in order to move on effectively, productively and successfully, nothing of my making is ever written in stone, and if needs be, back-tracking IS an option....

    If you slip up today, you can always set out again, tomorrow... ;)

    ERose
  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the liminal space Veteran
    edited January 2019

    Hello @ERose and welcome.

    Regarding my earlier argument about subconscious conditioned decisions still being effectively us making the decisions I remembered a story I've use elsewhere about intuition. There was a fire fighter who, while on the roof of a burning building, got a really bad feeling of danger come to him. He listened to that feeling and ordered everyone off the roof, not long after the roof collapsed. After reflecting on the event he realized that his feet were warmer than they should have been. It wasn't his conscious self that was doing the work, but it was still him.

    ERose
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited January 2019

    @ERose said:

    @Jason said:
    Or, control is an illusion, and the choices you think you're making are conditioned by a myriad of factors a la causal determinism.

    If this were so, no effort would make any differenve, and everything is just a cosmic pinball machine.

    but I think there are 3 things which can be controlled: thoughts, speech, behavior. (It takes commitment and practice, a lot of practice maybe.) Controlling these aids eradicating greed, ill will, and delusion. With the causes eradicated, liberation from suffering, with happiness and peace along the way.

    This thread was the one which got me to join NewBuddhist. This is my first post.

    Hello, and welcome @ERose.

    I'd say not necessarily. For instance, an impulse to make a difference is itself a conditioned phenomenon, is it not? Ehether by learned behaviour or initiated by a particular feeling or insight that itself is conditioned, etc. What arises without conditions in this world? When this is, that is. From the arising of this comes the arising of that. Your decision to join NB was conditioned by many factors, including this thread and a desire to express a particular idea. And even the eradication of greed, hatred, and delusion has it's supporting conditions (e.g., see DN 15). And our effort to achieve that is motivated by conditions, both external and internal, etc.

    Life is much like a cosmic pinball game from the POV of physics. Our perception of it via consciousness gives us an interesting POV of that process, giving rise to pleasure and pain, happiness and suffering, and gives us the ability, through certain causes and conditions, to understand it and achieve a state of peace/nonagitation in the midst of it. That's my idea, anyway.

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the liminal space Veteran
    edited January 2019

    @Jason said:
    Life is much like a cosmic pinball game from the POV of physics. Our perception of it via consciousness gives us an interesting POV of that process, giving rise to pleasure and pain, happiness and suffering, and gives us the ability, through certain causes and conditions, to understand it and achieve a state of peace/nonagitation in the midst of it. That's my idea, anyway.

    To my mind we're essentially saying the same thing here regarding the impact conscious awareness has on the process. Namely that the ability to observe our conditioned responses has an effect on the process, leading to different outcomes, being peaceful and non agitated leads to different conditioned choices than if we didn't have it. And yet, we somehow are still in disagreement in a way that at least I can't define.

  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited January 2019

    @person said:

    @Jason said:
    Life is much like a cosmic pinball game from the POV of physics. Our perception of it via consciousness gives us an interesting POV of that process, giving rise to pleasure and pain, happiness and suffering, and gives us the ability, through certain causes and conditions, to understand it and achieve a state of peace/nonagitation in the midst of it. That's my idea, anyway.

    I hate to say I called it, but to my mind we're essentially saying the same thing here regarding the impact conscious awareness has on the process. Namely that the ability to observe our conditioned responses has an effect on the process, leading to different outcomes, being peaceful and non agitated leads to different conditioned choices than if we didn't have it. And yet, we somehow are still in disagreement in a way that at least I can't define.

    Of course our awareness has an effect. It, too, acts as a condition, and conditions in turn act upon it in a type of experiential feedback loop. Even our experience of consciousness itself is based upon conditions, from the arising of thesense bases as be gestate to contact with external objects and thoughts, which are essentially mental objects.

    My writing this, for example, is conditioned upon a number of things, from being taught English as a child and my exposure to both Buddhism and science to my own personal experiences and ideas I'm motivated to express. None of this arose independent of conditions, and there are countless conditions I'm completely unaware of, which gives more solidity to the illusion of choice I seem to subjectively have. I initially argued in favour of choice and control at some level in the present moment, but further reading, reflection, and experience have conditioned a different understanding today.

    I have no issues accepting that conditionality underlies my experience of and interaction with the world. In fact, the better we understand conditionality, the more we can shape our experience and interaction in skillful ways. I'm fortunate to have been born a human in a time and place where I'm able to develop that awareness and understanding. As the Buddha says, "To reside in a suitable locality, to have performed meritorious actions in the past, and to set oneself in the right direction — this is the highest blessing" (Sn 2.4). And if we're in agreement, so much the better.

  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited January 2019

    I feel this quote by Luang Por Liem from a different thread perfectly expresses my understanding from the Buddhist POV:

    Feelings are just feelings, happiness is just happiness, suffering is just suffering. Only that. Having arisen, it all ceases. We don’t have happiness and suffering. We don’t take interest in them. They are just attributes of the mental objects that come up – just that much. The lokadhamma appear and vanish according to their own logic [i.e., conditionality]. Finally, if we don’t show interest in them, don’t support and give importance to them, they lose their existence.

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the liminal space Veteran

    @Jason said:
    And if we're in agreement, so much the better.

    I don't know what it is, there is some deeper distinction or disagreement to be made. Unless someone can put their finger on it and define it, there probably isn't a whole lot more to be gained by you saying its deterMINism and me saying I think its determinISM.

  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    If it's just semantics, or the thickness of Gold Leaf, I think you could say you're both in agreement, apart from describing which shade of Green you're both looking at....

  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran
    edited January 2019

    @Jason said:
    I feel this quote by Luang Por Liem from a different thread perfectly expresses my understanding from the Buddhist POV:

    Feelings are just feelings, happiness is just happiness, suffering is just suffering. Only that. Having arisen, it all ceases. We don’t have happiness and suffering. We don’t take interest in them. They are just attributes of the mental objects that come up – just that much. The lokadhamma¯ appear and vanish according to their own logic [i.e., conditionality]. Finally, if we don’t show interest in them, don’t support and give importance to them, they lose their existence.

    The problem here is that by showing disinterest in the suffering of others it doesn't lose its existence, it only dulls our senses to it.

    The aversion to suffering is not the cessation of suffering.

  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator

    @David said:

    @Jason said:
    I feel this quote by Luang Por Liem from a different thread perfectly expresses my understanding from the Buddhist POV:

    Feelings are just feelings, happiness is just happiness, suffering is just suffering. Only that. Having arisen, it all ceases. We don’t have happiness and suffering. We don’t take interest in them. They are just attributes of the mental objects that come up – just that much. The lokadhamma¯ appear and vanish according to their own logic [i.e., conditionality]. Finally, if we don’t show interest in them, don’t support and give importance to them, they lose their existence.

    The problem here is that by showing disinterest in the suffering of others it doesn't lose its existence, it only dulls our senses to it.

    The aversion to suffering is not the cessation of suffering.

    That's not what I understand him to be saying.

  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran
    edited January 2019

    @Jason said:

    @David said:

    @Jason said:
    I feel this quote by Luang Por Liem from a different thread perfectly expresses my understanding from the Buddhist POV:

    Feelings are just feelings, happiness is just happiness, suffering is just suffering. Only that. Having arisen, it all ceases. We don’t have happiness and suffering. We don’t take interest in them. They are just attributes of the mental objects that come up – just that much. The lokadhamma¯ appear and vanish according to their own logic [i.e., conditionality]. Finally, if we don’t show interest in them, don’t support and give importance to them, they lose their existence.

    The problem here is that by showing disinterest in the suffering of others it doesn't lose its existence, it only dulls our senses to it.

    The aversion to suffering is not the cessation of suffering.

    That's not what I understand him to be saying.

    It just doesn't seem to go with the teachings. The cessation of suffering lies in training and diligence. It sounds to me like he would ignore it until it went away.

    I rarely get the hidden nuance here though. I like compassion to be forefront in the teaching and perhaps it even is but Buddha certainly took interest in other peoples suffering.

  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited January 2019

    @David said:

    @Jason said:

    @David said:

    @Jason said:
    I feel this quote by Luang Por Liem from a different thread perfectly expresses my understanding from the Buddhist POV:

    Feelings are just feelings, happiness is just happiness, suffering is just suffering. Only that. Having arisen, it all ceases. We don’t have happiness and suffering. We don’t take interest in them. They are just attributes of the mental objects that come up – just that much. The lokadhamma¯ appear and vanish according to their own logic [i.e., conditionality]. Finally, if we don’t show interest in them, don’t support and give importance to them, they lose their existence.

    The problem here is that by showing disinterest in the suffering of others it doesn't lose its existence, it only dulls our senses to it.

    The aversion to suffering is not the cessation of suffering.

    That's not what I understand him to be saying.

    It just doesn't seem to go with the teachings. The cessation of suffering lies in training and diligence. It sounds to me like he would ignore it until it went away.

    I rarely get the hidden nuance here though. I like compassion to be forefront in the teaching.

    I don't want to speak for Luang Por Liem, but through my familiarity with the Thai Forest tradition of Ajahn Chah, I think he's talking more about claiming happiness as our own/seeking it and claiming suffering as our own/pushing it away than simply ignoring suffering.

    Happiness and suffering arise and cease according to causes and conditions, and we have the tendency to claim ownership of them, grasping the former and saying 'I want this' and pushing away the latter saying 'I don't want this.' But if we condition our awareness, we can see them for what they are, conditionally arising phenomena that we can learn not to grasp as me and mine. They cease to appear to exist for us 'from their own side' as it were.

    In other words, I take him to be talking about our internal practice of non-clinging and non-craving, not being boringly apathetic, turning a blind eye to the suffering of others, or suggesting that we shouldn't develop things like metta, compassion, equanimity, or sympathetic joy.

    personlobsterShoshin
  • ERoseERose Earth, North America, west. Explorer

    Interesting responses, thank you. Inspired me to reread SN 22 today. https://suttacentral.net/sn22.55/en/sujato Starts with "At Sāvatthī. There the Buddha spoke these words of inspiration: “‘It might not be, and it might not be mine. It will not be, and it will not be mine.’ A mendicant who makes such a resolution can cut off the five lower fetters...."
    and continues with detailed teaching by the Buddha on the ending of defilements...

    Jason
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator

    @ERose said:
    Interesting responses, thank you. Inspired me to reread SN 22 today. https://suttacentral.net/sn22.55/en/sujato Starts with "At Sāvatthī. There the Buddha spoke these words of inspiration: “‘It might not be, and it might not be mine. It will not be, and it will not be mine.’ A mendicant who makes such a resolution can cut off the five lower fetters...."
    and continues with detailed teaching by the Buddha on the ending of defilements...

    Thats precisely what I think he's talking about re: feelings:

    [The uninstructed/unawakened person] assumes feeling to be the self, or the self as possessing feeling, or feeling as in the self, or the self as in feeling.

  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    @David said: ...It just doesn't seem to go with the teachings. The cessation of suffering lies in training and diligence. It sounds to me like he would ignore it until it went away.

    I rarely get the hidden nuance here though. I like compassion to be forefront in the teaching and perhaps it even is but Buddha certainly took interest in other peoples suffering.

    I think the nuance i the same as Kipling's.

    "If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those to impostors just the same..."

    What he is saying is, don't get swayed by one emotion, because the opposite emotion is just as influential on your mind.

    Euphoria and tragedy evoke the same levels of adrenaline, even though they are at opposite ends of the emotional scale. So they should both be viewed as waves of equal measure and allowed to flow on, in the same way....

    He's not saying 'ignore it until it goes away'. He's saying let it pass, unhindered.
    Let it come, arise, abate and dissipate, and treat the emotion of elation in the same way... They're just the same, after all... fluctuations.

    Jason
  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran

    He literally says if we don't pay attention to them they cease to exist.

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the liminal space Veteran

    @Jason said:

    @ERose said:
    Interesting responses, thank you. Inspired me to reread SN 22 today. https://suttacentral.net/sn22.55/en/sujato Starts with "At Sāvatthī. There the Buddha spoke these words of inspiration: “‘It might not be, and it might not be mine. It will not be, and it will not be mine.’ A mendicant who makes such a resolution can cut off the five lower fetters...."
    and continues with detailed teaching by the Buddha on the ending of defilements...

    Thats precisely what I think he's talking about re: feelings:

    [The uninstructed/unawakened person] assumes feeling to be the self, or the self as possessing feeling, or feeling as in the self, or the self as in feeling.

    This is really interesting, most things Mahayana/Theravada are fairly compatible. But I think on this matter there maybe an irreconcilable difference. My understanding is that Theravada applies selflessness only to individuals, so the view presented here, I believe, is the correct interpretation under that scenario and one I hadn't really heard before. Mahayana extends the notion of selflessness to the entire world in the doctrine of emptiness and two truths.

    My original Buddhist background is in the Mahayana so that view is the one I came up on. This is a compelling argument explaining the Theravada view and something I will take under real consideration and compare it back against the Mahayana understanding.

  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator

    @David said:
    He literally says if we don't pay attention to them they cease to exist.

    Well, all I can say is, I find it quite noncontroversial and orthodox on its own, but it's even more apparent in the full context, especially the paragraph right before it:

    Mental states arise and cease whether they are states of happiness or suffering, agreeable or disagreeable states. We call these lokadhamma (worldly dhammas), attributes that dominate the hearts and minds of beings living in the world. Seeing the lokadhamma simply as elements of Dhamma, we won't make the assumption that 'we' are happy whenever 'we' feel happiness or that 'we' are suffering whenever 'we' feel suffering. There is nothing like 'our' goodness or 'our' badness either. We see these attributes, but they are just aspects of Dhamma. Each one is just one of all the possible states of Dhamma. There is nothing special about it.

  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran
    edited January 2019

    @Jason said:

    @David said:
    He literally says if we don't pay attention to them they cease to exist.

    Well, all I can say is, I find it quite noncontroversial and orthodox on its own, but it's even more apparent in the full context, especially the paragraph right before it:

    Mental states arise and cease whether they are states of happiness or suffering, agreeable or disagreeable states. We call these lokadhamma (worldly dhammas), attributes that dominate the hearts and minds of beings living in the world. Seeing the lokadhamma simply as elements of Dhamma, we won't make the assumption that 'we' are happy whenever 'we' feel happiness or that 'we' are suffering whenever 'we' feel suffering. There is nothing like 'our' goodness or 'our' badness either. We see these attributes, but they are just aspects of Dhamma. Each one is just one of all the possible states of Dhamma. There is nothing special about it.

    Subjective states of mind and their arisings are one thing and the objectivity of suffering is another.

    It helps to distinguish when giving teachings such as this especially when presenting to people that may be new to the teachings. Context is very important.

    This is why people mistake Buddhism as being nihilistic.

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the liminal space Veteran

    @David said:

    @Jason said:

    @David said:
    He literally says if we don't pay attention to them they cease to exist.

    Well, all I can say is, I find it quite noncontroversial and orthodox on its own, but it's even more apparent in the full context, especially the paragraph right before it:

    Mental states arise and cease whether they are states of happiness or suffering, agreeable or disagreeable states. We call these lokadhamma (worldly dhammas), attributes that dominate the hearts and minds of beings living in the world. Seeing the lokadhamma simply as elements of Dhamma, we won't make the assumption that 'we' are happy whenever 'we' feel happiness or that 'we' are suffering whenever 'we' feel suffering. There is nothing like 'our' goodness or 'our' badness either. We see these attributes, but they are just aspects of Dhamma. Each one is just one of all the possible states of Dhamma. There is nothing special about it.

    States of mind and their arisings are one thing and the objectivity of suffering is another. When you present a teaching out of context you can hardly be surprised when the teaching is taken out of context.

    It helps to distinguish when giving teachings such as this especially when presenting to people that may be new to the teachings.

    This is why people mistake Buddhism as being nihilistic.

    I've tried to live by the maxim 10% of well being is what happens, 90% is your reaction to it. I've had a few traumatic events in my life but overall it is a decent life so it hasn't been really tested. I feel like I am able to ride out the more ordinary ups and downs with some equanimity though and more equanimity towards the bigger stuff than I otherwise might have.

  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran
    edited January 2019

    @person said:

    @David said:

    @Jason said:

    @David said:
    He literally says if we don't pay attention to them they cease to exist.

    Well, all I can say is, I find it quite noncontroversial and orthodox on its own, but it's even more apparent in the full context, especially the paragraph right before it:

    Mental states arise and cease whether they are states of happiness or suffering, agreeable or disagreeable states. We call these lokadhamma (worldly dhammas), attributes that dominate the hearts and minds of beings living in the world. Seeing the lokadhamma simply as elements of Dhamma, we won't make the assumption that 'we' are happy whenever 'we' feel happiness or that 'we' are suffering whenever 'we' feel suffering. There is nothing like 'our' goodness or 'our' badness either. We see these attributes, but they are just aspects of Dhamma. Each one is just one of all the possible states of Dhamma. There is nothing special about it.

    States of mind and their arisings are one thing and the objectivity of suffering is another. When you present a teaching out of context you can hardly be surprised when the teaching is taken out of context.

    It helps to distinguish when giving teachings such as this especially when presenting to people that may be new to the teachings.

    This is why people mistake Buddhism as being nihilistic.

    I've tried to live by the maxim 10% of well being is what happens, 90% is your reaction to it. I've had a few traumatic events in my life but overall it is a decent life so it hasn't been really tested. I feel like I am able to ride out the more ordinary ups and downs with some equanimity though and more equanimity towards the bigger stuff than I otherwise might have.

    I'm getting better at it but found at first that helping others was the best way to help myself.

    Some find it better to go the other way where helping themself first is the best way to help others.

    As long as we're here to help, I don't see a problem unless our wisdom to compassion ratio is out of whack.

    person
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited January 2019

    @person said:

    @Jason said:

    @ERose said:
    Interesting responses, thank you. Inspired me to reread SN 22 today. https://suttacentral.net/sn22.55/en/sujato Starts with "At Sāvatthī. There the Buddha spoke these words of inspiration: “‘It might not be, and it might not be mine. It will not be, and it will not be mine.’ A mendicant who makes such a resolution can cut off the five lower fetters...."
    and continues with detailed teaching by the Buddha on the ending of defilements...

    Thats precisely what I think he's talking about re: feelings:

    [The uninstructed/unawakened person] assumes feeling to be the self, or the self as possessing feeling, or feeling as in the self, or the self as in feeling.

    This is really interesting, most things Mahayana/Theravada are fairly compatible. But I think on this matter there maybe an irreconcilable difference. My understanding is that Theravada applies selflessness only to individuals, so the view presented here, I believe, is the correct interpretation under that scenario and one I hadn't really heard before. Mahayana extends the notion of selflessness to the entire world in the doctrine of emptiness and two truths.

    My original Buddhist background is in the Mahayana so that view is the one I came up on. This is a compelling argument explaining the Theravada view and something I will take under real consideration and compare it back against the Mahayana understanding.

    I don't see the incompatibility. Nagarjuna's Mulamadhyamakakarika is basically a commentary on SN 12.15. When someone speaks in one context, it doesn't mean they're denying another on that basis alone. Does Luang Por Liem, or Theravada in general, suggest the world to be the self, the possession of the self, as in the self, or the self as in the world? ?‍♀️

  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited January 2019

    @David said:

    @Jason said:

    @David said:
    He literally says if we don't pay attention to them they cease to exist.

    Well, all I can say is, I find it quite noncontroversial and orthodox on its own, but it's even more apparent in the full context, especially the paragraph right before it:

    Mental states arise and cease whether they are states of happiness or suffering, agreeable or disagreeable states. We call these lokadhamma (worldly dhammas), attributes that dominate the hearts and minds of beings living in the world. Seeing the lokadhamma simply as elements of Dhamma, we won't make the assumption that 'we' are happy whenever 'we' feel happiness or that 'we' are suffering whenever 'we' feel suffering. There is nothing like 'our' goodness or 'our' badness either. We see these attributes, but they are just aspects of Dhamma. Each one is just one of all the possible states of Dhamma. There is nothing special about it.

    Subjective states of mind and their arisings are one thing and the objectivity of suffering is another.

    It helps to distinguish when giving teachings such as this especially when presenting to people that may be new to the teachings. Context is very important.

    This is why people mistake Buddhism as being nihilistic.

    A. I'm not the one who originally posted it out of context. I simply used the part I found relevant in this thread because the connection seemed obvious to me.

    B. I can't control how people perceive these teachings. I can only provide my understanding and experience. Others can take or leave that understanding and experience as they see fit.

    C. What is objectivity in the context of a conditional world from the subjective POV of conditional beings? What has objective existence in that context?

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the liminal space Veteran

    @Jason said:

    @person said:

    @Jason said:

    @ERose said:
    Interesting responses, thank you. Inspired me to reread SN 22 today. https://suttacentral.net/sn22.55/en/sujato Starts with "At Sāvatthī. There the Buddha spoke these words of inspiration: “‘It might not be, and it might not be mine. It will not be, and it will not be mine.’ A mendicant who makes such a resolution can cut off the five lower fetters...."
    and continues with detailed teaching by the Buddha on the ending of defilements...

    Thats precisely what I think he's talking about re: feelings:

    [The uninstructed/unawakened person] assumes feeling to be the self, or the self as possessing feeling, or feeling as in the self, or the self as in feeling.

    This is really interesting, most things Mahayana/Theravada are fairly compatible. But I think on this matter there maybe an irreconcilable difference. My understanding is that Theravada applies selflessness only to individuals, so the view presented here, I believe, is the correct interpretation under that scenario and one I hadn't really heard before. Mahayana extends the notion of selflessness to the entire world in the doctrine of emptiness and two truths.

    My original Buddhist background is in the Mahayana so that view is the one I came up on. This is a compelling argument explaining the Theravada view and something I will take under real consideration and compare it back against the Mahayana understanding.

    I don't see the incompatibility. Nagarjuna's Mulamadhyamakakarika is basically a commentary on SN 12.15. When someone speaks in one context, it doesn't mean they're denying another on that basis alone. Does Luang Por Liem, or Theravada in general, suggest the world to be the self, the possession of the self, as in the self, or the self as in the world? ?‍♀️

    I think I've heard Alan Wallace refer to the Theravada view of the external world as being a realist view. The philosophy of dependent arising is the same, its that Theravada applies it only to the personal self, while Mahayana applies it to the external world, the whole chariot is not in the parts or separate from the parts and other such arguments.

  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited January 2019

    @person said:

    @Jason said:

    @person said:

    @Jason said:

    @ERose said:
    Interesting responses, thank you. Inspired me to reread SN 22 today. https://suttacentral.net/sn22.55/en/sujato Starts with "At Sāvatthī. There the Buddha spoke these words of inspiration: “‘It might not be, and it might not be mine. It will not be, and it will not be mine.’ A mendicant who makes such a resolution can cut off the five lower fetters...."
    and continues with detailed teaching by the Buddha on the ending of defilements...

    Thats precisely what I think he's talking about re: feelings:

    [The uninstructed/unawakened person] assumes feeling to be the self, or the self as possessing feeling, or feeling as in the self, or the self as in feeling.

    This is really interesting, most things Mahayana/Theravada are fairly compatible. But I think on this matter there maybe an irreconcilable difference. My understanding is that Theravada applies selflessness only to individuals, so the view presented here, I believe, is the correct interpretation under that scenario and one I hadn't really heard before. Mahayana extends the notion of selflessness to the entire world in the doctrine of emptiness and two truths.

    My original Buddhist background is in the Mahayana so that view is the one I came up on. This is a compelling argument explaining the Theravada view and something I will take under real consideration and compare it back against the Mahayana understanding.

    I don't see the incompatibility. Nagarjuna's Mulamadhyamakakarika is basically a commentary on SN 12.15. When someone speaks in one context, it doesn't mean they're denying another on that basis alone. Does Luang Por Liem, or Theravada in general, suggest the world to be the self, the possession of the self, as in the self, or the self as in the world? ?‍♀️

    I think I've heard Alan Wallace refer to the Theravada view of the external world as being a realist view. The philosophy of dependent arising is the same, its that Theravada applies it only to the personal self, while Mahayana applies it to the external world, the whole chariot is not in the parts or separate from the parts and other such arguments.

    Well, you're free to believe what you want. That's certainly not in my control, although perhaps my contributions will act a condition to eventually give you a different understanding than that Alan Watts has apparently conditioned. All I can offer right now is that both views are compatible and not mutually exclusive in either tradition.

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the liminal space Veteran

    @Jason said:

    @person said:

    @Jason said:

    @person said:

    @Jason said:

    @ERose said:
    Interesting responses, thank you. Inspired me to reread SN 22 today. https://suttacentral.net/sn22.55/en/sujato Starts with "At Sāvatthī. There the Buddha spoke these words of inspiration: “‘It might not be, and it might not be mine. It will not be, and it will not be mine.’ A mendicant who makes such a resolution can cut off the five lower fetters...."
    and continues with detailed teaching by the Buddha on the ending of defilements...

    Thats precisely what I think he's talking about re: feelings:

    [The uninstructed/unawakened person] assumes feeling to be the self, or the self as possessing feeling, or feeling as in the self, or the self as in feeling.

    This is really interesting, most things Mahayana/Theravada are fairly compatible. But I think on this matter there maybe an irreconcilable difference. My understanding is that Theravada applies selflessness only to individuals, so the view presented here, I believe, is the correct interpretation under that scenario and one I hadn't really heard before. Mahayana extends the notion of selflessness to the entire world in the doctrine of emptiness and two truths.

    My original Buddhist background is in the Mahayana so that view is the one I came up on. This is a compelling argument explaining the Theravada view and something I will take under real consideration and compare it back against the Mahayana understanding.

    I don't see the incompatibility. Nagarjuna's Mulamadhyamakakarika is basically a commentary on SN 12.15. When someone speaks in one context, it doesn't mean they're denying another on that basis alone. Does Luang Por Liem, or Theravada in general, suggest the world to be the self, the possession of the self, as in the self, or the self as in the world? ?‍♀️

    I think I've heard Alan Wallace refer to the Theravada view of the external world as being a realist view. The philosophy of dependent arising is the same, its that Theravada applies it only to the personal self, while Mahayana applies it to the external world, the whole chariot is not in the parts or separate from the parts and other such arguments.

    Well, you're free to believe what you want. That's certainly not in my control, although perhaps my contributions will act a condition to eventually give you a different understanding than that Alan Watts has apparently conditioned. All I can offer right now is that both views are compatible and not mutually exclusive in either tradition.

    B. Alan Wallace

  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited January 2019

    @person said:

    @Jason said:

    @person said:

    @Jason said:

    @person said:

    @Jason said:

    @ERose said:
    Interesting responses, thank you. Inspired me to reread SN 22 today. https://suttacentral.net/sn22.55/en/sujato Starts with "At Sāvatthī. There the Buddha spoke these words of inspiration: “‘It might not be, and it might not be mine. It will not be, and it will not be mine.’ A mendicant who makes such a resolution can cut off the five lower fetters...."
    and continues with detailed teaching by the Buddha on the ending of defilements...

    Thats precisely what I think he's talking about re: feelings:

    [The uninstructed/unawakened person] assumes feeling to be the self, or the self as possessing feeling, or feeling as in the self, or the self as in feeling.

    This is really interesting, most things Mahayana/Theravada are fairly compatible. But I think on this matter there maybe an irreconcilable difference. My understanding is that Theravada applies selflessness only to individuals, so the view presented here, I believe, is the correct interpretation under that scenario and one I hadn't really heard before. Mahayana extends the notion of selflessness to the entire world in the doctrine of emptiness and two truths.

    My original Buddhist background is in the Mahayana so that view is the one I came up on. This is a compelling argument explaining the Theravada view and something I will take under real consideration and compare it back against the Mahayana understanding.

    I don't see the incompatibility. Nagarjuna's Mulamadhyamakakarika is basically a commentary on SN 12.15. When someone speaks in one context, it doesn't mean they're denying another on that basis alone. Does Luang Por Liem, or Theravada in general, suggest the world to be the self, the possession of the self, as in the self, or the self as in the world? ?‍♀️

    I think I've heard Alan Wallace refer to the Theravada view of the external world as being a realist view. The philosophy of dependent arising is the same, its that Theravada applies it only to the personal self, while Mahayana applies it to the external world, the whole chariot is not in the parts or separate from the parts and other such arguments.

    Well, you're free to believe what you want. That's certainly not in my control, although perhaps my contributions will act a condition to eventually give you a different understanding than that Alan Watts has apparently conditioned. All I can offer right now is that both views are compatible and not mutually exclusive in either tradition.

    B. Alan Wallace

    Yes, I'm aware of who B. Alan Wallace is. I accidentally read Alan Watts when I skimmed your reply. Apologies for the error. My point still stands, however.

    Besides Theravada, I'm also familiar with and have experience in Zen, Chan, and the Sakya tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. And I'll say that Theravada often gets a bad rap from other traditions, underservingly in my opinion. Just because Theravada doesn't focus as much on certain things doesn't mean they're not found within it, whether explicitly or implicitly.

    ERoseperson
  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran

    @Jason said:

    @David said:

    @Jason said:

    @David said:
    He literally says if we don't pay attention to them they cease to exist.

    Well, all I can say is, I find it quite noncontroversial and orthodox on its own, but it's even more apparent in the full context, especially the paragraph right before it:

    Mental states arise and cease whether they are states of happiness or suffering, agreeable or disagreeable states. We call these lokadhamma (worldly dhammas), attributes that dominate the hearts and minds of beings living in the world. Seeing the lokadhamma simply as elements of Dhamma, we won't make the assumption that 'we' are happy whenever 'we' feel happiness or that 'we' are suffering whenever 'we' feel suffering. There is nothing like 'our' goodness or 'our' badness either. We see these attributes, but they are just aspects of Dhamma. Each one is just one of all the possible states of Dhamma. There is nothing special about it.

    Subjective states of mind and their arisings are one thing and the objectivity of suffering is another.

    It helps to distinguish when giving teachings such as this especially when presenting to people that may be new to the teachings. Context is very important.

    This is why people mistake Buddhism as being nihilistic.

    A. I'm not the one who originally posted it out of context. I simply used the part I found relevant in this thread because the connection seemed obvious to me.

    I understand and am not laying blame. It doesn't change the way it can be perceived.

    B. I can't control how people perceive these teachings. I can only provide my understanding and experience. Others can take or leave that understanding and experience as they see fit.

    That much is obvious and can be said for all of us.

    C. What is objectivity in the context of a conditional world from the subjective POV of conditional beings? What has objective existence in that context?

    The first Noble Truth is that there is suffering. That is an objective truth.

  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator

    @David said:

    @Jason said:

    @David said:

    @Jason said:

    @David said:
    He literally says if we don't pay attention to them they cease to exist.

    Well, all I can say is, I find it quite noncontroversial and orthodox on its own, but it's even more apparent in the full context, especially the paragraph right before it:

    Mental states arise and cease whether they are states of happiness or suffering, agreeable or disagreeable states. We call these lokadhamma (worldly dhammas), attributes that dominate the hearts and minds of beings living in the world. Seeing the lokadhamma simply as elements of Dhamma, we won't make the assumption that 'we' are happy whenever 'we' feel happiness or that 'we' are suffering whenever 'we' feel suffering. There is nothing like 'our' goodness or 'our' badness either. We see these attributes, but they are just aspects of Dhamma. Each one is just one of all the possible states of Dhamma. There is nothing special about it.

    Subjective states of mind and their arisings are one thing and the objectivity of suffering is another.

    It helps to distinguish when giving teachings such as this especially when presenting to people that may be new to the teachings. Context is very important.

    This is why people mistake Buddhism as being nihilistic.

    A. I'm not the one who originally posted it out of context. I simply used the part I found relevant in this thread because the connection seemed obvious to me.

    I understand and am not laying blame. It doesn't change the way it can be perceived.

    B. I can't control how people perceive these teachings. I can only provide my understanding and experience. Others can take or leave that understanding and experience as they see fit.

    That much is obvious and can be said for all of us.

    C. What is objectivity in the context of a conditional world from the subjective POV of conditional beings? What has objective existence in that context?

    The first Noble Truth is that there is suffering. That is an objective truth.

    Is it? Or is it a conditional statement that the aggregates in relation to clinging are suffering?

    lobsterperson
  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran

    @Jason said:

    @David said:

    @Jason said:

    @David said:

    @Jason said:

    @David said:
    He literally says if we don't pay attention to them they cease to exist.

    Well, all I can say is, I find it quite noncontroversial and orthodox on its own, but it's even more apparent in the full context, especially the paragraph right before it:

    Mental states arise and cease whether they are states of happiness or suffering, agreeable or disagreeable states. We call these lokadhamma (worldly dhammas), attributes that dominate the hearts and minds of beings living in the world. Seeing the lokadhamma simply as elements of Dhamma, we won't make the assumption that 'we' are happy whenever 'we' feel happiness or that 'we' are suffering whenever 'we' feel suffering. There is nothing like 'our' goodness or 'our' badness either. We see these attributes, but they are just aspects of Dhamma. Each one is just one of all the possible states of Dhamma. There is nothing special about it.

    Subjective states of mind and their arisings are one thing and the objectivity of suffering is another.

    It helps to distinguish when giving teachings such as this especially when presenting to people that may be new to the teachings. Context is very important.

    This is why people mistake Buddhism as being nihilistic.

    A. I'm not the one who originally posted it out of context. I simply used the part I found relevant in this thread because the connection seemed obvious to me.

    I understand and am not laying blame. It doesn't change the way it can be perceived.

    B. I can't control how people perceive these teachings. I can only provide my understanding and experience. Others can take or leave that understanding and experience as they see fit.

    That much is obvious and can be said for all of us.

    C. What is objectivity in the context of a conditional world from the subjective POV of conditional beings? What has objective existence in that context?

    The first Noble Truth is that there is suffering. That is an objective truth.

    Is it? Or is it a conditional statement that the aggregates in relation to clinging are suffering?

    What is the difference when people are hungry and babies need medicine?

  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited January 2019

    @David said:

    @Jason said:

    @David said:

    @Jason said:

    @David said:

    @Jason said:

    @David said:
    He literally says if we don't pay attention to them they cease to exist.

    Well, all I can say is, I find it quite noncontroversial and orthodox on its own, but it's even more apparent in the full context, especially the paragraph right before it:

    Mental states arise and cease whether they are states of happiness or suffering, agreeable or disagreeable states. We call these lokadhamma (worldly dhammas), attributes that dominate the hearts and minds of beings living in the world. Seeing the lokadhamma simply as elements of Dhamma, we won't make the assumption that 'we' are happy whenever 'we' feel happiness or that 'we' are suffering whenever 'we' feel suffering. There is nothing like 'our' goodness or 'our' badness either. We see these attributes, but they are just aspects of Dhamma. Each one is just one of all the possible states of Dhamma. There is nothing special about it.

    Subjective states of mind and their arisings are one thing and the objectivity of suffering is another.

    It helps to distinguish when giving teachings such as this especially when presenting to people that may be new to the teachings. Context is very important.

    This is why people mistake Buddhism as being nihilistic.

    A. I'm not the one who originally posted it out of context. I simply used the part I found relevant in this thread because the connection seemed obvious to me.

    I understand and am not laying blame. It doesn't change the way it can be perceived.

    B. I can't control how people perceive these teachings. I can only provide my understanding and experience. Others can take or leave that understanding and experience as they see fit.

    That much is obvious and can be said for all of us.

    C. What is objectivity in the context of a conditional world from the subjective POV of conditional beings? What has objective existence in that context?

    The first Noble Truth is that there is suffering. That is an objective truth.

    Is it? Or is it a conditional statement that the aggregates in relation to clinging are suffering?

    What is the difference when people are hungry and babies need medicine?

    If your primary concern is to feed the hungry and provide needy children with medicine, a Buddhist web forum isn't the best place to address that. Volunteering your time at various nonprofit organizations working with those issues is a way more appropriate and useful thing to do, in my opinion, and wonderful thing to do besides that. But if you also want to understand your mind and how to internally deal with your experience of suffering and dissatisfaction, then the first noble truth is a good place to start. And that entails understanding the distinction between suffering as an objective truth/reality and the conditional relationship between clinging and the aggregates, because the first noble truth points towards the latter.

    lobsterperson
  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran

    @Jason said:

    @David said:

    @Jason said:

    @David said:

    @Jason said:

    @David said:

    @Jason said:

    @David said:
    He literally says if we don't pay attention to them they cease to exist.

    Well, all I can say is, I find it quite noncontroversial and orthodox on its own, but it's even more apparent in the full context, especially the paragraph right before it:

    Mental states arise and cease whether they are states of happiness or suffering, agreeable or disagreeable states. We call these lokadhamma (worldly dhammas), attributes that dominate the hearts and minds of beings living in the world. Seeing the lokadhamma simply as elements of Dhamma, we won't make the assumption that 'we' are happy whenever 'we' feel happiness or that 'we' are suffering whenever 'we' feel suffering. There is nothing like 'our' goodness or 'our' badness either. We see these attributes, but they are just aspects of Dhamma. Each one is just one of all the possible states of Dhamma. There is nothing special about it.

    Subjective states of mind and their arisings are one thing and the objectivity of suffering is another.

    It helps to distinguish when giving teachings such as this especially when presenting to people that may be new to the teachings. Context is very important.

    This is why people mistake Buddhism as being nihilistic.

    A. I'm not the one who originally posted it out of context. I simply used the part I found relevant in this thread because the connection seemed obvious to me.

    I understand and am not laying blame. It doesn't change the way it can be perceived.

    B. I can't control how people perceive these teachings. I can only provide my understanding and experience. Others can take or leave that understanding and experience as they see fit.

    That much is obvious and can be said for all of us.

    C. What is objectivity in the context of a conditional world from the subjective POV of conditional beings? What has objective existence in that context?

    The first Noble Truth is that there is suffering. That is an objective truth.

    Is it? Or is it a conditional statement that the aggregates in relation to clinging are suffering?

    What is the difference when people are hungry and babies need medicine?

    If your primary concern is to feed the hungry and provide needy children with medicine, a Buddhist web forum isn't the best place to address that. Volunteering your time at various nonprofit organizations working with those issues is a way more appropriate and useful thing to do, and wonderful thing to do besides that.

    Please stop with the condescending attitude. It serves neither you or me.

    But if you also want to understand your mind and how to internally deal with your experience of suffering and dissatisfaction, then the first noble truth is a good place to start. And that entails understanding the distinction between suffering as an objective truth/reality and the conditional relationship between clinging and the aggregates, because the first noble truth points towards the latter.

    Again, why not follow Buddhas example?

    He knew that understanding the mind and ending his own suffering was only the first step. Otherwise he would not have gotten up from the tree at all.

  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited January 2019

    @David said:

    @Jason said:

    @David said:

    @Jason said:

    @David said:

    @Jason said:

    @David said:

    @Jason said:

    @David said:
    He literally says if we don't pay attention to them they cease to exist.

    Well, all I can say is, I find it quite noncontroversial and orthodox on its own, but it's even more apparent in the full context, especially the paragraph right before it:

    Mental states arise and cease whether they are states of happiness or suffering, agreeable or disagreeable states. We call these lokadhamma (worldly dhammas), attributes that dominate the hearts and minds of beings living in the world. Seeing the lokadhamma simply as elements of Dhamma, we won't make the assumption that 'we' are happy whenever 'we' feel happiness or that 'we' are suffering whenever 'we' feel suffering. There is nothing like 'our' goodness or 'our' badness either. We see these attributes, but they are just aspects of Dhamma. Each one is just one of all the possible states of Dhamma. There is nothing special about it.

    Subjective states of mind and their arisings are one thing and the objectivity of suffering is another.

    It helps to distinguish when giving teachings such as this especially when presenting to people that may be new to the teachings. Context is very important.

    This is why people mistake Buddhism as being nihilistic.

    A. I'm not the one who originally posted it out of context. I simply used the part I found relevant in this thread because the connection seemed obvious to me.

    I understand and am not laying blame. It doesn't change the way it can be perceived.

    B. I can't control how people perceive these teachings. I can only provide my understanding and experience. Others can take or leave that understanding and experience as they see fit.

    That much is obvious and can be said for all of us.

    C. What is objectivity in the context of a conditional world from the subjective POV of conditional beings? What has objective existence in that context?

    The first Noble Truth is that there is suffering. That is an objective truth.

    Is it? Or is it a conditional statement that the aggregates in relation to clinging are suffering?

    What is the difference when people are hungry and babies need medicine?

    If your primary concern is to feed the hungry and provide needy children with medicine, a Buddhist web forum isn't the best place to address that. Volunteering your time at various nonprofit organizations working with those issues is a way more appropriate and useful thing to do, and wonderful thing to do besides that.

    Please stop with the condescending attitude. It serves neither you or me.

    But if you also want to understand your mind and how to internally deal with your experience of suffering and dissatisfaction, then the first noble truth is a good place to start. And that entails understanding the distinction between suffering as an objective truth/reality and the conditional relationship between clinging and the aggregates, because the first noble truth points towards the latter.

    Again, why not follow Buddhas example?

    He knew that understanding the mind and ending his own suffering was only the first step. Otherwise he would not have gotten up from the tree at all.

    I'm not trying to be condescending. I'm trying to help you understand the distinction you asked about, as well as the purpose of the noble truths.

    Certainly it's a good thing to be motivated to help others in the world. But the noble truths in and of themselves can't end poverty or world hunger. They can only help individuals gain insight into the clinging-aggregates. People don't need insight into the clinging-aggregates or the concepts of notself and inconstancy to give their time and money to those in need.

    What I really wonder is, what's the deeper issue/contradiction for you here? Why did what I say upset you so?

  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited January 2019

    To add to what I said above, I've never said that Buddhism is limited solely to one's self and one's experience of suffering. The four brahmaviharas, for instance, are excellent for developing the openess, empathy, and concern for other beings that motivates us to help others by relieving one level of suffering in terms of lack of the necessities for life. That said, the focus of the four noble truths themselves is more personal, more existential in nature. They're designed to help us see how clinging in reference to the aggregates is dukkha, not the aggregates themselves. If the aggregates were objectively suffering, then their annihilation would be our only hope, which is a dark thought indeed.

    lobsterperson
  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    Whoa... Is this discussion getting out of control...?

    @David, honestly, if you see condescension, you're the only one who does... Chill fella.....

  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited January 2019

    Misinterpretation is commonplace on a forum, when we read the typed words of another member, and fail to understand that the nuances are all missing, because verbal/visual contact is so much better.
    We read and interpret, and assume too much.
    We baulk, bristle and bridle, and take umbrage, when all the other person was trying to do, was communicate a point.

    This is the one thing I can't control, and that makes forum perusal difficult for me, personally.

    Copied from here.

  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran
    edited January 2019

    @Jason said:

    What I really wonder is, what's the deeper issue/contradiction for you here? Why did what I say upset you so?

    You honestly don't see how that was condescending?

    Ok then, don't worry about it.

    The points you made did hit home despite the condescension though.

  • ERoseERose Earth, North America, west. Explorer

    :) (May humor relieve burdens) I like condensation. On a glass of iced tea. Makes the glass a little slippery or seem cool, but that's just my subjective interpretation. Tea is what it is, as is glass, as is atmosphere surrendering humidity to touch the glass.

    JasonfedericapersonColinA
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator

    @David said:

    @Jason said:

    What I really wonder is, what's the deeper issue/contradiction for you here? Why did what I say upset you so?

    You honestly don't see how that was condescending?

    Ok then, don't worry about it.

    The points you made did hit home despite the condescension though.

    No, I don't. I'm sorry if it was.

    DavidERose
  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the liminal space Veteran

    @Jason said:

    @person said:

    @Jason said:

    @person said:

    @Jason said:

    @person said:

    @Jason said:

    @ERose said:
    Interesting responses, thank you. Inspired me to reread SN 22 today. https://suttacentral.net/sn22.55/en/sujato Starts with "At Sāvatthī. There the Buddha spoke these words of inspiration: “‘It might not be, and it might not be mine. It will not be, and it will not be mine.’ A mendicant who makes such a resolution can cut off the five lower fetters...."
    and continues with detailed teaching by the Buddha on the ending of defilements...

    Thats precisely what I think he's talking about re: feelings:

    [The uninstructed/unawakened person] assumes feeling to be the self, or the self as possessing feeling, or feeling as in the self, or the self as in feeling.

    This is really interesting, most things Mahayana/Theravada are fairly compatible. But I think on this matter there maybe an irreconcilable difference. My understanding is that Theravada applies selflessness only to individuals, so the view presented here, I believe, is the correct interpretation under that scenario and one I hadn't really heard before. Mahayana extends the notion of selflessness to the entire world in the doctrine of emptiness and two truths.

    My original Buddhist background is in the Mahayana so that view is the one I came up on. This is a compelling argument explaining the Theravada view and something I will take under real consideration and compare it back against the Mahayana understanding.

    I don't see the incompatibility. Nagarjuna's Mulamadhyamakakarika is basically a commentary on SN 12.15. When someone speaks in one context, it doesn't mean they're denying another on that basis alone. Does Luang Por Liem, or Theravada in general, suggest the world to be the self, the possession of the self, as in the self, or the self as in the world? ?‍♀️

    I think I've heard Alan Wallace refer to the Theravada view of the external world as being a realist view. The philosophy of dependent arising is the same, its that Theravada applies it only to the personal self, while Mahayana applies it to the external world, the whole chariot is not in the parts or separate from the parts and other such arguments.

    Well, you're free to believe what you want. That's certainly not in my control, although perhaps my contributions will act a condition to eventually give you a different understanding than that Alan Watts has apparently conditioned. All I can offer right now is that both views are compatible and not mutually exclusive in either tradition.

    B. Alan Wallace

    Yes, I'm aware of who B. Alan Wallace is. I accidentally read Alan Watts when I skimmed your reply. Apologies for the error. My point still stands, however.

    No problem, that's what I figured

    Besides Theravada, I'm also familiar with and have experience in Zen, Chan, and the Sakya tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. And I'll say that Theravada often gets a bad rap from other traditions, underservingly in my opinion. Just because Theravada doesn't focus as much on certain things doesn't mean they're not found within it, whether explicitly or implicitly.

    Agreed on the bold type, in my time in TB I saw it all the time. And until I joined here and actually heard Theravadin views from actual Theravadins I believed it too.

    “He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that... Nor is it enough that he should hear the opinions of adversaries from his own teachers, presented as they state them, and accompanied by what they offer as refutations. He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them...he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.” ~John Stuart Mill

    Regarding application of selflessness/emptiness to the outer world. Maybe it isn't the emphasis but I can't remember ever coming across anything that spoke to it from a Theravada point of view. And on the other side the Theravada group I have been attending did a few months worth of teachings on emptiness and was solely focused on the personal experience of selflessness, I have vague memories of a few words here or there saying something to the effect of it not applying to the world, but I may be misremembering or remembering words the way I want them to be. So if you do know of somethings that speak to an application of emptiness to the world from a Theravada point of view I would genuinely be interested in seeing them.

  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited January 2019

    @person said:
    Regarding application of selflessness/emptiness to the outer world. Maybe it isn't the emphasis but I can't remember ever coming across anything that spoke to it from a Theravada point of view. And on the other side the Theravada group I have been attending did a few months worth of teachings on emptiness and was solely focused on the personal experience of selflessness, I have vague memories of a few words here or there saying something to the effect of it not applying to the world, but I may be misremembering or remembering words the way I want them to be. So if you do know of somethings that speak to an application of emptiness to the world from a Theravada point of view I would genuinely be interested in seeing them.

    The application is implicit in most of the teachings on emptiness and dependent co-arising in the Pali Canon. This/that conditionality includes all conditioned things. The idea is also contained in the teachings on the three characteristics. In AN 3:137, for example, we read that all fabrications are inconstant (annica), all fabrications are stressful (dukkha), and all phenomena are not-self (anatta). In other words, all phenomena are empty of self and permanence, and are subject to change, conditionality, the process of arising and ceasing.

    The Buddha often speaks of internal objects arising and passing away, living beings arising and passing away, and world-systems arising and passing away. And whether you take those latter teachings literally or metaphorically, the logic is the same--whatever is inconstant is stressful, and whatever is stressful is not-self. The connection between not-self and emptiness is also made in a number of suttas, such as MN 43, where Sariputta says: "And what is the emptiness awareness-release? There is the case where a monk, having gone into the wilderness, to the root of a tree, or into an empty dwelling, considers this: 'This is empty of self or of anything pertaining to self.' This is called the emptiness awareness-release."

    There are plenty of people who apply this to the world in Theravada, especially in response to the very accusations you're making, that they don't. But it's true that this isn't an expressed focus, just as Theravada has numerous teachings about loving-kindness and compassion even though there's less of a focus than in, say, many Mahayana traditions. The same for things like the path to Buddhahood, which Mahayana places far more attention upon, but it's found in Theravada as well in the form of the ten perfections.

    As for why the focus is on the personal experience of selflessness rather than the world, I think it's for three main reasons. One, it's more practical as the practice is primarily internal and it's easier for one to observe these truths or characteristics in oneself than in external things, especially those that last an exceedingly long time (stars, galaxies, etc.). Two, our sense of self is primarily centred upon our experience of the five aggregates. And three, I think many teachers try to avoid giving people the impression of nihilism (i.e., everything's empty and without meaning), or of reifying emptiness into some kind of ultimate viewpoint that one then becomes attached to. But even in the suttas, there a connection made between the self and the world (e.g., DN 1), although when it all comes down to it, our attachment to form is the same, whether attachment to the form of the body [as self] or of the world [as self]. Ultimately, though, our 'world' is the world of our experience, which is empty of a self or of anything pertaining to a self. And when you learn to relinquish attachment in relation of the form of the body, you naturally have the tools to relinquish it in relation to the world.

    To be honest, all the realist stuff is mostly bastardized Abhidhamma nonsense, which I usually tend to ignore because it involves a lot of intellectual gymnastics. Nagarjuna, for instance, who really pioneered the Mahayana view of emptiness, was attempting to deconstruct all of the prevalent metaphysical views of the time via logical analysis in an attempt to show how these views were ultimately illogical from the standpoint of emptiness, especially in regard to the Abhidhammika's idea that things exist by way of intrinsic characteristics.

    The own-nature (sabhava) of dhammas (what's often translated as 'phenomena,' but I think better understood as 'an existing cognizable experience or event'), which is a concept that was introduced in the later substrata of Abhidhammic and commentarial literature, was answered skillfully by Nagarjuna with the lack of own-nature or emptiness (nihsvabhava) of dhammas. However, this was mainly directed at the Sarvastivadins, who held a more realist position, and not modern-day Theravada, although I'm sure there are plenty of modern-day Theravadins who fall into this category. For example, Peter Harvey in his Introduction to Buddhism explains:

    They are dhammas because they uphold their own nature [sabhaava]. They are dhammas because they are upheld by conditions or they are upheld according to their own nature' (Asl.39). Here 'own-nature' would mean characteristic nature, which is not something inherent in a dhammas as a separate ultimate reality, but arise due to the supporting conditions both of other dhammas and previous occurrences of that dhammas. This is of significance as it makes the Mahayana critique of the Sarvastivadin's notion of own-nature largely irrelevant to the Theravada.

    tl; dr Emptiness is more of a tool than some kind of ultimate viewpoint, or as Nagarjuna warns in MMK 13.8: "The Victorious Ones have announced that emptiness is the relinquishing of all views. Those who are possessed of the view of emptiness are said to be incorrigible." Hope some of that is helpful.

    person
  • ERoseERose Earth, North America, west. Explorer

    Sorry for typos! Is it correct that posts cannot be edited?

  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited January 2019

    @ERose said:
    Sorry for typos! Is it correct that posts cannot be edited?

    Mod. Note:

    No, posts can be edited, and you have a significant period of time. Just click the cog, and you should receive an edit option.
    If not, and you'd like something looked at, just PM a Moderator (I'm usually on, or you can also alert me, @Jason or @Linc on forum, by using the @ symbol) and we'll take a look at it.... :)

    I have, I hope, put your typos right. ;)

  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited January 2019

    @ERose said:
    @person what a lovely moniker. I'm going to offer some thoughts as a Theravada Buddhist on application of selflessness/emptiness to the outer world.

    When rebirth is understood as part of the core of the Buddha's teaching, it can lead to de-emphasis on individual lives; but it doesn't imo lead to lack of compassion or necessarily to non-engagement. :) I happened to hear a very recent talk by Ajahn Brahm, in which he mentioned rebirth as a reason to be concerned and active about global warming. I have heard other Theravadan teachers remind that rebirth is one good reason to care about social justice and kindness, for refugees, animals, people of all possible "differences". Because if our life streams have been here in countless forms, and (unless/until we achieve liberation) are coming back with kamma... one should care.

    Sila (morality) seems to me to be inherently social, and creates in its giver ... something. :) Generosity to life nourishes a individual, yes, but partly by breaking down identities of Self.

    Side note: I am not saying "we" are coming back; imo souls are a delusion; but future lives bear the burdens of kamma generated by volition...

    I am not a teacher, but maybe my comments might offer you some insight into your interest here. .

    I think this is a good point. Both traditions utilize emptiness and selflessness to breakdown our self-centred tendencies and focus, broadening them to include all sentient beings, although Mahayana is more explicit about this while in Theravada it's more generally implicit and the insight arises out of the practice itself. There's ultimately no distinction between self and other from the POV of not-self and emptiness. And to include teachings like kamma, rebirth, compassion, harmlessness, etc., we not only begin to see how our actions affect others and vice versa, but how the good we put into the world has a ripple effect. Emptiness and selflessness, then, can actively give rise to skillful actions and care and concern for the world around us. But if held wrongly, they can turn around and bite us and do much harm, like a snake grasped by the tail rather than its head.

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the liminal space Veteran
    edited January 2019

    @Jason said:

    @person said:
    Regarding application of selflessness/emptiness to the outer world. Maybe it isn't the emphasis but I can't remember ever coming across anything that spoke to it from a Theravada point of view. And on the other side the Theravada group I have been attending did a few months worth of teachings on emptiness and was solely focused on the personal experience of selflessness, I have vague memories of a few words here or there saying something to the effect of it not applying to the world, but I may be misremembering or remembering words the way I want them to be. So if you do know of somethings that speak to an application of emptiness to the world from a Theravada point of view I would genuinely be interested in seeing them.

    The application is implicit in most of the teachings on emptiness and dependent co-arising in the Pali Canon. This/that conditionality includes all conditioned things. The idea is also contained in the teachings on the three characteristics. In AN 3:137, for example, we read that all fabrications are inconstant (annica), all fabrications are stressful (dukkha), and all phenomena are not-self (anatta). In other words, all phenomena are empty of self and permanence, and are subject to change, conditionality, the process of arising and ceasing.

    Thanks, another misrepresentation of Theravada bites the dust. I appreciate the ability the ecumenical approach of this forum has to clarify and is a major cause of me turning away from solely following the Tibetan path. You mention the two of the other major ones, compassion and the bodhisattva perfections.

    The Buddha often speaks of internal objects arising and passing away, living beings arising and passing away, and world-systems arising and passing away. And whether you take those latter teachings literally or metaphorically,

    I don't know that that is a minor distinction, but I don't know that it isn't. My gut tells me it matters, but I'll have to give it some thought.

    the logic is the same--whatever is inconstant is stressful, and whatever is stressful is not-self. The connection between not-self and emptiness is also made in a number of suttas, such as MN 43, where Sariputta says: "And what is the emptiness awareness-release? There is the case where a monk, having gone into the wilderness, to the root of a tree, or into an empty dwelling, considers this: 'This is empty of self or of anything pertaining to self.' This is called the emptiness awareness-release."


    There are plenty of people who apply this to the world in Theravada, especially in response to the very accusations you're making, that they don't. But it's true that this isn't an expressed focus, just as Theravada has numerous teachings about loving-kindness and compassion even though there's less of a focus than in, say, many Mahayana traditions. The same for things like the path to Buddhahood, which Mahayana places far more attention upon, but it's found in Theravada as well in the form of the ten perfections.

    As for why the focus is on the personal experience of selflessness rather than the world, I think it's for three main reasons. One, it's more practical as the practice is primarily internal and it's easier for one to observe these truths or characteristics in oneself than in external things, especially those that last an exceedingly long time (stars, galaxies, etc.). Two, our sense of self is primarily centred upon our experience of the five aggregates. And three, I think many teachers try to avoid giving people the impression of nihilism (i.e., everything's empty and without meaning), or of reifying emptiness into some kind of ultimate viewpoint that one then becomes attached to.

    All of these points are addressed in TB and solutions to deal with them offered, it's easier to understand the emptiness of self and why emptiness isn't nihilism. So whether it is more practical, I personally wouldn't go that far because as you say later on people also misinterpret that practical approach and fall into realism, just as when people approach it from the other direction some get it right and some get it wrong.

    To be honest, all the realist stuff is mostly bastardized Abhidhamma nonsense, which I usually tend to ignore because it involves a lot of intellectual gymnastics. Nagarjuna, for instance, who really pioneered the Mahayana view of emptiness, was attempting to deconstruct all of the prevalent metaphysical views of the time via logical analysis in an attempt to show how these views were ultimately illogical from the standpoint of emptiness, especially in regard to the Abhidhammika's idea that things exist by way of intrinsic characteristics.

    I don't know much about Mahayana Abidharma, but I do know there are several things that are demonstrably nonsense, like the size of the sun and moon and the geographic depth of the hell realms

    The own-nature (sabhava) of dhammas (what's often translated as 'phenomena,' but I think better understood as 'an existing cognizable experience or event'), which is a concept that was introduced in the later substrata of Abhidhammic and commentarial literature, was answered skillfully by Nagarjuna with the lack of own-nature or emptiness (nihsvabhava) of dhammas. However, this was mainly directed at the Sarvastivadins, who held a more realist position, and not modern-day Theravada, although I'm sure there are plenty of modern-day Theravadins who fall into this category. For example, Peter Harvey in his Introduction to Buddhism explains:

    They are dhammas because they uphold their own nature [sabhaava]. They are dhammas because they are upheld by conditions or they are upheld according to their own nature' (Asl.39). Here 'own-nature' would mean characteristic nature, which is not something inherent in a dhammas as a separate ultimate reality, but arise due to the supporting conditions both of other dhammas and previous occurrences of that dhammas. This is of significance as it makes the Mahayana critique of the Sarvastivadin's notion of own-nature largely irrelevant to the Theravada.

    Thanks for honestly pointing this out. In TB the actual teaching you will get about all the deities is that they are in reality aspects of our own mind's wisdom or compassion, etc. But almost every Tibetan and many westerners who practice consider them to be actual beings. So what the teachings are in reality is often not the way it is being practically applied by imperfect followers.

    lobster
  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the liminal space Veteran

    @ERose said:
    @person what a lovely moniker. I'm going to offer some thoughts as a Theravada Buddhist on application of selflessness/emptiness to the outer world.

    When rebirth is understood as part of the core of the Buddha's teaching, it can lead to de-emphasis on individual lives; but it doesn't imo lead to lack of compassion or necessarily to non-engagement. :) I happened to hear a very recent talk by Ajahn Brahm, in which he mentioned rebirth as a reason to be concerned and active about global warming. I have heard other Theravadan teachers remind that rebirth is one good reason to care about social justice and kindness, for refugees, animals, people of all possible "differences". Because if our life streams have been here in countless forms, and (unless/until we achieve liberation) are coming back with kamma... one should care.

    Sila (morality) seems to me to be inherently social, and creates in its giver ... something. :) Generosity to life nourishes a individual, yes, but partly by breaking down identities of Self.

    Side note: I am not saying "we" are coming back; imo souls are a delusion; but future lives bear the burdens of kamma generated by volition...

    I am not a teacher, but maybe my comments might offer you some insight into your interest here. .

    Beautifully stated, thanks for the contribution. I hope you like it here and end up sticking around.

    David
  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran
    edited January 2019

    @Jason thank you and I apologize for being defensive. Another thread had my goat at the time for some silly reason.

    I live by the idea that the 5 remembrances are truths we all must come to accept at some point. The 5th of which states that my only true possessions are my actions and that I can not escape their consequences. This is how volitional karma can make sense to me.

    It simply doesn't hold water if all of our decisions are solely (please note the italics) determined by conditioning and any volition is illusory.

    What others do, say, think... these are beyond my control. What others do to me, say to me, think about me... these are not my business or my karma. They are none of my concern and out of my control.

    What I do, what I say and yes, what I choose to think is all within my control when conditions allow but if it weren't for volition, the conditions simply would never come together.

    Due diligence.

    For the record, I would never nor have I ever said Theravada is in any way less than. I consider myself non-sectarian.

    ERose
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited January 2019

    @David said:
    What I do, what I say and yes, what I choose to think is all within my control when conditions allow but if it weren't for volition, the conditions simply would never come together.

    That may be the case. But one must ask, is volition/will/intention (cetana) conditioned, or is it free from conditioning? If the former, then our idea of volition/will/intention may only seem to true on one level, but not ultimately truth. If the latter, then that seems out of step with the teachings on the aggregates and causaulity. Intention itself is conditioned by contact (see AN 6.63), and one can surmise that those intentions themselves are influenced by our biology, learned behaviour, experiences, etc., meaning that ultimately, our choices themselves, while volitional, are also conditioned.

    Thanissaro Bhikkhu, on the other hand, seems to think the answer lies in the nonlinear complexity of kamma and the possibility of choice in the present moment, "You can't do anything about past intentions, but you can change your present ones. So you focus there. That's why we're focused on the present moment: to look at our intentions. When you have right view, you realize that that's why we're here." I live as if this were true, because it not only makes sense to me, but I want to believe that one can consciously choose to do one thing over another. I just have a difficult time intellectually reconciling that with conditionality and what science is discovering.

    While a bit dated and some of the links no longer work, you can find a more detailed version of my thoughts on this here.

    person
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