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Three Marks of Existence

johnathanjohnathan ICBICanada Veteran
edited February 21 in Buddhism Basics

I have just finished chapter's 5 and 6 of The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching where Thich Nhat Hahn explains why Duhkha should be replaced with Nirvana.

For me, I agree with TNH, for if Nirvana is attainable then Suffering has ended but existence has not so then suffering cannot be a true mark of existence. But Nirvana is always there to be found once we clear the obstacles out of the way that prevent us from experiencing it.

If Suffering were a constant to existence then all hope is lost and the path to liberation has no destination and cannot be attained.

What do the rest of you think?

Comments

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran Veteran

    Maybe suffering is experience without right view and with the causes of suffering whereas Nirvana is experience with right view and without the causes of suffering?

    johnathan
  • BunksBunks Veteran Australia Veteran

    I think the three marks of existence relate to all conditioned phenomena.

    Whereas Nibbana is unconditioned.

    Dakini
  • johnathanjohnathan ICBI Canada Veteran
    edited February 21

    @Bunks Would TNH, a zen master, not think of that? Yet still felt the need to alter it.

    adamcrossley
  • BunksBunks Veteran Australia Veteran

    @johnathan said:
    @Bunks Would TNH, a zen master, not think of that? Yet still felt the need to alter it.

    The Buddha didn't actually speak of the three marks of existence in the Sutta Pitaka so we're all free to interpret and change them as we please.

    Just giving my 2c.

  • VimalajātiVimalajāti Veteran Whitby, Ontario Veteran
    edited February 21

    Venerable Nhất Hạnh is actually quoting from the Saṁyuktāgama, Sūtra No. 262.

    All [of these] activities are inconstant. All [of these] phenomena are selfless. Nirvāṇa is quietude and peace.

    (T99.66b12, Chandakasūtra)

    But notice, the Buddha doesn't before this say "these are the three marks of existence," like in the Saṁskṛtalakṣaṇānisūtra (the 5th Parivarta of Sūtra No. 22 in the Ekottarāgama: EA 22.5) wherein the Buddha outlines "three marks of the conditioned:"

    There are three marks of these things which are conditioned. Which three? That which is known participates in arising. That known will move and change. That known will cease and become exhausted.

    (T125.607c14, Saṁskṛtalakṣaṇānisūtra)

    Or this particularly grandly presented list of six dharmas in the Mahākātyāyanasūtra (Saṁyuktāgama Sūtra No. 550):

    Mahākātyāyana Sthāvira spoke to the many monks, saying: "The Bhagavān, the Tathāgata, the Arhat, the Samyaksaṁbuddha, the Knower of the World, the Seer, he speaks of six dharmas that by which one may go forth from the realm of duḥkha and ascend high to the abode of superiority. He speaks of a one vehicle path by which all sentient beings are purified. They leave myriad afflictions and duḥkha. They obtain gnosis of that dharma which is suchness."

    (T99.143b18, Mahākātyāyanasūtra)

    That's quite the fancy list you've got there.

    Instead, in the recension in the Chandakasūtra, the Buddha simply states two "universals," so to speak (i.e. "all are [...]") and then says a phase about nirvāṇa. Definitely not presented as a "grand list" of Buddhism.

    @johnathan said:
    For me, I agree with TNH, for if Nirvana is attainable then Suffering has ended but existance has not so then suffering cannot be a true mark of existance. But Nirvana is always there to be found once we clear the obstacles out of the way that prevent us from experiencing it.

    If Suffering were a constant to existence then all hope is lost and the path to liberation has no destination and cannot be attained.

    What do the rest of you think?

    Nirvāṇa is called a 無為法, which means "uncreated phenomena" or "unconditioned phenomena." This "uncreation" or "unconditioning," if you will forgive bad English, is important, because the Buddha says that whatever nirvāṇa is, it is not quite existence:

    This world, Kaccana, for the most part depends upon a duality—upon the notion of existence and the notion of nonexistence. But for one who sees the origin of the world as it really is with correct wisdom, there is no notion of nonexistence in regard to the world. And for one who sees the cessation of the world as it really is with correct wisdom, there is no notion of existence in regard to the world.

    (Saṁyuttanikāya 12.15, Kaccanagottasutta, translated by Venerable Bodhi)

    Tricky tricky.

    Further complicating the matter, it also isn't partially existence and partially nonexistent:

    “Well then, does a Realized One both exist and not exist after death?”

    “This too has not been declared by the Buddha.”

    “Well then, does a Realized One neither exist nor not exist after death?”

    “This too has not been declared by the Buddha.”

    (Saṁyuttanikāya 16.12, Paraṃmaraṇasutta, translated by Venerable Sujāto)

    Tricky tricky tricky tricky.

    lobsterDakini
  • johnathanjohnathan ICBI Canada Veteran

    So then is TNH mistaken about his version of the three Mark's or am I missing something in his teaching?

  • johnathanjohnathan ICBI Canada Veteran

    Thanks @Vimalajāti for that well written response.

  • lobsterlobster Veteran Veteran

    Imagine a doughnut.

    It is in part defined by the space in its middle, outside it ... and also this is the same type of space it occupies or can be dunked through ...

    Now we know doughnuts are dukha and we know emptiness is Nirvana, despite being nothing very much ...

    So both are very real and samsara and ignorance is doughnut and doughnut is ...

    meanwhile ...
    gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha
    https://upliftconnect.com/heart-sutra-will-change-you/
    Dunked, dunked, wake up and smell beyond the coffee

    Vimalajāti
  • BunksBunks Veteran Australia Veteran

    Thanks @lobster , now I’m hungry 😋

    lobsterShoshin
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    ...Umm And I thought that a person who is crazy about money is a dough nut ;)

    Bunkslobster
  • johnathanjohnathan ICBI Canada Veteran

    @lobster a very zen response, thank you. Unfortunately I do not possess the faculties to make any useful sense out of the deep wisdom you are surely trying to impart on me.

  • BunksBunks Veteran Australia Veteran

    @johnathan said:
    @lobster a very zen response, thank you. Unfortunately I do not possess the faculties to make any useful sense out of the deep wisdom you are surely trying to impart on me.

    Haha, glad to see you’re as flummoxed as the rest of us when it comes to @lobster wisdom!

  • johnathanjohnathan ICBI Canada Veteran

    If I were Frodo and @lobster was Smeagol the Hobbit would have been an entirely different story! (Re: Riddle game)

  • VimalajātiVimalajāti Veteran Whitby, Ontario Veteran
    edited February 22

    "What has it got in its carapaces?"

    "My precious, my wish-fulfilling jewel..."

    johnathanlobster
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    It took a while to get the wisdom out of @lobster, but with a bit of encouragement @lobster finally cracked

    johnathanBunks
  • lobsterlobster Veteran Veteran

    But Nirvana is always there to be found once we clear the obstacles out of the way that prevent us from experiencing it.

    First there is a do nut, then there is no do, then there is a mountain (I think that is right) ;)

    OK forget the donut. Clearly it is an obstacle. Stick with @Vimalajāti well written response :o

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran
    edited February 22

    Come to think of it @shoshin cooks are responsible for a lot of suffering in the world... I mean their activities in producing food are responsible for a lot of fishing, hunting, slaughtering and so on, although the live boiling of lobsters seems particularly medieval. Even with vegetables its a brutal process, cutting and crushing and cooking.

    As far as Nirvana is concerned, lacking an authoritative statement by the Buddha on this i’m tempted to go with TNH.

  • johnathanjohnathan ICBI Canada Veteran
    edited February 22

    Perhaps Dukkha and Nirvana are both Marks of being... always present in everything...

    In mental states either one or the other is realized due to the obstacles in place.

    Nirvana is always there but cannot be experienced because of the mind obstacles that do not allow us to experience it.

    Dukkha is always there but cannot be experienced because the clearing of the obstacles to experience Nirvana become the obstacles that block our experience of Dukkha.

    Not sure that makes sense.

  • 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

    @Bunks said:
    Thanks @lobster , now I’m hungry 😋

    I'm on a week-long 24-hour fast regimen; how do you think I feel - ?!

    Bunkslobster
  • 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

    @johnathan said:
    So then is TNH mistaken about his version of the three Mark's or am I missing something in his teaching?

    If anything, you're adding: There is no apostrophe in 'Marks' because it's a plural, not a possessive.

    This book BELONGS to Mark. (Possessive). It is Mark's Book
    In Class, we have a Mark Smith, a Mark Jones and a Mark Brown. There are three Marks of existence (plural) in Class.

    My specific Mark of Existence is a definite attachment to Grammar, and I am well-known for this foible on forum.
    I'm not always right, but when I am, I'm right.

    Here to help.

    (I have precious little 'Moderating' to do otherwise, I have to keep myself busy somehow....)

  • johnathanjohnathan ICBI Canada Veteran

    Thank you @federica
    I too appreciate good Grammar, although, lately, I have been attempting to cling less to it.

  • 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

    @johnathan said:
    So then is TNH mistaken about his version of the three Mark's or am I missing something in his teaching?

    I have said before and I'll say it again.
    I think TNH has a habit of dressing up the teachings and presenting them in palatable, bite-sized rosy-bespectacled morsels which are sometimes pleasant to hear, and sometimes what we want to hear.
    TNH is a wonderful teacher, an extraordinary Human being and someone both unique and special. His following is legion, and rightly so.
    But I get the distinct impression that he appeals, particularly to a Western audience, by expanding Buddhism with an occasionally fanciful flourish; he is very well known for also having a distinct Christian leaning, and being very pro 'Fusion Buddhism'. He knows his audience and he teaches in a way that is both appealing and easy to follow.
    So I wouldn't say he's got it wrong, but I think he uses terms that enable better absorption, and easier contemplation.

    AlexKerome
  • 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

    @johnathan said:
    Thank you @federica
    I too appreciate good Grammar, although, lately, I have been attempting to cling less to it.

    WEll, the saying 'Nothing whatsoever should be clung to' is an oft-cited quotation round here; and truth be known, my tendency to stick to it is as much a cause for irritation for me, as perhaps it may well be for others.
    But I maintain that it has served me well, and the old joke about 'Jack off that horse' and 'Jack! Off that horse!' shows that clinging less, is not always more....

  • johnathanjohnathan ICBI Canada Veteran

    Rest easy @federica I edited my post

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    @federica said:
    But I get the distinct impression that he appeals, particularly to a Western audience, by expanding Buddhism with an occasionally fanciful flourish; he is very well known for also having a distinct Christian leaning, and being very pro 'Fusion Buddhism'. He knows his audience and he teaches in a way that is both appealing and easy to follow.
    So I wouldn't say he's got it wrong, but I think he uses terms that enable better absorption, and easier contemplation.

    I think that that is fair comment. TNH’s teaching is very much in the mindfulness corner, and it is a fusion, and a lot of the teachings are more positive than just sutra readings from eg access to insight. But maybe that is more suited to this time.

  • johnathanjohnathan ICBI Canada Veteran

    @lobster said:
    OK forget the donut. Clearly it is an obstacle. Stick with @Vimalajāti well written response :o

    @lobster
    I hope you don't feel I was at all implying your response was not well written. I am sure to many who have a much more developed sense of the abstract than I found your response very insightful.

    My mind organizes things logically. That's something I need to work on in my practice.

  • johnathanjohnathan ICBI Canada Veteran

    https://alanpeto.com/buddhism/three-dharma-seals/

    Just putting this here to read later...

  • 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

    @johnathan said: @lobster
    I hope you don't feel I was at all implying your response was not well written. I am sure to many who have a much more developed sense of the abstract than I found your response very insightful.

    Guess again. I've known @lobster 12 years and I don't know what dafuq he's talking about, sometimes.
    Other times, he has piercing insight that goes straight to the heart of the matter with blinding logic and pinpoint accuracy. Yeah. 'Varied facets' describes Lobby perfectly...

    My mind organizes things logically. That's something I need to work on in my practice.

    Very Vulcan.
    Nothing wrong with that.
    It's OVERthinking does the damage...

    BunkslobsterAlex
  • VimalajātiVimalajāti Veteran Whitby, Ontario Veteran

    Talk about internet-based misconceptions. For some reason, I thought Lobster was a girl. I have no clue why in retrospect.

    Bunks
  • 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

    @Vimalajāti said:
    Talk about internet-based misconceptions. For some reason, I thought Lobster was a girl. I have no clue why in retrospect.

    She's very mysterious about that and he won't admit to being one or the other.
    I think it's a guy, and he's never denied it.
    That said, she's never denied being a female either...

    Bunkslobster
  • VimalajātiVimalajāti Veteran Whitby, Ontario Veteran
    edited February 23

    @Vimalajāti said:
    Nirvāṇa is called a 無為法, which means "uncreated phenomena" or "unconditioned phenomena." This "uncreation" or "unconditioning," if you will forgive bad English, is important, because the Buddha says that whatever nirvāṇa is, it is not quite existence [...]

    There is another sūtra from the Saṁyuktāgama, Sūtra No. 890, that speaks of the 無為法 (it literally uses these words, translated here as "the uncreated") and can serve to give us some context, albeit metaphorical and poetic. It is from the verse postlude to the Asaṁskṛtadharmasūtra.

    Like this is the uncreated, like this is that which is difficult to realize, like this is that which is with no moving, no bending, and no dying. It is utterly lacking secretions and smothered in the dark. It is the island shore. Where there is ferrying, it is the crossing. It is dependency's ceasing. It is the end of circulating transmissions. It is the exhaustion of the flame, it is the ending of the burning. Flowing openly, pure and cool, with secret subtlety, and calm occultation, lacking ailment, lacking owning, it is nirvāṇa.

    (T99.224b7, Asaṁskṛtadharmasūtra)

    lobster
  • lobsterlobster Veteran Veteran

    If Suffering were a constant to existence then all hope is lost and the path to liberation has no destination and cannot be attained.

    Dukha or stress is a constant, no need to stress out once stress is outed.

    How to reveal the unmarked, unowned, flaming burn out, ever so cool Nirvana that @Vimalajāti mentions?

    Chill.

    BunksVimalajātiAlex
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