SuttaCentral

An unique experiment - First time on a buddhist forum


#61

@dxm_dxm I’m wondering how your position relates to this sutta?

I don’t know much about the suttas, but is the Buddha’s position here not considered in line with the buddha dhamma in general? It seems like an eminently sensible position to me.

“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.


#62

Let’s look at things this way: For example there is a banana that exists. It is changing, it is impermanent. One day, it will disappear. 1000 years from now, nothing will remain of it. One day it will totally disappear. Not even an atom of it will remain. Even the memory of it will disappear. It would be like it never existed in the first place.

But on the other hand, it exists now. It has appeared, it can be observed. Therefore nobody can say that it doesn’t exist.

It is in this way that I consider that sutta should be understood. It is a sutta sometimes used by the small postmodernist/existentialist sect of buddhism that appeared in recent times in the west to make a case for their views. What I’ve wrote here is also consisted with this sutta, the one solipsist hate the most:

“And what is it, bhikkhus, that the wise in the world agree upon as existing, of which I too say that it exists? Form that is impermanent, suffering, and subject to change: this the wise in the world agree upon as existing, and I too say that it exists. Feeling … Perception … Volitional formations … Consciousness that is impermanent, suffering, and subject to change: this the wise in the world agree upon as existing, and I too say that it exists.

“That, bhikkhus, is what the wise in the world agree upon as existing, of which I too say that it exists.

For more about the subject or about solipsistic discussions I can provide a ton of other forum topics links if you want. As for more suttas:

  • SN 22.94 - explaining things do exist and that any “wise man in the world” agrees on that.
  • SN 14.7 - explaining the diversity of perceptions depends on the diversity of elements. In postmodernist/solipsist view only diversity of perceptions exist and the diversity of elements is just an illusion created through the internal process of assumption
  • SN 24.1 - calls solipsism a wrong view. Solipsism is listed as the first wrong view and the sutta is repeated 4 times throughout the “wrong view” section.
  • AN 6.41 - Explains how there is a wood-pile and how one can attend to different proprieties of this wood pile (such as the eath property, water property etc)
  • DN 5 - Explains what external material form is
  • MN 28 - Explains what external elements are

#63

Namaste !

a,b,c,d,e is NOT the self .
Just something , the aggregates .
It is the known .
It doesn’t says , NO self .
Does it ?
The unknown is the nibbana .
Therefore , can abcde know nibbana ?
Can nibbana equivalent to self ?!
Just a different wording !


#64

Aggregates know enough about Nibbana to know that it isn’t impermanent, suffering or self. Nibbana can be described by the Buddha (and others) in the negative or in absentia. This is how the practitioners know that suffering can be ended by attaining Nibbana. Stream entry would not give rise to absence of doubt (about the path to the ending of suffering) otherwise.

With metta


#65

Hi dxm x2

I take the Buddha as my guide. So I’m not really interested in putting him aside.

I’m not really interested in how Buddhists see it, or what they do. ‘Being Buddhist’ is suffering to me, as is any type of ‘being’. To me, it is an example of saññūpadānakkhandā, clinging to one’s ideas/beliefs as the essence/soul (of oneself), via the identification view (sakkāya-diṭṭhi) ‘I am Buddhist’.

I don’t believe there are ‘no-self’ teachings in authentic suttas. That depends on me translating ‘an-attā’ as ‘not soul’ , just as your belief there are those teaching would be based on translating it as ‘not-self’. As I understand it, the PTS says it is mostly used as ‘not-soul’, rather than ‘not-self’ (see: http://dsalsrv02.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/philologic/getobject.pl?c.0:1:533.pali). Thus they say: ‘anattā (n. and predicative adj.) not a soul, without a soul. Most freq. in combn. with dukkha & anicca.’

To me, doubt about ‘self’ (ahaṃ), is clearly taught to be unwise attention here: https://suttacentral.net/en/mn2#5 especially paragraphs: sc7.

sc7
’…Or else he is inwardly perplexed about the present thus: ‘Am I? Am I not?.. (also translatable as ‘do I exist’ and ‘do I not exist’)

…Etarahi vā ­pac­cup­pan­na­maddhā­naṃ ajjhattaṃ kathaṃkathī hoti: ‘ahaṃ nu khosmi? No nu khosmi?..’

khosmi = kho-asmi, therefore we have: ahaṃ nu kho asmi and (ahaṃ) no nu kho asmi

So the unwise attentions (ayoniso-manasikāra) involve ahaṃ=self.

sc8:
“When he attends unwisely in this way, one of six views arises in him. The view ‘soul exists for me’ arises in him as true and established; or the view ‘no soul exists for me’ arises in him as true and established; …

Tassa evaṃ ayoniso manasikaroto channaṃ diṭṭhīnaṃ aññatarā diṭṭhi uppajjati. ‘Atthi me attā’ti vā assa saccato thetato diṭṭhi uppajjati; ‘natthi me attā’ti vā assa saccato thetato diṭṭhi uppajjati;"

So the wrong view arising is about soul (attā).

“This speculative view, bhikkhus, is called the thicket of views, the wilderness of views, the contortion of views, the vacillation of views, the fetter of views. Fettered by the fetter of views, the untaught ordinary person is not freed from birth, ageing, and death, from sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, and despair; he is not freed from suffering, I say.”

So attending unwisely one would mix up, or miss the difference use of ahaṃ and attā.

I think the PTS Dictionary clearly identifies that it is the permanent aspect that is rejected and many people, like me, believe in an impermanent ‘self’. An impermanent ‘soul’ is a contradiction in terms for me.

So when something is taken as permanent, it cannot be soul. Thus all saṅkhārūpādānakkhandā are (impermanent, suffering and not-soul) along with the other four clung-to aggregates.

Thus, for me, the Buddha would not reproach someone who believed in an impermanent self, along with acceptance of multiple births, as I believed he clearly taught both.

I have not found anywhere the Buddha promoted both:

  1. I do not exist/there is no self: n’atthi ahaṃ/ahaṃ no-asmi and
  2. the soul does not exist/there is no soul: n’atthi attā

Yes, the Third Characteristic (as in Pāli):
sabbe dhammā anattā
is often misrepresented as ‘there is no soul’ when it actually says:
all dhammas are not soul.

To me, this is just like saying:
‘all oranges are not apples’ means
’oranges do not exist’.
(I think that should have been ‘all apples do not exist’)

Best wishes


#67

Since apparently the point I was trying to make didn’t come across, I won’t try again to enter the debate. The nature of metaphysical claims is just this: you can be convinced by them, and they are irrefutable. Someone might try to convince me as much as they want - there is no proof for self/soul, nor is there the proof of the opposite.


#68

Of course that is a wrong view because it rests on the idea that there is a self. It is like saying “there is a self, but there is no self for this self”.

But, as I said, this is meant to be an unique experiment. If you feel there are any decent arguments to be made for a self existing, they why not post them here ? If you believe the suttas make a case for a self existing, or at least allow the possibility that a self might exist, then you should be able to make a rational argument for such a position, better than “it says so in this book”.

If you feel like that’s what it says in the book, then make an argument for that position. Present some arguments that such ideas might be correct. In Buddha times, every village had a debating hall where bhikkhus went in the morning to convince other people and expand the religion. If they were to go to such debates with an attitude of “this is what my teacher says” and provide zero arguments, they certainly would have been seen as the weakest people from the debating hall and would be basically ignored by everyone.

We see in the suttas how Buddha scolded bhikkhus for not knowing how to debate. For example there were one 2 bhikkhus who won a debate, but only because their interlocutors were even more stupid. Buddha was surprised that their debating partners did not confront them with the simile of the baby, and said they would have been easily refuted if that were to happen, then proceeded to explain them how to argue that case more efficiently. Debating was an important art for every bhikkhu back then. As a matter of fact, when Buddha says the time for him to die has no come yet, he always lists 5 things, one of them being “having disciples capable of defeating wanderers of other sects in a debate”.

So if you feel that there is a self, or that there might be a self, try to provide some decent arguments for this, if you feel there are any. What makes you think that there might be a self ? Is there something in particular that makes you think there might be a self ?

Or, if you are unable to step outside “it says so in this book”, then think about the time when you were not a buddhist. What made you believe there is/might be a self ? Almost all people in this world believe there is a self, and the same applied to you before being a buddhist. On what does this idea rest ? Why have the opinion that there is a self, instead of having the opinion that there is no self ? Surely there must be some form of reasoning behind this opinion.


#69

Same can be said about god or the spaggete monster. But the burden of proof lies on the one claiming that there is.

How do cars work ? Do they work because of an engine, or are they pushed foreward by an invisible horse-spirit or tiger-spirit ? For example a car having 136 horse-power actually has 136 invisible horse-spirits pushing it. Or maybe it has just 68 cause a horse-spirit is twice as powerfull as a normal horse.

If a person were to come to you and say “cars don’t work because of the engine and combustion and things like that, they are actually propelled foreward by a tiger-spirit”. Would you have any doubts that it might be so ? Would you say to yourself “gee… I don’t really know what to think. There is no proof for this tiger-spirit, but neither is there proof that it doesn’t exist” ? Probably not. Probably you would have supreme confidence that cars work like that because of the engine.

The same goes for how beings technically work. One who will study it in detail will find out that there is no self, that the aggregates and everything else works without such a thing. He will have the same supreme confidence that there is no self, as one would have about cars working because of engines and not through being pushed by invisible horse-spirits.


#70

Really? I think that a claim that sounds ridiculous to 95% of humanity equally needs a proof. And sorry, your convictions and metaphors are no proof. They might sound great to a Buddhist audience, but try and organize a meeting at your local church (if you live in Christianistan) and see how convincing your proofs are there.

The Buddha could also not have proved it, neither no-self, nor rebirth. That’s exactly why he needed to be a pragmatist and not a metaphysician.


#71

How can one prove that something does not exist ? You can only prove that something does exist, not that something does not exist. The same as it is with god or with the spaggete monster. It doesn’t matter how many people believe in god or the spaggete monster. Quite a ton of people believe in god and would laugh at you not believing in it. Only 0.2% (yes, with a zero in front) of people in my country are atheist, the rest are all christians. Yet that doesn’t change the burden of proof problem.

And yes, the dhamma is counter-intuitive. It is not a default view hold by the masses. Nobody claimed such a thing. The fact that the world is round is also counter intuitive. In everyday experiene it looks like being flat. Something being intuitive or counter-intuitive does not make it correct or wrong.

Also, why do so many people believe that there is a self ? Why is this the default view that all humans over age 3 + a couple of animals have ? There must be a reasoning why these people believe there is a self. There must be something that makes them believe that there is a self.


#72

Putting on a materialist hat here and pretending to be an annihalationist:
“What’s all this about five aggregates? Aren’t they all just merely aspects of physical reality? Why should I believe consciousness or feeling is anything but an aspect of that? Isn’t what I call the “self” just some kind of organic process going on in my brain that will cease at death? What’s the big deal with all this “no self” stuff? Is some kind of pointless philosophical point being made about the current status of this organic process? Won’t there be no self after death anyway?”

Or putting on an idealist (eternalist) hat:
“I agree that what you call the five aggregates are impermanent, unstable and changing. There obviously isn’t a permanent self there. Feeling and perception are shifting and relative and uncertain. However, there is a realm/state that is certain, eternal, unchanging, satisfactory, where reality is known (not like here where unstable shifting illusions are merely perceived). That is where my true Self lies and it is possible to come to directly know this through spiritual development.”

Stance one is the simplest stance. Stance two does need proof of this other state (though I guess such a person can hold out examples in his particular path of people who perhaps claim to have knowledge of such a state, and hope for experience of his own eventually, or point to NDEs much as many do with “past life” recollections for rebirth experiences; rebirth and NDEs aren’t even necessarily contradictory depending on one’s metaphysics or choice of NDEs). Your stance assumes the five aggregates are all that exist and if the self isn’t there then it is nowhere. I’m not saying that’s not true, but can that actually be proven as such? Again like stance two it perhaps can be known through direct experience (psychic level knowledge) and the following of a path of spiritual practice. So why is your stance correct and not the other two I give above?


#73

1 Why?

2 People often not only believe in things without evidence but despite evidence. Belief results from persuasion, not perception. Eye witness accounts are notorious for inaccuracies, when examined critically. Despite this, they are earnest beliefs, collaborated with invented inaccurate details.


#74

Maybe this debate is a waste of time, because Lord Buddha didn’t say: There are no self! - He said something like: There are no self to be found in Sankharas!


#75

And that is the whole point of the discussion. Large parts of the Buddhist community (lay and monastic) assume that the Buddha meant “There is no self/soul”. There is no such statement in the texts, but the position is “This is what he meant” - an ontological position.
And in contrast there is the minority view that he was merely pointing to what we can experience, saying “There is no soul here” - a pragmatist position


#76

Right, but why speculate on this then? Isn’t speculations an unwholesome activity according to Lord Buddhas teachings (idle chatting)


#77

Hm, that’s a bit harsh I think. To me it’s the struggle for right view.


#78

“Harsh” or not, is it not correct what I mentioned?


#79

The texts clearly need to be interpreted (already the translation is a rendering - ‘self’ or ‘soul’? ‘no’ or ‘not’? etc.). Maybe in India back then they didn’t have the choice to understand something ontologically or pragmatically. Today we have to choose, it’s part of our discourse.

Plus, investigating the dhamma (dhamma vicaya) is a bojjhanga after all. Idle chatter would be about weather, olympics, cat videos, gossip…


#80

We might be getting somewhere with this: Would then the Buddha have tried to prove that atta doesn’t exist? Probably not. He would have worked with specific atta-beliefs. If he had claimed ‘there is no self’, it would have been not confusing (as one convenient sutta claims) but simply not convincing, one saint’s word against the other.


#81

It doesn’t matter personally, because I started out with an advice from a well known teacher, which suggested that one could choose to check every bit of the teaching for one self before practicing directly, or one could choose to trust in the good work that already has been done to clear the path for easier walking. The first one would most probably be a longer stretch than the last.

Guess what I went for … :wink: