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milindapañha


#1

In Mahāvagga> 1. Paññattipañha King Milinda answered negatively to the following question:

“Kiṃ pana, bhante, rūpavedanāsaññāsaṅkhāraviññāṇaṃ nāgaseno”ti?
“Na hi,mahārājā”ti.

‘Then is it all these Skandhas combined that are Nāgasena?’
‘No! great king.’ (Rhys)

However at the end of the dialogue we find this verse affirming the Skandhas

‘Yathā hi aṅgasambhārā,
hoti saddo ratho iti;
Evaṃ khandhesu santesu,
hoti “satto”ti sammutī’”ti.

“‘Just as it is by the condition precedent
Of the co-existence of its various parts
That the word ‘chariot’ is used,
Just so is it that when the Skandhas
Are there we talk of a ‘being.’”’

I am not sure if I am seeing a contradiction here or if I have misread something?

Your assistance please. Thanks and regards.


#2

Welcome to the forum csf :slight_smile:

We hope you enjoy your time here, and if you have any questions please just ask.

Metta :slightly_smiling_face: :sunflower:


#3

In the lesson to the king, Nagasena proves no self can be found, either in the chariot or himself (chariot parts = aggregates), and that the construction of a self is a mere convention, with no basis in reality. This is built upon the names of things, which are only an arbitrary appendage.

“Just as, with an assemblage of parts,
The word ‘chariot’ is used,
So, when the aggregates are present,
There’s the convention 'a being.”—SN 5.10

Arahants tolerate conventional usage, without misapprehending its incorrectness:

“That monk still might use such words as “I,”
Still perchance might say: “They call this mine.”
Well aware of common worldly speech,
He would speak conforming to such use”—SN 1.25

In meditation on the four elements the disappearing self is explained this way:

“To the butcher, who rears the cow, brings it to the slaughter-house, ties it, puts it there, slaughters it, or looks at the slaughtered and dead cow, the idea ‘cow’ does not disappear as long as he has not yet cut the body open and taken it to pieces. As soon, however, as he sits down, after having cut it open and taken it to pieces, the idea ‘cow’ disappears to him, and the idea ‘meat’ arises.”—Vism XI


#4

Thank you Paul,

First the King says ‘no’ to the question whether ‘Nāgasena is the aggregates combined’.
Here the compound word ‘rūpavedanāsaññāsaṅkhāraviññāṇaṃ’ is used (ie. Pali ‘Khanda’).
But in the verse it is clearly said that ‘what is called a being is the Khanda’.

Is there a contradiction here I wonder?

Metta


#5

Do you mean that what is mistaken as being, is just seeming?

If the king has said
‘Then is it all these Skandhas combined that seem to be Nāgasena?’
might the answer be ’ yes!’ ?

“‘Just as it is by the condition precedent
Of the co-existence of its various parts
That the word ‘chariot’ is used,
Just so is it that when the Skandhas
Are there we talk of a ‘being.’”’

Conditions are impermanent.


#6

The nun Vajira is speaking from her knowledge in the SN 5.10 verse, and it should be read understanding nibbana is implied, as it cannot be explained in words (the unconditioned element, the only thing which is unchanging). So the verse contains two realities, explicitly mentioning conventional reality with its obvious superficiality, and ultimate reality should be taken as understood, forming a duality.

“With the remainderless stopping & fading of the six contact-media [vision, hearing, smell, taste, touch, & intellection] is it the case that there is anything else?”

[Sariputta:] “Don’t say that, my friend.” […] “is it the case that there neither is nor is not anything else?’ objectifies non-objectification.” (Ultimate reality cannot be spoken about)—AN 4.174

The fourth tetrad of mindfulness of breathing instructs in the development of knowledge of nibbana:

" [13] He trains himself, ‘I will breathe in focusing on inconstancy.’ He trains himself, ‘I will breathe out focusing on inconstancy.’ [14] He trains himself, ‘I will breathe in focusing on dispassion [literally, fading].’ He trains himself, ‘I will breathe out focusing on dispassion.’ [15] He trains himself, ‘I will breathe in focusing on cessation.’ He trains himself, ‘I will breathe out focusing on cessation.’ [16] He trains himself, ‘I will breathe in focusing on relinquishment.’ He trains himself, ‘I will breathe out focusing on relinquishment.’—MN 118


#7

The point I am seeking clarification is this:

Is there a contradiction when in one place, the text says ‘Nāgasena is NOT the aggregates combined’
while in another place (ie in the verse) it is said ‘a so-called being is the aggregates (Khanda)’.


#8

When I say, “Ok, Google, who am I?” the answer is:

“Your name is Karl”

That is the name of the chariot, which is a useful contrivance for getting about. Both question and answer were conditioned.


#9

I do not think there is any contradiction. In the first instance when it says that the Skandhas combined is not Nagasena, it means that a person with a name “Nagasena” cannot be found in the Skhandas. Because as explained in the second instance “Nagasena” is just a a conventional name given to a combination of Skhandas just as much as the conventional name “chariot” is used to refer to a combination of parts.
With Metta


#10

Yes, and this seeming encompasses all conditioned reality (SN 35. 24, “the All”). Unconditioned reality includes any practice where the effort is to orient the mind towards nibbana. So these two should be categorized conceptually as a duality.
SN 35. 23/24 is another example of where ultimate reality must be taken as understood in terms of my previous post. When the Buddha described ultimate reality, he did so as part of a duality, like light and shade:
“But precisely because there is an unborn — unbecome — unmade — unfabricated, escape from the born — become — made — fabricated is discerned”—Ud 8.3


#11

:slight_smile: I am leary of dualities; I don’t want to make categorizations and concepts which have any appearance or illusion of unconditioned natures, in contemplating the unconditioned. (There’s a saying used by those who try to create/impose a semblance of order out of apparent chaos: “touch it once”. Essentially, it means, be wary of creating systems to process this to that; they require maintenance and can become a problem themselves…)

I really like the clarity I see in this below, just as it is…
“‘Just as it is by the condition precedent
Of the co-existence of its various parts
That the word ‘chariot’ is used,
Just so is it that when the Skandhas
Are there we talk of a ‘being.’”’


#12

To want to have a crossing over with only one shore (non-duality), that’s wrong view.

" 85. Few among men are those who cross to the farther shore. The rest, the bulk of men, only run up and down the hither bank."—Dhammapada Ch. 6


#14

@paul1 Well yes, that is wrong view. Not mine. But your extrapolation. Please, step lightly among forum words and personal perceptions.

This is the version/edition of your comment to which I was responding

Yes, and this seeming encompasses all conditioned reality (SN 35. 24, “the All”). Unconditioned reality includes any practice where the effort is to orient the mind towards nibbana. So these two should be categorized conceptually.

I am leary of dualities, because they are invariably observed and presented as mental constructs, and are conditioned. In speech, in thought, ultimate realities are not observed or presented; their existence can only be at best described, and the description is not the reality AFAIK. Humans or those in this plane of existence are constrained by their conditions.