The Aspect of No-Change

Is the sense of sameness delusional? I sense that sameness. I do not feel another person when there is anger or when anger disappears, or with or without thoughts. Or yesterday, today and probably also not tomorrow. Ofcourse there are changes, but from within I do not sense that I fundamentally change.

Is this a view of self? I do not belief it is. I think it has nothing to do with views. Maybe i am mistaken?

Feelings come and go. Emotions come and go, thoughts, tendencies, longings, plans, self-views come and go, the body changes, a sense of inferiority might come and go, or a sense of superiority, relaxed mind, tense mind, fear, pain, images, sounds, conceit, smells etc. it all comes and goes, but i sense that there is also an aspect of no change. No change seems to be an aspect of my being. I would think it is even more me than what comes and goes. Not because I think it is self, but because when, for example thoughts end, i do not end.

In this context I do not even belief I can really change. Sure, habits can change, tendencies, the way of thinking, the body, intentions, perceptions, but do you really experience, that when, for example, your habits have changed over time, you have really becomes someone completely different from within? Do you really feel like you are another person now? Is that possible?

Probably you also have this perception of no-change? Is this aspect of no change an illusion? Is that what the Buddha taught? Or is it a gateway to liberation?

For myself this aspect of no-change is helpful. It helps not to be afraid to let go, or not to be afraid of stilling or ending of formations because you will not end.

There was a time i was afraid of ending of thoughts because i developed the idea that i could no go back to normal. I was afraid i would not be able to function normally. Now i am not afraid anymore, at least not for ending thoughts:-)

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FWIW, I don’t think you’re mistaken. Impermanence (anicca) and no-self (anatta) does not imply loss of identity or individuality altogether. What is let go of in awakening is the belief in an enduring essence of selfhood.

If identity of objects (as things that endure over time, while subject to change: ṭhitassa aññathattaAN 3.47) were also lost, the living arahant would not be able to operate :slight_smile:

The thing-ness of objects (and the corresponding otherwise-ness) are designations given to them in the process of them being experienced—and that designation differs from one individual to another. A ‘common’ object could lose its identity faster with one experiencer than with another. Like everything else in Dhamma, aniccatā is subjective.

Edit: From your other replies it occurred to me that you seem to believe in “a kind of ground that does not change”, which I presume is different from the “standing” in “change while standing” of the Suttas—in which case, it is a belief that is not in accordance with the Dhamma.

@Green To my understanding, what you said in the 1st post is NOT what the Buddha taught.
What you called as “sense of sameness”, “perception of no-change”, “aspect of no change”, “you will not end” in the 1st post, they are considered as Wrong View in the Buddha teaching.
This is what the Buddha taught us: Physical, feeling, perception, mind formations and consciousness are conditional (meaning they can not exist alone, with enough conditions exist then they appear; when conditions are no longer there, they are gone). This conditional characteristics leads to suffering. The Buddha also taught us there is the only end of suffering (nibbāna) and the method leads to this nibbāna.
Back to your particular case, can you check by yourself whether your mentioned claims in the 1st post can exist alone or not? Or do they always have to satisfy a lot of conditions? :smiley:

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The view that you have an eternal essence is refuted by the Buddha in many teachings as wrong view. This idea is similar to many ideas found in Hinduism, and mystical Christian and Muslim traditions. It’s listed as a wrong view in Brahmajala Sutta under eternalism.

A bit of commentary from Thanissaro Bhikkhu found on the Access to Insight page for the Alagaddupama Sutta helps explain this too.

Two mistaken inferences are particularly relevant here. The first concerns the range of the not-self teaching. Some have argued that, because the Buddha usually limits his teachings on not-self to the five aggregates — form, feeling, perceptions, fabrications, and consciousness — he leaves open the possibility that something else may be regarded as self. Or, as the argument is often phrased, he denies the limited, temporal self as a means of pointing to one’s identity with the larger, unlimited, cosmic self. However, in this discourse the Buddha explicitly phrases the not-self teaching in such a way as to refute any notion of cosmic self. Instead of centering his discussion of not-self on the five aggregates, he focuses on the first four aggregates plus two other possible objects of self-identification, both more explicitly cosmic in their range: (1) all that can be seen, heard, sensed, cognized*, attained, sought after, pondered by the intellect; and (2) the cosmos as a whole, eternal and unchanging. In fact, the Buddha holds this last view up to particular ridicule, as the teaching of a fool, for two reasons that are developed at different points in this discourse: (1) If the cosmos were “me,” then it must also be “mine,” which is obviously not the case. (2) There is nothing in the experience of the cosmos that fits the bill of being eternal, unchanging, or that deserves to be clung to as “me” or “mine.”
*(My emphasis added)

Since all that can be “cognized” or “thought” cannot be self then that means your thoughts cannot be yourself either. So your ideas aren’t supported by the Buddha.

There is another sutta somewhere that says it is better to take the body as a self because it lasts longer than a thought or feeling does. It goes something like the body can last up to 100 years, but how long does a single thought or feeling last by comparison? If someone could link it that would be helpful!

I am not trying to make any metaphysical claims about an eternal essence or a self. I am just describing from my own experience. I do not notice a real change when formations cease. Ofcourse there is change in the ceasing of formations but there is also something that does not change. That seems to be more Me than formations which cease. Can’t you relate to this from your own experience? Are you really changing from within?

For me it is very clear that other people might think i have changed because i act different, show different habits, but from within i am the same. There is nothing changed.

Maybe I’m a bit pedantic but saying that you don’t see any change in mental formations and then saying that there is something that never changes there is a metaphysical claim. It’s claiming that this aspect of your personality is steady and you might (accidently) be seeing that a possible permanent self.

In my experience, the changing of habits is the changing of feeling and thoughts is very related. You can see that cultivating the noble eight fold path involves right action, as well as right thoughts.

I knew this reminded me of something from Hinduism and I found it in the Bhagava Gita!

This is the second ‘Objection’ found on the page of this ebook

Objection:Then, what is this that even the learned say like the worldly, people “Thus am I,” “This verily belongs to me”?
Reply: Listen. This is that learnedness which consists in seeing the field as the Self! On the contrary they shoud realize the unchanging Knower of the field, then they will not crave for enjoyment or action with the idea, “May this be mine.” Enjoyment and action are mere perversions.

So if you’re claiming that there is something unchanging that is observing your actions, then that idea is here in the Bhagava Gita here. This idea is refuted in Buddhism by the idea that name and form are supporting conditions for consciousness you can’t have something unchanging observing actions in Buddhist thought.

This sutta rightly mentioned by ZenKen points out it is better for a beginner to study impermanence by observing the body or material things like how trees definitely change with the seasons, to overcome the illusion of continuity. At first sight people and all material things exhibit continuity, it appears they will not change from their present appearance. But imperceptibly they change, and one day we notice the person once known has grown old. A good way to see this is to look at famous pop stars and see how their appearance changes:

"I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Savatthi in Jeta’s Grove, Anathapindika’s monastery. There he addressed the monks, “Monks, an uninstructed run-of-the-mill person might grow disenchanted with this body composed of the four great elements, might grow dispassionate toward it, might gain release from it. Why is that? Because the growth & decline, the taking up & putting down of this body composed of the four great elements are apparent. Thus the uninstructed run-of-the-mill person might grow disenchanted, might grow dispassionate, might gain release there.”

It is too difficult for a beginner to use the mind to overcome the illusion of continuity:

“But as for what’s called ‘mind,’ ‘intellect,’ or ‘consciousness,’ the uninstructed run-of-the-mill person is unable to grow disenchanted with it, unable to grow dispassionate toward it, unable to gain release from it. Why is that? For a long time this has been relished, appropriated, and grasped by the uninstructed run-of-the-mill person as, ‘This is me, this is my self, this is what I am.’ Thus the uninstructed run-of-the-mill person is unable to grow disenchanted with it, unable to grow dispassionate toward it, unable to gain release from it.” —SN 12. 61 ‘The Uninstructed (1)’,

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But if the unconditioned would not be a part of our reality, of who or what we are, how can there be a refuge for us?

If we are only fleeting processes, how can peace and stability be the outcome of the Path?

What is it that causes that you are a stable persoon when anything about you is unstable? Why are you not an unstable wrackage if this is your true nature?

@Paul1

I find there is great gap between seeing decay and impermanence, and getting disenchanted. I think a lot of people who become aware of decay, instability, change, uncertain nature, even become more protective, and clinging gets stronger. Because one feels more and more unsave in this world. Passion increases. One becomes one of a fearful nature by seeing the tilakkhana.

Intellectually one can easily contemplate how life is, and get to the acceptance of anicca, dukkha and anatta but emotionally this is totally different is my own experience. There is such a gap.

I had a girlfriend with MS. At a certain time she could not even drink and eat anymore. To see this has never ever made me dispassionate regarding the body or life. It made me more aware how special it is to have a healthy body and to live. She wanted to live too, to the last moment.
Who is not afraid of becoming so sick that one cannot eat and drink and move and travel anymore?

So, it is not my own experience that from seeing decay and impermanance ones passion for life, ones passion for the body and mind really weakens. One becomes even more protective, is my own experience.
What then starts is a very difficult proces of acceptance. It is like mourning. It goes trough all kind of phases. anger, sadness, acceptance, resistance.

I am not certain that one can become dispasssionate by contemplating anicca, dukkha and anatta, because one can even become more passionate. What makes the difference? I think, that one gets fed up with everything. It does not matter anymore. One has even lost the passion for life. I do not see how one can really become dispassionate if one does not start to appreciate life less. I think that makes the difference.

But i still hope it is not this way.

The gap you mentioned is “The Correct Path leads to the end of suffering”. Passion increases and fearful nature is because you don’t know yet The Correct Path.

Contemplating aniccā, dukkha and anattā is part of the path but it’s still far from the complete path. Therefore, please, for your own benefit and also for benefit of people around you, try to study, practice, ponder, ask, and test the Nikāya.

All the answers you really need are there, no one else can convince you better than yourself.

Because you don’t understand yet “the unconditioned”.

Because you don’t understand yet “the Path”.

Because you don’t understand yet “the suffering” and “the cause of suffering”

I repeat here my previous post,
Please, for your own benefit and also for benefit of people around you, try to study, practice, ponder, ask, and test the Nikāya.

All the answers you really need are there, no one else can convince you better than yourself.

I do ORsEnTRvi.

For me it feels like it is all about choice. It is a choice to want to end in a very definite way all suffering and rebirth. Buddha-Dhamma seems to be especially for those people who are very committed to that particular goal. At the moment i do not feel this is my hearts-committment. At the moment i do not know what i really want and is my goal.

I see also buddhist who are much more life-affirming. They talk about the miracle of being alive. Of being a vulnerable human being. It is another sphere, i feel. I go on.

The practitioner should construct ‘the further shore’ which is the other side of the gap. There is an emotional side to crossing over, but this is transformed by the development of piti from the beginning, and is described in the path (MN 118). The passion that arises is close to rapture and will convert if put in the correct mental framework, emotions should be harnessed not feared. This is the effect views have on perception, changing view changes perception.
In the intellectual sense the unconditioned should be set as any acquisition of the practice. These profitable feelings and thoughts are subtle in their formative stage and need to be nurtured. One of the first to look for is the satisfaction of mental seclusion which arises from maintaining sila which is the overall causal agent. Everybody has an unrecognized craving for stepping outside samsara. There are legitimate pleasurable feelings and these should be determined:

“I thought: ‘So why am I afraid of that pleasure that has nothing to do with sensuality, nothing to do with unskillful mental qualities?’ I thought: 'I am no longer afraid of that pleasure that has nothing to do with sensuality, nothing to do with unskillful mental qualities”—MN 36

The problem here is that memories are inaccurate because the get edited over time and there’s no “save as” button for memories, so there’s no version control. We only have our current memory of the past, so it is always the same person who is both remembering the past (inaccurately) and experiencing the present. Hence it appears as if there is no change.

Maybe one can see the Aspect of No-Change in the presence of a stillness, the presence of a kind of emptiness of mind, a quit ground, that what does not move and change. Is this an illusion, why?

I do not say this is an eternal self but i still think there is a kind of ground that does not change.

I still see that the Buddha taught that, as it really is, we are not rupa, vedana, sanna, sankhara and vinnana. So i do not understand the tendency to defend the idea that we are only fleeting physical and mental processes?

If an arahant or Tathagata would be only a name, or reference to 5 changing khandha’s, and they completely end at death, what need is there to teach one cannot really describe the status of the arahant and Tathagata after death as non-existent, existent, existent and non-existent, nor existent nor non-existend. If an arahant and Tathagata is only a name for 5 khandha’s that definitely end after death, the status of the arahant and Tathagata is surely non-existing, right?

“Existence” is a loaded word I think. The whole notion of existence or non existence (or both or neither) is undermined by the concept of dependent origination. In the famous Kaccānagotta sutta, sn12.15 we get:

“Kaccāna, this world mostly relies on the dual notions of existence and non-existence.

But when you truly see the origin of the world with right understanding, you won’t have the notion of non-existence regarding the world. And when you truly see the cessation of the world with right understanding, you won’t have the notion of existence regarding the world.

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@stu

I find this difficult to understand, because to me it seems that the ending of the world does in this context not literally mean the ending of stars, planets, living beings at that moment, but the ending of the six sense domains, the ending of experiencing stars, houses, living beings. I think this is something different. Why would we assume that if i do not experience anything in my dreamless moments of sleep, nothing exist anymore.

The origin of the world is, i belief, not only refering to how my experiences arise and cease.

If one’s own perception of a body disappears that does not mean that the body becomes invisible for others. It is related to a perspective.

Furthermore, for myself i never think that the expression that something exist, such as the sun or stars or houses must mean that it absolutely exist, inherently and does not change or decay.

You might find this simile helpful? :man_shrugging: sn12.67

Yep. Only the world that arises in this “fathom-long carcass with its perception and mind” is of any interest - we cannot directly know anything about another persons world. That is overstepping the bounds of what is knowable. We can of course indirectly understand another being’s world by means of communication, and taken to extremes we have such things as mind-reading in the suttas - “… the Blessed One encompasses with his own mind the minds of other beings…”, but that falls short of actually inhabiting another’s world, or indeed talking about a world that ‘exists’ independent of consciousness.

There is a topic about that somewhere here. Question for Ajahn Brahmali about arahant after death
At the end you get answers.