I tend to agree. Perception can be incorrect ( as per the Vipallasa Sutta ), but the suttas seem to describe the aggregates as actually being impermanent.
If humanity had access to “how things really are” it would obviously be enlightened by now. Seeing impermanence… dispassion… nibbana is a specific teaching and a practice.
Impermanence is obviously a characteristic of experience, the question is how it is framed. Buddhism frames it in a certain way, and the question is what this frame is.
The ‘philosophy’ of tilakkhana would refer to an objective reality, a dogmatic statement, an ontology --> to pointless arguments.
What would be the Buddha’s interest in that? Who did have an interest in ‘reality’ however were the later commentators, philosophers, debaters, and preachers.
Again “perceptions of things as they really are” is a contradiction in itself. If it’s a perception then it’s surely not as it ‘really is’. However, we are beings of salayatana, based in the six senses, we cannot help but to see the senses as ‘true’. So let’s take the directly accessible experience, spice it up with Dhamma, and eat this meal so difficult to chew (rather than busying ourselves with the fantasy of ‘reality’)
I think this is close but maybe not quite correct… are there suttas which define each of those as a practice, and a specific teaching? I would appreciate references if you have them…
The fact that there were different spiritual groups and practices is the main hint that there were different teachings of salvation. Some of them you find in the suttas (DN 2 for example offers a collection of them) - but of course they are described as faulty and insufficient from the Buddhist perspective.
In the EBT the goal is (mainly) called ‘nibbana’, for the Jains it was sometimes called kammakkhaya (‘destruction of kamma’, e.g. in AN 3.74, MN 14, MN 101), for the Brahmins amṛta (‘immortality’, see Brahmanas and Upanisads)
Not sure if that’s what you asked, but these main groups had their concepts of an ultimate salvation and some path leading to it.
The Girimānanda Sutta (AN 10.60) comes to mind. It refers to training the perception of impermanence and the perception of dispassion. In the sutta, the perceptions of dispassion and cessation both contain the stock description of nibbāna.
Thank you, reading.
Metta all around.
That wasn’t my intention, and in practice I have a phenomenological approach ( though I still can’t pronounce it! ), and I work with the sense bases regularly. So I am happy to talk about experience rather than “reality”, and I view the aggregates as a model of experience.
However the Vipallasa Sutta talks about distortions of perception, which implies interpreting experience ( aggregates ) incorrectly, seeing the permanent in the impermanent for example. So I think it is correct to interpret the suttas as saying that our experience is impermanent when perceived correctly.
I’m still not sure there has been a clear answer to my OP question though.
Thanks Gabriel! I will probably hold off on the Sanskrit for a while.
Sorry for misinterpreting your comment. I guess I’m not used to people having phenomenological approaches
Regarding your question: tilakkhana doesn’t appear in the EBT. Is your question then “What do the commentaries mean with the term?”
Because as I mentioned already as they appear in the suttas the terms are rather in context of practices (so again phenomenological).
About AN 4.49, I think it’s very clear that we have to understand it in a psychological, i.e. experiential way. To experience something asubha as asubha is psychologically correct (or as I would call it, dhammically beneficial) - but of course “in reality” (independent of our experience) there is nothing like subha or asubha
To say that something is impermanent, it must be actually observed to be impermanent. Its not a fancy notion -and has implications which are dhammically relevant. When something which is impermanent is mindfully observed, focusing on its impermanent, and not say its colour, the mind tends to ‘let go’. Getting the mind to focus on impermanence makes it drop the idea of permanence of phenomena. This sequentially leads to nibbida, dispassion and cessation as per the AN22.59. What is needed to keep focused on the immediately apparent impermanence.
Tilakkahana is impermanence, suffering and not-self and this is straightforward. Those are integral to the dhamma, and I don’t see an issue with calling them ‘characteristics’, or lakkhana. The EBT Ananttalakkhana sutta, and the Lakkhana sutta both use this term and isn’t a later creation, though it might have been used more extensively later.
Watching impermanence, one arrives at insights into the true nature of experience. Its not in an ontological sense, but in an experiential one- of course all there is is experience, almost, but not quite, but that is for a another thread. These insights can be later rehashed as in when the Buddha asks the Ven Girimananda to recall these ‘signs’ or ‘perceptions’, to help him gain joy to overcome his illness.
I think we have something very similar in mind. I would just put it differently: When I focus on the impermanence of a particular experience, the mind withdraws from it - for that moment / short period of time. Some moments later I might have completely forgotten about it, following a thought or impulse as if the former insight never happened.
The “impermanence of phenomena (in general)” is not a reality until the breakthrough. It is a ditthi, a view or attitude, a theory, a concept. It might and should lead to further observations of experiences, but it can just as well stay an empty ditthi, a topic to philosophize about. Then it’s worthless.
So the value of ‘impermanence’ lies in the moments in which I observe the experience in that way. There is no value in the statement alone.
And more generally I’m interested if you’d agree that core Dhamma = statements about experience in action?
The statement is valuable in that it allows right view. It can then be taught. It’s the initial crack in the rock of avijja. Mindfulness requires right view otherwise we start seeing atta each time we have a blissful samadhi experience.
The Noble eightfold path for example is a verified method of attaining enlightenment and not a suspected one. Insight confirms patterns identified in experiences of phenomena/ sensory stimuli.
I find it quite difficult to “watch” impermanence directly. It’s more like noticing the nature of whatever I am currently observing.
“Bhikkhus, I will teach you the way that is suitable for attaining Nibbāna. Listen to that….
“And what, bhikkhus, is the way that is suitable for attaining Nibbāna? Here, a bhikkhu sees the eye as impermanent, he sees forms as impermanent, he sees eye-consciousness as impermanent, he sees eye-contact as impermanent, he sees as impermanent whatever feeling arises with eye-contact as condition, whether pleasant or painful or neither-painful-nor-pleasant. SuttaCentral
Hope this makes sense.
That passage sounds more like having a view of those things as impermanent.
For a monk practicing the Dhamma in accordance with the Dhamma, this is what accords with the Dhamma: that he keep focused on inconstancy… stress… not-self with regard to form, that he keep focused on inconstancy… stress… not-self with regard to feeling… perception… fabrications… consciousness. As he keeps focusing on inconstancy… stress… not-self with regard to form… feeling… perception… fabrications… consciousness, he comprehends form… feeling… perception… fabrications… consciousness.
As he comprehends form… feeling… perception… fabrications… consciousness, he is totally released from form… feeling… perception… fabrications… consciousness. He is totally released from sorrows, lamentations, pains, distresses, & despairs. He is totally released, I tell you, from suffering & stress.”
Right view (faith, deduction: knowing) to yatabhutanana (seeing)-
At Savatthi. "Monks, the eye is inconstant, changeable, alterable. The ear… The nose… The tongue… The body… The mind is inconstant, changeable, alterable.
"One who has conviction &; belief that these phenomena are this way is called a faith-follower: one who has entered the orderliness of rightness, entered the plane of people of integrity, transcended the plane of the run-of-the-mill. He is incapable of doing any deed by which he might be reborn in hell, in the animal womb, or in the realm of hungry shades. He is incapable of passing away until he has realized the fruit of stream-entry.
"One who, after pondering with a modicum of discernment, has accepted that these phenomena are this way is called a Dhamma-follower: one who has entered the orderliness of rightness, entered the plane of people of integrity, transcended the plane of the run-of-the-mill. He is incapable of doing any deed by which he might be reborn in hell, in the animal womb, or in the realm of hungry shades. He is incapable of passing away until he has realized the fruit of stream-entry.
“One who knows and sees that these phenomena are this way is called a stream-enterer, steadfast, never again destined for states of woe, headed for self-awakening.” Cakkhu Sutta: The Eye
Hope that’s clarifies
And what is the way of developing immersion further that leads to mindfulness and awareness? It’s when a mendicant knows feelings as they arise, as they remain, and as they go away. They know perceptions as they arise, as they remain, and as they go away. They know thoughts as they arise, as they remain, and as they go away. SuttaCentral
Also brain cells are never replaced AFAIK