If you translate "dukkha" to refer only to states of perceivable mental anguish, then you are right. That would be silly. But Dukkha does not mean simply this. Dukkha refers to the constant state of unsatisfactoriness generated by the mind, even on a very subtle level. For example, you and I both feel compelled to engage is this discussion because of dukkha. On some level, I want to prove that I am right (whatever the motives...selfish or altruistic , it doesn't matter). If one of us doesn't understand the viewpoint of the other, there is a compelling desire to correct that. Of course, we are both enjoying this, so we are not suffering mental anguish over it (I hope) although such a result is obviously possible, as is seen from posts in which the writers get really hostile toward one another.
Hmm I'm not sure if dukkha does encompass this kind of thing. In this case you are abstracting dukkha to all needs, but that looks like steamroller tactics again if the result is changing your perception to a needless state. This is quite offtopic but when I think about the result of this practice I find the outcome to be rather unhealthy in respect to what we call a healthy psyche. It surely cant be an acceptable goal to eliminate all traces of subtle wanting - sinc ethis would not only eradicate all fear etc but also all that makes you happy, since happiness is build on this, too.
Or, both. But, if you follow the chain of effect here, break down each component as look at why the various losses matter, ultimately they are the same thing. Maybe all of your legal documents were burned up and now it is going to be a major headache to get a new birth certificate, passport, copy of the deed to the property and so forth. maybe the car was destroyed and you have to get a new car but maybe it wasn't covered by the fire insurance so you have to come up with money to buy a car.
So then, you have to look at why that situation manifests as suffering, and here it is not so obvious. The deed to the house may not be permanent, but on a subtle level, believing that the deed would always be there and not get burned up is a case of subtle mental reliance on some notion of permanence. In other words, the day before your house burned down, a lot of your peace of mind was built on the belief that your house would still be there tomorrow. Compare this with the state of mind of a person who is constantly worrying, who cannot sleep at night because he or she wakes up every hour to make sure the house is not on fire.
The difference in my interpretation is that from the perspective of the Buddha it is not merely the holding fast to those things that creates dukkha but the appearance of those things as well. In other words that I had a body and a house in the first place is
dukkha. It also is only this that can explain why someone would want to spend 2 years of his life in average meditating, hoping to eradicate things that are from the outside standpoint simply human factors - to get out of the circle of rebirth; then it doesnt matter if you end up zombified or die of not eating, like the arhats are said to when not in a sangha.
So, you are saying
"... knowing that things are in fact not eternal ...does not conclude in the possibility of permanent cessation..."
"...since first there is no established causal relation and second since then all sorts of people would randomly become enlightened..."
(I had to break that up to understand it better)
An Intellectual understanding that "nothing lasts forever" does not make a person a Buddha.
Yeah, that's true.
Then point is that we base our own peace of mind on the permanence of apparent phenomena, even at a very subtle level.
Dukkha arises because we think our peace of mind, based on clinging to impermanent conditions, is permanent.
When we lose our peace of mind, that is Dukkha.
Well the point here was that your capacity to train yourself to reduce your mental anguish as a result of wrong perception does show that its possible to reduce it, but it doesnt show that its possible to have a moment, where it suddenly stops alltogether and forever. Also if you really want such a stop, even knowing it might be a pathological thing, then you need to know how to activate this "mechanism".
You mean, if Buddhists can prove scientifically the dharma has enormous benefit, why aren't we doing that?
Some people are doing that, as you say, brain scans and so forth. But, you know, in the popular mind, buddhism falls under the category of religion. Right there, that's a conceptual roadblock.
Well youre inverting cause and effect here. It falls under the category of religion because it doesnt produce any evidence to base its claims for thousands of years already - among other reasons maybe, but I think thats the main one. And this could be solved for example through such a study. Or some other study with monks walking on water or whatever is needed
But I think the biggest reason why that isn't happening is because what the dharma addresses is not so clear cut. It is one thing to measure chemical changes in the brain due to "sitting meditation", and another thing to try to measure why a person, sitting on a damned pillow for three hours, doing absolutely nothing but watching the air go in and out of his nose, experiences those brain waves as boredom, and why all sorts of distracting thoughts come up and so forth.
Well it seems you are always gliding past my point.
Let me say it again, the reason why I pointed to such a possibility is only due to there being no proof for the existence of enlightenment. The example has been given in this thread, too afaik - as evidence even. But for the question of enlightenment its absolutely insignificant if there are brainchanges in people who meditate. If you want to show evidence that enlightenment even exists analyzing the brains of arhats seems to be the only feasible way. From outside the box its obvious why people dont do that: cause they cant. Whats not so obvious and what kind of fascinates me is that (and the reason why) noone draws the conclusion out of this.
You have been referring to Pali sources
and so my take on things might be out of context.
If your position is that enlightenment and ignorance, or nirvana and samsara
But there is another understanding, in which Your question is somewhat like asking
Why isn't an acorn already an oak tree
or why isn't an egg already a chicken.
In this case, they are not intrinsically different
nor are they exactly the same
so the answer has little or nothing to do with their apparent characteristics
which after all, have to intrinsic reality to begin with.
I want to refer to some writings by Chandrakirti
which might at least offer you another perspective on this question
but I have to go look them up.
I usually refer to old scriptures because they make more sense and are clearer than the new ones. Especially Sarvastivada, interestingly. I have to admit that I never found this idea of samsara and nirvana to be nondual to be very appealing and have forgotten the argumentation behind it. As far as I remember the texts dont say that, but what they do say is that the mind is originally pure and that it can cause both Nirvana and Samsara. This is not a later notion tho but was well known in the beginning. The purity of the mind simply refers to its capability (or central function) to perceive tho. Another argument was I think that the dharmakaya is originally unborn and therefore all dharmas are beyond bondage? This also is not a new analysis and was also known before. Its kind of a blurry explanation tho because we are talking about Nirvana and Samsara in terms of activity / existence of certain dharmas in the cittasantana. So if there are certain dharmas there its called Samsara and if theyre not there its called Nirvana with residue etc.
I think that perhaps there may be some misunderstanding about the nature of wisdom (prajna) and ignorance (avidya).
Actually, Prajna is always functioning, but not seeing that is Avidya.
It's like standing next to an elephant but looking in the opposite direction.
The elephant is already there. It's not the elephant's problem that you are distracted.
But as soon as you turn your head, you will see it.
Hmmm I think the problem is here that we not only speak of different prajnas but you also are speaking of different prajnas. Panna for me is a sobhana-cetasika included as a nonuniversal dhamma in the Theravada ABhidharma while you are referring to Prajna as being a universal dharma, which is based on Sarvastivada Abidharma. The problem seems to be that you dont accept Prajna as being both pure and impure, right and wrong, as Sarvastivadins do. So you create this contradiction of a pure Prajna being hidden somewhere (where exactly?) and which clearly conflicts with Avidya.
Sometimes it is a very gradual process.
Suppose you are hiking through the woods, heading toward a destination, perhaps a lake or something.
However, you do not realize that you are walking in circles.
That is total ignorance.
After an hour or so, you notice that you are walking past a large rock that you already passed a while back.
So, suddenly you realize that you are lost.
Before that moment, you were lost, and didn't know it.
Now you are still lost, but at least you know it.
So, there is both, some ignorance and some wisdom.
You take out your map and compass and look at them.
You can determine from your map and compass where you are, and where you need to go.
So, now you are no longer lost.
Ignorance is gone, full wisdom is realized,
and you need only to reach your destination.
But the point is, you had the map and compass with you all the time.
So, this is how it is with "Buddha nature" and ignorance.
They aren't like two opposing magnetic forces.
Your story doesnt really help your point tho, as in your story ignorance was slowly replaced by knowledge. It was surely no tthe case that the person lost in the woods knew subconsciously all the time that he was wrong but this was only covered by his not-knowing.
It sounds like the point you are getting at is this:
"Well, if Buddha nature is free from ignorance, and it is everyone's true nature,
And Buddha nature sees through ignorance, then how can there be any ignorance at all?
Buddhanature for me was a psychological tool in a time where people found taht enlightenment was more or less unreachable and couldnt accept this fact. One shouldnt take the concept-matching practices of Mahayana authors too seriously imo. Of course you can take out any sort of psychic / mental situation, abstract it and then giv eit a nic ename, but I dont see the point.