Four Noble Truths as a list of landmarks.

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Viach
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Four Noble Truths as a list of landmarks.

Post by Viach » Sun Sep 16, 2018 2:10 pm

Frequently you can find the explanation of the Four Noble Truths (FNT) as four logically related statements (specifically, as two pairs: consequence-cause). In my opinion, the logical connections between these statements are not the essence of the FNT, they are secondary. Buddha was primarily a yogi, not a thinker (philosopher). All buddhist dharma is impregnated and based, precisely, on the experience of Buddha and encourages its followers to experience what Buddha experienced without fail. Buddhism is practical, not logical: when logic does not help practice or can not adequately describe it, logic is discarded, not practical experience. In all (?) currents of buddhism, it is believed that reality can only be adequately explained by logic only to a certain extent . Therefore, it would be strange to expect a logical nature from the purely experimental buddhist truths.

Thereat it looks strange when buddhists themselves present the FNT as something that can be understood by the philistine mind, simply by considering logical connections. And the practice of FNT is considered as а reflection on these logical connections. In my opinion, FNT is a description of four consecutive experiences, not a logical scheme. These experiences arise as a result of practice (for example, anapanasati) and, precisely, in this order ( sometimes one can find explanations for FNT starting with the second NT, not with the first, since the second NT from the logical point of view is the cause of the first NT). Those who goes by buddhist way (i.e. doing buddhist practice) uses this description as a list of successive landmarks. A landmark is something that confirms that you have not lost your way. Specifically: if you realize the presence of suffering as a living experience, then you practice correctly and continue in the same vein ; if the experience does not arise, then you do not practice correctly and, consequently, look for errors and correct them. It's the same with the other three NT.
Thus, FNT is the correct map of reality that describes what and in what order you will experience in your practice of buddhist yoga (for example, anapanasati). Similarly, after visiting somewhere, we can indicate the landmarks that will be seen by the person following your instructions. For example, if you go all along to the north, you will see this (a forest, first NT) and then that (a river, second NT), etc. It is not necessarily there should be a logical link between the landmarks, but, if it is, it does not play a leading role in the orientation. But there must be a navigation relationship.
Suppose that a river follows the forest and, say, that the river had some influence on the occurrence of the forest, namely, at this particular place. Nor this logical connection between the forest and the river is important for us ( as for travelers, and not specialists for the emergence of landscapes), but the forest itself as a landmark and the river itself as a landmark, and also, namely, their sequence(navigation relationship).
Thus, the FNT is more like a list of successive landmarks(so that you do not get lost) than a set of two pairs of logical statements, how they are often presented (and no matter how much you think logically over the FNT, you will never perceive them as a living experience, for their nature is not logical, but navigational).
P.S. Also other buddhist lists are the same lists of landmarks: the Four Seals, the Twelve Nidanas, the Noble Eightfold Path, 37 Factors of Enlightenment, etc.

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Astus
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Re: Four Noble Truths as a list of landmarks.

Post by Astus » Mon Sep 17, 2018 7:24 am

Viach wrote:
Sun Sep 16, 2018 2:10 pm
the FNT is more like a list of successive landmarks(so that you do not get lost) than a set of two pairs of logical statements
The so called landmarks are the stages of realisation: stream-entrant, once returner, non-returner, and arhat. All four stages require the contemplation of all four truths.
Also other buddhist lists are the same lists of landmarks: the Four Seals, the Twelve Nidanas, the Noble Eightfold Path, 37 Factors of Enlightenment, etc.
Not really. Although Vasubandhu did relate the 37 factors to the 5 paths, that is not the general interpretation, and it looks somewhat forced and tentative.
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

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Supramundane
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Re: Four Noble Truths as a list of landmarks.

Post by Supramundane » Wed Sep 26, 2018 2:25 am

Viach, i applaud your creativity. your thinking is on track and it is good to turn the Four Noble Truths around like a Rubik's Cube to better understand them. they may well be landmarks, and if this thinking puts your forward, i encourage you to pursue it to the end to where it will be borne out or discredited; in either case, you will have made progress, as you will have affirmed or discounted a possible interpretation through process of elimination.

however, at first glance, i would tend to think that they are not landmarks. take the Eightfold path; it is one path with eight adjacent simultaneous components, but not linear milestones because all must be accomplished together. if i am not mistaken, the Four Noble Truths appeared to Gautama in a flash, possibly in a moment of vispasanna meditation (perhaps someone more intelligent than me, perhaps Astus, can confirm this by sutra reference).

nevertheless, whatever the outcome, you force us to look at the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path in terms of topography and thus, from a new angle, and you thereby increase our understanding.

thank you Viach and please let me know what conclusion you reach as we all walk the same path ---be it a linear 'landmark' one or a non-Euclidean one. Come to think of it, there is an ongoing debate in Mahayana on whether enlightenment is sudden or gradual and so perhaps you have hit on something fundamental. Keep at it.

metta

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