Nihilistic view

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Astus
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Re: Nihilistic view

Post by Astus » Thu May 21, 2020 9:29 pm

White Sakura wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 4:48 pm
So one can apply that for the self as well. To say: "There is no self" is nihilistic view. "There is no ultimately existing self" is what Buddha taught.
The assumption of any form of self is a mistake. If there were some sort of reality to it, it wouldn't be wrong to believe in it.

"Monks, you would do well to cling to that clinging to a doctrine of self, clinging to which there would not arise sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, & despair. But do you see a clinging to a doctrine of self, clinging to which there would not arise sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, & despair?"
"No, lord."
"Very good, monks. I, too, do not envision a clinging to a doctrine of self, clinging to which there would not arise sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, & despair."

(MN 22)
But what is if I turn it other way round and say: "There is a self depending on body and mind."
"Monks, whatever contemplatives or brahmans who assume in various ways when assuming a self, all assume the five clinging-aggregates, or a certain one of them."
(SN 22.47)
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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Re: Nihilistic view

Post by Wayfarer » Thu May 21, 2020 10:16 pm

Grigoris wrote:This ['afflicted mind'] ceases functioning and what is left is enlightened consciousness, which is defined differently according to various traditions, but has as a common descriptor that it is free of afflictions and stains.
You won't find that distinction in the Pali texts, at least not explicitly. 'Remainderless' means what it says.
Astus wrote:What cuts through these extremes is dependent origination, that there is no self of any sort, but rather a chain of causes and effects.
What's your interpretation of Attakārī Sutta: The Self-Doer where the Buddha asks:
How, indeed, could one — moving forward by himself, moving back by himself — say ‘There is no self-doer, there is no other-doer’?
'Only practice with no gaining idea' ~ Suzuki Roshi

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Re: Nihilistic view

Post by Wayfarer » Thu May 21, 2020 10:25 pm

White Sakura wrote:So one can apply that for the self as well. To say: "There is no self" is nihilistic view. "There is no ultimately existing self" is what Buddha taught.
This is the nub of the issue. In the very short text Ananda Sutta, the Buddha is asked straight out by Vachagotta the Wanderer, whether the self exists or does not exist. Both questions are met with silence. This is often said to be the starting point of the Madhyamika dialectic. So, the answer to the question 'whether self (or 'self and world') exists' is neither 'yes' (which equals 'eternalism') or 'no' (which equates to nihilism.)

So, I question the common interpretation that 'the Buddha teaches there is no self'. The problem with that interpretation is that it undermines the concept of agency, that persons act and are responsible for their actions. Persons do have an identity and their actions have consequences as a matter of fact. For that reason, denying that there is any agent or person tout courte seems problematic to me. But saying 'there is a self' is also incorrect. The answer is neither yes nor no. The self, like everything, 'arises dependent on causes and conditions' - specifically, in this case, on those causes and conditions elaborated in the abhidharma and pratityasamutpada. Which are deep, difficult to fathom, and are perceivable only by the wise!
'Only practice with no gaining idea' ~ Suzuki Roshi

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Re: Nihilistic view

Post by Bundokji » Fri May 22, 2020 12:16 am

The problem with presenting dependent origination as the middle way is that it does not solve the problems of eternalism and nihilism. We can still ask whether dependent origination exists or does not exist, can't we? or we can ask what does dependent origination depends on?
The cleverest defenders of faith are its greatest enemies: for their subtleties engender doubt and stimulate the mind. -- Will Durant

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Re: Nihilistic view

Post by SteRo » Fri May 22, 2020 6:08 am

Bundokji wrote:
Fri May 22, 2020 12:16 am
The problem with presenting dependent origination as the middle way is that it does not solve the problems of eternalism and nihilism. We can still ask whether dependent origination exists or does not exist, can't we?
Not if dependent origination is taken as guidance because it says that ignorance is the source of both, existence and non-existence.
Bundokji wrote:
Fri May 22, 2020 12:16 am
or we can ask what does dependent origination depends on?
it depends on the three kinds of understanding, the last being the understanding as abandonment.

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Re: Nihilistic view

Post by Wayfarer » Fri May 22, 2020 6:29 am

A point about 'eternalism'. According to Bhikkhu Bodhi's commentary on the Brahmajala Sutta, 'eternalism' is best understood in the context of the religious and cultural world in which the Buddha taught.

Bear in mind that the Buddha himself is said to have recalled all of his previous existences on the evening of the enlightenment. There were other 'ascetics and sages', as they are called in the texts, who likewise remembered or claimed to remember previous lives.

Now, a characteristic criticism of eternalism is of given in the Alagaddūpama Sutta, regarding those who claim that ‘after death I shall be permanent, everlasting, not subject to change; I shall endure as long as eternity’ - this too he regards thus: ‘This is mine, this is my self.'

Elsewhere in the Brahmajala Sutta, such views are described like this: that 'The self and the world are eternal, barren, steadfast as a mountain peak, set firmly as a post. And though these beings rush around, circulate, pass away and re-arise, but this remains eternally. Why so? I have by means of effort, exertion, attained to such a degree of mental concentration that I have thereby recalled various past existences. ...That is how I know the self and world are eternal...’.(DN1.1.32)

In the context of a culture with an acceptance of the reality of rebirth, there might easily be a tendency to regard the aim of the religious life to reach such a state of permanence or imperturbability, or to secure an endless succession of rebirths, through the appropriate disciplines and sacrifices. This is what is criticized as 'eternalism'.

(The Brahmajala Sutta can be found online here. It is the first (and longest) book of the Digha Nikaya and by no means an easy study).

So, in these discussions about 'nihilism' and 'eternalism', it's important to see what is being rejected as 'eternalism'. I don't think eternalism is a rejection of the fact of agency or of intentional action; it's the rejection of an eternal and unchanging self that persists for aeons of lifetimes.

Nihilism, on the other extreme (which as Bhikkhu Bodhi comments, is far more common in today's secular-scientific culture and which many people feel is validated by science itself) goes to the opposite extreme of equating the self with the physical body, meaning that at death, there are no further consequences of actions (or karma). There were materialists in Buddha's day also, they are among those whom the criticism of nihilism is directed at.

These are what I understand as the 'extremes' that the middle way is avoiding.
'Only practice with no gaining idea' ~ Suzuki Roshi

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Re: Nihilistic view

Post by Astus » Fri May 22, 2020 9:08 am

Wayfarer wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 10:16 pm
What's your interpretation of Attakārī Sutta: The Self-Doer where the Buddha asks:
How, indeed, could one — moving forward by himself, moving back by himself — say ‘There is no self-doer, there is no other-doer’?
Right view has two parts: the right view of karma, and the right view of the noble truths. When it comes to karma, one has to recognise that actions have consequences, and in ordinary terms those actions and consequences apply to the individual. In that context one talks of one's responsibility and such, so there is an agent who acts of his own volition, and then suffers the outcome of those acts.
Wayfarer wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 10:25 pm
In the very short text Ananda Sutta, the Buddha is asked straight out by Vachagotta the Wanderer, whether the self exists or does not exist. Both questions are met with silence.
It is explained by the Buddha why he did not answer in either way, as the questioner would have taken both versions incorrectly. These two types of mistakes of eternalism and annihilationism are mentioned regularly in the following format:

"To an uninstructed run-of-the-mill person, touched by experience born of the contact of ignorance, there occur (the thoughts): 'I am,' 'I am thus,' 'I shall be,' 'I shall not be,' 'I shall be possessed of form,' 'I shall be formless,' 'I shall be percipient (conscious),' 'I shall be non-percipient,' or 'I shall be neither percipient nor non-percipient.'"
(SN 22.47)

But it doesn't mean there is any ambiguity or mystery regarding the Buddha's position about the concept of self.
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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Re: Nihilistic view

Post by Wayfarer » Fri May 22, 2020 9:57 am

Astus wrote: In that context one talks of one's responsibility and such, so there is an agent who acts of his own volition, and then suffers the outcome of those acts.
‘That context’ is existence, life and the living of it.
'Only practice with no gaining idea' ~ Suzuki Roshi

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Re: Nihilistic view

Post by Astus » Fri May 22, 2020 10:36 am

Wayfarer wrote:
Fri May 22, 2020 9:57 am
‘That context’ is existence, life and the living of it.
That "existence, life and the living of it" is a conceptual construct of how things are.
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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Re: Nihilistic view

Post by Wayfarer » Fri May 22, 2020 10:37 am

That’s easy to say.
'Only practice with no gaining idea' ~ Suzuki Roshi

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Re: Nihilistic view

Post by Bundokji » Fri May 22, 2020 11:46 am

SteRo wrote:
Fri May 22, 2020 6:08 am
Not if dependent origination is taken as guidance because it says that ignorance is the source of both, existence and non-existence.
Even existence and non existence can be taken as a guidance considering the infinite number of paths they can produce including dependent origination keeping in mind that there cannot be a middle path without the extremes. While the teachings presenting the middle path begins with ignorance as a condition, ignorance itself does not have a known beginning and yet can be defined as not understanding the four noble truths. In other words, ignorance is not knowing existence and non-existence, or knowing them in a way that does not lead to their abandonment.
Bundokji wrote:
Fri May 22, 2020 12:16 am
or we can ask what does dependent origination depends on?
it depends on the three kinds of understanding, the last being the understanding as abandonment.
[/quote]

It is easier to fathom how presenting understanding as "abandonment" makes nihilism the most supreme view among non-Buddhist views than leading to actual abandonment. One can have sympathy with LongNails when he thought the Buddha was recommending his viewpoint:
"With regard to those brahmans & contemplatives who are of the view, of the opinion, that 'All is pleasing to me': That view of theirs is close to being impassioned, close to bondage, close to delighting, close to holding, close to clinging. With regard to those brahmans & contemplatives who are of the view, of the opinion, that 'All is not pleasing to me': That view of theirs is close to not being impassioned, close to non-bondage, close to not-delighting, close to not-holding, close to not-clinging."

When this was said, LongNails the wanderer said to the Blessed One, "Master Gotama commends my viewpoint. Master Gotama recommends my viewpoint."
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .html#fn-1
The cleverest defenders of faith are its greatest enemies: for their subtleties engender doubt and stimulate the mind. -- Will Durant

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Re: Nihilistic view

Post by LastLegend » Fri May 22, 2020 12:32 pm

Astus wrote:
Fri May 22, 2020 10:36 am
Wayfarer wrote:
Fri May 22, 2020 9:57 am
‘That context’ is existence, life and the living of it.
That "existence, life and the living of it" is a conceptual construct of how things are.
Buddha had to use remedy to treat a particular view!

If I have to classify Buddha’ teaching would high be high school and university. University is the most simple and difficult.
Noble Truths literally end cause of suffering.
While Mahaprajna does not see suffering to end!
Last edited by LastLegend on Fri May 22, 2020 1:08 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Make personal vows.

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Re: Nihilistic view

Post by Grigoris » Fri May 22, 2020 12:40 pm

Astus wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 9:29 pm
The assumption of any form of self is a mistake. If there were some sort of reality to it, it wouldn't be wrong to believe in it.
Hold on to your horses partner:

1. Reality. What does this term even mean?

2. If there is an idea of a self, wouldn't that make it a type of reality?
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde

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Re: Nihilistic view

Post by Astus » Fri May 22, 2020 1:37 pm

Grigoris wrote:
Fri May 22, 2020 12:40 pm
Hold on to your horses partner:
"You may well accept, monks, the assumption of a self-theory from the acceptance of which there would not arise sorrow and lamentation, pain, grief, and despair. (But) do you see, monks, any such assumption of a self-theory?" — "No, Lord." — "Well, monks, I, too, do not see any such assumption of a self-theory from the acceptance of which there would not arise sorrow and lamentation, pain, grief and despair."
(MN 22)
1. Reality. What does this term even mean?
Something that is verifiable experientially or inferentially. We might also go with whether something has causal efficacy. Or both.
2. If there is an idea of a self, wouldn't that make it a type of reality?
If an idea does not refer to anything, then that idea is just an idea.
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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Re: Nihilistic view

Post by Grigoris » Fri May 22, 2020 2:11 pm

Astus wrote:
Fri May 22, 2020 1:37 pm
Something that is verifiable experientially or inferentially. We might also go with whether something has causal efficacy. Or both.
Well that is just about everything really. ;)
If an idea does not refer to anything, then that idea is just an idea.
A mental action is still an action and thus has a "causal efficacy", even if it is just mental. Don't forget that there are entire realms that are merely mental. Are they not "real"?
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde

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Re: Nihilistic view

Post by SteRo » Fri May 22, 2020 2:23 pm

Bundokji wrote:
Fri May 22, 2020 11:46 am
SteRo wrote:
Fri May 22, 2020 6:08 am
Not if dependent origination is taken as guidance because it says that ignorance is the source of both, existence and non-existence.
Even existence and non existence can be taken as a guidance considering the infinite number of paths they can produce including dependent origination keeping in mind that there cannot be a middle path without the extremes.
Of course, even the sravaka path purports to be a middle path.
Bundokji wrote:
Fri May 22, 2020 11:46 am
Bundokji wrote:
Fri May 22, 2020 12:16 am
or we can ask what does dependent origination depends on?
SteRo wrote:
Fri May 22, 2020 6:08 am
it depends on the three kinds of understanding, the last being the understanding as abandonment.
It is easier to fathom how presenting understanding as "abandonment" makes nihilism the most supreme view among non-Buddhist views than leading to actual abandonment.
That's been a quote from Theravada commentary. From a Mahayana perspective the Theravada "understanding as abandonment" might be phrased "understanding the truth [beyond the known and the meaning of dependent origination]" which however amounts to the same: the abandonment of dependent origination ... which is why both phrasings may be applied, the Theravada phrasing and the Mahayana phrasing. It is just that the Theravada calls the abandonment of dependent origination "cessation" while the Mahayana might say "when there is no arising there can't be cessation".

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Re: Nihilistic view

Post by Astus » Fri May 22, 2020 2:29 pm

Grigoris wrote:
Fri May 22, 2020 2:11 pm
A mental action is still an action and thus has a "causal efficacy", even if it is just mental. Don't forget that there are entire realms that are merely mental. Are they not "real"?
As a thought, yes. But when one talks of a self, it is generally not understood to be merely a thought, but that it has a real referent. So when it is said that there is no self, it does not mean there is no idea of a self, but that what is assumed to be the referent of the idea of a self does not exist. And that is why assuming a self is delusional. The delusion is certainly there, but it is a delusion exactly because the belief in a self is misguided.
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"

Bundokji
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Re: Nihilistic view

Post by Bundokji » Fri May 22, 2020 2:46 pm

SteRo wrote:
Fri May 22, 2020 2:23 pm
That's been a quote from Theravada commentary. From a Mahayana perspective the Theravada "understanding as abandonment" might be phrased "understanding the truth [beyond the known and the meaning of dependent origination]" which however amounts to the same: the abandonment of dependent origination ... which is why both phrasings may be applied, the Theravada phrasing and the Mahayana phrasing. It is just that the Theravada calls the abandonment of dependent origination "cessation" while the Mahayana might say "when there is no arising there can't be cessation".
Thanks for the explanation :namaste:
The cleverest defenders of faith are its greatest enemies: for their subtleties engender doubt and stimulate the mind. -- Will Durant

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Re: Nihilistic view

Post by White Sakura » Fri May 22, 2020 2:56 pm

Astus wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 9:29 pm
White Sakura wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 4:48 pm
So one can apply that for the self as well. To say: "There is no self" is nihilistic view. "There is no ultimately existing self" is what Buddha taught.
The assumption of any form of self is a mistake. If there were some sort of reality to it, it wouldn't be wrong to believe in it.

"Monks, you would do well to cling to that clinging to a doctrine of self, clinging to which there would not arise sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, & despair. But do you see a clinging to a doctrine of self, clinging to which there would not arise sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, & despair?"
"No, lord."
"Very good, monks. I, too, do not envision a clinging to a doctrine of self, clinging to which there would not arise sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, & despair."

(MN 22)
But what is if I turn it other way round and say: "There is a self depending on body and mind."
"Monks, whatever contemplatives or brahmans who assume in various ways when assuming a self, all assume the five clinging-aggregates, or a certain one of them."
(SN 22.47)
Thank you very much :buddha1:

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Re: Nihilistic view

Post by Grigoris » Fri May 22, 2020 2:58 pm

Astus wrote:
Fri May 22, 2020 2:29 pm
As a thought, yes. But when one talks of a self, it is generally not understood to be merely a thought, but that it has a real referent.
So you believe that in the immaterial realms there is no sense of self? I think you are being a tad anthropocentric. ;)

I am not so sure about this. If you ask a Christian or a Hindu what is the self, they will not point at the body, they will point to something with an immaterial existence (Atman* or soul). Only a materialist will point to the body as a self.

*Although, to tell the truth, some Hindu traditions believe that the Atman actually does have a physical existence.
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde

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