Nihilistic view

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Grigoris
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Re: Nihilistic view

Post by Grigoris » Sat May 23, 2020 6:02 pm

Bundokji wrote:
Sat May 23, 2020 6:01 pm
Grigoris wrote:
Sat May 23, 2020 5:56 pm
Bundokji wrote:
Sat May 23, 2020 5:19 pm
Is anatman a denial of the self?
What is your definition of "self"?
The meaning of the self usually depends on context.
Which is, again, not an answer.

I'll give you one more try at honest communication, otherwise I will refrain from discussing with you.
"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 Bundokji » Sat May 23, 2020 6:10 pm

Grigoris wrote:
Sat May 23, 2020 6:02 pm
Bundokji wrote:
Sat May 23, 2020 6:01 pm
Grigoris wrote:
Sat May 23, 2020 5:56 pm
What is your definition of "self"?
The meaning of the self usually depends on context.
Which is, again, not an answer.

I'll give you one more try at honest communication, otherwise I will refrain from discussing with you.
Assertions and questioning intentions are not an answer. At least, i can support my answer by means of examples:

If the context is in relation to your offspring, then the self would be father/mother

If the context is certain physical features such as genitalia, then the self would be male/female.

Can you provide an example of a self absence context?
The cleverest defenders of faith are its greatest enemies: for their subtleties engender doubt and stimulate the mind. -- Will Durant

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Grigoris
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Re: Nihilistic view

Post by Grigoris » Sat May 23, 2020 6:18 pm

Bundokji wrote:
Sat May 23, 2020 6:10 pm
If the context is in relation to your offspring, then the self would be father/mother
So if my child died I would no longer have a self?
If the context is certain physical features such as genitalia, then the self would be male/female.
So if I surgically removed my genitals I would no longer have a self?
Can you provide an example of a self absence context?
Refer to my question/answers.

Quite clearly a self is not to be found in one's roles, nor in one's physical attributes.

Quite clearly there is no self to be found in "contexts".

So where is the self then?
"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

Bundokji
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Re: Nihilistic view

Post by Bundokji » Sat May 23, 2020 6:49 pm

Grigoris wrote:
Sat May 23, 2020 6:18 pm
So if my child died I would no longer have a self?
Where i live, you would continue to be described as a father who lost his son.
So if I surgically removed my genitals I would no longer have a self?
You would be most likely referred to as a male who surgically removed his genitalia. This can be culturally sensitive though, but cultural interpretations are integral part of context.

And the above is far from ironic. If i and you live in the same world, you would know that this is how people would describe the self. The death of the son and the removal of genitalia does not necessarily negate the old context, but builds on it to allow for the new changes to be incorporated in the meaning of the self.
Quite clearly a self is not to be found in one's roles, nor in one's physical attributes.

Quite clearly there is no self to be found in "contexts".

So where is the self then?
Only through a rigid interpretation of what the self is such conclusions can be reach. This either/or approach which is used to deny the self seems to resemble the "everything exists" or "everything does not exist" mindset which could be nothing more than a false dilemma. Of course that does not mean that the Middle path taught by the Buddha is the middle ground fallacy.

From the examples provided above, the self as often used can be seen as a basis for continuity, especially in relation to meaning which cannot be separated from context. At least, this approach to the self is not implausible. In fact, using a strict criteria to define the self in certain strict way in order to deny it can be a cheap trick of argument, not engaging in honest conversation.
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 Bundokji » Sat May 23, 2020 7:05 pm

Grigoris wrote:
Sat May 23, 2020 7:03 pm
So instead of a nihilist view you opt for an eternalist view.
Nope. The two are interdependent. Two sides of the same coin.
The cleverest defenders of faith are its greatest enemies: for their subtleties engender doubt and stimulate the mind. -- Will Durant

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Grigoris
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Re: Nihilistic view

Post by Grigoris » Sat May 23, 2020 7:06 pm

Bundokji wrote:
Sat May 23, 2020 7:05 pm
Grigoris wrote:
Sat May 23, 2020 7:03 pm
So instead of a nihilist view you opt for an eternalist view.
Nope. The two are interdependent. Two sides of the same coin.
Regardless, the arguments you gave are eternalist.

You start by saying self is contextual and then when I refute your premise you argue that self exists regardless of context.

That is stock/standard eternalism.
"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

Bundokji
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Re: Nihilistic view

Post by Bundokji » Sat May 23, 2020 7:49 pm

Grigoris wrote:
Sat May 23, 2020 7:06 pm
Bundokji wrote:
Sat May 23, 2020 7:05 pm
Grigoris wrote:
Sat May 23, 2020 7:03 pm
So instead of a nihilist view you opt for an eternalist view.
Nope. The two are interdependent. Two sides of the same coin.
Regardless, the arguments you gave are eternalist.

You start by saying self is contextual and then when I refute your premise you argue that self exists regardless of context.

That is stock/standard eternalism.
You can't help but misquote me.

This is what i said:
The meaning of the self usually depends on context.
And this is how you misquoted me:
You start by saying self is contextual
:shrug:

And where did you refute my notion? By sharing a photo?

And where did i argue that the self exists regardless of context?

:shrug:
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 Malcolm » Sat May 23, 2020 10:18 pm

Bundokji wrote:
Sat May 23, 2020 5:19 pm
Grigoris wrote:
Sat May 23, 2020 1:54 pm
Bundokji wrote:
Sat May 23, 2020 1:23 pm
...except that i don't see anything spiritual either in confirming or denying the self.
Good for you!

Anatman is one of the four defining characteristics (Four Dharma Seals) of a Dharma.

Any body of teaching that does not include Anatman cannot be Dharma.

So somebody out there obviously considers the discussion of whether there is a self or not, of vital spiritual significance.
Is anatman a denial of the self?
Of course. It is the negation of an absolute self, but not "the self" used as a name for the collection of aggregates.

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Re: Nihilistic view

Post by Bundokji » Sat May 23, 2020 10:40 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Sat May 23, 2020 10:18 pm
Bundokji wrote:
Sat May 23, 2020 5:19 pm
Grigoris wrote:
Sat May 23, 2020 1:54 pm
Good for you!

Anatman is one of the four defining characteristics (Four Dharma Seals) of a Dharma.

Any body of teaching that does not include Anatman cannot be Dharma.

So somebody out there obviously considers the discussion of whether there is a self or not, of vital spiritual significance.
Is anatman a denial of the self?
Of course. It is the negation of an absolute self, but not "the self" used as a name for the collection of aggregates.
Would it be accurate to say that it is the negation of absolutism? or the dogmatic "ism" in worldly views regardless of it taking a negative or positive forms?
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 Malcolm » Sat May 23, 2020 10:54 pm

Bundokji wrote:
Sat May 23, 2020 10:40 pm
Malcolm wrote:
Sat May 23, 2020 10:18 pm
Bundokji wrote:
Sat May 23, 2020 5:19 pm


Is anatman a denial of the self?
Of course. It is the negation of an absolute self, but not "the self" used as a name for the collection of aggregates.
Would it be accurate to say that it is the negation of absolutism? or the dogmatic "ism" in worldly views regardless of it taking a negative or positive forms?
Anatman is the negation of an unconditioned, permanent, ultimate entity that moves from one temporary body to another. It is not the negation of "Sam," "Fred," or "Jane" used as a conventional designation for a collection of aggregates. Since the Buddha clearly states in many Mahāyāna sūtras, "all phenomena" are not self, and since everything is included there, including buddhahood, therefore, there are no phenomena that can be called a self, and since there are nothing outside of all phenomena, a "self," other than an arbitrary designation, does not exist.

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Re: Nihilistic view

Post by Grigoris » Sat May 23, 2020 11:12 pm

Nobody says there is no idea of a self imputed onto the 5 skandha, they say that there is no actual self.
"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

Bundokji
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Re: Nihilistic view

Post by Bundokji » Sat May 23, 2020 11:23 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Sat May 23, 2020 10:54 pm
Anatman is the negation of an unconditioned, permanent, ultimate entity that moves from one temporary body to another. It is not the negation of "Sam," "Fred," or "Jane" used as a conventional designation for a collection of aggregates. Since the Buddha clearly states in many Mahāyāna sūtras, "all phenomena" are not self, and since everything is included there, including buddhahood, therefore, there are no phenomena that can be called a self, and since there are nothing outside of all phenomena, a "self," other than an arbitrary designation, does not exist.
Why negating an unconditioned, permanent, ultimate entity is more accurate than negating the "ism" in worldly views according to your understanding? I know that the question "why" might not be applicable to the Buddha but just for the purposes of understanding the teachings as skillful means.

For example, the Buddha might use what appears to be an eternalist or nihilist language when he teaches in certain contexts, so even eternalists and nihilists can be right once in a while akin to a broken clock. So why to bother negating the self whether absolute or otherwise?
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 Wayfarer » Sat May 23, 2020 11:47 pm

Then a certain brahman approached the Blessed One; having approached the Blessed One, he exchanged friendly greetings. After pleasant conversation had passed between them, he sat to one side. Having sat to one side, the brahman spoke to the Blessed One thus:

“Venerable Gotama, I am one of such a doctrine, of such a view: ‘There is no self-doer, there is no other-doer.’”[1]

“I have not, brahman, seen or heard such a doctrine, such a view. How, indeed, could one — moving forward by himself, moving back by himself [2] — say: ‘There is no self-doer, there is no other-doer’? What do you think, brahmin, is there an element or principle of initiating or beginning an action?”[3]

“Just so, Venerable Sir.”

“When there is an element of initiating, are initiating beings [4] clearly discerned?”

“Just so, Venerable Sir.”

“So, brahmin, when there is the element of initiating, initiating beings are clearly discerned; of such beings, this is the self-doer, this, the other-doer. [5]

“What do you think, brahmin, is there an element of exertion [6] ... is there an element of effort [7] ... is there an element of steadfastness [8] ... is there an element of persistence [9] ... is there an element of endeavoring?” [10]

“Just so, Venerable Sir.”

“When there is an element of endeavoring, are endeavoring beings clearly discerned?”

“Just so, Venerable Sir.”

“So, brahmin, when there is the element of endeavoring, endeavoring beings are clearly discerned; of such beings, this is the self-doer, this, the other-doer. I have not, brahmin, seen or heard such a doctrine, such a view as yours. How, indeed, could one — moving forward by himself, moving back by himself — say ‘There is no self-doer, there is no other-doer’?”

“Superb, Venerable Gotama! Superb, Venerable Gotama! Venerable Gotama has made the Dhamma clear in many ways, as though he were turning upright what had been turned upside down, revealing what had been concealed, showing the way to one who was lost, or holding up a lamp in the dark: ‘Those who have eyes see forms!’ Just so, the Venerable Gotama has illuminated the Dhamma in various ways. I go to Venerable Gotama as refuge, and to the Dhamma, and to the assembly of monks. From this day, for as long as I am endowed with breath, let Venerable Gotama remember me as a lay follower who has gone to him for refuge.”
Attakārī Sutta (trs Access to Insight)

Translator’s commentary (excerpt):
Although the Buddha taught that there is no permanent, eternal, immutable, independently-existing core “self” (attā), he also taught that there is “action” or “doing”, and that it is therefore meaningful to speak of one who intends, initiates, sustains and completes actions and deeds, and who is therefore an ethically responsible and culpable being
To deny that is precisely ‘nihilism’. And nihilism has a payoff: nobody is responsible!
'Only practice with no gaining idea' ~ Suzuki Roshi

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Re: Nihilistic view

Post by Wayfarer » Sun May 24, 2020 6:01 am

Again, 'eternalism' is not accepting the fact of individual agency or of persons. 'Eternalism' is the religious belief that there is an everlasting essence that will be reborn in perpetuity, forever - hence the name!

There's a lot of disinformation and confusion spouted on this forum about this question. The Buddha, as shown in the above Attakārī Sutta, does not deny that agents or 'doers' exist. To do so is absurd and is indeed pretty close to nihilism, to all intents and purposes.
'Only practice with no gaining idea' ~ Suzuki Roshi

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Re: Nihilistic view

Post by Malcolm » Sun May 24, 2020 5:22 pm

Bundokji wrote:
Sat May 23, 2020 11:23 pm
Malcolm wrote:
Sat May 23, 2020 10:54 pm
Anatman is the negation of an unconditioned, permanent, ultimate entity that moves from one temporary body to another. It is not the negation of "Sam," "Fred," or "Jane" used as a conventional designation for a collection of aggregates. Since the Buddha clearly states in many Mahāyāna sūtras, "all phenomena" are not self, and since everything is included there, including buddhahood, therefore, there are no phenomena that can be called a self, and since there are nothing outside of all phenomena, a "self," other than an arbitrary designation, does not exist.
Why negating an unconditioned, permanent, ultimate entity is more accurate than negating the "ism" in worldly views according to your understanding?
The "ism" being negated by the negation of an unconditioned, permanent, ultimate entity is "self-ism," aka atmavada, specifically, the atmavadin views of Vedanta.

For example, the Buddha might use what appears to be an eternalist or nihilist language when he teaches in certain contexts, so even eternalists and nihilists can be right once in a while akin to a broken clock. So why to bother negating the self whether absolute or otherwise?
Buddha never used the term "self" to refer to an unconditioned, permanent, ultimate entity. He also never asserted that there was no conventional "self," the subject of transactional discourse. So, it is very clear in the sutras that the Buddha negated an ultimate self and did not negate a conventional self.

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Re: Nihilistic view

Post by Malcolm » Sun May 24, 2020 5:39 pm

Grigoris wrote:
Sun May 24, 2020 5:35 pm
Caoimhghín wrote:
Sun May 24, 2020 5:25 pm
Grigoris wrote:
Sun May 24, 2020 5:18 pm
There is no utility in the metaphor, it does not correspond to Buddhist theories/doctrine of mind.

I think I made that clear from the beginning.

If you believe it does correspond, then the onus is on you to find a doctrinal source that supports it.
If course it doesn't. The Buddha teaches anātma, not of the ātma. If you want to find out what people are saying "the ātma is," you have to leave Buddhism necessarily, because Buddhist people will only tell you what that "the ātma isn't." As far as metaphors go, I think the Tree of Jīvātma perfectly describes the naïvety of the mind who suggest such a brain homunculus lives in the branches of their mind. I think this because, as other posters have pointed out, the bird who does not eat is not like a "bird" in any way truly, and likely is an impossible being, i.e. one who only exists in story.

Of course, the intended function of the myth is to teach you about your wonderful shiny ātma syzygy, the you who is always victorious and never humiliated, who is uninjured when you are injured, etc.
A Dharma brother of mine practiced in a Hindu tradition that used the analogy as the basis for their daily practice: Trying to mainatin the position of a passive unintruding observer (atma) while watching themselves (jiva) act. At some point he felt he was losing his mind, that he had actually become two versions of himself.
The Hindu view in general is that there is a purusha who passively enjoys prakṛti and its transformations; the main disagreement is whether that purusha is one (Vedanta) or many (Samkhya).

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Re: Nihilistic view

Post by Bundokji » Sun May 24, 2020 6:04 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Sun May 24, 2020 5:22 pm
Buddha never used the term "self" to refer to an unconditioned, permanent, ultimate entity. He also never asserted that there was no conventional "self," the subject of transactional discourse. So, it is very clear in the sutras that the Buddha negated an ultimate self and did not negate a conventional self.
The problem is that the Buddha's utterances are dharmas and both dharmas and sanskara are taught to be anatman. The issue of skillful means is justified by making that distinction between sanskara and dharmas when that distinction is not applicable to the lord Buddha as even his human actions cannot be driven by ignorance.

The above has manifested itself in your answer appearing to be paradoxical. On the one hand, the Buddha never used the term self to refer to an unconditioned, permanent, ultimate entity, and on the other hand he negated it. How can he negates it without referring to it is a logical impossibility.

Thank you for your answer :namaste:
The cleverest defenders of faith are its greatest enemies: for their subtleties engender doubt and stimulate the mind. -- Will Durant

Malcolm
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Re: Nihilistic view

Post by Malcolm » Sun May 24, 2020 6:39 pm

Bundokji wrote:
Sun May 24, 2020 6:04 pm
Malcolm wrote:
Sun May 24, 2020 5:22 pm
Buddha never used the term "self" to refer to an unconditioned, permanent, ultimate entity. He also never asserted that there was no conventional "self," the subject of transactional discourse. So, it is very clear in the sutras that the Buddha negated an ultimate self and did not negate a conventional self.
The problem is that the Buddha's utterances are dharmas and both dharmas and sanskara are taught to be anatman.
You are conflating two different uses the term "dharma": the first refers to teachings; the second refers to discrete entities that bear characteristics. Your use of the term samskara, while found in some Vipassana circles, is really derived from Hinduism, unless you are referring to a) the second link in the chain of dependent origination or b) the saṃskara skandha, the aggregate of formations (caitya). Some people use the term samskaras to refer what in Buddhism would be called vasanas, or traces.
The issue of skillful means is justified by making that distinction between sanskara and dharmas when that distinction is not applicable to the lord Buddha as even his human actions cannot be driven by ignorance.
With respect to skillful means, this is a Mahāyāna concept.
The above has manifested itself in your answer appearing to be paradoxical. On the one hand, the Buddha never used the term self to refer to an unconditioned, permanent, ultimate entity, and on the other hand he negated it. How can he negates it without referring to it is a logical impossibility.
When I said the Buddha never used the term self to refer to an unconditioned, permanent, ultimate entity, I meant that he never affirmed such a proposed self.

This is really not difficult to understand, and is not a subtle point at all.

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Re: Nihilistic view

Post by Bundokji » Sun May 24, 2020 7:42 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Sun May 24, 2020 6:39 pm
You are conflating two different uses the term "dharma": the first refers to teachings; the second refers to discrete entities that bear characteristics. Your use of the term samskara, while found in some Vipassana circles, is really derived from Hinduism, unless you are referring to a) the second link in the chain of dependent origination or b) the saṃskara skandha, the aggregate of formations (caitya). Some people use the term samskaras to refer what in Buddhism would be called vasanas, or traces.
I was referring to sankharas (or samskara) being described as anicca and dukkha while dhammas being described as anatta. Dhammas are told to include the nibbana element, but both sankharas and dhammas are anatta. Referring to the teachings as dhamma, at least in mind, is giving it special status in the sense that while the teachings focuses on suffering, they are free from it similar to the Buddha who taught them.
When I said the Buddha never used the term self to refer to an unconditioned, permanent, ultimate entity, I meant that he never affirmed such a proposed self.

This is really not difficult to understand, and is not a subtle point at all.
Not affirming, at least in worldly logic, stops short of denying and often described as "suspending judgement" or simply remaining silent to allow the practitioner to find out for himself/herself. In the second part of the paragraph, you went on to explicitly state that he denied it. Anyway, maybe i was reading too much into your input.
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 » Mon May 25, 2020 4:15 pm

If you named something like ‘Wisdom, Nature, etc’ it’s already an issue being an object of delusion/imagination if not clear what’s behind it.
Make personal vows.

End of the day: I don’t know.

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