Why is everything which is a product - impermanent ?

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PadmaVonSamba
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Re: Why is everything which is a product - impermanent ?

Post by PadmaVonSamba »

Aemilius wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 9:27 am
PadmaVonSamba wrote: Mon Sep 14, 2020 1:06 pm
samr wrote: Sat Sep 12, 2020 4:58 am I would still be interested not only in the point of view of modern science, but in the classical Buddhist explanations.

The Buddhist thinkers did not have direct access to the structure of the atoms, so how were they able to deduce that matter (and not only matter, but everything which is composed) is in a state of constant flux?
This can be determined by deductive reasoning.
If your shoes eventually wear out (or anything decomposes), there must be a reason, a cause.
And, if composite things, such as shoes, decompose, then whatever they are composed of must likewise be decomposing.
Non sequitur.
It is kind of easy in the case of shoes to see that leather decomposes. Pieces of metal, that may be belong to the structure of shoes, do not decompose so evidently, and there is logical necessity that would require it. If shoes decompose, it does not necessitate that bronze decomposes.
In Buddhist thinking material objacts are composed of earth, water (fluidity), fire (warmth, heat), wind and space. In bronze there is some malleabilty ( i.e. "water" or fluidity, and "fire" or temperature/heat). Bronze does not, and the elements of bronze do not, perceivably decompose in normal circumstances. How would the elements of material objects decompose? According to You and according to Buddhist thinking, say in the view of Abhidharma and Sutra?
Arising and decomposition of phenomena occur due to causes. If there is no cause for an object to decompose, then it won’t, of course. That’s why some things made of bronze still exist while others no longer exist.
But it is still subject to decomposition, which is why it (composite phenomena) is regarded as unsatisfactory. “Unsatisfactory” here means unreliable, not suitable as a means of providing permanent satisfaction (or, in the broader Buddhist sense, freedom from suffering).

This “unreliable” as compared with something that would not be subject to decomposition. Even if one wore metal shoes, that metal would eventually be worn away, as compared with some kind of material that could never be worn away.

If one uses the example of bronzed baby shoes, which can be produced as a kind of “permanent” souvenir, even those will tarnish. Further, since they can no longer function as footwear, the Buddhist would say that they are shoes in name only.

But let’s keep in mind the context. When the Buddha discusses phenomena as being unsatisfactory he means that taking refuge in composite phenomena as a means of happiness can only be temporary. Composite phenomenon cannot be a permanent cause of the end of dissatisfaction (dukkha).

Nāgārjuna takes the idea of “composite” even further: “composite” includes an object’s relation to everything else. Thus, if you build a house of bronze although it will protect you from rain and attackers, when the sun is out it’s going to be terribly hot, and in the winter, terribly cold.
Last edited by PadmaVonSamba on Tue Sep 15, 2020 3:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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samr
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Re: Why is everything which is a product - impermanent ?

Post by samr »

PadmaVonSamba wrote: Mon Sep 14, 2020 1:06 pm One can also apply this in terms of the body aging.
Even though we cannot see the gradual aging process occurring in real time as it occurs, nonetheless one day you look into a mirror and see that your skin is wrinkled and your hair is grey. From this, we can deduce that the aging process must be occurring constantly, in very slowly and tiny increments.
I have to accept that obvious change is a reason for subtle change. However, what about those entities for whom even gross change is not directly visible - how would one proof that they constantly change?

Modern science, with the tools of geology for example, gives us evidence and theories about change in the structure of the earth. I am still interested to know how this knowledge, that the Earth is subject to change is possible without the tools of modern science, by what you call "deductive reasoning".

In a more general way of speaking, my original question was how does one prove that everything which is a product continually changes.
I agree that everything which displays evident change, changes continuously. But not everything which is a product displays evident change!
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Aemilius
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Re: Why is everything which is a product - impermanent ?

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PadmaVonSamba wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 3:04 pm
Aemilius wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 9:27 am
PadmaVonSamba wrote: Mon Sep 14, 2020 1:06 pm

This can be determined by deductive reasoning.
If your shoes eventually wear out (or anything decomposes), there must be a reason, a cause.
And, if composite things, such as shoes, decompose, then whatever they are composed of must likewise be decomposing.
Non sequitur.
It is kind of easy in the case of shoes to see that leather decomposes. Pieces of metal, that may be belong to the structure of shoes, do not decompose so evidently, and there is logical necessity that would require it. If shoes decompose, it does not necessitate that bronze decomposes.
In Buddhist thinking material objacts are composed of earth, water (fluidity), fire (warmth, heat), wind and space. In bronze there is some malleabilty ( i.e. "water" or fluidity, and "fire" or temperature/heat). Bronze does not, and the elements of bronze do not, perceivably decompose in normal circumstances. How would the elements of material objects decompose? According to You and according to Buddhist thinking, say in the view of Abhidharma and Sutra?
Arising and decomposition of phenomena occur due to causes. If there is no cause for an object to decompose, then it won’t, of course. That’s why some things made of bronze still exist while others no longer exist.
But it is still subject to decomposition, which is why it (composite phenomena) is regarded as unsatisfactory. “Unsatisfactory” here means unreliable, not suitable as a means of providing permanent satisfaction (or, in the broader Buddhist sense, freedom from suffering).

This “unreliable” as compared with something that would not be subject to decomposition. Even if one wore metal shoes, that metal would eventually be worn away, as compared with some kind of material that could never be worn away.

If one uses the example of bronzed baby shoes, which can be produced as a kind of “permanent” souvenir, even those will tarnish. Further, since they can no longer function as footwear, the Buddhist would say that they are shoes in name only.

But let’s keep in mind the context. When the Buddha discusses phenomena as being unsatisfactory he means that taking refuge in composite phenomena as a means of happiness can only be temporary. Composite phenomenon cannot be a permanent cause of the end of dissatisfaction (dukkha).
The context is that the fact that composite things are impermanent is not a sufficient cause for their parts to be impermanent. I am not saying that the parts are permanent, I am saying that their possible impermanence does not follow from the fact that they are parts in a larger whole (which is impermanent).

"Bronze" was mentioned as a material from which certain parts in shoes are sometimes made, for example: "Monk strap; strap and buckle used in place of laces." & "Eyelet; metal or rigid leather perforations through which laces are fed."
svaha
"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Sarvē mānavāḥ svatantrāḥ samutpannāḥ vartantē api ca, gauravadr̥śā adhikāradr̥śā ca samānāḥ ēva vartantē. Ētē sarvē cētanā-tarka-śaktibhyāṁ susampannāḥ santi. Api ca, sarvē’pi bandhutva-bhāvanayā parasparaṁ vyavaharantu."
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1. (in english and sanskrit)
Malcolm
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Re: Why is everything which is a product - impermanent ?

Post by Malcolm »

Aemilius wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 3:24 pm

The context is that the fact that composite things are impermanent is not a sufficient cause for their parts to be impermanent. I am not saying that the parts are permanent, I am saying that their possible impermanence does not follow from the fact that they are parts in a larger whole (which is impermanent).
"
Permanent parts cannot compose impermanent entity. It follows then that any part of an impermanent entity must itself be impermanent because a permanent entity cannot have parts or be a part of any entity but itself.
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Re: Why is everything which is a product - impermanent ?

Post by PadmaVonSamba »

Malcolm wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 3:38 pm
Aemilius wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 3:24 pm

The context is that the fact that composite things are impermanent is not a sufficient cause for their parts to be impermanent. I am not saying that the parts are permanent, I am saying that their possible impermanence does not follow from the fact that they are parts in a larger whole (which is impermanent).
"
Permanent parts cannot compose impermanent entity. It follows then that any part of an impermanent entity must itself be impermanent because a permanent entity cannot have parts or be a part of any entity but itself.
Likewise, it follows that anything for which undergoes change and decomposition, it must be that whatever it is composed of must be also undergoing change and decomposition and that this is the cause for the appearance of change and decomposition within the thing itself.

Also, no assertion is being made that things are impermanent because they are composites. Just the opposite.
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Re: Why is everything which is a product - impermanent ?

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Malcolm wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 3:38 pm
Aemilius wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 3:24 pm

The context is that the fact that composite things are impermanent is not a sufficient cause for their parts to be impermanent. I am not saying that the parts are permanent, I am saying that their possible impermanence does not follow from the fact that they are parts in a larger whole (which is impermanent).
"
Permanent parts cannot compose impermanent entity.
Why not ?

For example, some chromosomes in the genetic code continue for millions of years unchanged (according to Richard Dawkins), though they are composed of different individual molecules when they are in a temporal series of living beings. Thus more or less permanent chromosomes make up impermanent sentient beings.
svaha
"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Sarvē mānavāḥ svatantrāḥ samutpannāḥ vartantē api ca, gauravadr̥śā adhikāradr̥śā ca samānāḥ ēva vartantē. Ētē sarvē cētanā-tarka-śaktibhyāṁ susampannāḥ santi. Api ca, sarvē’pi bandhutva-bhāvanayā parasparaṁ vyavaharantu."
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1. (in english and sanskrit)
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Re: Why is everything which is a product - impermanent ?

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Why not ?

For example, some chromosomes in the genetic code continue for millions of years unchanged (according to Richard Dawkins), though they are composed of different individual molecules when they are in a temporal series of living beings. Thus more or less permanent chromosomes make up impermanent sentient beings.
I don't think that the chromosomes are 100% unchanged, it makes no sense. First, during the process life, different proteins are being made by the cell. In order to create the proteins, the chromosomes have to be accessed so that the DNA is read. In the process of being accessed to, the double helix has to open, be translated to the protein and close again.

So the chromosome of a living being is not static. I guess that Dawkins might have meant that the genetic sequence of a chromosome is unchanged. This is like saying that the text of the book is unchanged from one year to another. Yes, the text reads the same, but the ink using which the book is printed changes. As explained, the evidence for this is the visible change that the book undergoes.

And even so, I doubt that the chromosomes are 100% unchanged even in that specific sense of having the same base sequence... Random mutations do occur. I think you might have misread the meaning of the quote.
Last edited by samr on Wed Sep 16, 2020 2:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Why is everything which is a product - impermanent ?

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Permanent parts cannot compose impermanent entity. It follows then that any part of an impermanent entity must itself be impermanent because a permanent entity cannot have parts or be a part of any entity but itself.
Perhaps I remember incorrectly, but it does seem to me that the tenets of Vaibhashika, and perhaps Sautrantika posit that the subtlest material atoms are partless. They would then be permanent entities composing an impermanent entity (matter). Whether I remember correctly or not, to me such a position is definitely plausible, that partless and permanent subtle particles are the basic constituents of all impermanent matter.
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Re: Why is everything which is a product - impermanent ?

Post by samr »

PadmaVonSamba wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 4:39 pm Also, no assertion is being made that things are impermanent because they are composites. Just the opposite.

Actually, the syllogism that "sound is impermanent because it is a product" does imply that whatever is a product must be impermanent. In that sense, we can know that sound is impermanent due to knowing it is a product.
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Re: Why is everything which is a product - impermanent ?

Post by Malcolm »

Aemilius wrote: Wed Sep 16, 2020 8:25 am
Malcolm wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 3:38 pm
Aemilius wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 3:24 pm

The context is that the fact that composite things are impermanent is not a sufficient cause for their parts to be impermanent. I am not saying that the parts are permanent, I am saying that their possible impermanence does not follow from the fact that they are parts in a larger whole (which is impermanent).
"
Permanent parts cannot compose impermanent entity.
Why not ?
There is no way permanent entities can interact with impermanent entities, due to a simple difference in kind. Permanent entities doe not arise from causes and conditions. Impermanent entities arise from causes and conditions.
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PadmaVonSamba
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Re: Why is everything which is a product - impermanent ?

Post by PadmaVonSamba »

samr wrote: Wed Sep 16, 2020 2:28 pm
PadmaVonSamba wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 4:39 pm Also, no assertion is being made that things are impermanent because they are composites. Just the opposite.

Actually, the syllogism that "sound is impermanent because it is a product" does imply that whatever is a product must be impermanent. In that sense, we can know that sound is impermanent due to knowing it is a product.

Yeah, that’s true.
My statement on its own is incorrect.
I meant to refer to the statement:

“I am saying that their possible impermanence does not follow from the fact that they are parts in a larger whole (which is impermanent).” (-Amelius)

I didn’t phrase my reply clearly. What I meant was, the impermanence of an object isn’t asserted because it is part of something larger, but rather, because the object itself is a composite.
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Aemilius
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Re: Why is everything which is a product - impermanent ?

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samr wrote: Wed Sep 16, 2020 2:22 pm

Why not ?

For example, some chromosomes in the genetic code continue for millions of years unchanged (according to Richard Dawkins), though they are composed of different individual molecules when they are in a temporal series of living beings. Thus more or less permanent chromosomes make up impermanent sentient beings.
I don't think that the chromosomes are 100% unchanged, it makes no sense. First, during the process life, different proteins are being made by the cell. In order to create the proteins, the chromosomes have to be accessed so that the DNA is read. In the process of being accessed to, the double helix has to open, be translated to the protein and close again.

So the chromosome of a living being is not static. I guess that Dawkins might have meant that the genetic sequence of a chromosome is unchanged. This is like saying that the text of the book is unchanged from one year to another. Yes, the text reads the same, but the ink using which the book is printed changes. As explained, the evidence for this is the visible change that the book undergoes.

And even so, I doubt that the chromosomes are 100% unchanged even in that specific sense of having the same base sequence... Random mutations do occur. I think you might have misread the meaning of the quote.
Dawkins says something to the effect that compared to how much the texts of "eternal truths" change in human cultures, in the books made by human beings, the DNA messages are much more unchangeable. Naturally there are mutations and scribal errors etc. in the genes, but genes have correction mechanisms, which make it possible that the chromosomes have remained unchanged for long periods of time.

The human languages and methods of writing change quite rapidly, so that in most cases we cannot read and understand old texts anymore. As an exercise try to find some old english texts or old germanic texts or old indo-aryan texts etc., and old styles of writing, they are really interesting to see.
Compared to the genes all of these are recent and quite new. I can't remember in which book Richard Dawkins discusses this, but the topic is certainly found there, and discussed at some length.

It is too simplistic to demand that a thing must be "static". Genetic instructions have produced similar proteins 100 000 years ago,10 million and 100 million years ago. In this sense they are unchanged. We have proof of this in archeological remains that have been found buried in the earth. It is just astonishing.
svaha
"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Sarvē mānavāḥ svatantrāḥ samutpannāḥ vartantē api ca, gauravadr̥śā adhikāradr̥śā ca samānāḥ ēva vartantē. Ētē sarvē cētanā-tarka-śaktibhyāṁ susampannāḥ santi. Api ca, sarvē’pi bandhutva-bhāvanayā parasparaṁ vyavaharantu."
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1. (in english and sanskrit)
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PadmaVonSamba
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Re: Why is everything which is a product - impermanent ?

Post by PadmaVonSamba »

Aemilius wrote: Thu Sep 17, 2020 9:32 am
samr wrote: Wed Sep 16, 2020 2:22 pm

Why not ?

For example, some chromosomes in the genetic code continue for millions of years unchanged (according to Richard Dawkins), though they are composed of different individual molecules when they are in a temporal series of living beings. Thus more or less permanent chromosomes make up impermanent sentient beings.
I don't think that the chromosomes are 100% unchanged, it makes no sense. First, during the process life, different proteins are being made by the cell. In order to create the proteins, the chromosomes have to be accessed so that the DNA is read. In the process of being accessed to, the double helix has to open, be translated to the protein and close again.

So the chromosome of a living being is not static. I guess that Dawkins might have meant that the genetic sequence of a chromosome is unchanged. This is like saying that the text of the book is unchanged from one year to another. Yes, the text reads the same, but the ink using which the book is printed changes. As explained, the evidence for this is the visible change that the book undergoes.

And even so, I doubt that the chromosomes are 100% unchanged even in that specific sense of having the same base sequence... Random mutations do occur. I think you might have misread the meaning of the quote.
Dawkins says something to the effect that compared to how much the texts of "eternal truths" change in human cultures, in the books made by human beings, the DNA messages are much more unchangeable. Naturally there are mutations and scribal errors etc. in the genes, but genes have correction mechanisms, which make it possible that the chromosomes have remained unchanged for long periods of time.

The human languages and methods of writing change quite rapidly, so that in most cases we cannot read and understand old texts anymore. As an exercise try to find some old english texts or old germanic texts or old indo-aryan texts etc., and old styles of writing, they are really interesting to see.
Compared to the genes all of these are recent and quite new. I can't remember in which book Richard Dawkins discusses this, but the topic is certainly found there, and discussed at some length.

It is too simplistic to demand that a thing must be "static". Genetic instructions have produced similar proteins 100 000 years ago,10 million and 100 million years ago. In this sense they are unchanged. We have proof of this in archeological remains that have been found buried in the earth. It is just astonishing.
The information in DNA, in chromosomes, etc. may be the same, but the DNA itself, the physical matter changes.
It’s like, the truth of the Buddhist teachings is the same on line as it was when written on leaves 2500 years ago.
The leaves may be gone now, the information copied into paper For centuries, and now digitized. The truth itself is not a composite. It is not unchanging. It’s important not to confuse content with form.

Ultimately, one could argue that the teachings are made of words, and words are made of characters and sounds, and are therefore composite phenomena, and thus they are not suitable objects of refuge, meaning that they are unsatisfactory. From this, one might conclude that the statement “all composite phenomena are unsatisfactory” is itself unsatisfactory, because since it is a statement, it too is composite phenomena. It’s a fun argument to go with beer, but otherwise it simply misses the whole point.
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Aemilius
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Re: Why is everything which is a product - impermanent ?

Post by Aemilius »

samr wrote: Wed Sep 16, 2020 2:22 pm

Why not ?

For example, some chromosomes in the genetic code continue for millions of years unchanged (according to Richard Dawkins), though they are composed of different individual molecules when they are in a temporal series of living beings. Thus more or less permanent chromosomes make up impermanent sentient beings.
I don't think that the chromosomes are 100% unchanged, it makes no sense. First, during the process life, different proteins are being made by the cell. In order to create the proteins, the chromosomes have to be accessed so that the DNA is read. In the process of being accessed to, the double helix has to open, be translated to the protein and close again.

So the chromosome of a living being is not static. I guess that Dawkins might have meant that the genetic sequence of a chromosome is unchanged. This is like saying that the text of the book is unchanged from one year to another. Yes, the text reads the same, but the ink using which the book is printed changes. As explained, the evidence for this is the visible change that the book undergoes.

And even so, I doubt that the chromosomes are 100% unchanged even in that specific sense of having the same base sequence... Random mutations do occur. I think you might have misread the meaning of the quote.
Richard Dawkins has compared DNA with human languages in several of his books, a good explanation is in the General Prologue of The Ancestor's Tale; A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Life.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Ancestor%27s_Tale
svaha
"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Sarvē mānavāḥ svatantrāḥ samutpannāḥ vartantē api ca, gauravadr̥śā adhikāradr̥śā ca samānāḥ ēva vartantē. Ētē sarvē cētanā-tarka-śaktibhyāṁ susampannāḥ santi. Api ca, sarvē’pi bandhutva-bhāvanayā parasparaṁ vyavaharantu."
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1. (in english and sanskrit)
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Aemilius
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Re: Why is everything which is a product - impermanent ?

Post by Aemilius »

PadmaVonSamba wrote: Thu Sep 17, 2020 10:51 am
Aemilius wrote: Thu Sep 17, 2020 9:32 am
samr wrote: Wed Sep 16, 2020 2:22 pm

I don't think that the chromosomes are 100% unchanged, it makes no sense. First, during the process life, different proteins are being made by the cell. In order to create the proteins, the chromosomes have to be accessed so that the DNA is read. In the process of being accessed to, the double helix has to open, be translated to the protein and close again.

So the chromosome of a living being is not static. I guess that Dawkins might have meant that the genetic sequence of a chromosome is unchanged. This is like saying that the text of the book is unchanged from one year to another. Yes, the text reads the same, but the ink using which the book is printed changes. As explained, the evidence for this is the visible change that the book undergoes.

And even so, I doubt that the chromosomes are 100% unchanged even in that specific sense of having the same base sequence... Random mutations do occur. I think you might have misread the meaning of the quote.
Dawkins says something to the effect that compared to how much the texts of "eternal truths" change in human cultures, in the books made by human beings, the DNA messages are much more unchangeable. Naturally there are mutations and scribal errors etc. in the genes, but genes have correction mechanisms, which make it possible that the chromosomes have remained unchanged for long periods of time.

The human languages and methods of writing change quite rapidly, so that in most cases we cannot read and understand old texts anymore. As an exercise try to find some old english texts or old germanic texts or old indo-aryan texts etc., and old styles of writing, they are really interesting to see.
Compared to the genes all of these are recent and quite new. I can't remember in which book Richard Dawkins discusses this, but the topic is certainly found there, and discussed at some length.

It is too simplistic to demand that a thing must be "static". Genetic instructions have produced similar proteins 100 000 years ago,10 million and 100 million years ago. In this sense they are unchanged. We have proof of this in archeological remains that have been found buried in the earth. It is just astonishing.
The information in DNA, in chromosomes, etc. may be the same, but the DNA itself, the physical matter changes.
It’s like, the truth of the Buddhist teachings is the same on line as it was when written on leaves 2500 years ago.
The leaves may be gone now, the information copied into paper For centuries, and now digitized. The truth itself is not a composite. It is not unchanging. It’s important not to confuse content with form.

Ultimately, one could argue that the teachings are made of words, and words are made of characters and sounds, and are therefore composite phenomena, and thus they are not suitable objects of refuge, meaning that they are unsatisfactory. From this, one might conclude that the statement “all composite phenomena are unsatisfactory” is itself unsatisfactory, because since it is a statement, it too is composite phenomena. It’s a fun argument to go with beer, but otherwise it simply misses the whole point.
"The medium is the message", said the once worldfamous canadian thinker Marshall McLuhan. Nowadays he is probaly a very much unknown and forgotten person. In my youth he was a famous and often quoted influental person.

The message is not independent from the medium: oral tradition is by nature a very different thing from hand written books on birch bark, and these again differ in nature from printed books that were invented in China, and so on...
svaha
"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Sarvē mānavāḥ svatantrāḥ samutpannāḥ vartantē api ca, gauravadr̥śā adhikāradr̥śā ca samānāḥ ēva vartantē. Ētē sarvē cētanā-tarka-śaktibhyāṁ susampannāḥ santi. Api ca, sarvē’pi bandhutva-bhāvanayā parasparaṁ vyavaharantu."
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1. (in english and sanskrit)
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