Agency

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Rick
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Agency

Post by Rick » Sat Jan 19, 2019 5:34 pm

Who or what is the doer, that which does things: types this sentence, intends to learn the dharma, digests breakfast, has a thought, dreams?
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ...

Malcolm
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Re: Agency

Post by Malcolm » Sat Jan 19, 2019 5:39 pm

Rick wrote:
Sat Jan 19, 2019 5:34 pm
Who or what is the doer, that which does things: types this sentence, intends to learn the dharma, digests breakfast, has a thought, drives a car?
There is no typing typer, no learning learner, no digesting digester, thinking tinker, or driving driver.

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Rick
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Re: Agency

Post by Rick » Sat Jan 19, 2019 5:50 pm

Is it like the weather:

There is no snowfall agent/doer/entity that causes snow to fall (which it is doing quite nicely today).

?
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ...

Malcolm
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Re: Agency

Post by Malcolm » Sat Jan 19, 2019 6:36 pm

Rick wrote:
Sat Jan 19, 2019 5:50 pm
Is it like the weather:

There is no snowfall agent/doer/entity that causes snow to fall (which it is doing quite nicely today).

?
No, a falling faller does not make any sense. As Nāgārjuna would put it, apart from snow that has fallen or has not fallen, presently there is no falling.

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Rick
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Re: Agency

Post by Rick » Sat Jan 19, 2019 6:44 pm

So, just as there is ultimately no cause-ality per the Madhyamaka, there is no do-ality. (Sorry, couldn't resist.)

Ferdinand never does X. X is never done, by anyone or anything, period. X simply is, or isn't ... end of story.

?
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Malcolm
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Re: Agency

Post by Malcolm » Sat Jan 19, 2019 7:20 pm

Rick wrote:
Sat Jan 19, 2019 6:44 pm
So, just as there is ultimately no cause-ality per the Madhyamaka, there is no do-ality. (Sorry, couldn't resist.)

Ferdinand never does X. X is never done, by anyone or anything, period. X simply is, or isn't ... end of story.

?
It is best if you consult the investigation into movement in the MMK, chapter two. This is where it is shown that agents are mere conventions. If one claims there is agent with agency, one is claiming the agent and the agency are separate. But if you claim that agency is merely a characteristic of an agent, when agent does not exercise agency, it isn't an agent since an agent that is not exercising agency is in fact a non-agent. Therefore, rather than agency being dependent on an agent, an agent is predicated upon exercising agency. For example, take movement. If there is an agent there has to be a moving mover. But there is no mover when there is no moving. Apart from moving, how could there be a mover? But when there is moving, there isn't a mover which is separate from moving. Even movement itself cannot be ascertained until there has been a movement. When there is no movement, there is no agent of movement. When there is moving, there is no agent of moving that can be ascertained to be separate from the moving. And since even moving cannot be ascertained without there either having been movement or not, moving itself cannot be established. Since moving cannot be established, a moving mover cannot be established. If a moving mover cannot be established, an agent cannot be established.
Last edited by Malcolm on Sat Jan 19, 2019 8:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Grigoris
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Re: Agency

Post by Grigoris » Sat Jan 19, 2019 7:56 pm

Conventionally/Relatively speaking: the skandha. Except that they are not you. You just think they are 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

Malcolm
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Re: Agency

Post by Malcolm » Sat Jan 19, 2019 8:06 pm

Grigoris wrote:
Sat Jan 19, 2019 7:56 pm
Conventionally/Relatively speaking: the skandha. Except that they are not you. You just think they are you. ;)
If one claims the skandhas are agents, which one is the agent?

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明安 Myoan
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Re: Agency

Post by 明安 Myoan » Sat Jan 19, 2019 9:21 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Sat Jan 19, 2019 8:06 pm
Grigoris wrote:
Sat Jan 19, 2019 7:56 pm
Conventionally/Relatively speaking: the skandha. Except that they are not you. You just think they are you. ;)
If one claims the skandhas are agents, which one is the agent?
I think Grig was referring to how ordinary people perceive some or all of the skandhas as the source of agency. Some will discard the body, but none seem to discard the others. :shrug:
With a heart wandering in ignorance down this path and that, to guide me I simply say Namu-Amida-Butsu. -- Ippen

The Fundamental Vow [of Amitabha Buddha] is just for such people as woodcutters and grassgatherers, vegetable pickers, drawers of water and the like, illiterate folk who merely recite the Buddha's name wholeheartedly, confident that as a result of saying "Namu Amida Butsu" they will be born into the western land. -- Master Hōnen

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Rick
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Re: Agency

Post by Rick » Sat Jan 19, 2019 9:51 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Sat Jan 19, 2019 7:20 pm
Rick wrote:
Sat Jan 19, 2019 6:44 pm
So, just as there is ultimately no cause-ality per the Madhyamaka, there is no do-ality. (Sorry, couldn't resist.)

Ferdinand never does X. X is never done, by anyone or anything, period. X simply is, or isn't ... end of story.

?
It is best if you consult the investigation into movement in the MMK, chapter two. This is where it is shown that agents are mere conventions.
I will. And thanks for the moving explanation, it gave me Nagarjunian flashbacks.

Also: Chapter VIII, Examination of the Agent and Action.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ...

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Wayfarer
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Re: Agency

Post by Wayfarer » Sat Jan 19, 2019 10:51 pm

Malcolm wrote:Apart from moving, how could there be a mover?
I can see the logic, but in everyday experience it is not hard to envisage an object that is at rest, that has been moving. A stone is thrown through the window, evidence of movement is provided by the breakage of the glass and the presence of the stone, which, although now at rest, was previously in motion. But then I suppose the question arises as to the sense in which the stone is an agent, because whatever action it performs is a consequence of some external force imparted to it. So the stone is not an originating actor, and perhaps not 'an agent' in that sense.

Another reference I think ought to be mentioned is the Attakārī Sutta, 'no self-doer, no other-doer'. This seems to argue strongly for the existence of agents, or 'self-doers'. The commentary on this sutta says
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.
I do have some trouble reconciling that argument with the MMK, or the way it is often interpreted, anyway.
'Only practice with no gaining idea' ~ Suzuki Roshi

Malcolm
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Re: Agency

Post by Malcolm » Sat Jan 19, 2019 11:35 pm

Wayfarer wrote:
Sat Jan 19, 2019 10:51 pm
Malcolm wrote:Apart from moving, how could there be a mover?
I can see the logic, but in everyday experience it is not hard to envisage an object that is at rest, that has been moving. A stone is thrown through the window, evidence of movement is provided by the breakage of the glass and the presence of the stone, which, although now at rest, was previously in motion. But then I suppose the question arises as to the sense in which the stone is an agent, because whatever action it performs is a consequence of some external force imparted to it. So the stone is not an originating actor, and perhaps not 'an agent' in that sense.

Another reference I think ought to be mentioned is the Attakārī Sutta, 'no self-doer, no other-doer'. This seems to argue strongly for the existence of agents, or 'self-doers'. The commentary on this sutta says
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.
I do have some trouble reconciling that argument with the MMK, or the way it is often interpreted, anyway.
Hi Wayfarer:

The key to understanding everything is the term "dependent designation." We don't question the statement "I am going to town." In this there are three appearances, for convenience's sake, a person, a road, and a destination.

A person is designated on the basis of the aggregates, but there is no person in the aggregates, in one of the aggregates, or separate from the aggregates. Agreed? A road is designated in dependence on its parts, agreed? A town s designated upon its parts. Agreed?

If you agree to this, then you should have no problem with the following teaching of the Buddha in the Vimalakīrtinirdeśa Sūtra:

This body arises from various conditions, but lacks a self. This body is like the earth, lacking an agent. This body is like water, lacking a self. This body is like fire, lacking a living being. This body is like the wind, lacking a person. This body is like space, lacking a nature. This body is the place of the four elements, but is not real. This body that is not a self nor pertains to a self is empty.

In other words, when it comes to the conventional use of language, Buddha never rejected statements like "When I was a so and so in a past life, I did so and so, and served such and such a Buddha." Etc. But when it comes to what one can discern on analysis, if there is no person, no self, etc., that exists as more than a mere designation, the fact that agents cannot be discerned on analysis should cause no one any concern. It is merely a question of distinguishing between conventional use of language versus the insight into the nature of phenomena that results from ultimate analysis.

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Wayfarer
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Re: Agency

Post by Wayfarer » Sun Jan 20, 2019 12:53 am

Malcolm wrote:It is merely a question of distinguishing between conventional use of language versus the insight into the nature of phenomena that results from ultimate analysis.
So Two Truths, right? Truth of conventional designation, saṃvṛti-satya, and ultimate truth, paramārtha-satya. Is that about the gist of it?
'Only practice with no gaining idea' ~ Suzuki Roshi

Malcolm
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Re: Agency

Post by Malcolm » Sun Jan 20, 2019 1:50 am

Wayfarer wrote:
Sun Jan 20, 2019 12:53 am
Malcolm wrote:It is merely a question of distinguishing between conventional use of language versus the insight into the nature of phenomena that results from ultimate analysis.
So Two Truths, right? Truth of conventional designation, saṃvṛti-satya, and ultimate truth, paramārtha-satya. Is that about the gist of it?
Yes. It’s convenient to differentiate the perception of sentient beings in this way.

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Re: Agency

Post by stevie » Mon Jan 21, 2019 11:37 am

Rick wrote:
Sat Jan 19, 2019 5:34 pm
Who or what is the doer, that which does things: types this sentence, intends to learn the dharma, digests breakfast, has a thought, dreams?
I would address such kinds of questions to others only if I would speculate that there might be a kind of 'doing things' other than the conventional one AND that this other kind of 'doing things' can be adequately expressed by means of language.

However from my perspective there is no kind of 'doing things' other than the conventional one.

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Rick
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Re: Agency

Post by Rick » Tue Jan 22, 2019 2:46 pm

I opened this thread to find out what Buddhism has to say about two primal human Ur-feelings: I am, I do.

The Second Turning Madhyamaka view is clear on this: No agent, dependent arising all the way up and down.

But what about the Third Turning view, Buddhanature?
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ...

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Dan74
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Re: Agency

Post by Dan74 » Tue Jan 22, 2019 3:19 pm

Rick wrote:
Tue Jan 22, 2019 2:46 pm
I opened this thread to find out what Buddhism has to say about two primal human Ur-feelings: I am, I do.

The Second Turning Madhyamaka view is clear on this: No agent, dependent arising all the way up and down.

But what about the Third Turning view, Buddhanature?
Buddhanature does not negate Madhyamaka, it is concerned with pointing to liberation. Sometimes a good pointing (especially for practitioners who lean towards nihilism) is liberation as 'a thingie' - Buddhanature, Tathagatagarbha, etc. Sometimes a good pointing is in terms of Emptiness, no-self, etc. Ultimately they are just pointers, that's all.

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Grigoris
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Re: Agency

Post by Grigoris » Tue Jan 22, 2019 3:31 pm

Rick wrote:
Tue Jan 22, 2019 2:46 pm
I opened this thread to find out what Buddhism has to say about two primal human Ur-feelings: I am, I do.

The Second Turning Madhyamaka view is clear on this: No agent, dependent arising all the way up and down.

But what about the Third Turning view, Buddhanature?
That talks more about potential for enlightenment than some type of nature.

Even the shentong interpretation recognises that the True Self is empty, it just describes the characteristics of this emptiness and some mistakenly take this to be describing something that actually exists.
"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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Rick
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Re: Agency

Post by Rick » Tue Jan 22, 2019 4:20 pm

Dan74 wrote:
Tue Jan 22, 2019 3:19 pm
Rick wrote:
Tue Jan 22, 2019 2:46 pm
I opened this thread to find out what Buddhism has to say about two primal human Ur-feelings: I am, I do.

The Second Turning Madhyamaka view is clear on this: No agent, dependent arising all the way up and down.

But what about the Third Turning view, Buddhanature?
Buddhanature does not negate Madhyamaka, it is concerned with pointing to liberation. Sometimes a good pointing (especially for practitioners who lean towards nihilism) is liberation as 'a thingie' - Buddhanature, Tathagatagarbha, etc. Sometimes a good pointing is in terms of Emptiness, no-self, etc. Ultimately they are just pointers, that's all.
So the Three Turning teachings are all equally effective pointers for the right people at the right point in their paths? None is 'universally' provisional or less right, none is definitive or more right?
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ...

stevie
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Re: Agency

Post by stevie » Tue Jan 22, 2019 4:24 pm

Rick wrote:
Tue Jan 22, 2019 2:46 pm
I opened this thread to find out what Buddhism has to say about two primal human Ur-feelings: I am, I do.
So the 'two primal human Ur-feelings' are eactly what buddhism is about: being ('I am') and activity or 'karma' ('I do').

Rick wrote:
Tue Jan 22, 2019 2:46 pm
The Second Turning Madhyamaka view is clear on this: No agent, dependent arising all the way up and down.
'I am' and 'I do' are concepts and 'dependent arising' is another concept. My experience is that 'dependent arising' kind of 'makes itself felt' less determinate than 'I am' and 'I do' and therefore it may ease the illusory burden or solidity of 'I am' and 'I do'. But as a concept ... is 'dependent arising' more true than 'I am' and 'I do'?

Rick wrote:
Tue Jan 22, 2019 2:46 pm
But what about the Third Turning view, Buddhanature?
Certainly more and different concepts.

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