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Thread: Is It Better to Have Never Been Born?

  1. #51
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    Quote Originally Posted by ancientbuddhism View Post
    The 12 Nidānas were most likely a construct that came later in the Tathāgata’s teaching career. Keep in mind what it is there for; the Tathāgata deconstructed what the Brahmāṇa taught as ātman in the Upaniṣads through the five-bases pañcakkhandha viz that there is only a body and an accretion of cognition. Then he reconstructed what is experienced through Dependent Arising models, including the later 12-nidāna of paṭiccasamuppāda.

    Your mention of nāma-rūpa is helpful on topic because it represents why human existence is so miserable (until one lets go the illusion of course).

    I especially like your reference to Sn. 5.1; Ajitamāṇavapuccā. This and much of this series is Dependent Arising at its earliest in the Pāḷi Nikāyas.
    Yes, I am fairly intimate with the Advaitan doctrine of Self, and have spent some time witnessing the pitfalls of that unfold first hand. I understand how it invariably results in positions of Attikavada (& Natthikavada), and how the Tathagata's deconstruction was by-and-large intended to counter that.

  2. #52
    Forums Member daverupa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by uguay View Post
    he's saying there is a level of vinnana which prevails even upon the cessation of the processes of sensory perception, and cognition, and I've previously related this to the sixth jhana (2nd arupajhana).
    You oughtn't to do so. There is no consciousness if there is no awareness; beyond the All, there is no experience, no awareness - and right away, we're done. Consciousness is confined to the All, yet here was a claim of an extension beyond the All.

    Tut, tut, Thanissaro!

    what if anything is paranibbana beyond consciousness but over and above nothingness.
    Parinibbana is the cessation of experience. It isn't beyond consciousness: the term means an utter lack of consciousness, an utter lack of the All.

    This is good news, because the All = dukkha.

    (So, better to not have the All in the first place; but, here we are, and as ancientbuddhism suggested, that's the only place to start.

    ...just, maybe people shouldn't have any kids, or breed any other animals...)
    Last edited by daverupa; 08 Dec 17 at 11:17.

  3. #53
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    Quote Originally Posted by daverupa View Post
    You oughtn't to do so. There is no consciousness if there is no awareness; beyond the All, there is no experience, no awareness - and right away, we're done. Consciousness is confined to the All, yet here was a claim of an extension beyond the All.

    Tut, tut, Thanissaro!



    Parinibbana is the cessation of experience. It isn't beyond consciousness: the term means an utter lack of consciousness, an utter lack of the All.

    This is good news, because the All = dukkha.

    (So, better to not have the All in the first place; but, here we are, and as ancientbuddhism suggested, that's the only place to start.

    ...just, maybe people shouldn't have any kids, or breed any other animals...)

    I'm fairly confident both he and I are effectively saying awareness is prior to, or a more subtle form of consciousness, and that consciousness is effectively proto-experience, experience being synonymous with the All.

    Paranibbana is beyond consciousness, and therefore by extension the All, but not strictly awareness (as we're using the term) - paranibbana being not nothingness. However, it shouldn't really be framed in positive terms like that, due to certain almost inevitable pitfalls, which tend only to serve as subtle mind-anchors. It's my understanding the Buddha recognised this, and is one reason why he avoided talking much about an 'ultimate reality'. Anyway, this 'awareness' is synonymous with the eight jhana, i.e. neither perception, nor non-perception, but only really becomes paranibbana upon Nirodha-Samapatti (the ninth jhana), when the bases upon which consciousness arises are utterly extinguished, so perception and feeling cease to arise.

    Just to clarify, one of the main 'almost inevitable pitfalls' I referred to is eternalism (Attikavada). It's a misconception that only really even functions as far back as consciousness (and subsequent the All). Because it's a relativistic conception. A better adjective for paranibbana would be timelessness, but I understand how it can be difficult for mind to appreciate the distinction.

  4. #54
    More about Parinibbana in Chapter 11 "Reappears Does Not Apply..." Page 180 of 'The Island, by Ajahns Pasanno and Amaro:


    IN HIS FRIENDLY REBUKE TO ANURADHA THE BUDDHA pointed out that, given that the Tathagata was unapprehendable even while the body was both alive and present, it was even more unfitting to conceive any idea whatsoever as to what the nature of a Tathagata might be once the body has died. It is because of this principle of unapprehendability that, in the conventions of the Buddhist tradition, one never speaks of the Buddha as having ‘died.’ To assert so would imply an identification with the body and personality that the Master had, since the enlightenment, ceased to possess.

    It might be argued that the avoidance of such usages is simply the attempt of the faithful to legitimize their clinging to their beloved mentor. Maybe so – but a little serious investigation and contemplation of the teachings contained both in this and the previous chapter, will make it obvious that this practice is simply an exercising of the Buddha’s injunctions on how to relate to the quality in question in accordance with reality.

    Instead of ‘death’ such terms as ‘attained final Nibbana’ are used, the latter words being a translation of ‘Parinibbana.’ In most Buddhist literature the word Nibbana is taken to signify Nibbana as experienced in life and Parinibbana as what occurs at the death of the body of an enlightened being. This is an oversimplification (e.g. in the Sutta Nipata ‘Parinibbana’ is often used to apply to a living arahant; furthermore the word can also mean the act of quenching whilst ‘Nibbana,’ in that context, means the state of quenchedness) but it is fair enough to say that the above sense is what the words usually mean and that is how we will use them here.

    The Buddha was extraordinarily resolute in saying nothing about what happens after the death of the body of an enlightened one; therefore, one small point to clarify at the beginning is that when the noun Parinibbana is used to denote this, it does not mean ‘Nibbana after death.’ Even though such phrases as ‘gone to Parinibbana’ are in common usage, they lack technical accuracy for they can imply that Parinibbana is some kind of special place – a sort of super-heaven that is somehow permanent and that one never dies in or falls away from. Instead the term means, rather, the event of passing away undergone by one who has attained Nibbana during their life.

    To borrow the language of modern physics, one could aptly refer to Parinibbana as an ‘event horizon’ from beyond which nothing ever returns and from whence no messages can come.

    Continues at the link:

    https://www.amaravati.org/dhamma-books/the-island/

  5. #55
    Forums Member srivijaya's Avatar
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    "Does the Tathagata exist after death?"... "Does the Tathagata not exist after death?"... "Does the Tathagata both exist and not exist after death?"... "Does the Tathagata neither exist nor not exist after death?"

    "Vaccha, that too has not been declared by me: 'The Tathagata neither exists nor does not exist after death."
    https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipi....008.than.html

    "But the Tathagata, worthy and rightly self-awakened, does not assume form to be the self, or the self as possessing form, or form as in the self, or the self as in form.

    "He does not assume feeling to be the self...

    "He does not assume perception to be the self...

    "He does not assume fabrications to be the self...

    "He does not assume consciousness to be the self, or the self as possessing consciousness, or consciousness as in the self, or the self as in consciousness. That is why, when asked in this way, he does not answer that 'The cosmos is eternal'... or that 'The Tathagata neither exists nor does not exist after death.'"
    All the above is non-other than Sabbe Dhamma Anatta, ie. no identification/assumption with anything as being the self. All fetters coarse or fine to be released etc.

    None of is it a statement of what exists or doesn't exist as far as I can see; a metaphysics-free zone.

    It's kind of like when Buddha compared the objects of the senses to globs of foam and bubbles, some later scholars concluded that he must have meant that objects are actual illusions with an ultimate base of emptiness. Thus a useful comparison became an ontological 'fact' with an Advaita-style solution.

    In this way not-self transforms into no-self, ie no existing self (what which was never born can never die - favorite bit of Buddhist sophistry). Or nirvana becomes an eternal paradise.

    Obviously, Vaccha didn't try hard enough to get a decent answer...

  6. #56
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aloka View Post
    More about Parinibba in Chapter 11 "Reappears Does Not Apply..." Page 180 of 'The Island, by Ajahns Pasanno and Amaro:




    It's an interesting piece, and it occurs to me that the first paragraph in particular can be related to the question posed in the OP, if we consider how taking the position, 'it's better to never have been born', is equivalent to positing that there is loka (realms/world-building) without avijja (ignorance) as its root cause. Which would be wrong. It's a tricky one, but worth ruminating on.
    Last edited by uguay; 08 Dec 17 at 22:03.

  7. #57
    Quote Originally Posted by uguay
    positing that there is loka without avijja as its root cause.
    Would you be kind enough to write the English translations if you write Pali words, please? I don't have any plans to learn Pali at this particular point in time, plus I don't always have my Pali -English dictionary at hand.

    I'm also sure that there will be other members who would appreciate this too.


    Many thanks

  8. #58
    Forums Member daverupa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by uguay View Post
    I'm fairly confident both he and I are effectively saying awareness is prior to...the All.
    I know all y'all are saying that. According to Early Buddhism, it's completely inaccurate.

    Paranibbana is beyond consciousness...
    No, it really isn't. It's the cessation of experience, the cessation of the All, and therefore by definition no consciousness can arise, since all consciousness of any kind is part of the All. It's not "beyond" because it's not anything in the first place. I mean, I know you're trying to use formless attainments to make your point, but it doesn't make your point because parinibbana isn't a meditative attainment, it's a term for the "nothing else ever" for that arahant when the body finally drops.

    Parinibbana is the absence of experience. If you try to say that there is a special experience that goes beyond the All in any way whatsoever, you have not yet understood how this is understood in the early texts. Let me mention what the historical Buddha had to say about this:

    SN 35.23:

    At Savatthi. “Bhikkhus, I will teach you the all. Listen to that….

    “And what, bhikkhus, is the all? The eye and forms, the ear and sounds, the nose and odours, the tongue and tastes, the body and tactile objects, the mind and mental phenomena. This is called the all.

    “If anyone, bhikkhus, should speak thus: ‘Having rejected this all, I shall make known another all’—that would be a mere empty boast on his part. If he were questioned he would not be able to reply and, further, he would meet with vexation. For what reason? Because, bhikkhus, that would not be within his domain.”

  9. #59
    Forums Member srivijaya's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by daverupa View Post
    It's the cessation of experience, the cessation of the All
    Is that the case, or is it the 'cessation of the taints' with respect to the All?

  10. #60
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aloka View Post
    Would you be kind enough to write the English translations if you write Pali words, please? I don't have any plans to learn Pali at this particular point in time, plus I don't always have my Pali -English dictionary at hand.

    I'm also sure that there will be other members who would appreciate this too.


    Many thanks

    Yes of course, apologies again. I'll get the hang of all this soon! (translations edited into post)

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