Author Topic: Ajahn Sumedho on dependent origination  (Read 3389 times)

Offline Spiny Norman

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Ajahn Sumedho on dependent origination
« on: August 22, 2010, 02:22:46 am »
This thread to is to discuss Ajahn Sumedho's approach to dependent origination, which is an example of what has been referred to as the psychological interpretation of DO.  The following is an extract from the book "The way it is".

Spiny


Dependent on ignorance are habitual formations; dependent on habitual (kamma-) formations is consciousness; dependent on consciousness are name-and-form (mentality-corporeality); dependent on name-and-form are the six sense-bases; dependent on the six sensebases is contact; dependent on contact is feeling; dependent on feeling is desire; dependent on desire is grasping; dependent on grasping is becoming; dependent on becoming is birth; dependent on birth is old age, sickness and death, sorrow, grief, lamentation, pain and despair.

In this lifetime, when Nibbana is to be realised, mentality-corporeality can 'cease' - ie. the identification with physical and mental kamma-formations can cease so that life is no longer lived from the pleasure/pain principle dictated by the senses. (nama-rupa-salayatana-phassa-vedana-tanha+). In this spirit one could interpret the sequence in a more fluid way, for example :

To the extent to which (paccaya) the mind has not comprehended (avijja) Truth, habitual drives manifest and condition (paccaya) awareness into a discriminative mode (viññana) that operates in terms of (paccaya) subject and object (nama-rupa) held (paccaya) to exist on either side of the six sense-doors (salayatana). These sense-doors open dependent (paccaya) on contact (phasso) that can arouse (paccaya) varying degrees of feeling (vedana). Feeling stimulates (paccaya) desire (tanha) and, according to (paccaya) the power of desire, attention lingers (upadana) and so personal aims and obsessions develop (bhava) to give (paccaya) (jati) rise to self-consciousness. That self-consciousness, mental or physical, once arisen must follow (paccaya) the cycle of maturing and passing away (jara-marana) with the resultant sense of sadness (soka) varying from sorrow (parideva) to depression (domanassa), to anguish (dukkha) and emotional breakdown (upayasa).


Offline ABC

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Re: Ajahn Sumedho on dependent origination
« Reply #1 on: August 28, 2010, 02:56:46 pm »
I am not sure A.S. has this right. He has identification with the mind & body occurring at "discriminative consciousness" and at birth of self-consciousness.

Firstly, consciousness does not discriminate, consciousness does not label. 'Self-identification' is a product of sankhara khanda. It is not a product of vinnana khanda. Consciousness is bare awareness, bare cognition, bare knowing. Consciousness does not think or label.

Secondly, the Buddha did not use the term 'nama-rupa' in terms of 'subject and object'. This is how Hinduism uses the term 'nama-rupa'. For the Buddha, nama-rupa means 'mind-body'. The suttas state:

Quote
"And what is nama-&-rupa? Feeling, perception, intention, contact, & attention: This is called nama. The four great elements, and the form dependent on the four great elements: This is called rupa. This nama & this rupa are called nama-&-rupa.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn12/sn12.002.than.html


When ignorance stirs up the sankhara, the sankhara then stir up or agitate the mind-body (nama-rupa).

Try to witness this in our meditation. Try to see how the mind and physical body become agitated when ignorance manifests and become calm when ignorance ceases.

Apart from that, I agree with the rest of A.S's explanation, especially the end about aging-death-dukkha. This is very well explained..

Kind regards

 :namaste:




« Last Edit: August 28, 2010, 02:58:38 pm by ABC »
Therefore, Ananda, engage with me friends and not as opponents. That will be for your long-term well-being & happiness - MN 122

Offline ABC

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Re: Ajahn Sumedho on dependent origination
« Reply #2 on: August 28, 2010, 03:01:40 pm »
Secondly, the Buddha did not use the term 'nama-rupa' in terms of 'subject and object'. This is how Hinduism uses the term 'nama-rupa'.

The scores of suttas describe nama-rupa as mind-body, not as 'object-subject'. The only sutta that infers object-subject is the Maha Nidana Sutta. This is more evidence suggesting the Maha-Nidana Sutta was not spoken by the Buddha.

Kind regards

 :namaste:
Therefore, Ananda, engage with me friends and not as opponents. That will be for your long-term well-being & happiness - MN 122

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: Ajahn Sumedho on dependent origination
« Reply #3 on: August 28, 2010, 03:33:25 pm »
Thanks for the DO translation, Spiny and the comments, ABC.  If you have no objections I would like to compare and contrast what both of you have written to:

"Ud 1.3 PTS: Ud 2
Bodhi Sutta: Awakening (3)
translated from the Pali by
Thanissaro Bhikkhu
© 1994–2010
Alternate translation: Ireland
I have heard that on one occasion, when the Blessed One was newly Awakened — staying at Uruvela by the banks of the Nerañjara River in the shade of the Bodhi tree, the tree of Awakening — he sat in the shade of the Bodhi tree for seven days in one session, sensitive to the bliss of release. At the end of seven days, after emerging from that concentration, in the third watch of the night, he gave close attention to dependent co-arising in forward and reverse order, thus:


When this is, that is.
From the arising of this comes the arising of that.
When this isn't, that isn't.
From the cessation of this comes the cessation of that.
In other words:

From ignorance as a requisite condition come fabrications.
From fabrications as a requisite condition comes consciousness.
From consciousness as a requisite condition comes name-and-form.
From name-and-form as a requisite condition come the six sense media.
From the six sense media as a requisite condition comes contact.
From contact as a requisite condition comes feeling.
From feeling as a requisite condition comes craving.
From craving as a requisite condition comes clinging/sustenance.
From clinging/sustenance as a requisite condition comes becoming.
From becoming as a requisite condition comes birth.
From birth as a requisite condition, then old age and death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, and despair come into play.
Such is the origination of this entire mass of stress and suffering.

Now from the remainderless fading and cessation of that very ignorance comes the cessation of fabrications.
From the cessation of fabrications comes the cessation of consciousness.
From the cessation of consciousness comes the cessation of name-and-form.
From the cessation of name-and-form comes the cessation of the six sense media.
From the cessation of the six sense media comes the cessation of contact.
From the cessation of contact comes the cessation of feeling.
From the cessation of feeling comes the cessation of craving.
From the cessation of craving comes the cessation of clinging/sustenance.
From the cessation of clinging/sustenance comes the cessation of becoming.
From the cessation of becoming comes the cessation of birth.
From the cessation of birth, then old age and death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, and despair all cease.
Such is the cessation of this entire mass of stress and suffering.

Then, on realizing the significance of that, the Blessed One on that occasion exclaimed:


As phenomena grow clear
to the brahman — ardent, absorbed —
he stands, routing the troops of Mara,
like the sun that illumines
      the sky.
See also: Ud 1.1; Ud 1.2."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/ud/ud.1.03.than.html
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

Offline ABC

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Re: Ajahn Sumedho on dependent origination
« Reply #4 on: August 29, 2010, 12:50:31 am »
Dear Bodhisatta2010

My opinion is one must take alot of care with sutta translations.

It is important to bear in mind Theravada is a "verification" tradition rather than a faith tradition.

The Pali states:
Quote
Iti imasmiṃ sati idaṃ hoti, imassuppādā idaṃ uppajjati,  

When this is, that is. From the arising of this comes the arising of that.
When this isn't, that isn't. From the cessation of this comes the cessation of that.

avijjāpaccayā saṅkhārā,
saṅkhārapaccayā viññāṇaṃ,
viññāṇapaccayā nāmarūpaṃ,
nāmarūpapaccayā saḷāyatanaṃ,
saḷāyatanapaccayā phasso,
phassapaccayā vedanā,
vedanāpaccayā taṇhā,
taṇhāpaccayā upādānaṃ,
upādānapaccayā bhavo,
bhavapaccayā jāti,
jātipaccayā jarāmaraṇaṃ sokaparidevadukkhadomanassupāyāsā sambhavanti.
Evametassa kevalassa dukkhakkhandhassa samudayo hotī’’ti
.


"uppajjati" means "comes to be". uppajjati is not found in the twelve links.

The twelve links solely use the word "paccaya". "Paccaya" may not be a noun. It could be a verb.

In actual experience, 'paccaya' is a verb. Ignorance conditions sankhara, sankhara conditions consciousness, etc.

The suttas make it very clear consciousness does not 'cease'. What 'ceases' is consciousness tainted by ignorance.

The suttas make it clear consciousness becomes liberated and unagitated.

Kind regards

 :namaste:

Quote
"If a monk abandons passion for the property of consciousness, then owing to the abandonment of passion, the support is cut off, and there is no landing of consciousness. Consciousness, thus not having landed, not increasing, not concocted, is released. Owing to its release, it is steady. Owing to its steadiness, it is contented. Owing to its contentment, it is not agitated. Not agitated, he (the monk) is totally unbound right within. He discerns that 'Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for this world.'"

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn22/sn22.053.than.html
« Last Edit: August 29, 2010, 01:17:44 am by ABC »
Therefore, Ananda, engage with me friends and not as opponents. That will be for your long-term well-being & happiness - MN 122

Offline ABC

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Re: Ajahn Sumedho on dependent origination
« Reply #5 on: August 29, 2010, 01:04:42 am »
In actual experience, 'paccaya' is a verb. Ignorance conditions sankhara, sankhara conditions consciousness.

The suttas make it very clear consciousness does not 'cease'. What 'ceases' is consciousness tainted by ignorance.


Ajahn Sumedho's book states:

Quote
It is helpful to remember that paccaya 'dependent on' or 'conditions' does not necessarily mean 'creates'. For example one could say 'walking is dependent on legs' or 'ice is dependent on water' or 'catching the train is dependent on getting to the station at the right time' or even 'the view is dependent on the non-appearance of intervening objects'. Understanding this, the contemplative begins to realise that just as 'arising dependence' need not mean 'creation', 'cessation' so valued by the Buddha need not mean 'annihilation'.

http://www.amaravati.org/abmnew/documents/the_way_it_is/00int.html



 :namaste:
« Last Edit: August 29, 2010, 01:18:47 am by ABC »
Therefore, Ananda, engage with me friends and not as opponents. That will be for your long-term well-being & happiness - MN 122

Offline ABC

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Re: Ajahn Sumedho on dependent origination
« Reply #6 on: August 29, 2010, 01:05:07 am »
In actual experience, 'paccaya' is a verb. Ignorance conditions sankhara, sankhara conditions consciousness, etc.

The suttas make it very clear consciousness does not 'cease'. What 'ceases' is consciousness tainted by ignorance.


Ajahn Sumedho, agreeing with my interpretation, states:

Quote
Avijjapaccaya sankhara: this means: 'ignorance conditions the kammic formation'...

When there's avijja, that conditions the sankhara which conditions the consciousness or viññana. Consciousness conditions mentality and corporeality (nama-rupa), which conditions the sense bases (salayatana), which conditions contact (phassa), which conditions feeling (vedana). When ignorance is the primary condition, the rest are all affected by that.


http://www.amaravati.org/abmnew/documents/the_way_it_is/21fms.html


Just as myself, Ajahn Sumedho uses 'paccaya' as a verb.


 :namaste:
« Last Edit: August 29, 2010, 01:19:40 am by ABC »
Therefore, Ananda, engage with me friends and not as opponents. That will be for your long-term well-being & happiness - MN 122

Offline ABC

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Re: Ajahn Sumedho on dependent origination
« Reply #7 on: August 29, 2010, 01:25:03 am »


To add, P. A. Payutto, Thailand's foremost Buddhist scholar, offers more clarity:

  
Quote
As for nirodha in the third Noble Truth (or the Dependent Origination cycle in cessation mode), although it also describes a natural process, its emphasis is on practical considerations. It is translated in two ways in the Visuddhimagga. One way traces the etymology to "ni" (without) + "rodha" (prison, confine, obstacle, wall, impediment), thus rendering the meaning as "without impediment," "free of confinement." This is explained as "free of impediments, that is, the confinement of samsara." Another definition traces the origin to anuppada, meaning "not arising", and goes on to say "nirodha here does not mean bhanga, breaking up and dissolution."

    Therefore, translating nirodha as "cessation", although not entirely wrong, is nevertheless not entirely accurate. On the other hand, there is no other word which comes so close to the essential meaning as "cessation." However, we should understand what is meant by the term. In this context, the Dependent Origination cycle in its cessation mode might be better rendered as "being free of ignorance, there is freedom from volitional impulses ..." or "when ignorance is gone, volitional impulses are gone ..." or "when ignorance ceases to give fruit, volitional impulses cease to give fruit ..." or "when ignorance is no longer a problem, volitional impulses are no longer a problem."

   Even in the forward mode, there are some problems with definitions. The meaning of many of the Pali terms are too broad to be translated into any single English words. For instance, avijja paccaya sankhara also means "When ignorance is like this, volitional impulses are like this; volitional impulses being this way, consciousness is like this; consciousness being this way, body and mind are like this; ..."

http://www.buddhanet.net/cmdsg/coarisea.htm#note


 :namaste:
« Last Edit: August 29, 2010, 01:28:57 am by ABC »
Therefore, Ananda, engage with me friends and not as opponents. That will be for your long-term well-being & happiness - MN 122

Offline ABC

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Re: Ajahn Sumedho on dependent origination
« Reply #8 on: August 29, 2010, 01:33:22 am »
Thanks for the DO translation, Spiny and the comments, ABC.  If you have no objections I would like to compare and contrast what both of you have written to:

As phenomena grow clear
to the brahman — ardent, absorbed —
he stands, routing the troops of Mara,
like the sun that illumines
      the sky.
See also: Ud 1.1; Ud 1.2."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/ud/ud.1.03.than.html


Dear Bodhisatta2010

I have no objections to what you posted, which is mere blind attachment to a useless translation devoid of meaning.

Such a translation does not illuminate the sky. To the contrary, it traps beings in darkness.

It follows such translations cannot assist very much in the work of a Bodhisatta.

In Mahayana, the work of a Bodhisatva is to save all sentient beings.

In Theravada, the work of a Bodhisatta is to fulfil the path of enlightenment.


Kind regards

 :pray:
« Last Edit: August 29, 2010, 01:46:14 am by ABC »
Therefore, Ananda, engage with me friends and not as opponents. That will be for your long-term well-being & happiness - MN 122

Offline Spiny Norman

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Re: Ajahn Sumedho on dependent origination
« Reply #9 on: August 29, 2010, 02:14:07 am »
Firstly, consciousness does not discriminate, consciousness does not label. 'Self-identification' is a product of sankhara khanda. It is not a product of vinnana khanda. Consciousness is bare awareness, bare cognition, bare knowing. Consciousness does not think or label.

Yes, that's how I've understood it.  AS sometimes seems to redefine things in a particular way.

Spiny

Offline Spiny Norman

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Re: Ajahn Sumedho on dependent origination
« Reply #10 on: August 29, 2010, 02:17:17 am »
Just as myself, Ajahn Sumedho uses 'paccaya' as a verb.

Yes, that's one of the things I've been reflecting on, as previously I'd assumed paccaya was defined as a noun, a specific condition for something else to arise.  But having considered it I can see that using paccaya as a verb does make sense, and it seems to corresponds to practical experience.

Spiny

Offline Spiny Norman

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Re: Ajahn Sumedho on dependent origination
« Reply #11 on: August 29, 2010, 02:59:27 am »
It is important to bear in mind Theravada is a "verification" tradition rather than a faith tradition.

Indeed.

Spiny

Offline Spiny Norman

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Re: Ajahn Sumedho on dependent origination
« Reply #12 on: August 29, 2010, 05:15:56 am »
What 'ceases' is consciousness tainted by ignorance.
The suttas make it clear consciousness becomes liberated and unagitated.

I thought we'd established that consciousness is bare awareness, cognition and knowing?  If that's the case I'm not clear how consciousness can be tainted, agitated, liberated etc.   Do you see what I mean? 

Spiny

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: Ajahn Sumedho on dependent origination
« Reply #13 on: August 29, 2010, 05:52:46 am »
Great question, Spiny.

My understanding (logical reasoning really) is that corruption enters predominantly through the mental consciousness.  Remember that Buddha describes all phenomena as empty due to their conditioned and impermanent nature, much like  froth on The River Ganges.  i.e. short lived, fragile, insubstantial.

This mental consciousness is but turbulence built upon turbulence.

Furthermore, each of the other five consciences, which all ultimately reside in the mind, are but interpretations of reflections through various media and translations (mechanical transmissions, and ultimately electrochemical transmissions, which come to reside in an organ of interpretation and storage, which in turn cause an electro-magnetic field to arise, which is what I reason to be mind; all of this subject to error, and none of it directly representative of the object which is being interpreted, labeled and given a judgement of form and function by mind.

My understanding from years of reading Theravadan suttas is that consciousness is what causes consciousness to arise.  Nothing more.  Therefore, by this reasoning and understanding, Mind is both dependent and impermanent and is not what enters into nibbana.  Which leaves the question:  "What is it that enters nibanna."...which is another thread.

Quote
ABC wrote:  "I've no objections to what you posted, which is mere blind attachment to a useless translation devoid of meaning.

Such a translation does not illuminate the sky. To the contrary, it traps beings in darkness. "

I would appreciate you explaining and justifying your statement.  It appears that your only argument is with the translator.  Also I am not certain why something being caused by something which comes before it , or is dependent upon it in any way like a prop changes the basic meaning of DO.  In one of the suttas Buddha uses the analogy of a sheath of wheat holding up the other sheaths of wheat, and if it fell, all the others would fall.  Your point of one thing not causing another to rise is fine, but it doesn't change the fact that attachment to things which are dependent upon other things for their current positions is any less dangerous than dependence upon things which are caused to arise by other things.

The basic and over-riding point, according to my understanding, is that we should be attached to "nothing" in this samsaric realm, and should work diligently towards unbinding and release by letting go of that which causes our suffering.  Once all of the clouds of contaminants have been dissipated, then nibbana will become apparent to whatever there is left of us to experience it, or to say it another way in our ignorance of reality with these samsarically derived minds, our true, permanent nature, will be revealed.



What 'ceases' is consciousness tainted by ignorance.
The suttas make it clear consciousness becomes liberated and unagitated.

I thought we'd established that consciousness is bare awareness, cognition and knowing?  If that's the case I'm not clear how consciousness can be tainted, agitated, liberated etc.   Do you see what I mean?  

Spiny

« Last Edit: August 29, 2010, 05:55:11 am by Bodhisatta2010 »
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

Offline ABC

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Re: Ajahn Sumedho on dependent origination
« Reply #14 on: August 29, 2010, 08:51:51 am »
I thought we'd established that consciousness is bare awareness, cognition and knowing?  If that's the case I'm not clear how consciousness can be tainted, agitated, liberated etc.   Do you see what I mean? 


Dear Spiny

Inherently, consciousness is bare awareness, cognition and knowing. However, consciousness can become tainted.

We can compare pure consciousness to a glass window. Through this window the world is seen or known.

But the window can become dirtied with dust or tainted by colour.

Please consider the following teachings of the Buddha:

Quote
"Imagine, Brahman, a bowl of water mixed with lac, turmeric, dark green or crimson dye. If a man with good eyesight were to look at the reflection of his own face in it, he would not know or see it as it really was. In the same way, Brahman, when a man dwells with his heart possessed and overwhelmed by sense-desires... then he cannot know or see, as it really is, what is to his own profit, to the profit of others, to the profit of both. Then even sacred words he has long studied are not clear to him, not to mention those he has not studied.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn46/sn46.055.wlsh.html


Quote
"Bhikkhus, all is burning. And what is the all that is burning?

"The eye is burning, forms are burning, eye-consciousness is burning, eye-contact is burning, also whatever is felt as pleasant or painful or neither-painful-nor-pleasant that arises with eye-contact for its indispensable condition, that too is burning. Burning with what? Burning with the fire of lust, with the fire of hate, with the fire of delusion.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn35/sn35.028.nymo.html


 :namaste:


Therefore, Ananda, engage with me friends and not as opponents. That will be for your long-term well-being & happiness - MN 122

 


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