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11088Re: [dsg] llumination of rocks, namas and rupas-Sarah: uh-oh, really long!!!

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  • Robert Epstein
    Feb 1, 2002
      Dear Sarah,
      I really appreciate your interacting with my overwhelming tome. I would only try
      to clarify one point, which I guess is hard to express properly: that there is no
      such thing as direct perception of a rupa. The only way we experience hardness or
      visible object is through an act of perception. In what way is that act of
      perception ever pure? Even if it is completely devoid of any concept, it is still
      being transmitted by a perceptual organ [eye] which is picking it up and forming
      an image of it in order to bring it to the brain through the optical cortex. To
      what extent are these organs which transmit the image pure? And to what extent
      does the 'image' which does not exist three-dimensionally which the brain actually
      gets to 'see' corrrespond with the 'real rupa'.

      Now if you say there is no 'real rupa' because a rupa is not different than the
      act of perception that selects it, then you once again have a framed and
      interpreted object which is the product of the organs of sense and of the brain
      that interprets the image thus created, not an 'actual rupa'. When the optical
      cortex gets the image from the eyes, it is upside down, because of the mechanics
      of the inverted lenses that reflect off of the optical mechanism in the brain.
      The brain through an act of translation has to turn the image right side up. So
      this is all a manipulation/translation/correction of a selected aspect of
      'reality' that is being produced by mental processes. How does this represent any
      sort of 'absolute object'? It seems to me that it merely represents the mind's
      version of object, and a selected aspect at that.

      There is no getting around the fact that we get all of our experiences through
      mental mechanics. They are as 'pure' as a camera or a tv set. Get a more
      expensive HDTV and the image thus created is totally different than the cheaper

      Now, Jonathan said to me a while back, and helped me quite a bit, that a 'rupa'
      need not be perfect in some external sense, because one is only getting the
      perceptions that one is karmically and conditionally ordained to get anyway. The
      main thing is that one gets the experiences that are appropriate for oneself as an
      individual. In other words, even having the eyes you have, if you are color
      blind, comes from a karmic or conditional cause, and so if you get a 'rupa' that
      is in black and white, because you don't register colors, well, that is the
      perfect karmic rupa for you, and so it's still a 'paramatha dhamma' because it is
      *your* absolute object for your current state of evolution/causation.

      I can accept that as an explanation of what you get being appropriate for you, but
      on the more basic level of the human condition of being in a body with built in
      cameras [eyes], sensors [skin] etc., it does not seem that this explanation is
      satisfactory enough. It does not account for the fact that the human body and
      mind themselves are inherently subjective, since they only really record images,
      not the objects themselves. Images may be objects in their own right, and I could
      accept the idea that images are the real objects of human existence, which is what
      I think is the case until one has extra-sensory access to objects. But I cannot
      accept that we get the 'actual' object through our senses. Senses are a
      particular way of getting at an object, it is not an 'accurate' way. Smell only
      gives us a certain view of object, it doesn't really give us a 'real' view. It is
      limited and biased by its own equippage. Same with all the senses, which all form
      images according to their, not the object's, nature.

      Is my problem any clearer with all this explanation? I hope so, and that it may
      have some form of resolution, for I can't see it. This idea leaves me personally
      with the disposition to look at the mind and its processes [namas] rather than to
      think that I am actually seeing rupas. In looking at the way the mind processes
      information, one can get at the reality of being human, but not by positing
      external objects that are 'real' and whose descriptions we think are accurate.

      Robert Ep.


      --- Sarah <sarahdhhk@...> wrote:
      > Dear Rob Ep,
      > Rob Ep�s Marathon -Stage One
      > --------------------------------------------
      > --- Robert Epstein <epsteinrob@...> wrote: > Dear Sarah,
      > > But the person who is sitting in
      > > the car
      > > 'imagining' possibilities and thinking they are actual will never ever
      > > get where
      > > they're going. Now we could really go nuts and say that Buddha is the
      > > guy in the
      > > tow truck, but I'll leave it for now.......
      > Just as well as it�s all rather beyond me;-) I could never cope with car
      > mechanics but have been mercifully car-free for the last 20yrs;-)
      > > Another excellently clear description. I guess my problem is that I
      > see
      > > even the
      > > rupa as being inherently conceptual. It seems to me that the 'paramatha
      > > dhammas'
      > > constitute the Abhidhamma's version of the 'absolute state of pure
      > > consciousness',
      > > a state without imperfection, because it perceives exactly what is there
      > > without
      > > undue conceptualization. But in the case of the paramatha dhammas, the
      > > 'pure
      > > rupa' is still an absolute experience of an object, and to me even a
      > > momentary
      > > aspect of an object can never be absolute.
      > I�m getting lost here as well. There is no �pure� rupa in the Tipitaka as
      > such. When we discuss paramattha dhammas and rupas, rupa is not any kind
      > of experience of anything. Rupas do not experience, they are experienced
      > (by namas). A rupa such as hardness or smell is very real to the touching
      > or smelling regardless of whether there is any awareness at that instant.
      > Of course, now when we discuss the hardness or smell, it�s a concept of
      > them that we�re discussing. This doesn�t mean they aren�t being
      > experienced or cognized just as they are, however. If there is awareness,
      > the awareness is aware of their �paramattha� or �absolute� or �true�
      > nature.
      > >Even though over many passes
      > > by sati
      > > and panna the true characteristics of the rupas become discerned, there
      > > is still
      > > no actual contact with the rupa from my standpoint. This 'coming to
      > > know' is a
      > > process of deduction and accumulation of separate experiences.
      > It�s true there has to be correct intellectual consideration and
      > understanding initially, using deduction and so on. Still, regardless of
      > whether the understanding is conceptual or direct, there is still the
      > contact of rupas occurring all the time. Right now, there is seeing a rupa
      > (visible object), touching another (hardness), regardless of whether there
      > is any knowledge or not. The knowledge (if it arises) merely shows what is
      > experienced anyway. It isn�t resulting in different objects being seen or
      > touched, for example. Sati (awareness) accompanies each moment of
      > wholesome consciousness, but if it is sati of satipatthana, it is directly
      > aware of a reality, not just conceptually, however brief and unclear it
      > may seem.
      > >This
      > > sort of
      > > 'coming to know' through repeated passes seems to me to be conceptual in
      > > nature,
      > > because it seems to me that consciousness is piecing together a picture
      > > with
      > > increasing knowledge. This does not seem to be direct and just in the
      > > moment, it
      > > is gradual, cumulative, and consciousness-derived.
      > It has to be like this in the beginning, I think.
      > I agree with the
      > > analysis that
      > > most of what we experience is conceptual and we don't realize it - we
      > > think it's
      > > real - I'm just not sure that the analysis of paramatha dhammas doesn't
      > > stop at
      > > the brink of realizing that it's *all* conceptual by its very nature.
      > > Instead
      > > there is a saving category that allows us to get to a 'reality' beyond
      > > our own
      > > limited perceptual and conceptual equipment, and I wonder if that is
      > > really the
      > > case. Rather than absolute realities, I would see the wise discernment
      > > of namas
      > > and rupas as being a 'true analysis of the way in which impressions are
      > > transmitted by consciousness', which is not absolute in itself, but
      > > provides a
      > > foundation for wisdom about the human condition.
      > I agree that the �true analysis.....� provides a foundation...� there has
      > to be plenty of this true analysis too, over and over again. However, this
      > is not what is referred to as the �wise discernment of namas and rupas�,
      > because it is just analysis and not the direct understanding of these
      > paramattha dhammas. However, realizing as you do here, that the
      > understanding is only on a conceptual level as yet, is a very big step in
      > the right direction to my mind. If we think we already clearly understand
      > the characteristics of impermanence, suffering and so on or have attained
      > high levels of insight, it is a lot harder to begin to understand namas
      > and rupas and to see how little is really known.
      > > This allows one to make the analysis of anatta, anicca and dukkha, but
      > > without
      > > positing absolute objects, which I think must be a form of reification
      > > of the
      > > momentary experience which is always delivered through a
      > > perceptual-conceptual
      > > apparatus, never 'in itself' in some 'actual' form, except the form of
      > > 'mind' or
      > > 'consciousness'.
      > Hmm....We can talk about or analyse the 3 characteristics above, but I
      > think it�s meaningless unless we discuss what they are characteristics of:
      > i.e paramattha dhammas or namas and rupas. This may even be one of
      > Victor�s points. We can discuss the characteristics of seeing or visible
      > object, for example, but not of concepts such as walking or balloons.
      > Again, it�s true that if we �analyse� seeing or visible object now, that
      > it is a concept and the �perceptual-conceptual apparatus� is at work as
      > �we� think. It may be with right understanding or with wrong understanding
      > and reification. The aim is not to stop thinking, which is conditioned
      > like all other realities, but again to understand its nature directly as
      > it occurs.
      > Maybe that�s enough for Stage One...time for refreshment;-) I�ll come back
      > a little later to continue. Thanks for the chance. Please chip in anytime
      > as I have no idea when or if I'll finish the complete marathon. You'll
      > also notice I cheated a little at the beginning and took a short-cut;-)
      > Sarah
      > ======================================================
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