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Re: wisdom and doing

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  • Ken H
    Hi Robert E, I have promised myself several times, No more discussions with Robert E on the nature of characteristics! But, here I go again. :-) ... However,
    Message 1 of 514 , Feb 28, 2011
      Hi Robert E,

      I have promised myself several times, "No more discussions with Robert E on the nature of characteristics!"

      But, here I go again. :-)

      > RE: I think it would be interesting to try out some examples and see if we can find a concrete analogy for the characteristic of anatta.

      However, I think you should be able to answer me just on the face of what I said as well. I pointed out that your description of anatta was merely a statement of the absence of self. I accept that this is a characteristic in a sense, that it is "always true," and that it is "part of the nature of a dhamma" that it has no self. I just don't think that beyond that there is an "anatta characteristic."

      I think that *is* the character of a dhamma with regard to
      anatta. That is not a problem for me, and I don't know why it is unacceptable to you, since you too define it that way in unguarded moments, exactly as I do.

      KH: I like your "it is part of the nature of a dhamma that it has no self." That sounds like a good compromise!

      > RE: I also stick to my proposition that if something exists it must be definable or describable. You can't say that something exists and not be able to say what it is in any way shape or form.

      KH: Can we say anatta is part of the nature of something that exists?

      > RE: If anatta is indeed the "lack of having a self or being part of a self" then that is fine. You have no trouble defining it that way, I would contend, because that is clearly what anatta means and is, and is what the Buddha had in mind when he talked about anatta. So if it is something beyond that, what is it? I'd still like an answer to that question.

      KH: Both descriptions suit me fine: anatta is part of the nature of something that exists, *and* it is the lack of a self (etc).

      > RE: In the meantime, yes, the correct analogy is "non-magnetic." "Non-magnetic" is not a positive characteristic because it is defined by the lack of a magnetic charge.

      KH: I'd prefer to say, "Non-magnetic" is part of the nature of certain metals, *and* it is the lack of being magnetic." Can we agree on that?

      > RE: It is something that the object in question does not have, not
      something that it does have. There is no "non-magnetic" characteristic, except as a negative characteristic. If you were to observe the object without having "magnetism" in mind, there would be nothing to observe in it with regard to magnetism. It's something you notice only with regard to magnetism and then notice that it is lacking.

      KH: It was good to be in agreement for a while, but now we part company again.

      I would say non-magnetic metals had the nature of being non-magnetic. However, I would not say purple (for example) had the nature of being non-magnetic.

      (Nor does it have the nature of being magnetic, of course.)

      > RE: Likewise the realization of anatta is an understanding that the normal human assumption of a self is actually not there; it's the awakening to the nature of an illusion, not to the reality of something positive that *is* there.

      KH: Anatta is part of the nature of a paramattha dhamma, but it is not part of the nature of a motor car.

      > RE: If I see a dhamma with panna and have insight into its nature as anatta, I am seeing that where I associated a dhamma with self-nature and the character of a self, I now see that it has nothing of the kind. It is free of self or anything pertaining to a self. I see its true character as anatta, but there is no way in which the dhamma behaves or displays itself that shows an "anatta" because "anatta" is not a "something," just as non-magnetic is not a "something," but just a lack of the characteristic of being magnetic.

      Good analogy.

      KH: It would be an even better analogy if we could agree on it. I see sodium as having the nature of being non-magnetic, but I don't see purple or "hello sailor" (etc) as having any such nature.

      Back to the drawing board! :-)

      > RE: To put it another way, if all beings were already enlightened, the idea of anatta would never arise, because the false idea of self would have never occurred in the first place. Anatta is medicine for the illusion of "atta/atman," not something in its own right.

      KH: Regardless of enlightenment or ignorance, all sankhara dhammas are anicca, dukkha and anatta, and all dhammas are anatta.

      Ken H

      PS: I would like to remind you of how this dispute originally came about. The followers of Nararjuna believe that conditioned dhammas do not really exist. They say namas and rupas are just as illusory as concepts (or even more illusory). The question then arises, "To what was the Buddha referring when he taught the doctrine of anatta?"

      The Nagarjunians would have to argue he was referring to both concepts and dhammas, wouldn't they?

      But he wasn't!

    • sarah abbott
      Hi Rob E, ... R: I think that apart from all issues, yes, it is great to have those distinctions and I hope it represents progress in that way. I m certainly
      Message 514 of 514 , Aug 10, 2011
        Hi Rob E,

        --- On Fri, 5/8/11, Robert E <epsteinrob@...> wrote:
        >>S: You appreciate the distinction between thinking and concepts and how the reality now, when we think about these issues, is just thinking which can be known as such. Dare I say that we're making good headway in the discussion?

        R:>I think that apart from all issues, yes, it is great to have those distinctions and I hope it represents progress in that way. I'm certainly happy to share and learn in that dimension, even while clinging to my terrible belief in "formal meditation." :-)
        S: :-))


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