Re: Question about Mahayana.
- Hi Ken H.
--- In email@example.com, "Ken H" <kenhowardau@...> wrote:
> Hi Robert E (and Thomas),
> <. . .>
> > RE: may be mentally
> creating an object that does not exist in its own right.
> KH: Since Thomas was unable to tell me, I might as well ask you (again):
> How would "mentally creating an object that does not exist in its own right" be any different from "mentally creating an object that does not exist in ultimate reality?" In other words, how does a dhamma (as you understand it) differ from a concept?
Although snipping unnecessary writing is next to godliness, I would appreciate a larger segment of the post to see the context of what I was saying. The idea of "creating a concept that does not exist" in general does not give me a great idea of what I was referring to.
I will guess for now that I was talking about one's view of a dhamma as a discrete frozen object which lives for a tiny moment with its "characteristic" intact the entire time it exists, which makes it a kind of absolute object that can be identified and have all its attributes clearly listed and understood, as though there were no changes taking place during its momentary existence, which is not accurate. That view creates a view of a dhamma that is false, because a dhamma is constantly changing. The idea that anicca, for instance, is a "frozen characteristic" that somehow appears in a single frozen moment of a dhamma's existence, is not correct, because the dhamma is changing, demonstrating anicca in action, during its entire brief existence.
According to Abhidhamma and commentary, there are three phases of existence for a dhamma. This both contradicts the idea that the dhamma is the absolute smallest measure of reality that cannot be further broken down -- because it is being broken down into three smaller phases each one of which is different by virtue of its phase, and thus has a differently composed dhamma within its existence -- and that the dhammas components are frozen and definite. The dhamma may not be further broken down in commentary, but the fact is that it could be specified when a particular cetasika is acting and how that action coordinates with other cetasikas and how this coordinates with the three phases. In other words, there are micro-actions taking place within the dhamma's existence that are smaller than the dhamma as a single unit, and do break it down further. In addition the actions of these cetasikas is phased as well and break down into the three phases of arising, change while standing, falling away, just as the dhamma does, and so there is no moment at which the dhamma is "fixed in place" and can be defined as x or y.
In addition, the three phases cannot be static either. The arising of a dhamma does not happen in a single "jump" and then "jump" again to change while standing. The three phases of arising, change while standing/functioning and falling away also undergo constant change in order to live out their conditional existence. The three phases is also a convenient breakdown that represents constant change, so the whole idea of a single definable dhamma that has a definite existence at a given moment is just not accurate. It is a more-or-less accurate summary but does not fully describe the nature of the dhamma as it is either in a constant state of arising change, functioning change or falling away change until it is completely gone.
Anicca is continuous and absolute and denies the existence of any static object at all. That's it's entire point.
How is this different from imagining a concept and mistaking it for a dhamma? It doesn't differ at all! It is another false concept mistaken for a reality. Instead of mistaking a "car" for a reality instead of a concept, you are mistaking a "dhamma" for a reality when it is really a concept as well. The dhamma that exists in a state of constant change is not a concept, it is a reality, but the description of it as a static entity is not accurate, and is just another false concept. It is even denied by the Abhidhamma and commentary descriptions themselves, and yet the idea of a static dhamma with a fixed, unchanging characteristic persists in the mind of those who want a convenient model to refer to.
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- Hi Sarah.
--- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "sarah" <sarahprocterabbott@...> wrote:
> S: Better to just talk about realities, paramattha dhammas that can be understood now. I think this is more productive than discussions about formal meditation.
> This morning at breakfast, another swimmer started asking me about retreats and meditation because of stress issues. I just started talking about 'now', about seeing now, hearing now, 'meditation' now, even in the noisy cafe. Otherwise, there's always a thinking about another time, another place, never any understanding or awareness now. She appreciated it!
I continue to think this is a very "zen" approach to Dhamma - I think if you called it "zen" you'd probably convert a bunch of Mahayanists, as it is very appealing, and I agree really is the heart of becoming aware, which can only happen at this moment now.
A favorite quote of mine is sort of analogous in its simplicity, from the avant-garde saxaphonist/bass clarinetist Eric Dolphy, now deceased: "Music, after it's over, it's gone in the air - you can never capture it again."
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