Discourse 4 – Sakkaya Ditthi – What is “a Person”?

Welcome! Forums Three Marks of Existence Discourses Discourse 4 – Sakkaya Ditthi – What is “a Person”?

Viewing 17 reply threads
  • Author
    Posts
    • #14211
      Lal
      Keymaster

      This discussion topic is on the fourth desana on “ Sakkaya Ditthi – What is ‘a Person’?”:

      Three Marks of Existence – English Discourses

    • #14227
      y not
      Participant

      Indeed, what IS a ‘person’ ? It changes all the time, not only during a lifetime but during the course of innumerable lifetimes – so much is clear.

      Now, a ‘person’, an ever-changing ‘person’ is in samsara from beginingless time, that is to say, there never was a time when the person was not. I use the word ‘person’to adhere to the title of the topic under discussion-it may be called an entity, an individuality, a being, a self, a Self, a lifestream – the ‘world’ has chosen the word ‘self’to denote it, but it does not matter.

      Let us now substitute this word’ person’ with the word ‘I’. ‘I’ have been in samsara from beginingless time; that is, something in me or around me or in some way connected with me has withstood and survived all the changes during that time to find I-self here and now typing a post about I-self. This I-self is now striving to rid I-self forever of suffering by attaining release, Nibbana ,forever after. I-self stands now mid-way in Eternity with beginningless samasara in the past, the attainment of Nibbana being the mid-point, and endless time in Nibbana afterwards. Granted that there is constant change in a being, still how then is eternal existence denied to a being? Is not this I-self who has been so long in samsara the same I-self who is now striving to get out of it and who will in time be out of it forever if he succeeeds?

      One thing we can admit straightaway: there is eternality as far as at least the past is concerned. The very idea of ‘eternality in the past’ should not be a cause for amazement at all, for we are used to it when we conceive of cardinal numbers as infinite. We start off with the number 1, so we do have a beginning but no end – this is ‘infinity in the future’ or ‘eternality in the future’ The terms infinity and eternity , that is begininglessness and endlessness in space and in time are to me one concept. If we now conceive of the series of numbers starting with -1, -2 etc, then too we have infinity, this time extending the imaginaty series of numbers infinitely backwards from 0. It is the same. This would then illustrate our time in samsara.

      The reason why ‘there is no discernible beginning to life’, why
      ‘living beings have gone through innumerable birth-rebirth processes without a conceivable beginning’ is that if it were otherwise then existence would have had to arise out of non-existence, Being from non-Being. And non-existence itself does not exist. It is only a concept. Only existence exists. And because Beings cannot have come into existence at any point in time, then Time itself cannot have had a beginning. In fact this was the first ‘fact of existence’ that I remember contemplating when I was still a boy, that and the Infinity of Space, and what MUST follow from those two concepts taken as one – the criterion by which I judge the validity of a theory or concept. Anything inconsistent with it can only be partially or temporarily true.

    • #14252
      Johnny_Lim
      Participant

      Hi Lal,

      In this discourse, you mentioned about attachment to the rupakkhandha of the dense body, and the various things that people do to beautify and maintain this highly esteemed possession. There are people who are not of the most narcissistic nature, who do not care much about their looks and body types but are so attached to their worldly knowledge and wisdom that they will do anything to pursue and maintain their goals. Falling short of which, would render them into deep depression and agitation. This lot of people are evident in areas such as philosophy, politics, music, arts and anything that has to do with creativity, artistry and intellectual works. Can we say that these people are actually attached to the other 4 khandhas of feelings, perceptions, sankhara, and consciousness? Seems like attachment to mind works of the mental body can be even more detrimental to the physical body for some. This group of people might not even believe in the concept of a gandhabba let alone rebirth. They merely associate their khandhas with their self in various ways which the Buddha rejected.

    • #14253
      Lal
      Keymaster

      Yes, Johnny. I talked only about a fraction of the fraction of pancakkhadha.

      I talked mainly about one’s own body, which is only a part of the rupakkhandha. But it is an important part that give rise to sakkaya ditthi.

      One can then think about the external rupa that one is attached to: spouse, children, enemies (attachment via hate), material things that one own, so on.
      Then those give rise to the four mental aggregates: vedana, sanna, sankhara, vinnana. They are therefore inherently connected with the rupakkhandha. For example, one forms vedana, sanna, sankhara, vinnana about one’s own body.

      When one gets attached to any single material thing, a whole host of mental aggregates get involved around it.

      For example, when one sees the beauty of one’s body in the mirror, one may become happy (vedana), get the sanna that one is better looking than so and so, generate thoughts about how to maintain it that way or make it even better by doing various things (sankhara), and an overall sense of satisfaction about the future (vinnana).

      When one sees a grey hair for the first time in the mirror, or if the face gets disfigured due an injury, for example, those may reverse.

      So, there are million ways to contemplate on this complex issue.
      Also, we need to keep in mind that even the rupakkhandha is mental too, in the sense that when we see a rupa, it is instantly added to the memory as a mental impression of that rupa (together with the four mental aggregates about that rupa). See: “Pancupādānakkhandha – It is All Mental“.

      For example, when we recall seeing a person (or even oneself) 20 years ago, the picture that comes mind is that of that person at that time. That is part of the rupakkhandha, but it is just a mental impression.

      Furthermore, we form attachment to only a fraction of the five aggregates (pancakkhandha), and those are the panca upadanakkhandha. I have discussed the following example: Pancakkhadnha is like a huge wall, and when a fly lands on the wall, it grabs only an insignificant part of the wall surface with it tiny feet.

      Everything that we see, hear, smell, taste, touch, and think about is included in the pancakkhadha (including future plans). But we get attached to only a fraction of them. Until one sees the futility (and danger) of those attachments, it is still hard to get rid of those attachments.

      It is very important to make the connection to dasa akusala and micca ditthi (and the bad outcomes arising due to that connection), which is hardly talked about these days. But that is where the real connection to future suffering is.

      • #14255
        Embodied
        Spectator

        Hello,

        Johnny wrote “Seems like attachment to mind works of the mental body can be even more detrimental to the physical body for some.”
        Yes an attachment it’s an attachment thus a discrimination thus one more chain…?
        How to live within the world without being attached to nothing ? Not even to non-attachment ? Suspension of judgement it’s terribly difficult to achieve.

        • #14261
          Johnny_Lim
          Participant

          Hi Embodied,

          As long as we still have ignorance on Tilakkhana and the Four Noble Truths, we will continue to have a sense of self, a self that has aspirations for worldly things and thus will crave for worldly sense pleasures (sankhara paccaya vinnana). And when we crave and acquire sense pleasures, we further accentuate the belief of this self. i.e. we would value highly of this physical body of ours and marvel at our creativity and accomplishments (namarupa paccaya vinnana, vinnana paccaya sankhara). The more we do this back and forth back and forth, the more future existences we are pro-creating for ourselves. The more sankhara we do, the more ignorant we become. The more ignorant we are, the more sankhara we do. It is like a dog going around in circles trying to catch its own tail to no avail.

        • #14397
          Embodied
          Spectator

          Hi all,

          “When one gets attached to any single material thing, a whole host of mental aggregates get involved around it.” :
          – The “sine qua non” condition for not getting attached to a single material thing is not to experience it at all,or is to experience it but without getting attached ?

          Thanks

          • #14398
            Lal
            Keymaster

            Embodied said: “The “sine qua non” condition for not getting attached to a single material thing is not to experience it at all,or is to experience it but without getting attached ?”

            This is a very good question.

            The goal is to eventually “be able to experience it but without getting attached”.

            It is important to realize that this CANNOT be accomplished directly by will power alone, even though sheer will power should be used to prevent obviously immoral actions.

            One will be able to accomplish it over time, when one does two things:
            1. Cultivates Anapana (Satipatthana) where one forcefully rejects bad thoughts and cultivates good thoughts.
            2. Cultivates anicca sanna over time.

            1 and 2 depend on each other and feed on each other.

            This is the key. There is a lot to think about it, and that is what I tried to do emphasize with the 5 sets of discourses on Tilakkhana. I am not sure how many are able to grasp this.

            • #14402
              Embodied
              Spectator

              Lal,

              “2. Cultivates anicca sanna over time.”

              Yes i’ve been doing it also through body decay & corpse/death contemplation in me and in others …still didn’t memorised the Pali words for this.

              Thanks

    • #14254
      Johnny_Lim
      Participant

      Hi Lal,

      “When one gets attached to any single material thing, a whole host of mental aggregates get involved around it.”
      .
      .
      .
      “Also, we need to keep in mind that even the rupakkhandha is mental too, in the sense that when we see a rupa, it is instantly added to the memory as a mental impression of that rupa…”

      I would reckon that the rupakkhandha is akin to the namarupa in the akusala-mula pavutti paticca samuppada cycles. i.e. namarupa paccaya vinnana, thereby giving rise to our defiled consciousness. If that is the case, is there any distinction between the vinnana in the akusala-mula pavutti paticca samuppada cycles and the vinnanakkhandha in the case of pancaupadanakkhandha?

    • #14263
      Lal
      Keymaster

      Hi Johnny,
      I think the best way to answer your question is to say the following:

      Vinnana means acting without nana or wisdom.

      That basically means acting with either the worse form of avijja with one or more of 10 types of micca ditthi OR just acting without the comprehension of Tilakkhana. The latter case is less dangerous, of course. So, there are different levels of avijja, micca ditthi, and corresponding vinnana.

      So, when akusala-mula pavutti paticca samuppada cycles are in operation, that means acting with vinnana.

      Pancaupadanakkhandha also arises when one is craving for something in this world. So, akusala-mula pavutti paticca samuppada cycles must be in operation.

      • #14267
        Johnny_Lim
        Participant

        Understood. Thanks, Lal.

    • #14381
      Johnny_Lim
      Participant

      Hi Lal,

      I read a bhante’s book which says materiality has one of the 4 origins:

      1. Kamma-born materiality (kammaja-rupa)
      2. Consciousness-born materiality (cittaja-rupa)
      3. Temperature-born materiality (uttuja-rupa)
      4. Nutriment-born materiality (aharaja-rupa)

      Did the Buddha teach about these stuffs or is this the work of contemporary monks?

    • #14384
      Lal
      Keymaster

      Hi Johnny, please keep the questions open so everyone can answer.

      Yes. That is correct.

      However, some of those are “secondary rupa”. The root cause is always the mind. So, javana citta are the one’s that really cause the whole world to arise, and it needs a deep analysis to cover fully. However, this is what is discussed at the “Nāma & Rūpa to Nāmarūpa” subsection.

      However, here are the key points:
      1. Cittaja rupa are the rupa or energies created by the mind in javana citta.
      2.Those energies remain in the nama loka for a very long time, until their energies slowly run out. If suitable conditions appear they then bring vipaka via kammaja rupa. For example, at the cuti-patisandhi moment the hadaya vatthu and pasada rupa created are such kammaja rupa (kammaja means generated via kamma).
      3. Cittaja and kammaja rupa give rise to utuja rupa. Utuja rupa have nothing to with “temperature” though. These are basically those rupa that we experience (material things).
      4. Aharaja rupa are those created by a body during digestion, for example.
      Therefore, kammaja, utuja, aharaja rupa all have true origins in cittaja rupa. This is why it is said that “mano pubbangama dhamma..” or “mind is the precursor..”.

      • #14390
        Johnny_Lim
        Participant

        For some reason I edited this post and saved it but did not appear. Shall repost it here…

        The illusive nature of bhūta as mentioned by Lal in his post made me think further on the Temperature-born materiality (utuja-rūpa).

        It is said that all inanimate materiality is born of and maintained by temperature, which contains of the fire element (tejo-dhātu). The fire element in minerals and metals are very powerful and could produce many generations of materiality. There are also soft objects that have weak fire element that are not long-lasting. When materiality deteriorates, it is because the fire element no longer produces new materiality but instead consumes itself. I think this is the reason why fruits will get over-ripen, electronics will fail, and corpse will rot. At this juncture, we can relate this to the anicca nature of things. The illusive nature of bhūta is also of anicca nature, which essentially conveys a sense of unpredictability. The above examples of fruits over-ripening and rotting of a corpse are pretty much predictable. But I am sure we all have encountered things that failed on us in the least expected ways (viparinama nature).

        So, if the most fundamental bhūta has this illusive, anicca, and viparinama nature, what else can be said for the denser dhātu? It is like saying a car that is made up of constituents that are of anicca nature…can we expect a car not to be of anicca nature? Finally, when one sees anicca, dukkha, or anatta, one would be able to comprehend the transitive relationship with the other 2 characteristics of existence.

    • #14399
      y not
      Participant

      “Embodied said: “The “sine qua non” condition for not getting attached to a single material thing is not to experience it at all,or is to experience it but without getting attached ?”

      Is it possible not to experience material things?

      You are in a material world, all around and about; your very body is made up of planet Earth. Out of its elements an ovum and a spermatozoa developed giving rise to an organism that you entered. Now without this experiencing (that nothing there can be kept to one’s satisfaction,the realization of their ultimate worthlessness and their repeated arising and destruction) without this delusion – another word, the ‘wordly’ word, for anicca- how could there in time arise the urge to strive to be free of it? A sense of unsatisfactoriness, dukkha,results – and can this dukkha be Utimate Existence,the Perfect State, Atta? This is just one progression,as I see, put in terms more comprehensible in the West.

      The solution, as Embodied hinted, is to experience, yes, but without getting attached. But that is the hard bit. The very nature of everything we experience is the nature of that which we are made of – it will be the same in higher realms, finer and finer sense objects for finer and finer sense faculties for finer and finer ‘physical’ bodies, so there is no escape there either. Whichever world we make ourselves fit for, that world we attain.

      But all worlds are temporary AND anicca as well. To go beyond all the worlds, beyond all becoming, to attain the Deathless, Nibbana which is Atta, everlasting perfection in all senses , sukkha and nicca. You stop getting attached only when you see and experience time after time the hidden dukkha in all attachment. Then there is no way back possible.

      So the field of endeavour is anicca (and asubha).

    • #14400
      Lal
      Keymaster

      Very well stated, y not.

    • #14403
      y not
      Participant

      Embodied:

      My post (March 9th) attempts to convey my ideas in ‘western’ terms, using the pali words only to connect those ideas with.

      HOWEVER, I had not read Lal’s post written 2 hrs or so before mine, which is more comprehensive. I missed the ‘1. Cultivates Anapana (Satipatthana) where one forcefully rejects bad thoughts and cultivates good thoughts’ bit altogether’ in my own assessment, for instance.

      This is just to make it clear that I am in no way a teacher and do not pretend to be one on here. What I say are only my ideas, no more than that. I felt I should say this so as not to cause confusion in you, or worse, to deviate you from the Path.

      y not

      • #14421
        Embodied
        Spectator

        Y Not,

        I suppose we all here have already a travelled “road” behind us.
        As for “confusion” and “deviation” no worries – thanks to the “road already travelled” I don’t get easily confused let alone deviated, but… Thanks for your concern !
        The etymological issue East / West I like alot Pâli however I don’t find its knowledge imperative to evolve within the path.

    • #14422
      y not
      Participant

      Embodied:

      Travelled a road, yes, and for much too long; for since that Road is without beginning, it can only be toooooo long.

      As to the knowledge (not so much the use) of Pali, I used to think much as you do,but I have come to see its value. Many words have multiple meanings (to say nothing of those translated wrongly) and we, or I for one, would not have found those out by ourselves, or only partly so, but then with great difficulty, if at all.

      I see what you mean and I agree that if the knowledge of Pali were a prerequisite, then all those on the Way would come from the Indian sub-continent – and the Path cannot have such race and geographical restrictions. Moreover, he who has made himself ready to grasp in now has been preparing himself for many many lives, in which he could have been of any race, culture or location. That is why I tried to ‘simplify’ the Pali terms and apply them to English, as far as I am able to, of course. And that is only MY understanding.

      So I will be ever grateful to Lal here; besides the learning, I have had to UN-learn some things as well.

      y not

    • #14423
      Lal
      Keymaster

      Yes. I do understand the frustration of Embodied and many others. But as y not says, we all have been born all over the world many, many times. We all have been exposed to Pali in the past, and one can “pick it up” with time. Of course, it will come a bit easier to those who have been exposed in more recent births.

      Also, if you have not already see this: “Why is it Necessary to Learn Key Pali Words?“.

      • #14426
        Embodied
        Spectator

        Lal,

        It’s ok i don’t feel frustated. For reasons that would be too long to explain a Portuguese person is naturally inclined towards a language as Pâli; i’ll just say that one of the reason is that vowels pronunciation is quite similar to Portuguese language itself.So no problem with memorising the key-words.
        I’m attracted to Pâli even more than to sanskrit but do i have to use the key words each time i post something ? And second question:
        – I read somewhere that it wasn’t Siddartha’s everyday language – is this true?

    • #14428
      Embodied
      Spectator

      Just found the answer (Maghadhi) to my second question, thanks.

    • #14441
      Lal
      Keymaster

      Embodied said: “I’m attracted to Pâli even more than to sanskrit but do i have to use the key words each time i post something ?”

      I am not sure what you mean.
      We use words to express ourselves. Which words one uses does not matter much, as long as one can convey what one means.

      However, I find that it is not possible to convey what is meant by key words like anicca or dukkha by one English word or even many English words. For example, some people use “impermanence” to replace anicca, but that is not even close to the true meaning of anicca.

      If you can give an example of what you mean, that would be helpful.

    • #14443
      Embodied
      Spectator

      Lal

      No need of examples, your answer fully clarifies the subject.Yes I’m acquainted with the bad translation of Anicca as Impermanence. Since I started studying Siddartha’s ways that I wasn’t confortable with such translation.
      You give here in the site some good examples of what Anicca is in English,through some key-phrases like ” the way we deal with impermanence ” which (imo !)is much more revealing than ” Anicca = impermanence ” AND directly brings us to the meaning of Anatta… (permutation /interchangeability of meanings).

      Thank you

    • #20884
      Nikita
      Participant

      In this discourse it was said that Gandhabbas of all living beings are of the same size, smaller that the size of an atom. Lal also drew an example of bodybuilders sweating so hard to make their physical body big, while being ignorant of their manomaya kaya being infinitesimal.
      But in many posts on Gandhabba here, it is said that manomaya kaya overlaps physical body: “As the physical body grows, first inside the womb and then outside the womb, the fine body of the manomaya kaya expands with it when the physical body grows from the single cell. Thus overlapping the physical body that we see, there is a very fine body (manomaya kaya) of the gandhabba.”
      So, if I get it right, that means that manomaya kaya of a bodybuilder does actually get bigger when he’s growing in size. And according to other posts on the gandhabba, it copies the shape of a physical body it left after death.

    • #20886
      Lal
      Keymaster

      Nikita said: “So, if I get it right, that means that manomaya kaya of a bodybuilder does actually get bigger when he’s growing in size.”

      We cannot look at the gandhabba kaya (or the manomaya kaya) in the same way that we look at or perceive a physical body.
      – Gandhabba kaya is more like an energy field that can expand with the physical body.
      – When the gandhabba kaya comes out of a dead physical body and has to wait for another womb, it can grow in “density” by absorbing various odors. Then it can become somewhat like a “fine misty figure” that some humans can even see (or be captured in some photographs). I think that is how the concept of a “ghost” came about.
      – That “ghostly figure” resembles that of the previous human body. It may grow “hair” and “finger nails” (in fine form) with time and that is why they look scary. Even a normal human would look scary after a few years of not cutting hair and finger nails.

Viewing 17 reply threads
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.