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How to reconcile daily life with the Three Characteristics?

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How to reconcile daily life with the Three Characteristics? J C 2/3/14 3:01 AM
RE: How to reconcile daily life with the Three Characteristics? Ian And 2/3/14 11:30 AM
RE: How to reconcile daily life with the Three Characteristics? J C 2/3/14 12:01 PM
RE: How to reconcile daily life with the Three Characteristics? J C 2/3/14 12:16 PM
RE: How to reconcile daily life with the Three Characteristics? Dream Walker 2/3/14 1:58 PM
RE: How to reconcile daily life with the Three Characteristics? J C 2/3/14 6:31 PM
RE: How to reconcile daily life with the Three Characteristics? Dream Walker 2/4/14 12:33 AM
RE: How to reconcile daily life with the Three Characteristics? J C 2/4/14 7:09 AM
RE: How to reconcile daily life with the Three Characteristics? Dream Walker 2/4/14 10:52 AM
RE: How to reconcile daily life with the Three Characteristics? J C 2/5/14 2:09 AM
RE: How to reconcile daily life with the Three Characteristics? Dream Walker 2/5/14 2:32 AM
RE: How to reconcile daily life with the Three Characteristics? Jane Laurel Carrington 2/5/14 9:05 AM
RE: How to reconcile daily life with the Three Characteristics? J C 2/5/14 3:07 PM
RE: How to reconcile daily life with the Three Characteristics? J C 2/5/14 1:29 AM
RE: How to reconcile daily life with the Three Characteristics? J C 2/3/14 8:34 PM
RE: How to reconcile daily life with the Three Characteristics? J C 2/3/14 9:48 PM
RE: How to reconcile daily life with the Three Characteristics? Dream Walker 2/4/14 12:40 AM
RE: How to reconcile daily life with the Three Characteristics? J C 2/4/14 6:51 AM
RE: How to reconcile daily life with the Three Characteristics? Dream Walker 2/4/14 1:15 PM
RE: How to reconcile daily life with the Three Characteristics? Fitter Stoke 2/4/14 9:13 AM
RE: How to reconcile daily life with the Three Characteristics? J C 2/5/14 1:48 AM
RE: How to reconcile daily life with the Three Characteristics? Dada Kind 2/5/14 4:58 PM
RE: How to reconcile daily life with the Three Characteristics? T DC 2/5/14 7:14 PM
RE: How to reconcile daily life with the Three Characteristics? Andrew Mayer 2/7/14 6:04 PM
RE: How to reconcile daily life with the Three Characteristics? (D Z) Dhru Val 2/7/14 12:33 AM
RE: How to reconcile daily life with the Three Characteristics? Tom Tom 2/7/14 3:54 AM
RE: How to reconcile daily life with the Three Characteristics? J C 2/7/14 6:18 AM
RE: How to reconcile daily life with the Three Characteristics? (D Z) Dhru Val 2/8/14 3:05 AM
RE: How to reconcile daily life with the Three Characteristics? J C 2/11/14 5:35 AM
RE: How to reconcile daily life with the Three Characteristics? (D Z) Dhru Val 2/12/14 11:51 PM
RE: How to reconcile daily life with the Three Characteristics? Dream Walker 2/11/14 10:34 AM
For purposes of doing insight practices, we observe the three characteristics, including the observations that there is no entity which can control your actions, that you are not able to do anything other than what happens, that there is pain in any sort of desire other than facing current experiences, and that there is no free will.

As we meditate more, we do this both on and off the cushion, so it becomes part of daily life. The recognition that you don't actually have a choice can reduce suffering.

Yet in daily life, for purposes of ethics, right action, and living a good life, to meet your own goals and be kind to others, it is useful to assume that you do have a choice; otherwise it doesn't make sense to strive to live a better life, be more compassionate, and act more ethically.

I am confused as to how to reconcile the two, as this seems to go right at the heart of the matter. It seems like sila, in the sense of agonizing over choices, struggling to make changes, wanting to do things other than what happens, which is the very thing we need in order to live an ethical life, is also the very thing we are trying to stop doing in insight practices!

I understand that there is a general principle that "you think you need these aspects of self and it will be a problem when they are gone, but it turns out that you actually don't and life goes on," which applies here and in many other situations.

I am struggling to understand this as applied to sila, however. What does trying to be more ethical look like when you are also working to understand the three characteristics in everyday life, or once you are enlightened? How can this be reconciled?

RE: How to reconcile daily life with the Three Characteristics?
Answer
2/3/14 11:30 AM as a reply to J C.
J C:
For purposes of doing insight practices, we observe the three characteristics, including the observations that there is no entity which can control your actions, that you are not able to do anything other than what happens, that there is pain in any sort of desire other than facing current experiences, and that there is no free will.

As we meditate more, we do this both on and off the cushion, so it becomes part of daily life. The recognition that you don't actually have a choice can reduce suffering.

Before I address what seems to be the wrong views listed here, I would like to know where (from what source) you learned these views. I don't know what you have been studying, but this isn't anything (other than a corruption) that Gotama taught.

Where are you getting these ideas from? Perhaps it is just a matter of an incomplete comprehension of specific detail in the communication of the ideas you list here (in other words poor word choice), or there is real confusion with regard to how these ideas are to be viewed. My intuition is that it is a combination of both, with an emphasis on the latter.

For instance, who taught you that "there is no free will?" Where is this idea coming from? Show me the chapter and verse where anything like this is being espoused in Dhamma teachings.

RE: How to reconcile daily life with the Three Characteristics?
Answer
2/3/14 12:01 PM as a reply to Ian And.
Ian And:
J C:
For purposes of doing insight practices, we observe the three characteristics, including the observations that there is no entity which can control your actions, that you are not able to do anything other than what happens, that there is pain in any sort of desire other than facing current experiences, and that there is no free will.

As we meditate more, we do this both on and off the cushion, so it becomes part of daily life. The recognition that you don't actually have a choice can reduce suffering.

Before I address what seems to be the wrong views listed here, I would like to know where (from what source) you learned these views. I don't know what you have been studying, but this isn't anything (other than a corruption) that Gotama taught.

Where are you getting these ideas from? Perhaps it is just a matter of an incomplete comprehension of specific detail in the communication of the ideas you list here (in other words poor word choice), or there is real confusion with regard to how these ideas are to be viewed. My intuition is that it is a combination of both, with an emphasis on the latter.

For instance, who taught you that "there is no free will?" Where is this idea coming from? Show me the chapter and verse where anything like this is being espoused in Dhamma teachings.


My practice is primarily based on MCTB, not the suttas, which I am unfamiliar with (though interested in). The "no free will" part comes from Daniel's writings on how he no longer perceived a center point, doer, controller, or sense of agency after becoming an arahat. My understanding is that this is what anatta is, though I am certainly open to reconsidering and I'd like to hear your thoughts as well as suttas. Please elaborate!

RE: How to reconcile daily life with the Three Characteristics?
Answer
2/3/14 12:16 PM as a reply to Ian And.
Put another way, if there is no separate permanent self, and if all things are subject to dependent origination, cause and effect (that is, determined by the past), there is no possibility of free will, which I define as: you, as a self, freely choosing between two possibilities of how the future will go. Your actions are conditioned, not "freely chosen." Am I wrong?

RE: How to reconcile daily life with the Three Characteristics?
Answer
2/3/14 1:58 PM as a reply to J C.
J C:
For purposes of doing insight practices, we observe the three characteristics, including the observations that there is no entity which can control your actions, that you are not able to do anything other than what happens, that there is pain in any sort of desire other than facing current experiences, and that there is no free will.

As we meditate more, we do this both on and off the cushion, so it becomes part of daily life. The recognition that you don't actually have a choice can reduce suffering.

Yet in daily life, for purposes of ethics, right action, and living a good life, to meet your own goals and be kind to others, it is useful to assume that you do have a choice; otherwise it doesn't make sense to strive to live a better life, be more compassionate, and act more ethically.

I am confused as to how to reconcile the two, as this seems to go right at the heart of the matter. It seems like sila, in the sense of agonizing over choices, struggling to make changes, wanting to do things other than what happens, which is the very thing we need in order to live an ethical life, is also the very thing we are trying to stop doing in insight practices!

I understand that there is a general principle that "you think you need these aspects of self and it will be a problem when they are gone, but it turns out that you actually don't and life goes on," which applies here and in many other situations.

I am struggling to understand this as applied to sila, however. What does trying to be more ethical look like when you are also working to understand the three characteristics in everyday life, or once you are enlightened? How can this be reconciled?

J C:
Put another way, if there is no separate permanent self, and if all things are subject to dependent origination, cause and effect (that is, determined by the past), there is no possibility of free will, which I define as: you, as a self, freely choosing between two possibilities of how the future will go. Your actions are conditioned, not "freely chosen." Am I wrong?


This is not an easy nut to crack and the way you are combining concepts may not be adding up to what you want. What is it you want? What is your goal? What results do you expect from achieving the goal?
Here is a list of concepts you have put out so far....I have no idea what your understanding is on any of them.
1) purposes of doing insight practices
2) the three characteristics
3) observations that there is no entity
4) which can control your actions
5) you are not able to do anything other than what happens
6) there is pain in any sort of desire other than facing current experiences
7) there is no free will
8) purposes of ethics, right action, and living a good life
9) it is useful to assume that you do have a choice
10) otherwise it doesn't make sense to strive to live a better life, be more compassionate, and act more ethically.
11) there is no separate permanent self
12) all things are subject to dependent origination
13) there is no possibility of free will
14) you, as a self, freely choosing between two possibilities of how the future will go
Whew, thats a lot to combine and any misunderstanding of the concepts might make the combining incorrect. I mean can you even combine this all in the way you want to make the question make sense?
Lets ignore everything but 11, 12 and 13. Your adding up the ideas of no-self + dependent origination = no free will
Why are you adding no-self? Dependent origination = no free will from one perspective.
Analogy time, if you understood he code running and how the computer works could you predict the next thing that would happen based off of past conditions? You would have to stop the computer at every tick of the internal clock and read the state of everything going on but it is possible on a small scale. Can we apply this to a macro scale? Would it mean no free will from that perspective? Would it negate the other perspectives wherein free will directly seems observable?
Can't we have a particle wave duality? -Dr Quantum - Double Slit Experiment
This is a fun rabbit hole to run down and I have done so myself. Actually every concept above is a great rabbit hole.
Here is a book/trilogy I recommend if you have time for 800 pages that will answer most of your big questions.
My Big Toe by Thomas Campbell or read it free on google books trilogy
Good luck,
~D

RE: How to reconcile daily life with the Three Characteristics?
Answer
2/3/14 6:31 PM as a reply to Dream Walker.
Dream Walker:

This is not an easy nut to crack and the way you are combining concepts may not be adding up to what you want. What is it you want? What is your goal? What results do you expect from achieving the goal?


Well most of these concepts aren't directly related to my question... my goal is enlightenment, I expect to see through the illusion of free will, and my understanding of most of those things is pretty much based on what MCTB says -- I'm not sure how to go into more details unless you ask a more specific question.


Here is a list of concepts you have put out so far....I have no idea what your understanding is on any of them.

11) there is no separate permanent self
12) all things are subject to dependent origination
13) there is no possibility of free will

Lets ignore everything but 11, 12 and 13. Your adding up the ideas of no-self + dependent origination = no free will
Why are you adding no-self? Dependent origination = no free will from one perspective.


Yeah, those are two ways of saying much the same thing. No self means that there's no one to make decisions or exercise free will, and dependent origination means that everything we do is determined by the past.

I really like [url=http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Gateless_Gate/Hyakujo's_Fox]the story of Hyakujo's fox on this topic. I think it nicely ties together anatta, dependent origination, and free will by saying "The enlightened man is one with the law of causation."


Analogy time, if you understood he code running and how the computer works could you predict the next thing that would happen based off of past conditions? You would have to stop the computer at every tick of the internal clock and read the state of everything going on but it is possible on a small scale. Can we apply this to a macro scale? Would it mean no free will from that perspective? Would it negate the other perspectives wherein free will directly seems observable?
Can't we have a particle wave duality?


The problem is that according to quantum physics the universe is constantly splitting into separate branches, so you'd be predicting all the different branches. But yes, I think the laws of physics don't leave room for free will, and this negates the illusion that we can freely choose one of many options.

If you like, I can try to simplify my questions: how does one observe no-self while trying to become more ethical? what is it like for an enlightened person to work on sila or to make ethical "choices" when they know they really can't do anything other than what happens?

By the way, I really like your posts on subroutines of the self; I've found your writing to be very insightful.

RE: How to reconcile daily life with the Three Characteristics?
Answer
2/3/14 8:34 PM as a reply to J C.
Here is something Daniel wrote that relates:

34. This notion of "best" obviously implies choices, and the relative assumption of choices, of will, and of an Agent that can make those choices is a good working assumption for all moral work, and for those with more direct and ultimate understandings, namely those of natural causality, empty unfolding, and selflessness, is still not contradictory to them, but becomes complementary instead. It also implies defined and findable criteria for "best" which obviously can't be found, and thus either becomes on the one hand an article of Faith, and on the other hand, a meta-logic or vision-logic point of real understanding, or more often some fusion of both perspectives.

http://integrateddaniel.info/magick-and-the-brahma-viharas/

RE: How to reconcile daily life with the Three Characteristics?
Answer
2/3/14 9:48 PM as a reply to J C.
Further thoughts...

Maybe mind just works to better control the body, without anyone doing it. Maybe it just works to change itself to become ethical, with no one making the change.

There is no free will, yet minds change... in the changing, just the change.

Maybe just the fact that there is an intention there to become more ethical, with no one actually making the intention, means that the change is happening.

Make sense?

RE: How to reconcile daily life with the Three Characteristics?
Answer
2/4/14 12:33 AM as a reply to J C.
J C:
Well most of these concepts aren't directly related to my question... my goal is enlightenment, I expect to see through the illusion of free will, and my understanding of most of those things is pretty much based on what MCTB says -- I'm not sure how to go into more details unless you ask a more specific question.

An intellectual understanding of free will etc. will not necessarily help in accomplishing your goal. Daniel is explaining things from an experiential point of view. When you get to where he is at you will experience the same things and directly understand them. (this never stops me though....go monkey mind!!)
J C:

Yeah, those are two ways of saying much the same thing. No self means that there's no one to make decisions or exercise free will, and dependent origination means that everything we do is determined by the past.

No self means there is no perception of one making decisions...big difference. (see more below)
J C:

I really like [url=http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Gateless_Gate/Hyakujo's_Fox]the story of Hyakujo's fox on this topic. I think it nicely ties together anatta, dependent origination, and free will by saying "The enlightened man is one with the law of causation."
I read it.....too zen for me. I like my Koans spoon fed to me....I'm dense that way. grins
J C:

The problem is that according to quantum physics the universe is constantly splitting into separate branches, so you'd be predicting all the different branches. But yes, I think the laws of physics don't leave room for free will, and this negates the illusion that we can freely choose one of many options.
The branches may or may not be true. I was talking about "perception"; can a particle be a wave at the same time....from what viewpoint is the wave not true and visa versa.
J C:

If you like, I can try to simplify my questions: how does one observe no-self while trying to become more ethical? what is it like for an enlightened person to work on sila or to make ethical "choices" when they know they really can't do anything other than what happens?
One does not observe an object called "no-self". When the selfing process shuts down for the first time, that is the time you observe the difference between the process running and it's absence. You only ever saw the results of having a process, never the process itself. Then another process goes and then another. Same thing happens you observe what it is like after the fact. There is only what is happening without the selfing processes filtering reality. Everything that happened before happens after....only the perception of it changes. At fourth path does the perception of free will completely disappear? Dunno, not there yet. I can see my hands doing their own thing right now typing but I'm not really thinking about free will that much...that rabbit hole doesn't seem too important yet and if I experience it then I'll really know.
J C:

By the way, I really like your posts on subroutines of the self; I've found your writing to be very insightful.

Thanks, I enjoyed it a bunch and never really got all my thoughts out. I mixed the skandas in and it bogged down a bit too much....I have been reworking the ideas into a early child developmental model now that I like. I might go back to it again if I have time.

RE: How to reconcile daily life with the Three Characteristics?
Answer
2/4/14 12:40 AM as a reply to J C.
J C:
Further thoughts...

Maybe mind just works to better control the body, without anyone doing it. Maybe it just works to change itself to become ethical, with no one making the change.

There is no free will, yet minds change... in the changing, just the change.

Maybe just the fact that there is an intention there to become more ethical, with no one actually making the intention, means that the change is happening.

Make sense?

Now your sounding all highfaluting wise and stuff. I agree completely.
Without the extra selfing processes running the wet ware computer does indeed work better in my opinion. The funny thing is the mind sense of having a "ninja day" but my body like- not so much dude...It is taking some integration. The body seems to be coming around though.

RE: How to reconcile daily life with the Three Characteristics?
Answer
2/4/14 6:51 AM as a reply to Dream Walker.
Dream Walker:
J C:
Further thoughts...

Maybe mind just works to better control the body, without anyone doing it. Maybe it just works to change itself to become ethical, with no one making the change.

There is no free will, yet minds change... in the changing, just the change.

Maybe just the fact that there is an intention there to become more ethical, with no one actually making the intention, means that the change is happening.

Make sense?

Now your sounding all highfaluting wise and stuff. I agree completely.
Without the extra selfing processes running the wet ware computer does indeed work better in my opinion. The funny thing is the mind sense of having a "ninja day" but my body like- not so much dude...It is taking some integration. The body seems to be coming around though.


Ha, I don't know about wise. I've been reading at Liberation Unleashed and Market Eternal (direct pointing sites) and it's been helpful.

So here's how I currently reconcile things. Daniel Ingram, in the Morality chapter of MCTB, wrote:

MCTB:

There are basic assumptions that are extremely helpful when undertaking training in morality. . . .

Thus, we are assuming that what we think, say[,] and do have consequences. When undertaking training in morality, we are assuming that we can control what we think, say[,] and do, thus creating consequences that are beneficial. Rather than accepting our current level of intellectual, emotional[,] and psychological development as being beyond our power to change, we consciously and explicitly take the empowering view that we can work with these aspects of our lives and change them for the better. We assume that we can change our world and our attitudes towards our world. We take responsibility for our actions and their consequences.


My current thoughts are that I disagree with this. It is not helpful to assume that we can control what we think, say, and do. This is not an empowering view. In fact, this leads to suffering, does not facilitate training in morality, and prevents recognition and application of anatta in daily life. More importantly, it's not true.

It is a false dilemma to state that rather than accepting our current level as beyond our power to change, we take the view that we can change them. Neither one is true. It's not true that I can't change myself, and it's not true that I can.. because "I" don't exist. This is the whole point of that koan: I am not the agent of change and I am not subject to change, rather, I am one with change.

I'm just along for the ride; all I can do is observe it. And I observe my mind setting moral training as a goal and changing to that end. But there isn't a me that could, or could not, control it.

Daniel's a lot more experienced at this than I am, and he directly perceives anatta while I can't, so it's very possible I'm totally wrong about this. But I think I'm right.

RE: How to reconcile daily life with the Three Characteristics?
Answer
2/4/14 7:09 AM as a reply to Dream Walker.
Dream Walker:

J C:

Yeah, those are two ways of saying much the same thing. No self means that there's no one to make decisions or exercise free will, and dependent origination means that everything we do is determined by the past.

No self means there is no perception of one making decisions...big difference. (see more below)


I think I disagree, if I understand correctly. There is frequently a perception of one making decisions, but if you observe closely, you see that there isn't actually any self to make them, regardless of what deluded perceptions you might have. I'm not sure I see what you're getting at though.


J C:

If you like, I can try to simplify my questions: how does one observe no-self while trying to become more ethical? what is it like for an enlightened person to work on sila or to make ethical "choices" when they know they really can't do anything other than what happens?


One does not observe an object called "no-self". When the selfing process shuts down for the first time, that is the time you observe the difference between the process running and it's absence. You only ever saw the results of having a process, never the process itself. Then another process goes and then another. Same thing happens you observe what it is like after the fact. There is only what is happening without the selfing processes filtering reality. Everything that happened before happens after....only the perception of it changes. At fourth path does the perception of free will completely disappear? Dunno, not there yet. I can see my hands doing their own thing right now typing but I'm not really thinking about free will that much...that rabbit hole doesn't seem too important yet and if I experience it then I'll really know.


Right, anatta is not an object, it's a characteristic of existence. The results of the selfing process, if I understand correctly, are the delusion of self. By observing closely, observing anatta, you can see that the self is a delusion, and by doing this enough, you can stop the process.

Daniel defined arahat as having no sense of a central agent or controller, which means no perception of free will if I understand correctly.

I haven't attained any path, so please tell me if I'm totally wrong here.


J C:

By the way, I really like your posts on subroutines of the self; I've found your writing to be very insightful.

Thanks, I enjoyed it a bunch and never really got all my thoughts out. I mixed the skandas in and it bogged down a bit too much....I have been reworking the ideas into a early child developmental model now that I like. I might go back to it again if I have time.


I'd like to hear more about this. I'm really interested in the questions of how the self develops. It'd be interesting to see what happens to young children who start practicing vipassana: would they develop some kind of personality disorder or would they never be unenlightened? When should you ideally start vipassana in terms of self-development? If a kid grows up around only enlightened people, would they never develop the delusion of a self?

RE: How to reconcile daily life with the Three Characteristics?
Answer
2/4/14 9:13 AM as a reply to J C.
It seems like this is the sort of problem that arises when you assume an equality between a concept from modern Western society and a concept from Iron Age northern India. While there's probably some overlap between the ancient concept of atman and the modern, post-Cartesian, post-Kantian, post-Nietzschean, post-60s, post-70s, post-whatever concept of a self, there's also probably huge amounts of divergence. If you carelessly conflate those concepts, any question to try to answer with them is going to produce nonsense.

For example, you now find yourself in the position of not being able to find consistency between the Buddha's position on ethics and the Buddha's position on meditation. This has to be an extraordinarily strange outcome. You could imagine the Buddha sort of gently cocking his head to the side in confusion. The entirety of the Buddha's system of thought and practice is based upon training the sort of kamma (=action) in the present that leads to unbinding. Meditation is part of that. Ethical conduct is part of that. But they're both species of the same genus.

Now I can already hear the protests. "All that matters is the result." Be that as it may. But then it's not the Buddha's fault when contradiction with other things he said arises.

I wonder sometimes if we need a different framework for understanding contemporary enlightenment practices, one which doesn't make it seem as though there's an identity between what we're doing and what the Buddha did. The aims, methods, and results seem so different at times. And that's fine. Perhaps we have a new, legitimate form of enlightenment in the modern west. But the dhamma itself seems so poorly understood by most people (myself included) that I have a hard time simply assuming we're following the Buddha's teachings.

RE: How to reconcile daily life with the Three Characteristics?
Answer
2/4/14 10:52 AM as a reply to J C.
J C:
Daniel defined arahat as having no sense of a central agent or controller, which means no perception of free will if I understand correctly.

Perhaps you can explain your current perception of the sense of self and your current perception of the sense of free will you currently have. Then perhaps you can show a causation? Then perhaps the opposite might become clear
What do you think?
~D

RE: How to reconcile daily life with the Three Characteristics?
Answer
2/4/14 1:15 PM as a reply to J C.
Fitter Stoke:
It seems like this is the sort of problem that arises when you assume an equality between a concept from modern Western society and a concept from Iron Age northern India. While there's probably some overlap between the ancient concept of atman and the modern, post-Cartesian, post-Kantian, post-Nietzschean, post-60s, post-70s, post-whatever concept of a self, there's also probably huge amounts of divergence. If you carelessly conflate those concepts, any question to try to answer with them is going to produce nonsense.

Totally agree. We have not even defined the concepts well let alone the problem with combining them.

PaweĊ‚ K:
My current thoughts are that I disagree with this. It is not helpful to assume that we can control what we think, say, and do. This is not an empowering view. In fact, this leads to suffering, does not facilitate training in morality, and prevents recognition and application of anatta in daily life. More importantly, it's not true.

It is a false dilemma to state that rather than accepting our current level as beyond our power to change, we take the view that we can change them. Neither one is true. It's not true that I can't change myself, and it's not true that I can.. because "I" don't exist. This is the whole point of that koan: I am not the agent of change and I am not subject to change, rather, I am one with change.

I disagree as imho "I" exist and is just fine in everyone, even in so called Arahats.
there are three problems
1. confusion of I/self
2. identification
3. confusion about control

I/self is non-issue and is given way too much credit for causing dukkha. It's identification and confusion about control that is the problem. Distinction between self and identification may be vague at first but it solves a lot of paradoxes and issues.

Disidentified self looks like painting (its visualization) where various mind parts put their stroke of brushes to make image of self doing stuff. And seeing this painting put some things in different perspective and is actually influencing things. Its kind of feedback loop to ourselves but to other people too. Self do not have control control but it's still changing stuff somewhat and knowing how is knowing how to use laws of karma to our advantage.

Obviously not seeing painting clearly but still identifying with it and thinking that painting can control everything is bound by laws of karma to make only confusion and dukkha. Painting itself is fine, harmless painting. Being wacko about is the problem.

Even identification itself is kind painting/visualization and seeing through it will solve issue of identification, but I am not there yet emoticon
Good stuff Pawel. I like where you're going with it.

RE: How to reconcile daily life with the Three Characteristics?
Answer
2/5/14 1:29 AM as a reply to Ian And.
Ian And:
J C:
For purposes of doing insight practices, we observe the three characteristics, including the observations that there is no entity which can control your actions, that you are not able to do anything other than what happens, that there is pain in any sort of desire other than facing current experiences, and that there is no free will.

As we meditate more, we do this both on and off the cushion, so it becomes part of daily life. The recognition that you don't actually have a choice can reduce suffering.

Before I address what seems to be the wrong views listed here, I would like to know where (from what source) you learned these views. I don't know what you have been studying, but this isn't anything (other than a corruption) that Gotama taught.

Where are you getting these ideas from? Perhaps it is just a matter of an incomplete comprehension of specific detail in the communication of the ideas you list here (in other words poor word choice), or there is real confusion with regard to how these ideas are to be viewed. My intuition is that it is a combination of both, with an emphasis on the latter.

For instance, who taught you that "there is no free will?" Where is this idea coming from? Show me the chapter and verse where anything like this is being espoused in Dhamma teachings.


Oh, I found an answer for you:


"Form, O monks, is not-self; if form were self, then form would not lead to affliction and it should obtain regarding form: 'May my form be thus, may my form not be thus'; and indeed, O monks, since form is not-self, therefore form leads to affliction and it does not obtain regarding form: 'May my form be thus, may my form not be thus.'

"Feeling, O monks, is not-self; if feeling were self, then feeling would not lead to affliction and it should obtain regarding feeling: 'May my feeling be thus, may my feeling not be thus'; and indeed, O monks, since feeling is not-self, therefore feeling leads to affliction and it does not obtain regarding feeling: 'May my feeling be thus, may my feeling not be thus.'

"Perception, O monks, is not-self; if perception were self, then perception would not lead to affliction and it should obtain regarding perception: 'May my perception be thus, may my perception not be thus'; and indeed, O monks, since perception is not-self, therefore, perception leads to affliction and it does not obtain regarding perception: 'May my perception be thus, may my perception not be thus.'

"Mental formations, O monks, are not-self; if mental formations were self, then mental formations would not lead to affliction and it should obtain regarding mental formations: 'May my perception be thus, may my mental formations not be thus'; and indeed, O monks, since mental formations are not-self, therefore, mental formations lead to affliction and it does not obtain regarding mental formations: 'May my mental formations be thus, may my mental formations not be thus.'

"Consciousness, O monks, is not-self; if consciousness were self, then consciousness would not lead to affliction and it should obtain regarding consciousness: 'May my consciousness be thus, may my consciousness not be thus'; and indeed, O monks, since consciousness is not-self, therefore, consciousness leads to affliction and it does not obtain regarding consciousness: 'May my consciousness be thus, may my consciousness not be thus.'


Anatta-lakkhana Sutta, SN 22.59

So you can't control the self. You can't control what any of the aggregates are. Thus, no free will.

RE: How to reconcile daily life with the Three Characteristics?
Answer
2/5/14 1:48 AM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
Fitter Stoke:
It seems like this is the sort of problem that arises when you assume an equality between a concept from modern Western society and a concept from Iron Age northern India. While there's probably some overlap between the ancient concept of atman and the modern, post-Cartesian, post-Kantian, post-Nietzschean, post-60s, post-70s, post-whatever concept of a self, there's also probably huge amounts of divergence. If you carelessly conflate those concepts, any question to try to answer with them is going to produce nonsense.


I'm not following. You think they had a different delusion of self than we do? I don't see any reason to think that. They were human beings: their love was the same, their anger was the same, their orgasms were the same. Why would their "selfing" be any different? You think Kant, Descartes, or Nietzsche's writing somehow changed the way people experience existence and decision-making? I don't see how that is possible.


For example, you now find yourself in the position of not being able to find consistency between the Buddha's position on ethics and the Buddha's position on meditation.


Not at all. I didn't say anything about the Buddha's position on ethics. Unless he said somewhere "It is useful for ethical purposes to think that you can control what you do." While I believe Daniel and others who say it is useful for them, it doesn't seem that way to me.


I wonder sometimes if we need a different framework for understanding contemporary enlightenment practices, one which doesn't make it seem as though there's an identity between what we're doing and what the Buddha did. The aims, methods, and results seem so different at times. And that's fine. Perhaps we have a new, legitimate form of enlightenment in the modern west. But the dhamma itself seems so poorly understood by most people (myself included) that I have a hard time simply assuming we're following the Buddha's teachings.


I'm not really concerned with fidelity to the Buddha's teachings. As a matter of historical fact, the Buddha probably didn't even exist. The teachings contain many things we now know are just false, such as the decomposition of matter into earth, air, fire, and water, gods, and reincarnation. I'm more concerned with extracting the good stuff and finding what works.

RE: How to reconcile daily life with the Three Characteristics?
Answer
2/5/14 2:09 AM as a reply to Dream Walker.
Dream Walker:
J C:
Daniel defined arahat as having no sense of a central agent or controller, which means no perception of free will if I understand correctly.

Perhaps you can explain your current perception of the sense of self and your current perception of the sense of free will you currently have. Then perhaps you can show a causation? Then perhaps the opposite might become clear
What do you think?
~D


Sometimes I experience deliberation, the thought process of looking at possible actions and considering the outcomes. Suppose I have to make a choice between A and B. It seems like I could do either one; that is, that there is some controller, self, or central agent that could make a choice or decision about what to do.

The mind thinks it needs to model the outcomes of each choice when deciding what to do, and thus imagines worlds where it makes choice A or choice B. Of course there never really was a choice. I see two alternative ways of thinking:

1. If conscious thought is required to make a better decision, you would notice the mind imagining both outcomes and determining the better, with no delusion of self or false idea that there's actually a choice, and no agonizing "deliberation."
Described by Sadalsuud Beta Aquarii

2. If conscious thought wouldn't actually help (which I think likely) then no need to notice anything, just act.

Does that help explain? I'm not sure what you mean about causation or the opposite.

RE: How to reconcile daily life with the Three Characteristics?
Answer
2/5/14 2:32 AM as a reply to J C.
J C:
Dream Walker:
J C:
Daniel defined arahat as having no sense of a central agent or controller, which means no perception of free will if I understand correctly.

Perhaps you can explain your current perception of the sense of self and your current perception of the sense of free will you currently have. Then perhaps you can show a causation? Then perhaps the opposite might become clear
What do you think?
~D


Sometimes I experience deliberation, the thought process of looking at possible actions and considering the outcomes. Suppose I have to make a choice between A and B. It seems like I could do either one; that is, that there is some controller, self, or central agent that could make a choice or decision about what to do.

The mind thinks it needs to model the outcomes of each choice when deciding what to do, and thus imagines worlds where it makes choice A or choice B. Of course there never really was a choice. I see two alternative ways of thinking:

1. If conscious thought is required to make a better decision, you would notice the mind imagining both outcomes and determining the better, with no delusion of self or false idea that there's actually a choice, and no agonizing "deliberation."
Described by Sadalsuud Beta Aquarii

2. If conscious thought wouldn't actually help (which I think likely) then no need to notice anything, just act.

Does that help explain? I'm not sure what you mean about causation or the opposite.

You are postulating the following-
(No sense of self)-> causes ->(No sense of free will)
Define the opposite -
(sense of self)-> causes ->(sense of free will)
define sense of self, define sense of free will and how the causality works. Then do so for the other. It might clear things up....or not.
Clear?
(remember, you could be meditating and actually getting closer to your goal but I like to feed the monkey too...hmmm but does a well fed monkey help you?)
Good luck,
~D

RE: How to reconcile daily life with the Three Characteristics?
Answer
2/5/14 9:05 AM as a reply to Dream Walker.
Dream Walker:

(remember, you could be meditating and actually getting closer to your goal but I like to feed the monkey too...hmmm but does a well fed monkey help you?)
Good luck,
~D


My thoughts exactly. This whole line of questioning seems to me to be a hindrance, Doubt. It's a way to divert the mind from practicing. I also think it's pointless to argue with people who have experience that you do not. I'm not saying you can never argue with them, just not now. Back to the cushion. And good luck.

RE: How to reconcile daily life with the Three Characteristics?
Answer
2/5/14 3:07 PM as a reply to Jane Laurel Carrington.
Dream Walker:

You are postulating the following-
(No sense of self)-> causes ->(No sense of free will)
Define the opposite -
(sense of self)-> causes ->(sense of free will)
define sense of self, define sense of free will and how the causality works. Then do so for the other. It might clear things up....or not.


Sure, though I think this is just restating what I said in different terms:

sense of self = perception that there is some center point, a separation of experience or perception into a portion that can observe or control thoughts or actions

sense of free will = perception that one can control thoughts or actions

causation: inaccurately perceiving the center point leads to thinking that that center point can control thoughts or actions; selfing process is trying to control or change things

sense of no self = perception that all is perceived without a perceiver, that no sensation can perceive other sensations or control thoughts or actions

sense of no free will = experiencing actions and thoughts as they occur without any sense of controlling them or being able to

causation: seeing the whole field of experience as one leads to the awareness that there is nothing that could control thoughts or actions because there is no separation between "you" and experience

Seem right? Did you have something specific in mind here?

Jane Laurel Carrington:
Dream Walker:

(remember, you could be meditating and actually getting closer to your goal but I like to feed the monkey too...hmmm but does a well fed monkey help you?)
Good luck,
~D


My thoughts exactly. This whole line of questioning seems to me to be a hindrance, Doubt. It's a way to divert the mind from practicing. I also think it's pointless to argue with people who have experience that you do not. I'm not saying you can never argue with them, just not now. Back to the cushion. And good luck.


Thank you both for the reminders not to let this distract me from practice. It's always good to have that reminder. I find this discussion very helpful in my practice of developing morality, as well as in seeing anatta in everyday life (off-the-cushion meditation). It has helped me realize that one can develop morality without any sense of a controller or ability to determine actions, that one can see anatta in everyday life without it hindering morality, and thus helped me progress in both morality and insight.

I would love to hear your thoughts but I understand if you don't find this discussion personally helpful.

RE: How to reconcile daily life with the Three Characteristics?
Answer
2/5/14 4:58 PM as a reply to J C.
I don't always agree with Sam Harris, but I have an inkling that this could be helpful,

http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/life-without-free-will

RE: How to reconcile daily life with the Three Characteristics?
Answer
2/5/14 7:14 PM as a reply to J C.
Hi there JC,

So to break it down, it seems like the base issue you are dealing with here is how to act, in a certain way, if free will does not exist. You seem to have summed up up the free will issue in these posts..

J C:
Put another way, if there is no separate permanent self, and if all things are subject to dependent origination, cause and effect (that is, determined by the past), there is no possibility of free will, which I define as: you, as a self, freely choosing between two possibilities of how the future will go. Your actions are conditioned, not "freely chosen." Am I wrong?


Quite frankly I would say you are wrong. emoticon You may not be able to control the thoughts you think, or that you believe them to be solid, inherently existing, and capable of satisfying you, but you can choose whether to do or not do an action. This is essentially the basis of morality. By abiding by the Buddhist moral code of the 5 precepts, one chooses not to engage in certain actions. This is connected with developing mindfulness and ceasing to be overrun by your thoughts, or believe in their objective reality.

To review the 3 characteristics, they are: Impermanence: that phenomena has no fixed and lasting form, Suffering: that due its fleeting nature phenomena is unable to provide lasting satisfaction, and No-Self: that no phenomena is inherently, or self existent, or 'exists from its own side". These are somewhat different from what you listed.

You also said
J C:
So you can't control the self. You can't control what any of the aggregates are. Thus, no free will.


Woah, woah. Alright so just because we cannot control our thoughts, or our 'self', doesn't mean we have no free will. Think about it like this..

As Buddhism teaches, everyone has Buddha nature, and the potential to become enlightened. As well, from the perspective of an enlightened being, everyone is already enlightened. The purpose of the path is to overcome our delusory belief in our own separateness. From the enlightened perspective, the human race is a bunch of souls bound in physical bodies, stuck in a belief in separateness. Everyone has freewill, but problems of action are compounded by the mire of solid conceptual belief. This is not so much an issue as it is simply the situation in which we find ourselves. So to sum up, everyone is a spiritual being imbued with free will, mired in a belief in separateness.

The self has no inherent existence. It is simply a belief we formed and continue to hold on to. Clearly, we cannot choose or control our thoughts, and thus we cannot control the self. However this is beside the point of free will. The self is merely a delusion to which we hold dear. Try to imagine it within the greater context of our being spiritual individuals. For example, after enlightenment (something you asked about) the belief in separateness is gone, delusory thoughts are eliminated. However one is still on a path of spiritual development, the scope of which extends so far into the future it could be said to be infinite. The choices we make through free will: choosing to perform or not perform an action, are the cause of our growth. This can seem somewhat to be almost predetermined, but this is not how it is experienced, and thus it is a useless mind set to adopt.

As for karma and it's effects, that past actions affect our current state of being does not prove a lack of free will. In meditative terms, karma seems to refer to those thoughts which occur in our mind, "those ripening seed which have been stored in a cosmic storehouse." It is this which is eliminated upon enlightenment. The way one overcomes these thoughts is to release them and see them as false. This again points to our having free will.

When in meditation, we build the ability to recognize our thoughts as delusion (ie having the 3 characteristics), as things which do not form substantial basis for action. In some sense we could be said to be cultivating free will, or the ability to chose between acting on a thought, or not acting.

So the point of the three characteristics is that they may lead us to see that our conceptions are not as solid, inherently existing and satisfactory as we think. Keep in mind however, that without insight we naturally see our thoughts as solid, inherently existing, and satisfactory. This is why we cling to them, though in truth they are illusory, without truth and utterly unsubstantiated. So you don't have to force your mind to 'see' the 3 characteristics in sensation, merely remember that you should try to see this. If you see this you will have developed great insight (i.e. 4th path).

As for reconciling these three characteristics with morality, imagine this. Our ultimate self, our soul which is fixated in the delusion of separateness, is one with all, it is a part of the great whole. This is what it means that all are already enlightened. You exist in the state of wholeness but believe yourself not to. Essentially, when we commit negative acts this harms us on a soul, or higher self level, because as we are ultimately one with all, when we commit negative acts, we are in some sense harming ourselves. It should be obvious to you in a practical sense that you feel better when acting wholesomely that when acting with bad intent. When acting with malicious intent, our being seems to be taken over by revulsion for what we have done, our mind races, we cannot concentrate. When we act well and morally, our mind is much calmer, we are happier, we can meditate more easily.

This idea is the basis of the 3 fold path. Morality forms the base. Upon this base of moral action, our mind is calm enough that we can begin to develop Concentration. Then with this concentration, we can begin to develop Insight. Thus morality is the base, and insight the peak. Your question seems to suppose insight for morality, but on false pretenses.

Bit of a text here, but hopefully it helps. Cheers!

RE: How to reconcile daily life with the Three Characteristics?
Answer
2/7/14 12:33 AM as a reply to J C.
J C:

I am struggling to understand this as applied to sila, however. What does trying to be more ethical look like when you are also working to understand the three characteristics in everyday life, or once you are enlightened? How can this be reconciled?


Its actually not complicated.

The 3 characteristics are provisional pointers to get people to some insight, not moral teachings for day to day life.

Insight doesn't directly change habits and morality. Have a look at this picture.



Your first thoughts about what it is are likely delusional.

I will give you a pointer.

There is no lake.

Do you see it now ?

OK another hint

The lake is a white wall in someone's yard.

That's basically what insight is. Did the picture change at all ?

Of course in the case of insight into the nature of reality, there are some really positive side effects.

And because our perspective on reality is reality to us, the analogy sort of breaks down a bit at some point.

RE: How to reconcile daily life with the Three Characteristics?
Answer
2/7/14 3:54 AM as a reply to (D Z) Dhru Val.
Whoah! Cool picture! A piece of the wall looks like an ocean wave in the "lake."

RE: How to reconcile daily life with the Three Characteristics?
Answer
2/7/14 6:18 AM as a reply to (D Z) Dhru Val.


Can you find the hidden tiger?

When I first saw this picture I looked for a while and couldn't find it. Once you know where it is, it's immediately obvious at a glance.

RE: How to reconcile daily life with the Three Characteristics?
Answer
2/7/14 6:04 PM as a reply to T DC.
Gotta say, this seems like a very strange discussion to be having.

What does free will have to do with your experience of the present moment?

To put it another way:
Even if you have free will, aren't you just wasting it anyway?

RE: How to reconcile daily life with the Three Characteristics?
Answer
2/8/14 3:05 AM as a reply to J C.
There is no tiger. Just different colored pixels. :-P

RE: How to reconcile daily life with the Three Characteristics?
Answer
2/11/14 5:35 AM as a reply to (D Z) Dhru Val.
[quote=(D Z) Dhru Val]There is no tiger. Just different colored pixels. :-P

Vipassana for the win! It's all just pixels.

Seriously there is something hidden in that pic though

RE: How to reconcile daily life with the Three Characteristics?
Answer
2/11/14 10:34 AM as a reply to J C.
Nice....after looking several times and thinking it was a silly metaphor, I found the hidden tiger....nice one.

RE: How to reconcile daily life with the Three Characteristics?
Answer
2/12/14 11:51 PM as a reply to J C.
J C:
[quote=(D Z) Dhru Val]There is no tiger. Just different colored pixels. :-P


Vipassana for the win! It's all just pixels.

Seriously there is something hidden in that pic though

Ah cool, didn't see the hidden tiger the first time around.