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© Path Press – Archive of AKALIKA FORUM – nanavira.top-talk.net 1 'Āyusaṅkhārā' by Piotr on Tue 17 Feb 2009 - 19:24 Hi, In his Note on Paṭiccasamuppāda Ñāṇavīra wrote that life determination (āyusaṅkhāra) lies "outside the sphere of experience" and gave reference to Mahāvedalla-sutta (MN 43) where life determinations are discussed. I'm confused about it, since I thought that one can conclude from MN 43 that heat is an example of life determination. Life determination means something upon which life depends, and in the sutta it's said that "Life remains standing in dependence on heat". Another suggestion that heat is a life determination comes from the question asked in the sutta: "Friend, are life determinations the same thing as feeling-states? Or are life determinations one thing, and feeling-states another?" Since it's very easy to confuse feelings with heat that gives warmth, then it's quite clear that life determinations refer to heat. But heat isn't beyond sphere of experience. In fact it is quite common experience. Am I missing something? by Mathias on Wed 6 Oct 2010 - 18:33 Hello, "outside the sphere of experience" - what does that mean after all? If vinnana (consciousness) means presence (but not "for me", see Ven. Nanaviras related note), then nothing can be "outside the sphere of experience". On the other side, things present themselves quite independent (I can't change them according to my wishes and I don't need to look at my watch in order to make it work etc.) I (still) can't bring these two aspects together. Piotr, I'm sorry that I only raise new questions and problems instead of answering yours, but they seem related. by acinteyyo on Sat 9 Oct 2010 - 11:52 Hi Piotr and Mathias, Shorter Notes on nāma wrote: In any experience (leaving out of account arūpa) there is a phenomenon that is present (i.e. that is cognized). The presence, or cognition, or consciousness, of the phenomenon is viññāna Shorter Notes on viññāna wrote: Consciousness (viññāna) can be thought of as the presence of a phenomenon, which consists of nāma and rūpa. Nāmarūpa and viññāna together constitute the phenomenon 'in person'—i.e. an experience (in German: Erlebnis). The phenomenon is the support (ārammana—see first reference in [c] below) of consciousness, and all consciousness is


© Path Press – Archive of AKALIKA FORUM – nanavira.top-talk.net 2 'Āyusaṅkhārā' consciousness of something (viz, of a phenomenon). Just as there cannot be presence without something that is present, so there cannot be something without its being to that extent present—thus viññāna and nāmarūpa depend on each other So viññāna can be thought as presence of something in experience (viññāna and nāmarūpa). It's possible that something isn't present in experience, which means that there is no experience at all. (no viññāna, no nāmarūpa) In both cases I'm talking about examples in the sphere of experience. We cannot draw the conclusion from this, that then there can't be anything outside of experience. For example rūpa without nāma lies outside of experience, because in order for experience to happen there have to be viññāna and nāmarūpa. rūpa does not depend on viññāna, that's why I don't need to look at my watch in order to make it work. remember rūpa is also behaviour and therefore can only be experienced indirectly through time together with nāma. but from that we cannot simply draw the conclusion, that rūpa doesn't exist outside of experience at all. the problem is, we only know that rūpa did also exist outside of experience, when I take another look at my watch. from that experience I can see that it still works and deduce the existence of a particular behaviour while it was outside of experience. Ven. Ñanavira gave a better explanation than I can. Shorter notes on rūpa wrote: The fact that a given mode of behaviour can be common to sense-experiences of two or more different kinds shows that it is independent of any one particular kind of consciousness (unlike a given perception—blue, for example, which is deppendent upon eye-consciousness and not upon ear-consciousness or the others); and being independent of any one particular kind of consciousness it is independent of all consciousness except for its presence or existence. One mode of behaviour can be distinguished from another, and in order that this can be done they must exist—they must be present either in reality or in imagination, they must be cognized. But since it makes no difference in what form they are present—whether as sights or sounds (and even with one as visible and one as audible, and one real and one imaginary) --, the difference between them is not a matter of consciousness.[c] Behaviour, then, in itself does not involve consciousness (as perception does), and the rūpakkhandha is not phassapaccayā (as the saññākkhandha is)—see Majjhima xi,9 . In itself, purely as inertia or behaviour, matter cannot be said to exist. (Cf. Heidegger, op. cit., p. 212.) And if it cannot be said to exist it cannot be said to cease. So when it comes to āyusaṅkhārā I think what is meant by "heat" is a mode of behavior, i.e. rūpa. Rūpa "on it's on" (without viññāna and nāma) lies outside of experience, because it cannot be said to exist. Piotr wrote: In fact it is quite common experience. I don't think so. Maybe what you mixed up is perception (sañña as a part of nāma) and experience (viññāna and nāmarūpa). Heat as a feeling or perception depending on experience is not what is meant in MN43, but heat as a mode of behaviour (rūpa) conditionally depending on


© Path Press – Archive of AKALIKA FORUM – nanavira.top-talk.net 3 'Āyusaṅkhārā' vitality. MN43 wrote: "And vitality remains standing in dependence on what?" "Vitality remains standing in dependence on heat." "And heat remains standing in dependence on what?" "Heat remains standing in dependence on vitality." "Just now, friend Sariputta, we understood you to say, 'Vitality remains standing in dependence on heat.' And just now we understood you to say, 'Heat remains standing in dependence on vitality.' Now how is the meaning of these statements to be seen?" "In that case, friend, I will give you analogy, for there are cases where it is through an analogy that an intelligent person understands the meaning of a statement. Suppose an oil lamp is burning. Its radiance is discerned in dependence on its flame, and its flame is discerned in dependence on its radiance. In the same way, vitality remains standing in dependence on heat, and heat remains standing in dependence on vitality. Similar to the dependence of viññāna and nāmarūpa, which depend on each other. Hope this helps, best wishes, acinteyyo by Mathias on Sat 9 Oct 2010 - 14:22 Dear acinteyyo, thank you for your answer. You say: So viññāna can be thought as presence of something in experience (viññāna and nāmarūpa). In everyday language that sounds alright, but if I look closely, it sounds to me as if there is a container for vinnana and namarupa, and as far as I can see neither the Buddha nor Ven. Nanavira teach that. According to my understanding, Ven. Nanavira just says that any experience consists of (or is) the presence of a phenomenon, i.e. vinnana and namarupa, but he doesn't say that experience is a third thing which contains the other two. So if something is present in experience, we have to explain what "in experience" means. "Presence of something" is vinnana and namarupa (as you already said), and that is what experience is about, at least as far as I can see, but if vinnana and namarupa are "in experience", what does that mean? We have just introduced a container for vinnana and namarupa, i.e. we put them "in there", which doesn't make sense to me.


© Path Press – Archive of AKALIKA FORUM – nanavira.top-talk.net 4 'Āyusaṅkhārā' You say: rūpa does not depend on viññāna, that's why I don't need to look at my watch in order to make it work. Yes, but Ven. Nanavira also says (you quoted it) that rupa is independent of all consciousness except for its presence or existence. In other word's: For rupa to exist there must be vinnana, since vinnana is existence/presence. And this is where the problem arises for me, since I am unable to bring this together with the independence of rupa, because it sounds like the opposite. Maybe the solution is that independent matter is required for experience to happen as it is but not apart from that as independent matter "as such". In other words: We need independent matter in order to "explain" our experience of things, i.e. these things imply the existence of independent matter, but without the experience of such things, independent matter also is no longer needed, so to speak. With best wishes, Mathias by acinteyyo on Sat 9 Oct 2010 - 15:04 Hi Mathias, Mathias wrote: In everyday language that sounds alright, but if I look closely, it sounds to me as if there is a container for vinnana and namarupa, and as far as I can see neither the Buddha nor Ven. Nanavira teach that. According to my understanding, Ven. Nanavira just says that any experience consists of (or is) the presence of a phenomenon, i.e. vinnana and namarupa, but he doesn't say that experience is a third thing which contains the other two. My phrasing may not be the best one. Don't read more into conventional speech as there actually is. There's no "container" implied. Consciousness or the presence of something is viññāna, that something which is present is nāmarūpa, viññāna and nāmarūpa together constitute an experience, experience is not actually containing viññāna and nāmarūpa but viññāna and nāmarūpa actually is the experience. (since you understand german: viññāna und nāmarūpa machen ein Erlebnis aus, sind beide vorhanden spricht man vom Erleben oder einem Erlebnis, aber viññāna und nāmarūpa befinden sich nicht innerhalb des Erlebnisses sondern sind das Erlebnis. Ohne Erleben kann schlicht keinerlei Aussage mehr getroffen werden, deshalb kann man nicht sagen "außerhalb" des Erlebens existiert nichts oder existiert etwas oder wie auch immer, denn Existenz hat nur Bedeutung, wenn etwas erlebt wird, also "im" Erleben, oder in anderen Worten, wenn viññāna und nāmarūpa zusammen ein Erlebnis darstellen, unabhängig vom Erleben kann keine Aussage getroffen werden.)


© Path Press – Archive of AKALIKA FORUM – nanavira.top-talk.net 5 'Āyusaṅkhārā' Ven. Nanavira said: Nāmarūpa and viññāna together constitute the phenomenon 'in person'—i.e. an experience (in German: Erlebnis) I just said: "in experience" because I thought it would make it clearer. Didn't mind the possibility to understand experience as some kind of container then. Mathias wrote: Yes, but Ven. Nanavira also says (you quoted it) that rupa is independent of all consciousness except for its presence or existence. In other word's: For rupa to exist there must be vinnana, since vinnana is existence/presence. And this is where the problem arises for me, You have to be careful. Your right, there must be viññāna in order for rūpa to exist, BUT (here comes the cucial point!!!) in order to exist as an experience! or in other words "in" experience (namely through viññāna and nāmarūpa) existance or non-existance does only apply in the sphere of experience! out of the sphere of experience we can't tell anything about rūpa's existence, because exist or not-exist doesn't apply there anymore. neither does rūpa exist nor does rūpa not exist outside the sphere of experience, because existence (viññāna) only plays a role "in" the sphere of experience. That's why Ven. Nanavira says: In itself, purely as inertia or behaviour, matter cannot be said to exist. And if it cannot be said to exist it cannot be said to cease. And it cannot be said that it doesn't exist. That's the important point. We can't simply draw the conclusion that nothing exists outside the sphere of experience and we also cannot say that anything exists or exists not or what ever, because "existance" doesn't apply. best wishes, acinteyyo by Mathias on Sat 9 Oct 2010 - 16:47 acinteyyo wrote: You have to be careful. Your right, there must be viññāna in order for rūpa to exist, BUT (here comes the cucial point!!!) in order to exist as an experience! Dear acinteyyo, "to exist" and "to exist as an experience" is one and the same for me, i.e. to exist is to appear. So existence or presence ends where experience ends. Rupa has to appear (nama) in order to exist. For me, the sphere of experience is the sphere of existence and vice versa. Existence ends where appearance ends. If we draw a distinction between existence and existence as an experience, we


© Path Press – Archive of AKALIKA FORUM – nanavira.top-talk.net 6 'Āyusaṅkhārā' have to explain the difference between the two. I think this is impossible. "Existence" is just an empty word when not related to appearance or phenomena, i.e. namarupa. How do we know that something "exists"? Because it appears (= experience). If nothing appears, there is no experience and no existence. At least this is my understanding. I don't know how much you can agree with this or not. With best wishes, Mathias by acinteyyo on Sat 9 Oct 2010 - 18:44 Mathias wrote: "to exist" and "to exist as an experience" is one and the same for me, i.e. to exist is to appear. Yes, it's one and the same thing. MN wrote: How do we know that something "exists"? Because it appears (= experience). If nothing appears, there is no experience and no existence. I agree, that in order to know that something exists, there must be experience, which means there must be something which is present. I disagree that if nothing appears, there is no experience and no existence. Because nothing can't be present. Nothing can't appear. Only something can be present/appear. Nothing means no nāmarūpa and when there's no nāmarūpa there can't be viññāna, so there can't be presence. In order to be able to talk about no existence, there has to be a relation to something which doesn't exist. Otherwise "no existence" is an empty term without meaning. If we want to talk about something which doesn't exist, this particular something has to be present at least in imagination. "To exist" or "to exist in experience" is one and the same thing and means that something is present. This is easy. "Not to exist" ("not to exist in experience") means that something isn't present. But this is not equally easy. Because in order to be able to say that something is not present, that which is not present must at least be present as an imagination. And that's why "to exist" and "to not exist" applies within the sphere of experience. Because if something is simply not present, not even as an imagination, then there is no viññāna and therefore no nāmarūpa. This means there is no experience at all. So how could one be able to make any statement, when there is no experience at all? To say anything about something there must be an experience and this means there must be viññāna and nāmarūpa. If this is not the case, then no statement can be made, because nothing can't be


© Path Press – Archive of AKALIKA FORUM – nanavira.top-talk.net 7 'Āyusaṅkhārā' said about nothing. Existence is always existence of something and no existence is always no existence of something. Whether something exists or not, something is always present, real or imaginary (as a positive or a negative). Which means there is always viññāna and nāmarūpa. And viññāna and nāmarūpa constitutes an experience. That's why outside of the sphere of experience existence or no existence doesn't apply anymore. best wishes, acinteyyo by Mathias on Sun 10 Oct 2010 - 9:11 Dear actinteyyo, you say: I agree, that in order to know that something exists, there must be experience, which means there must be something which is present. I disagree that if nothing appears, there is no experience and no existence. Because nothing can't be present. Nothing can't appear. Only something can be present/appear. Nothing means no nāmarūpa and when there's no nāmarūpa there can't be viññāna, so there can't be presence. It seems that you misunderstand my use of the word "nothing". When I say "nothing appears" I don't mean that "a nothing" is present. Nor did I deny that only something can be present/appear. I can only repeat in other words what I already said: Existence reaches only as far as experience. And that doesn't mean that I want to state a "realm of non-existence" beyond existence/experience or something like that. With experience ends existence and all talk about existence and non-existence. I agree that we can talk about non-existence only in relation to existence/experience, but that doesn't mean that that which is now present/existent can't vanish without remainder, so that nothing is left. With best wishes, Mathias by acinteyyo on Sun 10 Oct 2010 - 11:48 Hi Mathias, I'm pondering on this for a while... I think the problem is, that I'm comitted to the view that we cannot talk about non-existence. Because when we talk about something, it always exists, real or imaginary. But we can't talk about something which doesn't exist. It seems to me now, that it's just the way we use words, why we don't understand each other.


© Path Press – Archive of AKALIKA FORUM – nanavira.top-talk.net 8 'Āyusaṅkhārā' For you it seems that experience=existence and no experience=no existence. Please, tell me if I'm mistaken. For me experience=existence and no experience=nothing (similar to Neither Perception nor Non-perception), not even "no existence" because that would still be something according to my understanding and still inside the sphere of experience. best wishes, acinteyyo by Mathias on Mon 11 Oct 2010 - 11:42 Dear acinteyyo, acinteyyo wrote: I'm pondering on this for a while... I think the problem is, that I'm comitted to the view that we cannot talk about non-existence. Because when we talk about something, it always exists, real or imaginary. But we can't talk about something which doesn't exist. It seems to me now, that it's just the way we use words, why we don't understand each other. yes, that is possible. After a bit of thinking it seems to me that I can understand you better now, at least partly. You said: Your right, there must be viññāna in order for rūpa to exist, BUT (here comes the cucial point!!!) in order to exist as an experience! I translate this into: There must be vinnana in order for rupa to exist, BUT in order to exist as rupa in namarupa, i.e. as the behaviour of nama! Can you agree with my translation? It is easier for me to grasp it this way. acinteyyo wrote: For you it seems that experience=existence and no experience=no existence. Please, tell me if I'm mistaken. For me experience=existence and no experience=nothing (similar to Neither Perception nor Non-perception), not even "no existence" because that would still be something according to my understanding and still inside the sphere of experience. For me there is not much difference (if at all) between "no existence" and "nothing", which might be one reason why we have trouble understanding each other. With Mathias

best

wishes,


© Path Press – Archive of AKALIKA FORUM – nanavira.top-talk.net 9 'Āyusaṅkhārā' by acinteyyo on Fri 15 Oct 2010 - 20:19 Hi Mathias, Mathias wrote: I translate this into: There must be vinnana in order for rupa to exist, BUT in order to exist as rupa in namarupa, i.e. as the behaviour of nama! Can you agree with my translation? It is easier for me to grasp it this way. Absolutely! That's exactely how I meant it. Mathias wrote: For me there is not much difference (if at all) between "no existence" and "nothing", which might be one reason why we have trouble understanding each other. It depends... I try to explain what I have in mind. When it comes to rupa Ven. Nanavira said: In itself, purely as inertia or behaviour, matter cannot be said to exist. In itself rupa is not enough for an experience to happen. There can only be existence of something and something always consists of nama-AND-rupa. Thus rupa in itself isn't "something".. But we also cannot say that rupa in itself is nothing, can we? I hope you can get a glimpse at what I'm trying to point out. Just because rupa has no existence doesn't mean that it is nothing. Rupa in itself isn't something and it also isn't nothing. It simple lies outside the sphere of experience. We can only start talking about rupa in reference to vinnana and nama, which means that rupa gained a "borrowed existence" and "came" into the sphere of experience otherwise it lies outside the sphere of experience, not being something, not being nothing, neither existing nor not existing. And that's why no existence and nothing aren't equal according to my understanding. In my eyes, only "no experience" equals "nothing" because there is absolutely no reference to anything at all. best wishes, acinteyyo by Mathias on Sun 17 Oct 2010 - 12:15 Dear acinteyyo, I think that I now understand better what you mean. It seems that we agree that rupa in itself is not present/existent and that rupa is not nothing (rupa is rupa ). But if "nothing" means "absent" or "not present", then I still don't see much difference between "no existence" and "nothing". My understanding is that rupa cannot be present or existent outside the sphere of experience, so "outside the sphere of experience" must mean something different, i.e. it doesn't mean that rupa is outside the sphere of experience in the sense of a tree which is outside of my house for example. So when Ven. Nanavira says that rupa lies outside the sphere of experience


© Path Press – Archive of AKALIKA FORUM – nanavira.top-talk.net 10 'Āyusaṅkhārā' he doesn't mean that there is another sphere or the possibility of another sphere outside of the sphere of experience, in which rupa "lies" or could "lie" independenty. The only way for rupa to be is as rupa in nama-rupa. The independence of rupa is the independence of a morse code from the way of its transmission ("nama"), as Ven. Nanavira put it. My understanding is still incomplete. At some point I'm stuck. And at the moment I feel unable to say much more about that. It would only be a repetition of what was already said. With best wishes, Mathias


Ayusankhara