This Is Not What I Am, excerpt from the Yamaka Sutta

Discussion in 'New Age' started by Beautiful, Jan 4, 2020.

  1. Beautiful

    Beautiful Active Member

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    Then in the evening Ven. Sariputta left his seclusion, went to Ven. Yamaka, and on arrival exchanged courteous greetings. After an exchange of friendly greetings & courtesies, he sat to one side. As he was sitting there, he said to Ven. Yamaka, "Is it true, my friend Yamaka, that this evil supposition has arisen to you: 'As I understand the Teaching explained by the Blessed One, a monk with no more effluents, on the break-up of the body, is annihilated, perishes, & does not exist after death.'

    "Yes, my friend Sariputta. As I understand the Teaching explained by the Blessed One, a monk with no more effluents, on the break-up of the body, is annihilated, perishes, & does not exist after death."

    "What do you think, my friend Yamaka: Is form constant or inconstant?"

    "Inconstant, my friend."

    "And is that which is inconstant easeful or stressful?"

    "Stressful, my friend."

    "And is it proper to regard what is inconstant, stressful, subject to change as: 'This is mine. This is my self. This is what I am'?"

    "No, my friend."

    "Is feeling constant or inconstant?"

    "Inconstant, my friend."...

    "Is perception constant or inconstant?"

    "Inconstant, my friend."...

    "Are fabrications constant or inconstant?"

    "Inconstant, my friend."...

    "Is consciousness constant or inconstant?

    "Inconstant, my friend."

    "And is that which is inconstant easeful or stressful?"

    "Stressful, my friend."

    "And is it proper to regard what is inconstant, stressful, subject to change as: 'This is mine. This is my self. This is what I am'?"

    "No, my friend."

    "Thus, friend Yamaka, any form whatsoever that is past, future, or present; internal or external; blatant or subtle; common or sublime; far or near: Every form is to be seen with right discernment as it has come to be: 'This is not mine. This is not my self. This is not what I am.'

    "Any feeling whatsoever...

    "Any perception whatsoever...

    "Any fabrications whatsoever...

    "Any consciousness whatsoever that is past, future, or present; internal or external; blatant or subtle; common or sublime; far or near: Every consciousness is to be seen with right discernment as it has come to be: 'This is not mine. This is not my self. This is not what I am.'

    "Seeing thus, the instructed disciple of the noble ones grows disenchanted with form, disenchanted with feeling, disenchanted with perception, disenchanted with fabrications, disenchanted with consciousness. Disenchanted, he becomes dispassionate. Through dispassion, he is released. With release, there is the knowledge, 'Released.' He discerns that 'Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for this world.'"
     
  2. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic)

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    What do you make of it? Did the venerable monk live happily ever after?
     
  3. Mrs Malaprop

    Mrs Malaprop Member

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    "This is not my self. This is not what I am". It's a variation on Neti-neti ("not this") which is interesting. Though I guess here there is no assumption of a true Self "beneath" the five aggregates.
     
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  4. Beautiful

    Beautiful Active Member

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    Dear Cino, the sutta concludes:

    "And so, my friend Yamaka — when you can't pin down the Tathagata as a truth or reality even in the present life — is it proper for you to declare, 'As I understand the Teaching explained by the Blessed One, a monk with no more effluents, on the break-up of the body, is annihilated, perishes, & does not exist after death'?"

    "Previously, my friend Sariputta, I did foolishly hold that evil supposition. But now, having heard your explanation of the Dhamma, I have abandoned that evil supposition, and have broken through to the Dhamma."

    "Then, friend Yamaka, how would you answer if you are thus asked: A monk, a worthy one, with no more mental effluents: what is he on the break-up of the body, after death?"

    "Thus asked, I would answer, 'Form is inconstant... Feeling... Perception... Fabrications... Consciousness is inconstant. That which is inconstant is stressful. That which is stressful has ceased and gone to its end."


    "Very good, my friend Yamaka. Very good [...]"

    The last part which I underscored I find genious; it shows how Yamaka once understanding the dhamma gains Right View, which in turn gives him Right Speech.
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2020
  5. Beautiful

    Beautiful Active Member

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    Do you think there is a difference between neti neti and anatman ? :)
     
  6. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic)

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    Aren't they just cleverly evading a straight answer to the question, though? Those things he lists as ending along with suffering, are the five aggregates, which make up a person?

    And right view is perfectly straightforward to express verbally without any depth of understanding, simply by reciting the four Noble Truths?
     
  7. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic)

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    One is a technique, the other is a quality of subjective experience, I'd say.

    Neti-neti could be applied as a technique to become attentive of anatman.
     
  8. Beautiful

    Beautiful Active Member

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    Yes and yes, Cino :)

    Hahaha, I can see why someone would think that, but I think that since the question "As I understand the Teaching explained by the Blessed One, a monk with no more effluents, on the break-up of the body, is annihilated, perishes, & does not exist after death'?" Arises out of wrong view, then evading is to evade Mara in favor of Truth. This is why I think its genious that he evade the question.

    A good example of this evasion of a question lies in Aggi-Vacchagotta Sutta: To Vacchagotta on Fire:

    "A 'position,' Vaccha, is something that a Tathagata has done away with. What a Tathagata sees is this: 'Such is form, such its origination, such its disappearance; such is feeling, such its origination, such its disappearance; such is perception...such are fabrications...such is consciousness, such its origination, such its disappearance.' Because of this, I say, a Tathagata — with the ending, fading away, cessation, renunciation, & relinquishment of all construings, all excogitations, all I-making & mine-making & obsessions with conceit — is, through lack of clinging/sustenance, released."

    "But, Master Gotama, the monk whose mind is thus released: Where does he reappear?"

    "'Reappear,' Vaccha, doesn't apply."

    "In that case, Master Gotama, he does not reappear."

    "'Does not reappear,' Vaccha, doesn't apply."

    "...both does & does not reappear."

    "...doesn't apply."

    "...neither does nor does not reappear."

    "...doesn't apply."

    "How is it, Master Gotama, when Master Gotama is asked if the monk reappears... does not reappear... both does & does not reappear... neither does nor does not reappear, he says, '...doesn't apply' in each case. At this point, Master Gotama, I am befuddled; at this point, confused. The modicum of clarity coming to me from your earlier conversation is now obscured."

    "Of course you're befuddled, Vaccha. Of course you're confused. Deep, Vaccha, is this phenomenon, hard to see, hard to realize, tranquil, refined, beyond the scope of conjecture, subtle, to-be-experienced by the wise. For those with other views, other practices, other satisfactions, other aims, other teachers, it is difficult to know. That being the case, I will now put some questions to you. Answer as you see fit. What do you think, Vaccha: If a fire were burning in front of you, would you know that, 'This fire is burning in front of me'?"

    "...yes..."

    "And suppose someone were to ask you, Vaccha, 'This fire burning in front of you, dependent on what is it burning?' Thus asked, how would you reply?"

    "...I would reply, 'This fire burning in front of me is burning dependent on grass & timber as its sustenance.'"

    "If the fire burning in front of you were to go out, would you know that, 'This fire burning in front of me has gone out'?"

    "...yes..."

    "And suppose someone were to ask you, 'This fire that has gone out in front of you, in which direction from here has it gone? East? West? North? Or south?' Thus asked, how would you reply?"

    "That doesn't apply, Master Gotama. Any fire burning dependent on a sustenance of grass and timber, being unnourished — from having consumed that sustenance and not being offered any other — is classified simply as 'out' (unbound)."

    "Even so, Vaccha, any physical form by which one describing the Tathagata would describe him: That the Tathagata has abandoned, its root destroyed, made like a palmyra stump, deprived of the conditions of development, not destined for future arising. Freed from the classification of form, Vaccha, the Tathagata is deep, boundless, hard to fathom, like the sea. 'Reappears' doesn't apply. 'Does not reappear' doesn't apply. 'Both does & does not reappear' doesn't apply. 'Neither reappears nor does not reappear' doesn't apply.

    "Any feeling... Any perception... Any fabrication...
     
  9. Mrs Malaprop

    Mrs Malaprop Member

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    So what specifically is the wrong view referred to in the first paragraph of your post above?
     
  10. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic)

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    That we even exist as some kind of permanent essence before death.

    Which is, well, counter-intuitive, so Buddhists tend to make a big show of how it's mysterious and not what it looks like. Buddhism split into many warring sects over just how to get the message across without freaking out the alms-giving laypeople.

    Edited to add: My opinion. I like many parts of Buddhism. I'm not a Buddhist.
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2020
  11. Beautiful

    Beautiful Active Member

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    The wrong view was:

    "As I understand the Teaching explained by the Blessed One, a monk with no more effluents, on the break-up of the body, is annihilated, perishes, & does not exist after death"

    What does that mean to you?
     
  12. Beautiful

    Beautiful Active Member

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    Whats death? Who is there to die?

    Being masters of yoga and meditation the bodhisattvas obviously already knew this truth and thats why in the sutra they are so shocked to hear venerable Yamaka could hold such an amateur belief<-- thinking of death as an end to existence is a belief.

    Meditation proves the world is an ilussion, smoke and mirrors, fathomless, a total void, and indeed bliss.

    This is very ancient and beautiful knowledge :)
     
  13. Mrs Malaprop

    Mrs Malaprop Member

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    I find it all rather ambiguous.
     
  14. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic)

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    Isn't this one of the many wrong views which the Buddha kept bashing on in many sermons, such as the discourse on the "Net of views"?

    I read the text more in the sense that they were shocked he thought that an enlightened monk ("with no effluents") would be annihilated after death. The Buddha bashed the idea of annihilation (or even existence) of any kind of permanent personal essence, repeatedly, in many sermons.

    How did meditation prove this to you? I'm always interested in good meditation "war stories". If you don't consider it too personal and intimate to share.

    And just for the sake of discussion: There used to be a great many schools of Buddhist monks who would routinely get really angry at each other over this idea. One such school who argued strongly that the world is indeed real was the Sarvastivadans, the spiritual ancestors of today's Tibetan Buddhists. Their Abhidharma ist still part of the Tibetan Buddhist canon. Arguably, also very ancient and beautiful knowledge.
     
  15. Beautiful

    Beautiful Active Member

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    In countless ways, too many to enumerate without boring you to death :) I encourage everyone to discover it for themselves, and not take my word or anyone elses for it. "the Tathagata is deep, boundless, hard to fathom, like the sea."

    If you find these stories interesting I reccomend this video:



    Precisley, annihilation of a personal essence is an idea. Ideas constitute wrong view. Truth is right view. Truth is based on facts, not ideas. The Yamaka Sutta shows how the 'evil superstition' of believing in a death (as in death of an "I" the ego) is unreasonable. 'Regard the impermanent as This is not mine. I am not this.'

    The Sarvāstivāda means "all exists."
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2020
  16. Mrs Malaprop

    Mrs Malaprop Member

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    Sorry but I'm still not clear what your interpretation is here. Are you saying there is a personal essence which continues? Or not?
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2020
  17. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic)

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    I'm not convinced by any claim that NDEs give us clues to an afterlife. I figure, since the person is still here to tell the tale, they can't have died, otherwise they wouldn't be here to tell the tale. So what we call an NDE is just another altered state of living consciousness, no need to give it special status, in my opinion.

    But you are here, sharing your beliefs as is right and proper in an interfaith forum, so I'd be interested in your story, not bored at all.

    Indeed. Which, taken as a fact (in the sense of Truth) would be rather opposed to "all is an illusion".
     
  18. Beautiful

    Beautiful Active Member

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    I have no beliefs :)

    What about clinically dead people who had nde's?

    "All exists" is the same as saying "everything is an illusion." This is why we call it the field of absolute abstraction: unfathomable means unfathomable. Its only to be understood through direct experience. It lies beyond thought and language.
     
  19. Beautiful

    Beautiful Active Member

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    I dont want to tell you. Then my interpretation would act as form of authority. Rather, lets dicover it together, look into it together :) So, in your life experience, have you been able to locate something in yourself which could be called a personal essence?
     
  20. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic)

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    This is an interfaith discussion forum, please review the rules regarding proselytizing.
     
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