• Wayfarer
    12.6k
    Priest claims that, with reference to the question of the Buddha's existence beyond death, the Catuskoti is meant to negate every possible answer and that he goes on to claim erects an entirely separate category of possibility viz.

    v) Ineffable (i)
    TheMadFool

    Aside from the question of whether the Buddha continues to exist after death, there are a series of other ‘unanswered questions’, a summary is given here. (T.R.V. Murti notes some similarities with Kant’s ‘antinomies of reason’ in his book, The Central Philosophy of Buddhism.)

    You may recall the discussion of the simile of the poison arrow. The thrust of that simile is that trying to resolve such questions is like asking about ‘who shot the arrow’, ‘what kind of wood is it made from’, and so on, instead of seeking treatment for the poison and dying as a consequence.

    The meaning of that is that the Buddha presents a means of liberating oneself from continued (implicitly painful or unsatisfactory) existence in saṃsāra, the round of birth and death. Pursuing such unanswerable questions is a distraction from the urgent task of actually engaging in the way of liberation.

    As regards the ineffable nature of Nirvāṇa - it has always been understood that there is no way to understand it short of actually reaching or realising it. It is referred to in some texts as ‘the inconceivable’, and much of the language about it is negative, saying what it is not, rather than what it is. Of course, some here will say that this amounts to nothing or nonsense or suchlike, although this fails to account for the fact that Buddhism is one of the primary sources of civilised culture. However there are also positive descriptions in terms of its blissful nature, ultimate peace and final release.

    I think the point always is with Buddhism to train oneself to discern the causal chain - the ‘chain of dependent origination’ - which is the root cause of suffering (dukkha). It is in that sense a soteriological discipline. Through study of the doctrines etc you can arrive at some understanding of the religion but real understanding only comes through the practice. That is the meaning of ‘realisation’ - to see or realise the truth of something, but also to make it real, in the sense that a builder ‘realises’ the vision of the architect. The pursuit of that is what has always inspired Buddhists even though it often seems hopelessly remote and unobtainable.
  • Wayfarer
    12.6k
    I suppose a corollary of that is the understanding that the normal state, or the state that we all take for granted as being normal, is actually a defective or deficient condition. The unfortunate fact is that modern culture tends towards making allowance for this deficient condition, to ‘normalise’ it in some sense, so that it becomes the yardstick for what is considered real. The problem with this is that the normal state is grounded in craving, aversion and indifference - the ‘three poisons’ - so this supposed normal state is not only not normal, but actually not even real.

    Our root problem, it seems to me, is at its core a problem of consciousness. I would characterize this problem briefly as a fundamental existential dislocation, a dislocation having both cognitive and ethical dimensions. That is, it involves both a disorientation in our understanding of reality, and a distortion or inversion of the proper scale of values, the scale that would follow from a correct understanding of reality. Because our root problem is one of consciousness, this means that any viable solution must be framed in terms of a transformation of consciousness. It requires an attempt to arrive at a more accurate grasp of the human situation in its full depth and breadth, and a turning of the mind and heart in a new direction, a direction commensurate with the new understanding, one that brings light and peace rather than strife and distress.Bhikkhu Bodhi, A Buddhist Response to Contemporary Dilemmas of Human Existence
  • TheMadFool
    10k
    You may recall the discussion of the simile of the poison arrow. The thrust of that simile is that trying to resolve such questions is like asking about ‘who shot the arrow’, ‘what kind of wood is it made from’, and so on, instead of seeking treatment for the poison and dying as a consequence.Wayfarer

    Graham Priest believes that the Buddha would've considered such queries as a, I quote, "...waste of time..." Why do I feel like I've been pondering these very questions up until now? :chin:

    Nevertheless, I recall discussing this matter with you or someone else before, many suns ago. While the Buddha makes sense of course from a triage perspective, he seems to have overlooked the fact that the poisoned arrow matters only because we lack good, satisafactory answers to the questions he dismisses as inappropriate. No?

    As regards the ineffable nature of Nirvāṇa - it has always been understood that there is no way to understand it short of actually reaching or realising itWayfarer

    I see the marks of a paradox in this. If nirvana is, as you and others claim, ineffable, it follows, doesn't it?, that no one know what it is. If so, how will someone recognize it when fae attains it? It appears that the criterion for identifying buddhas is lost to history, assuming there was one in the first place.

    I'm especially concerned about this because there could be many, many ineffables. For instance, qualia - everday, mundane, routine - is also ineffable but nirvana, for certain (?), can't be the experience of qualia, right? Thus, necessarily all ineffables aren't enlightenment and this immediately raises the question of how one identifies buddhahood? The answer is not going to be very encouraging because an ineffable can't be put into words and that which can't be worded can't be understood. I'm rambling, aren't I but, in my defense, a genuine doubt.
  • javra
    1.2k
    As regards the ineffable nature of Nirvāṇa - it has always been understood that there is no way to understand it short of actually reaching or realising it. It is referred to in some texts as ‘the inconceivable’, and much of the language about it is negative, saying what it is not, rather than what it is. Of course, some here will say that this amounts to nothing or nonsense or suchlike, although this fails to account for the fact that Buddhism is one of the primary sources of civilised culture. However there are also positive descriptions in terms of its blissful nature, ultimate peace and final release.Wayfarer

    I’ve been under the impression that Nirvana is a literal, non-hyperbolic, non-dualistic awareness - hence an awareness not limited or bounded by anything: a limitless awareness. Hence, a state of being wherein a literally limitless awareness occurs sans any semblance of selfhood; the latter requiring a duality between self and non-self/other, which would logically cease occurring upon an actualization of complete non-dual awareness. This, in part, since all semblance of “objects of awareness” - be these physical things, or mental things such as desires and particular thoughts of which one is aware - cease to occur upon actualization of non-dual being … this state of awareness thereby being deemed to result in an unfathomable state of bliss. Maybe obviously from this description, a state of being wherein samsara thereby ceases.

    One then can either actualize an awareness of Nirvana’s being, in which case one still remains in states of dualistic awareness while aiming to actualize Nirvana itself, or actualize Nirvana itself, in which case, again, duality ceases.

    I don’t have references for this interpretation so much as this being the general understanding of Nirvana I’ve gained from my former readings.

    To what extent am I misinformed?
  • Wayfarer
    12.6k
    If nirvana is, as you and others claim, ineffable, it follows, doesn't it?, that no one know what it is.TheMadFool

    Ineffable, 'too great to be expressed or described in words', nevertheless, 'known by the wise'. So, not right to claim that no-one knows it.

    The answer is not going to be very encouraging because an ineffable can't be put into words and that which can't be worded can't be understood.TheMadFool

    It can't be meaningfully expressed in symbolic code or idle speculation.

    To what extent am I misinformed?javra

    I don't know if you are although I can't say I really grasp the distinction you're making. I will say, from some years of contact with various Buddhist groups, the term 'Nirvāṇa' is very rarely invoked or mentioned. It's more like an implicit understanding.
  • TheMadFool
    10k
    Ineffable, 'too great to be expressed or described in words', nevertheless, 'known by the wise'. So, not right to claim that no-one knows it.Wayfarer

    Yes, Graham Priest's thinks so too (I'm not sure). I can't quite remember the argument he makes but it rests on a technicality. It goes something like this: ineffables may be ineffable, no doubt but, they can be true and so, he concludes, ineffables are knowable. I'm curious to know, what's your argument that ineffables can be known.
  • Wayfarer
    12.6k
    I'm curious to know, what's your argument that ineffables can be known.TheMadFool

    That's a deep question of religious epistemology. What does the (or a) Buddha know? To answer in any detail would require a great deal of text. A canonical description of the Buddha's knowledge can be found in such following examples:

    These are those dhammas, bhikkhus, that are deep, difficult to see, difficult to understand, peaceful and sublime, beyond the sphere of reasoning, subtle, comprehensible only to the wise, which the Tathāgata, having realized for himself with direct knowledge, propounds to others... — Brahmajala Sutta

    For further reading perhaps have a look at https://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/index.html
  • TheMadFool
    10k
    I just want to explore one particular interpretation of the notion of ineffables. Is the ineffable a linguistic issue in that we're missing the language that can eff it in a manner of speaking or is it that there are aspects, the most important ones going by how so many sages have mentioned it, of reality that no language can ever describe? In the first case, all we need to do is create a language with the expressive power to handle apparent ineffables but in the second case, such is impossible.

    Noteworthy too is ineffables, if they're the holy grail of true understanding of true reality, they take the idea of language barrier to a whole new level.
  • Wayfarer
    12.6k
    It’s the second. Hence symbols, myth, imagery, which try to convey, invoke or otherwise impart the understanding of the ineffable. But that’s always given in the context of a domain of discourse, and, in Buddhist terms, a lineage of transmission. (See The Twilight Language, Rodney Bucknell.)

    But you can see how, for example, liturgical language and the symbolic enactment of myth, which is central to religions generally, also attempts to convey the ineffable. I know someone, not particularly religious, who experienced a kind of epiphany simply standing in one of the great Gothic cathedrals of France.

    About the ‘language barrier’ - language is obviously central to h. Sapiens, one of our distinguishing capabilities. But it’s also associated with a particular aspect of intelligence, that of abstraction and generalisation, and, I think, also with a particular aspect of consciousness. Insight of the kind indicated in Buddhist traditions invokes a completely different aspect of the intelligence to the verbal-linguistic. But, where will you find that in contemporary scientific or philosophical theory? I don’t know if you will. (I did have a paper by a Buddhologist on this subject a few years ago…..)
  • Wayfarer
    12.6k
    Actually I found that paper, and it is directly about the question you've raised regarding linguistic expression and experience of the ineffable - Absorption: Two Studies of Human Nature, Johannes Bronkhurst.
  • TheMadFool
    10k
    I know someone, not particularly religious, who experienced a kind of epiphany simply standing in one of the great Gothic cathedrals of France.Wayfarer

    :clap: :up:

    A script from a 1970's movie (paraphrasing)

    Student: Talking to you is like talking to a wall.
    Master: The Buddha once gained enlightenment meditating next to a wall.
    Student (mockingly): Oh! So, now you're comparing yourself to the Buddha.
    Master: No! Only to the wall.

    Absorption: Two Studies of Human Nature, Johannes BronkhurstWayfarer

    Will go through it. Thanks a million!
  • Wayfarer
    12.6k
    :rofl: It's a pretty long document, I haven't read all of it myself, but it is on point.
  • TheMadFool
    10k
    You might want to revisit a Daoist cliché/trope:

    Those who know don't speak. Those who speak don't know. — Laozi

    The Tower Of Babel, the objective being to keep humans out of heaven. That's what you get when you mess with Yahweh!



    Is something stalking us? Zeroing in on our position - for the kill - with the help of the sounds (language) we make?

    Radio Silence: In telecommunications, radio silence or Emissions Control (EMCON) is a status in which all fixed or mobile radio stations in an area are asked to stop transmitting for safety or security reasons. — Wikipedia

    Some predators rely mainly on sound cues to detect prey. In nocturnal predators non-visual clues are especially important. The barn owl (Tyto alba) relies on noises made by prey, and can locate prey animals with great precision. — Wikipedia

    Or is the truth so shocking (could be either too terrible to share or so good that one is overwhelmed) that we're left speechless. See vide infra:



    OR



    :chin:
  • 180 Proof
    4k
    The Tower Of Babel, the objective being to keep humans out of heaven. That's what you get when you mess with Yahweh!TheMadFool
    Any sovereign worth his bloodsoaked salt always makes strategic (e.g. propagandistic, conspiratorial, "fake news-alternative facts") use of this ideological parable for dividing-and-controlling "the people" (for their own good? – certainly for the good (continuance) of his reign).
  • TheMadFool
    10k
    Any sovereign worth his bloodsoaked salt always makes strategic (e.g. propagandistic, consporatorial, "fake news-alternative facts") use of this ideological parable for dividing-and-controlling "the people" (for their own good? – certainly for the good (continuance) of his reign).180 Proof

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