Permanence of Recognition?

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Permanence of Recognition?

Postby Bhadantacariya » Sun Nov 24, 2013 9:36 pm

Hello, I'm new here, and to Buddhist philosophy, and I was hoping to get some insight into a question I had about permanence. I've been reading Santaraksita's Compendium on Reality, and have finished the Chapter on the Doctrine of Perpetual Flux. Briefly (and hopefully accurately) his argument that nothing can possibly be permanent is thus:

1. If a thing exists, then it must possess the capacity to cause.

This much I get; try to think of an example of something that exists yet cannot cause anything. I certainly can't. Even the lightest atom has the capacity to cause every other atom in the universe to be gravitationally drawn to it.

2. If an existent thing is permanent, then it cannot have the capacity to cause and not cause.

If a thing can cause at one moment, and not cause at another moment, then it relinquishes its permanence. The idea, which I admit is rather alien to me and yet seems very reasonable, is that if Thing X changes in any way (for example going from causing -> not causing or vice versa), it becomes Thing Y, which of course means Thing X is not permanent, as it does not exist anymore: Thing Y does in its place.

3. Hence an existent permanent thing must be permanently causing.

This is an absurdity, though: if it is causing permanently, then effects must be occurring permanently too, that means, simultaneously with their cause. Little is clearer than the fact that a cause and its effect cannot occur simultaneously, but only successively. If we imagine a seed as the cause of the tree, and the tree as the effect of the seed, we can understand the absurdity of the seed and the tree that it becomes existing simultaneously. Since the only way a permanent thing can exist is through an absurdity, we can infer that no permanent thing exists.

My objection to this argument is with recognition, take of blue for example: how can my recognition of blue occur if I or it are not the same as we were the first time I cognized blue? I see the color blue for the first time, and I cognize it, and I see it again a million times later, and I recognize it each time (I cognize it a second, third, etc. time). If I am not the person who cognized blue that first time, how is it that I can recognize it? If the color blue is not the same color as it was when it was first cognized, how can it be recognized? It does not seem at all reasonable that when I see the color blue I am both cognizing it, and it is being cognized for the first and only time.

Is anybody familiar with these questions? Santaraksita discussed the distinction between recognition and remembrance, and between being the same and being similar, but I could use outside thoughts as well. I have a feeling there is a clearer answer somewhere; Buddhists certainly haven't been twiddling their thumbs on the subject of impermanence these past few millennia I'm sure!
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Re: Permanence of Recognition?

Postby KonchokZoepa » Sun Nov 24, 2013 9:55 pm

interesting subject. although i dont really have a clue on your question. i would imagine it to be something like that if there is a cause for you to recognize blue, you recognize it, yet then at another moment you are new and fresh but due to the latent first cause of recognizing blue the effect of that is still happening so you can re recognize blue without a problem since the effect of the first recognition is still there.
If the thought of demons
Never rises in your mind,
You need not fear the demon hosts around you.
It is most important to tame your mind within....

In so far as the Ultimate, or the true nature of being is concerned,
there are neither buddhas or demons.
He who frees himself from fear and hope, evil and virtue,
will realize the insubstantial and groundless nature of confusion.
Samsara will then appear as the mahamudra itself….

-Milarepa

OMMANIPADMEHUNG

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ls6P9tOYmdo
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Re: Permanence of Recognition?

Postby futerko » Sun Nov 24, 2013 10:20 pm

I think you've taken a wrong turn at some point, but don't possess a copy myself. At a guess I would say that these are not positive assertions, but rather, what is being refuted...

1. If a thing exists, then it must possess the capacity to cause - therefore no such thing can be found as a self-sustaining causal existent.
2. If an existent thing is permanent, then it cannot have the capacity to cause and not cause - therefore apparent causes are not the result of permanent existents.
3. Hence an existent permanent thing must be permanently causing - therefore there is only perpetual flux.
we cannot get rid of God because we still believe in grammar - Nietzsche
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Re: Permanence of Recognition?

Postby futerko » Mon Nov 25, 2013 11:29 am

As for your question about recognition, you might like to take a look at;

http://www.academia.edu/284724/Is_Svasa ... ntarak_ita
we cannot get rid of God because we still believe in grammar - Nietzsche
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Re: Permanence of Recognition?

Postby Jainarayan » Mon Nov 25, 2013 3:01 pm

I may have missed the mark completely, but I think this can be explained by annica, impermanence and dependent origin. Thich Nhat Hanh does a great job of explaining it.
Worthy, wise and virtuous: Who is energetic and not indolent, in misfortune unshaken,
flawless in manner and intelligent, such one will honor gain. - Digha Nikaya III 273
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Re: Permanence of Recognition?

Postby Astus » Thu Nov 28, 2013 12:33 pm

Bhadantacariya wrote:My objection to this argument is with recognition, take of blue for example: how can my recognition of blue occur if I or it are not the same as we were the first time I cognized blue?


Recognising something as "blue" is a thought process, that attaches to a range of visual experience the idea of blue. Physically, there are always different photons contacting photoreceptor cells and triggering a number of biological processes. In the Buddhist system of the 18 dhatus, visual consciousness occurs only when there is a visual form, and it happens only moment by moment. So, there is nowhere to be found any constant element.

The argument usually goes that if there were any perception or cognition that was permanent it would always be experienced. That is, a permanent thing permanently causing.

If I am not the person who cognized blue that first time, how is it that I can recognize it? If the color blue is not the same color as it was when it was first cognized, how can it be recognized?


A form/colour is perceived by various mental processes. Mental processes constantly change. You don't always think of blue, do you? That one can recognise in separate instances that something is blue only means cognitive connection between visual perception and ideas of colours. It does not mean that you see the same thing every time, that's only a very superficial (non-analysed, naive) approach.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T2076p461b24-26)
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Re: Permanence of Recognition?

Postby Martin007 » Thu Nov 28, 2013 5:10 pm

Astus wrote:You don't always think of blue, do you?


Well, yes, I do. When I trained as an electrician we had to do a colour blindness test, to make sure we knew what colours the wires were and didn't cut the wrong one.
So IMO there is a physical basis to colour perception and it isn't just about the mental processes.
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Re: Permanence of Recognition?

Postby greentara » Thu Nov 28, 2013 11:40 pm

You've travelled up ten thousand steps in search of the Dharma.
So many long days in the archives, copying, copying.
The gravity of the Tang and the profundity of the Sung
make heavy baggage.
Here! I've picked you a bunch of wildflowers.
Their meaning is the same
but they're much easier to carry.

Hsu Yun
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Re: Permanence of Recognition?

Postby Jinzang » Fri Nov 29, 2013 2:31 am

If you're talking about recognizing different objects as all being blue, this is the problem of universals. Buddhist philosophy doesn't have a very good explanation of universals. In Buddhist epistemology (pramana) universals are explained as a double negation (everything that is not non-blue) and as such an inference and not a truly existing thing.
Lamrim, lojong, and mahamudra are the unmistaken path.
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