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The Eye is Impermanent. - Dhamma Wheel

The Eye is Impermanent.

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
vinasp
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The Eye is Impermanent.

Postby vinasp » Thu Jul 05, 2012 1:07 pm

Hi everyone,

The Eye is Impermanent.

Here we examine six suttas together, SN 35.1 to SN 35.6

"Bhikkhus, the eye is impermanent. What is impermanent is suffering. What
is suffering is nonself. What is nonself should be seen as it really is
with correct wisdom thus:'This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my
self.' [Repeat for ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind.]
Seeing thus, bhikkhus, the instructed noble disciple experiences revulsion
towards the eye, [ear, nose, tongue, body, mind.]
Experiencing revulsion, he becomes dispassionate. Through dispassion his
mind is liberated. ..." [ BB CD page 1133, part of SN 35.1]

Here is a part of SN 35.1 with the sentences numbered for easy reference.

1. Bhikkhus, the eye is impermanent.
2. What is impermanent is suffering.
3. What is suffering is nonself.

Does anyone actually understand this?

Let us consider line 1: the eye is impermanent.

This does not, on a surface reading, make any sense (in the context).

What does "eye" mean here? What does "impermanent" mean?

What do you think?

Regards, Vincent.

vinasp
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Re: The Eye is Impermanent.

Postby vinasp » Thu Jul 05, 2012 2:17 pm

Hi everyone,

These six discourses differ only in the first few sentences:

"Bhikhus, the eye is suffering. What is suffering is nonself. What is nonself
should be seen as it really is ....." [SN 35.2]

"Bhikkhus, the eye is nonself. What is nonself should be seen as ...."[SN 35.3]

"Bhikkhus, (visible) forms are impermanent. What is impermanent is suffering.
What is suffering is nonself. What is nonself should be seen as it really is
with correct wisdom ...." [SN 35.4]

"Bhikkhus, (visible) forms are suffering. What is suffering is nonself. What
is nonself should be seen as it really is ...." [SN 35.5]

"Bhikkhus, (visible) forms are nonself. What is nonself should be seen as
it really is with correct wisdom ..." [SN 35.6]

Regards, Vincent.

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Alex123
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Re: The Eye is Impermanent.

Postby Alex123 » Thu Jul 05, 2012 3:08 pm

"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

pegembara
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Re: The Eye is Impermanent.

Postby pegembara » Thu Jul 05, 2012 4:16 pm

The eye is impermanent, so what we see is also impermanent. Visual objects arise and pass away in awareness from moment to moment. Whatever you note should be regarded thus :This is not mine(clinging), this I am not(conceit), this is not my self(self view). The same goes with the other senses.

It is the stock instruction of vipassana not to grasp at objects arising and passing away from awareness. But since eyes are usually close, the objects used are sounds, body sensations, feelings, thoughts etc.

Regarding the eye : When you see an object, you must not grasp it. It's true nature is impermanence but grasping to its signs gives rise to perception eg. beautiful man/woman. Then comes feelings of like-dislike-neutral followed by thoughts, mental proliferations and intentions.

If you don't grasp, the object arises and passes as when looking at a large group of group of people. There is no clinging, conceit and wrong view. No suffering.
And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech.

vinasp
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Re: The Eye is Impermanent.

Postby vinasp » Thu Jul 05, 2012 4:30 pm

Hi Alex123,

Since there are various ways to understand both "eye" and "impermanent" in
these passages, then it follows that many interpretations are possible.

Alex said:"Why can't we say that "the fleshy eye-organ is impermanent"? It, as a whole, exists as long as body exists (usually around 80-120 years)."

We certainly can say this. And this gives us our first interpretations for
both "eye" and "impermanent". Allow me to substitute "actual eye" for your
"the fleshy eye-organ".

Interpretations of "eye" #1 - the actual eye.

Interpretations of "impermanent" #1 - "ceases at death."

So line 1 becomes: The actual eye ceases at death.

Alex said:"Also, eye can be damaged and seeing will not occur or be faulty."

Interpretation of "impermanent" #2 - "can stop functioning before death."

Alex said:"So we can't fully and permanently rely on eye-organ to give permanent happiness."

This is true. But SN 35.2 begins with "the eye is suffering" not that the
eye is a potential source of future suffering by being damaged.

Some problems with these interpretations:

1. SN 35.7 (not quoted before) says: "... the eye is impermanent, both of
the past and the future, not to speak of the present. ..."
This suggests that some other understanding of "impermanent" might be
more appropriate.

2. Since "the eye is suffering" and the aim of the teachings is to bring
suffering to an end, would this not require the "eye" to cease, which is
a problem if we take "eye" as being "the actual eye."

3. "the actual eye ceases at death", do we really need a Buddha to explain
this to us? Does not every ten-year-old already know this?

Regards, Vincent.

vinasp
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Re: The Eye is Impermanent.

Postby vinasp » Thu Jul 05, 2012 5:47 pm

Hi everyone,

I have my own interpretation of what "eye" means in these discourses, but I
am also interested in what others think about this problem.

Before I explain what I think "eye" means, I need to quote a passage from
SN 35.30

"Bhikkhus, I will teach you the way that is appropriate for the uprooting of
all conceivings. Listen to that and attend closely, I will speak ...
"And what, bhikkhus, is the way that is appropriate for uprooting all
conceivings?[15]
Here, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu does not conceive the eye, does not conceive in
the eye, does not conceive from the eye, does not conceive, 'The eye is mine.'
He does not conceive forms ... eye consciousness ... eye-contact ... and as
to whatever feeling arises with eye-contact as condition - whether pleasant
or painful or neither-painful-nor-pleasant - he does not conceive that, does
not conceive in that, does not conceive from that, does not conceive, 'That
is mine.'
"He does not conceive the ear ....
He does not conceive the mind ... mental phenomena ... mind-consciousness ...
mind-contact ... and as to whatever feeling arises with mind-contact as
condition ... he does not conceive that, does not conceive in that, does
not conceive from that, does not conceive,'That is mine.'
"He does not conceive all, does not conceive in all, does not conceive from
all, does not conceive,'All is mine.'
"Since he does not conceive anything thus, he does not cling to anything in
the world. Not clinging, he is not agitated. Being unagitated, he personally
attains Nibbana. ....."

[ Bhikkhu Bodhi, Connected Discourses, page 1144, SN 35.30]

Regards, Vincent.

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Alex123
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Re: The Eye is Impermanent.

Postby Alex123 » Thu Jul 05, 2012 6:30 pm

"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

pulga
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Re: The Eye is Impermanent.

Postby pulga » Thu Jul 05, 2012 8:09 pm


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daverupa
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Re: The Eye is Impermanent.

Postby daverupa » Thu Jul 05, 2012 8:40 pm


pulga
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Re: The Eye is Impermanent.

Postby pulga » Thu Jul 05, 2012 9:45 pm


Anxt
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Re: The Eye is Impermanent.

Postby Anxt » Thu Jul 05, 2012 9:52 pm


pulga
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Re: The Eye is Impermanent.

Postby pulga » Thu Jul 05, 2012 10:05 pm


Zach
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Re: The Eye is Impermanent.

Postby Zach » Thu Jul 05, 2012 10:09 pm


Anxt
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Re: The Eye is Impermanent.

Postby Anxt » Thu Jul 05, 2012 10:32 pm


pulga
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Re: The Eye is Impermanent.

Postby pulga » Thu Jul 05, 2012 11:15 pm


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DarwidHalim
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Re: The Eye is Impermanent.

Postby DarwidHalim » Fri Jul 06, 2012 1:05 am

If eyes are permanent, they are forever there are eyes.

If eyes are impermanent but has self, they last for certain duration, such as 80 years.

But,

If eyes are impermanent, and also nonself, they never last even for single instant. The true eyes are unfounded. What you have is only the empty-appearances of eyes.

Just like the eyes in the magical display, are there the appearance of eyes? Absolutely there are appearances of eyes.

But, in that magical display, are there any true or intrinsic eyes? It looks there is as if due to its appearances, but when you go and search for it, you find nothing. There is no true eyes.

So if you ask is there eye, which one are you asking? True or intrinsic eyes? Or illusion-like eyes?

The eyes that we have is not the intrinsic eyes, the eyes that we have is illusion-like eyes. It appears, but unfound.

You can pin point your eyes with your finger, but if you are very sharp you will know you can never ever pin point the self of the eyes.

If a magician display the illusion of tiger in front of me, although there is the appearances of tiger, that illusion will not give me a single assertion that there is a tiger there. Not even for a single instance, regardless how long that appearance of tiger in front of me.

Similarly, If you don't have the intrinsic eyes, just the appearance of eyes, will you assert you have eyes? Something that you can't find even for a single dot?
I am not here nor there.
I am not right nor wrong.
I do not exist neither non-exist.
I am not I nor non-I.
I am not in samsara nor nirvana.
To All Buddhas, I bow down for the teaching of emptiness. Thank You!

Anxt
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Re: The Eye is Impermanent.

Postby Anxt » Fri Jul 06, 2012 10:58 am


vinasp
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Re: The Eye is Impermanent.

Postby vinasp » Fri Jul 06, 2012 1:28 pm

Hi Alex123,

Alex said:"The Buddha never said that in English. Eye IS dukkha, but dukkha has broader meaning (though it includes) than suffering."

You think that translating as "the eye is suffering" is misleading because
dukkha has a wide range of meanings, and here it means something like
"unsatisfactory." I agree that this is a possible reading.

Alex said:"In the past, future or present life the eye is impermanent."

It is certainly possible to construe the text in this way, if one is satisfied
that "present" can mean "present life."

Alex said:"Not all dukkha is immediately eliminated even for an Arahant. But, no more future dukkha will arise when parinibbana occurs."

Yes, there are two kinds of dukkha - body-dukkha and mental-dukkha. The arahant,
while alive, has only eliminated mental-dukkha. When the Buddha says that:
"the eye is dukkha", if you take "eye" in a literal sense, then the dukkha
can only be body-dukkha. [because the actual eye is not mental.]

I think that an interpretation such as yours must be everyone's starting
point, it is the most obvious one. I suspect that the teachings have been
composed in such a way that it is not possible to show conclusively that
such an interpretation is wrong.

In this thread I am not attempting to make anyone change their interpretation.
But it may be useful to set out the various options so that readers can decide
for themselves.

Regards, Vincent.

vinasp
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Re: The Eye is Impermanent.

Postby vinasp » Fri Jul 06, 2012 2:03 pm

Hi everyone,

Skip this if you are not interested in technical stuff.

Here we consider the PED entry on "nicca"/"annicca":

I have edited it to focus on essentials, my comments in brackets {...}

Nicca (adj.)

constant, continuous, permanent. In chain of synonyms nicca dhuva sassata avipariṇāmadhamma ; see below anicca, -- nt. adv. niccaŋ perpetually, constantly, always (syn. sadā).

{That which is permanent continues to exist. But I suspect that, for some, the
meaning is "continues to exist unchanged." So there are two distinct ideas here.}

Far more freq. as anicca (adj.; aniccaŋ nt. n.) unstable impermanent, inconstant; (nt.) evanescence, inconstancy, impermanence.

-- The emphatic assertion of impermanence (continuous change of condition) is a prominent axiom of the Dhamma, & the realization of the evanescent character of all things mental or material is one of the primary conditions of attaining right knowledge.

{ I do not accept that "annicca" means "continuous change of condition", perhaps
PED editors where influenced by the opinions of commentators. The obvious
opposite of "continues to exist" is "does not continue to exist", i.e. ceases,
vanishes, disappears.}

In this import anicca occurs in many combinations of similar terms all characterising change, its consequences & its meaning esp. in the famous triad "aniccaŋ dukkhaŋ anattā" (see dukkha ii.2),...

Opposed to this ever -- fluctuating impermanence is Nibbāna (q. v.), which is therefore marked with the attributes of constancy & stableness (cp. dhuva, sassata amata, vipariṇāma).

Regards, Vincent.

vinasp
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Re: The Eye is Impermanent.

Postby vinasp » Fri Jul 06, 2012 7:17 pm

Hi everyone,

That the Buddha uses figurative language is shown by this passage:

"Potthapada, all those wanderers are blind and sightless, you alone
among them are sighted." DN 9.33 Walshe 1987.

Here, a literal reading is not credible so we are forced to understand it
in another way. The meaning is that "all those wanderers" lack insight into
the deeper aspects of the Buddha's teaching.

When the Buddha talks about the "eye" it is sometimes figurative language, for
example, the "dhamma eye" or the "eye of wisdom".

Sometimes it is literal, as when he describes a monk as:"seeing visible
forms with the eye."

But there is also a third option, SN 35.30 speaks of a bhikkhu who "does not
conceive the eye." The ordinary man does conceive the eye, the enlightened
individual does not conceive the eye. But the arahant still has an actual eye,
so this "conceived eye" must be something different.

It is this "conceived eye" which is suffering, and which is impermanent, in
the sense that it is possible for it to cease, to vanish.

Clearly, "conceiving" is something done by the mind, this "conceived eye" is
a mental fabrication, a constructed thing, and that which the mind has
constructed it can de-construct.

Regards, Vincent.


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