Kshanabhangavada - The theory of momentariness

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Kshanabhangavada - The theory of momentariness

Postby vinodh » Sun Nov 25, 2012 10:56 pm

Hi,

I would like to know more about the Kshanabhangavada (Theory of Momentariness) of the Buddhists. Apparently, this was a major criticism against Buddhists by the non-Buddhists in Ancient India.

It would be nice if you some one could explain the theory within the context of Buddhism, and point to any texts that discusses the same.

V
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yo dharmaṁ paśyati, sa buddhaṁ paśyati

One who sees the Dharma, sees the Buddha
śālistamba sūtra

na pudgalo na ca skandhā buddho jñānamanāsravam
sadāśāntiṁ vibhāvitvā gacchāmi śaraṇaṁ hyaham

Neither a person nor the aggregates, the Buddha, is knowledge free from [evil] outflows
Clearly perceiving [him] to be eternally serene, I go for refuge [in him]
saddharma-laṅkāvatāra-sūtra
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Re: Kshanabhangavada - The theory of momentariness

Postby viniketa » Mon Nov 26, 2012 4:39 am

This is not a strictly Mahāyāna topic; in fact you'll find it most elaborately described in Pali sources, such as the Pali Abhidhamma.

The theory (or doctrine) of momentariness was developed in early Abhidhamma literature as a logical extension of the concept of anicca (Pali, impermanence) and as explanatory of certain aspects of mind based in experiential features of meditation. "Thought" (citta) actually arises as a series (minimum of three) continuous moments. There are special cittas (phenomenal-thoughts) which connect the "mindstream" between death and re-birth.

In Theravāda, Nina Van Gorkom has written extensively on the topic. For further information, I recommend her Abhidhamma in Daily life.

Another good source of info is Alexander von Rospatt's The Buddhist Doctrine of Momentariness: A Survey of the Origins and Early Phase of this Doctrine up to Vasubandhu.

The criticism of momentariness was not limited to non-Buddhists The argumentation went on between schools of early Buddhism and later Buddhist logicians (Dignāga and after) also criticized the theory.

Hope this helps.

:namaste:

P.S. In Pali, the term is Khaṇikavado while in Sanskrit it is Kṣaṇikavāda.
If they can sever like and dislike, along with greed, anger, and delusion, regardless of their difference in nature, they will all accomplish the Buddha Path.. ~ Sutra of Complete Enlightenment
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Re: Kshanabhangavada - The theory of momentariness

Postby vinodh » Mon Nov 26, 2012 8:22 am

viniketa wrote:
Hope this helps.

:namaste:

P.S. In Pali, the term is Khaṇikavado while in Sanskrit it is Kṣaṇikavāda.


Thanks for the explanation and pointers.

The non-Buddhist sources, especially the Jaina ones, call this theory as Kṣaṇa-bhanga-vāda. Literally - Moment-Destruction-Theory. I was not aware of the Buddhist terminology.

V
http://www.virtualvinodh.com

yo dharmaṁ paśyati, sa buddhaṁ paśyati

One who sees the Dharma, sees the Buddha
śālistamba sūtra

na pudgalo na ca skandhā buddho jñānamanāsravam
sadāśāntiṁ vibhāvitvā gacchāmi śaraṇaṁ hyaham

Neither a person nor the aggregates, the Buddha, is knowledge free from [evil] outflows
Clearly perceiving [him] to be eternally serene, I go for refuge [in him]
saddharma-laṅkāvatāra-sūtra
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Re: Kshanabhangavada - The theory of momentariness

Postby vinodh » Mon Nov 26, 2012 8:29 am

Here is the critique from one of the Jaina texts:

Buddhist: This World is made up of Five Skandhas. These Five Skandhas arise and fall momentarily. The World is also like that, is in a state for Momenatiriness, it is in a false state. It changes every moment.

Jain: Yes. This is your Kshanabhangavada. By this, you say that materials die out before, they are formed again. By this, each event does not have any relation with the earlier events. You call this as Asat Karyavada. If this is so, then there is no Causality between events. If that is so, then this is no obstruction for an Impossible event like "Apperance of a Flower in the Sky" (Akasha Pushpa). Is it not so ?

If Vasana can be considered as an link for Casuality, we must accept some kind of relation between events. Kshanabhangavada cannot be true.


V
http://www.virtualvinodh.com

yo dharmaṁ paśyati, sa buddhaṁ paśyati

One who sees the Dharma, sees the Buddha
śālistamba sūtra

na pudgalo na ca skandhā buddho jñānamanāsravam
sadāśāntiṁ vibhāvitvā gacchāmi śaraṇaṁ hyaham

Neither a person nor the aggregates, the Buddha, is knowledge free from [evil] outflows
Clearly perceiving [him] to be eternally serene, I go for refuge [in him]
saddharma-laṅkāvatāra-sūtra
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Re: Kshanabhangavada - The theory of momentariness

Postby tomamundsen » Mon Nov 26, 2012 8:49 am

vinodh wrote:Jain: Yes. This is your Kshanabhangavada. By this, you say that materials die out before, they are formed again. By this, each event does not have any relation with the earlier events. You call this as Asat Karyavada. If this is so, then there is no Causality between events. If that is so, then this is no obstruction for an Impossible event like "Apperance of a Flower in the Sky" (Akasha Pushpa). Is it not so ?
It seems like they don't know the first thing about dependent origination.
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Re: Kshanabhangavada - The theory of momentariness

Postby Huifeng » Mon Nov 26, 2012 10:35 am

Was going to mention Alex von Rospatt's book, but someone beat me to it. :)
I think it was, or was based on, his PhD dissertation, IIRC.

~~ Huifeng
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Re: Kshanabhangavada - The theory of momentariness

Postby viniketa » Mon Nov 26, 2012 1:30 pm

vinodh wrote:Here is the critique from one of the Jaina texts:

Buddhist: This World is made up of Five Skandhas. These Five Skandhas arise and fall momentarily. The World is also like that, is in a state for Momenatiriness, it is in a false state. It changes every moment.

Jain: Yes. This is your Kshanabhangavada. By this, you say that materials die out before, they are formed again. By this, each event does not have any relation with the earlier events. You call this as Asat Karyavada. If this is so, then there is no Causality between events. If that is so, then this is no obstruction for an Impossible event like "Apperance of a Flower in the Sky" (Akasha Pushpa). Is it not so ?

If Vasana can be considered as an link for Casuality, we must accept some kind of relation between events. Kshanabhangavada cannot be true.



This seems an early criticism consistent with what I know of Jain thought. There are some very big differences between the two theories of causality. My understanding is that, for Jains, primary causality (upādanā kārana) is material, i.e., body and material surroundings, with the assumption that the effect is present in the cause. Nāgārjuna's Mulamadhyamakakarika is, in part, is a later refutation of such views.

The above is a poor criticism, however. It is based in only a partial understanding of Buddhist thought. It is correct that, in Buddhist philosophy, each phenomenal moment contains its own destruction rather than requiring some tapas (spiritual austerity) to destroy a thought arisen from material circumstances. The three "moments" of thought are the immediate past, the present, and the "arising" moment, with each being causally connected, but each moment expires without need for mental intervention. Further, as tomamundsen implies, it ignores the Buddhist tenet of pratītyasamutpāda, or co-dependent arising, which demonstrates the 12 nidana (links) in the chain of causation. Śīla, discipline, is required to "break" the causal chain, however, so the two lines of thought are similar in that regard.

While Buddhist logic recognizes the category of abhāva-padārtha (impossible things), such as "the hare's horns" or "the son of a barren woman", it is precisely the momentary nature of phenomenal thought that allows such vikalpa (incorrect notion) to be replaced by pramāṇa (correct perception).

:namaste:
If they can sever like and dislike, along with greed, anger, and delusion, regardless of their difference in nature, they will all accomplish the Buddha Path.. ~ Sutra of Complete Enlightenment
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Re: Kshanabhangavada - The theory of momentariness

Postby joda » Tue Nov 27, 2012 8:43 am

vinodh wrote:Here is the critique from one of the Jaina texts:

Buddhist: This World is made up of Five Skandhas. These Five Skandhas arise and fall momentarily. The World is also like that, is in a state for Momenatiriness, it is in a false state. It changes every moment.

Jain: Yes. This is your Kshanabhangavada. By this, you say that materials die out before, they are formed again. By this, each event does not have any relation with the earlier events. You call this as Asat Karyavada. If this is so, then there is no Causality between events. If that is so, then this is no obstruction for an Impossible event like "Apperance of a Flower in the Sky" (Akasha Pushpa). Is it not so ?

If Vasana can be considered as an link for Casuality, we must accept some kind of relation between events. Kshanabhangavada cannot be true.


V


The argument is valid. It was taken up by Nagarjuna in the chapter on temporality to refute the nonexistence of past and future. The issue was known before him already tho, leading the Sarvastivada sect to formulate that all three times must be real and the present is not about reality but about activity.
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