Determining Determinations

Posted: April 7, 2013 by Bhikkhu Ninoslav Nyanamoli in Bhikkhu's Notebook, Dhamma Article

1. Feeling, perception and consciousness are always there together.1 It is impossible to have them arising independently and on their own; when there is one, the other two are present as well. They do not pass into each other’s domain2: one feels one’s feeling, one perceives one’s perception, one cognizes one’s cognizance. Assuming that it is the same thing that one feels, perceives and cognizes, or assuming that it is a different thing that one feels, perceives, and cognizes, or both-the-same-&-different thing that one feels, perceives, and cognizes, or neither-the-same-nor-different thing that one feels, perceives, and cognizes, means that assumed thing is there-it exists. One conceives it through one’s feeling, one’s perception, and one’s cognizance. One conceives that thing because of which feeling, perception and cognizance are there, as that thing because of which feeling, perception and cognizance are there. But since all one can ever feel is one’s feeling; all one can ever perceive is one’s perception; all one can ever cognize is one’s cognizance-that thing which is conceived as that because of which feeling, perception and cognizance are there, will have to be either a feeling, a perception or a cognizance, and as such cannot be that because of which feeling, perception and cognizance are there.3 By conceiving a feeling, or a perception, or a cognizance as that because of which feeling, perception and cognizance are there, one assumes that feeling, or perception, or cognizance, existing independently of feeling, perception and cognizance, as that because of which feeling, perception and cognizance are there. Thus, that because of which feeling, perception and cognizance are there, manifests in that feeling, perception or cognizance which are assumed to be that because of which feeling, perception and cognizance are there. Thus, that because of which feeling, perception and cognizance are there, manifests in that being-it exists.

2. That because of which feeling, perception and cognizance are there, is that which is a necessary condition for feeling, perception and cognizance that are there, because without it, that feeling, perception and cognizance would not be there. As a necessary condition, that because of which feeling, perception and cognizance are there, is thus that by which feeling, perception and cognizance are determined. But since through the assumption, that by which feeling, perception and cognizance are determined, manifests as feeling, perception, or cognizance because of which that feeling, perception and cognizance are there, that feeling, perception and cognizance are determined as that by which feeling, perception and cognizance are determined.4 Thus, through not knowing that one can only feel one’s feelings, perceive one’s perception, cognize one’s cognizance,5 one determines that by which one’s feeling, perception and cognizance are determined, as a feeling, a perception or a cognizance. Through that lack of knowledge, determinations are manifested-avijjāpaccayā saṅkārā.

3. One determines one’s determinations through assuming that because of which determinations are there.

But that because of which determinations are there cannot be that which is determined by those determinations, since all one can determine are one’s determination, not that because of which those determinations are there. Since determinations cannot determine that because of which determinations are there, that because of which determinations are there is that which is non-determinable-it is undetermined. If that because of which the determinations are there was to be determined, then the escape from determinations would not be possible.6

One can know that that because of which determinations are there cannot be determined.
Without knowing that knowing, one’s knowledge of that because of which determinations are there, determines that because of which determinations are there, as that because of which determinations are there.7
Since that because of which determinations are there cannot fundamentally be determined, one’s knowledge that determines that because of which determinations are there, leads to ‘assuming’ that because of which determinations are there as that because of which determinations are there.
And since that assumption is then there, that which is determined as that because of which determinations are there, is there too, as that assumed determination because of which determinations are there-it is manifested, it exists.

One can know that that because of which determinations are there cannot be determined.

By knowing that knowing,8 one’s knowledge of that because of which determinations are there, does not determine that because of which determinations are there,9 as that because of which determinations are there.

Since that because of which determinations are there cannot fundamentally be determined,10 one’s knowledge that does not determine that because of which determinations are there does not lead to ‘assuming’ that because of which determinations are there as that because of which determinations are there.

And since that assumption is then not there, that which is determined as that because of which determinations are there, is not there either, as that assumed determination because of which determinations are there-it is not manifested, it does not exist.11 12 13

Bhikkhu Ninoslav Ñāṇamoli

Footnotes:

1Cf. MN 43.

2Cf. Notes on DN 15.

3Now is probably the time to mention that none of this, nor paragraphs to follow, can be grasped intellectually by the reader. Things that are described here are not to be made sense of in a rationally or philosophically satisfying way, but to be seen in a certain order that they arise in one’s experience. Hence the deliberate repetitive style which aligns things in the order they are to be understood (which is also the reason why the Suttas are in that form). Also, refraining from a too particular and established terminology was intentional, since that would most likely lead a reader to assume that he already knows what those terms refer to.

4Cf. Khanda Saṃyutta viii,7.

5And not that because of which feeling, perception and cognizance are there.

6

There is, monks, (a) non-born, non-become, non-made, non-determined. If, monks, there were not that non-born, non-become, non-made, non-determined, an escape from (the) born, become, made, determined would not be discernible. But, because there is (a) non-born, non-become, non-made, non-determined escape from (the) born, become, made, determined is discernible.—Nibbāna Sutta, Ud. 8/3.

Cf. Notes on AN 1.51. Because the structure of the experience cannot fundamentally be appropriated, freedom from the appropriation is possible.

7

From nibbāna, he has a percept of nibbāna; having known nibbāna from nibbāna, he conceives nibbāna, he conceives in nibbāna, he conceives out of nibbāna, he conceives ‘My’ nibbāna, he delights nibbāna. Why is that? He has not fully understood it, I say.—MN 1.

Also cf. MN 102, [237].

8One knows that whether one intends toward, away, both or neither, in regard to that because of which intentions are there, that because of which intentions are there remains there, regardless of the intention in regard to it. By understanding that it is fundamentally inaccessible to one’s intentions, one ceases to crave towards it with those intentions, one ceases to assume it through those intentions, since neither intentions nor that which directly stands upon them, namely-one’s assumption-could access it. And one knows that. [‘Ignorant intentions’ are simply craving, which leads to ‘assumption’-taṇhapaccayā upādāna. Cf. Ñāṇavīra Thera, op.cit., p.56, footnote f.: “Intention does not imply craving-a hard thing to understand!”]).

9Does not “stand for it” in one’s experience, does not “represent it”, does not “manifest it”.

10Cannot be ‘accessed’ by it.

11The assumption is made redundant.

12If one thinks “there is that because of which intentions are there, which is inaccessible to those intentions”, that thought ‘stands for’ that because of which intentions are there, and through that thought one assumes access to that inaccessible-inaccessible exists. If one knows that regardless of what a thought or intention stand for, it can never “step outside” of its nature-one can only think one’s thoughts (perception perceived) or intend one’s intentions, not that because of which that thought/intention are there-one ceases to assume that which that intention stands for, because of which intention is there. Thus, intention remains, while “attempts to access” fade away, since one sees them as pointless and loses interest in them. When those “attempts” are thoroughly subdued, ‘the assumption’ of that which was assumed “accessible” (through those very attempts) disappears too, never to return.

13The only reason why assumption can be made redundant, is because it was redundant in the first place. Not knowing that it was redundant, makes it necessary, until it ceases to be so. And the reason why assumption presents itself as necessary is because it assumes that which is necessary in one’s experience, namely-the five aggregates.

Thus, the five aggregates, which are necessary in one’s experience, come to exist, through the assuming of them as that which is necessary in one’s experience. But since they are necessary in one’s experience, assuming them as necessary in one’s experience is not necessary. But until one knows that, that assumption will exist.


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