Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Remains of the fire (Fire Sermon Explained)

Wisdom Quarterly; AP; Ñanamoli Thera (Three Cardinal Discourses of the Buddha, BPS)
Remains of the day, the resilient burn area will soon bounce back (kfiam640.com).

Fire spirit (coasttocoastam.com)
The Springs fire is burned out, exhausted, and over. The massive blaze came very early in the season, boding disaster for the year. It seems that for this fire, the aerial bombardment of spraying deadly heavy metals on unsuspecting civilians has paid off for weather modification. The chemtrails seem to have been bringing on-and-off torrential rain throughout the day, taking advantage of a moist cold front. Cold air is usually dry, but there was enough moisture in the skies over Southern California to co-create rain. Is Nature ruined? No, the local environment likes and needs wildfires. It is the only way some plants' seeds are made viable. It puts nutrients back in the ground and clears years of debris off the forest floor. Many local plants are adapted to deal with fire, for instance with bark that burns while protecting heartwood.

Soon blooms will prove the fire was worth it, where fire is a component of the ecosystem.
Fire ghost (privet.ru)
CAMARILLO, California  (AP) Rain showers moved across Southern California on today (May 6, 2013), dousing remnants of a wildfire that blackened thousands of acres in [Southern California] coastal mountains and bringing much-needed moisture to a region left parched by a dry winter. [LA is currently experiencing a severe drought with little more than five inches for the year, nine inches shy of average.] The 44-square-mile burn area in the western Santa Monica Mountains... More

The Fire Sermon Explained
Ñanamoli Thera (Three Cardinal Discourses of the Buddha) edited by Wisdom Quarterly
THE SENSES: eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind are called the six "Bases for Contact [the meeting of awareness and sensation] in oneself," and are also known as the six "Doors" of perception. 

Their corresponding objects are called "external bases" [of contact]. This is because the emphasis here is on the subjective faculty of seeing, hearing, and so on. It is not the associated flesh seen in someone (the eye itself, the ear, etc.), which, in so far as it is visible, is not "seeing." It is a "form" that can be seen to be the "external" object of the seeing.

Here "eye" [or more accurately the sensitive material in the eye] should be taken simply as the coordinating base in an otherwise uncoordinated visual field consisting of shades and colors, which makes things cognizable by eye-consciousness. This consciousness is often misconceived as "I" or self (atta, atman).

The six Internal Bases are compared to an empty village; the six External Bases to village-raiding robbers. [With estrangement it is recognized that one does not possess or own these bases, but clinging to such a notion gives rise to a solid sense that a self exists.]

NOTE: While this minutiae and exegesis may seem pointless, it is vital in the understanding of the Heart Sutra where "form is emptiness and emptiness is form" and long lists of sense bases, sense (sensible) objects, and the contact between them feature largely as the springboard for realization, for the perfection of liberating-wisdom.
FORMS: the six External Bases are forms, sounds, tastes, fragrances, tangibles, and mind-objects. These are the objective-fields. The six Internal Bases take them as objects. The word rupa ("matieriality") is used for objects. The eye, for example, sees colors and shade, as the basis for the visual perception.
The Buddha's silhouette (Jkoukoul/flickr.com)
CONTACT: The word phassa means the coming together of the sense base, sense object, and awareness. The verb is phusati (to touch, to arrive at, to realize). Touchable objects are photthabba ("tangible" objects of the fifth base, body-sensitivity). But here it is generalized to mean contact in the sense of presence of object to subject, or presence of cognized to consciousness, in all forms of consciousness, defined as follows: "Eye-consciousness arises dependent on eye and on forms; the coincidence of the three is contact (presence)."

"The same holds true for ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind. Failing it, no consciousness (awareness, knowledge) of any sort whatever can arise at all." This fundamental idea is sometimes placed at the head of lists of things defining Determinations.
BODY: The word kaya refers both to the physical body and to any grouping (e.g., Dharmakaya). In the ancient Buddhist language of Pali it is also used in: (a) for the physical frame, namely "this body with its consciousness" in a general sense; it also forms the subject of body-contemplation as set forth in the Four Foundations of Mindfulness Sutra, the aim of which is to analyze this "conglomeration" into its constituent parts; or it is used in a stricter sense, as here, (b) that "door" of the subjective body-sensitivity (tactile sense), that which is capable of sensing forms in the tactile field consisting of such qualities as the hard, the hot-or-cold, and the distended-and-movable.
MIND: The word mano has the root meaning "to measure, compare, coordinate." Here it is intended as that special "door" in which the five kinds of sense-consciousness arising in the other five doors combine themselves with their objective fields into a unity, together with certain uniquely-mental objects comprehensible through the mind-door -- such as boundless space, the sphere of the void, boundless consciousness, (and names, fictions, etc). Whatever is cognized in this door is cognized as an idea. And in the presence of (in contact with) ignorance (of the Four Noble Truths) it is misconceived as "I," "myself," or "mine."
It is the fusing of the stuff of experience into a coherent pattern; it also has the function of giving temporal succession (apparent identity over time) and flow to that pattern by its presenting all ideas for cognition as "preceded."
In the "Higher Teaching" (Abhi-dharma), but not in the sutras, "the (material) form which is the support for the mind" is mentioned (implying perhaps the whole "body with its consciousness"), but is not further specified.
This would place mind on a somewhat similar base as eye-seeing, as meant here in relation to the objective sensitive-flesh (likely located in the literal heart rather than the brain, but not clearly declared by the Buddha). Later notions coupled it with the heart (hṛdaya). Now fashion identifies it with the brain, but such assumptions are not easy to justify unilaterally. And if they depend on a prior, and philosophically-questionable, assumption of body-mind substance separation, they find no footing in the Buddha's teaching where substances are not assumed.
MIND-CONSCIOUSNESS: If each of the six pairs (internal and external) of bases -- five consisting of eye, ear, nose, tongue, and body, being coordinated by mind -- are open to personal inspection, and if consciousness is regarded as arising dependent on each of these six pairs and not in any other way (since no other description rejecting all six is possible without contradiction), then this notion of mind-consciousness presents no special difficulty.
IDEA: the multivalent term dharma (Pali, dhamma) is gerundive from the verb dharati ("to carry, to remember, to bear"). It literally means "a carryable, a rememberable."
In the context of the six pairs of bases, it means the rememberables that form the mind's special object, as distinct from the forms seen only with the eye, the sounds heard with the ear, the fragrances smelled with the nose, the flavors tasted with the tongue, the tangibles touched with the body. 

"Ideas" are what are apprehended through the mind-door. These six sense bases cover all we know. But while the first (forms) are not coordinated between themselves and have no direct access to each other, in the mind-door the five find a common denominator and are given a coordinating perspective, together with the mind's own special objects.

So the idea as a "rememberable" is the aspect of the known apprehended by the mind, whether coordinating the five kinds of sense-consciousness or apprehending the ideas peculiar to it or apprehending its own special objects. 
This must include all the many other meanings of the word dharma. Nirvana, insofar as it is knowable -- and describable to others who have not yet experienced it directly -- is an object of the mind (heart) and is thus in this special sense of the word an "idea." And just as with other internal bases and their respective external objects, "All ideas are not-self."

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