[Buddha-l] liturgical languages

jkirk jkirk at spro.net
Sat May 14 10:54:56 MDT 2005

> > Hi Stan,
> > After I wrote my comment I guessed this question would come along
:) ------
> > Well, not if one considers parinirvana a transformation, ergo change
> > (anicca), not stasis.
> > So bodhi is not actually fnished but transformed.
> > That's also how I personally view it as well.
> Thanks, Joanna.  Being dense and ignorant as I am I have further
> questions.  If parinirvana is a transformation something is transformed,
> since there are no states without some underlying condition or conditions
> effecting those states.  If we posit this underlying condition to be some
> essence, and furthermore posit this essence to be dynamic rather than
> (which is probably not the normative Indian conception of essence), then
> it is conceivable to have an essence that has truly attained a transformed
> state while yet open to further transformations, but on a different order,
> a parinirvanic order.  But parinirvana, at least in the Nikaya tradition,
> is the goal or end beyond which there is nothing more to attain, is it
> not?  So, if there are further transformations (since transformations are
> conceivably open to continuation in accord with your notion that bodhi is
> not completed but transformed), what would they be?  To posit these
> further transformations would seem to indicate some transformed something
> that is a non-static supposit of these transformations.  At least this is
> what I would understand the matter to be.  What, in your view, am I not
> understanding?
> Regards,
> Stan Ziobro
I'm dense too, but not as punctilious a thinker as you are.

I prefer the idea that any time a label is applied to a phenomenon it's in
danger of becoming essentialised. I.e., just naming things gives them
substance. This idea is well-entrenched in some disciplines but I don't have
the energy to trace its development now. You probably have already come
across this idea and Richard, among plenty of others on this list, is surely
on to it. This common misperception
(I consider it a misperception anyway) is contradicted, usefully I think, by
the propositions on anatta and anicca. Thus, words about human experience
that can produce readings that suggest ongoing process as opposed to stasis
strike me as more useful.  If you want to think of a term as both essential
and dynamic, such as "transformation," OK, but I prefer not to. Therefore it
is not productive nor useful for me to "posit" any word or term as an
essence. One can get embroiled so easily in word games.

Richard's reminding us that nirvana and also parinirvana (as well as bodhi)
are absences is a big help-----he's reminded us of this before, and I tend
to forget it because the word-essence-equation habit is, well, a habit.  I
have no problem going with the ancients' 2200 year old decision on this. It
suits practice purposes nicely and also has the beneficial effect of
installing roadblocks that warn off paths to more word games.

As Richard reminds us, and I believe the teachings mainly point that way,
the goal is getting rid of the kleshas, aka nirvana. But as we all know,
that ain't easily done.
Batchellor thinks that even the Buddha wrestled with Mara his entire life.
That makes sense to me: process, not stasis.

At death what is transformed is not some essence but the various particulars
that make up the human body, now in process as a corpse, no longer in
process as a "mentating human." As a corpse, the former human's kleshas and
everything else produced by mentation/lived experience are irrelevant, hence

All best,

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