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A doctor of philosophy once said to me in an email: “ad hominem is the most underated form of argument”. Isn’t there some merit in this?
Amod Lele said:
Not on the Internet.
Dear Amod, thank you for this fascinating blog I just discovered. For some weird reason I can’t comment on the post about “Aristotelian vs Buddhist eudaimonia”, so feel free to move this comment there.
i’m a first year PhD student researching vedanā in early Buddhism. As, for now, it seems I may be focusing on the role vedanā plays in the pursuit of awakening, pleasant spiritual feelings (nirāmisā sukhā vedanā) come to the fore. But also a general dialectic of ‘sukha’ which seems to unite the kammatic and nibbanic perspectives on living the dharma.
Alongside many negative/apophatic descriptions of nirvana, there are also affirmative ones as “the highest sukha” (Dhp 203), and similar qualities are applied to what that nirvana consists in, as in: the highest sukha is abandoning the conceit ‘I am’ (Mucalinda Sutta, Ud 2.1). There are also those expositions of gradual happiness which proceed from morality to restraint to abandoning hindrances to the jhānas, etc. Each one deemed a superior form of well-being, turning kammatic-nibbanic into a spectrum hinging on the notion that “wholesomeness entails sukha”. So even if the practices and the goals of those two may in some respects be at odds with each other, they are unified by sukha at least as a dialectic. I find this interesting.
Congrats for your blog!
Amod Lele said:
Thank you, Bernat, and welcome! Comments close on posts after three months, to avoid spam coming in (and that one is from January). I don’t know of a way to move a comment, so I’ll just reply to you here.
Your point about sukha is a good one; I hadn’t thought of those passages. They do need to be tempered by the claim also found in the suttas that sukha itself is dukkha. It would be exciting if your dissertation was able to explore the role of sukha in the Pali canon!
That is a big part of what I intend to do! The interesting thing is that the problem with describing nirvana as sukha is acknowledged in the suttas, and the explanation given is that the mere absence of dukkha is sukha, which is rather Epicurean!