Is the Theravada system one of direct realism?

I know it is a realist system, that is beyond any doubt or discussion, but today I saw this on Wikipedia, and wondered if it is specifically, as the author says, direct realism:

Regarding their theory of sense perception and the nature of the cognitive object, the Theravāda Abhidhamma view is a kind of direct realism that says we do perceive external physical objects.

As a reference is linked this quote: Karunadasa, Y. Buddhist Analysis of Matter, pp. 149.

Also relevant:

Karunadasa, Y. Buddhist Analysis of Matter, pp. 14, 172; "If we base ourselves on the Pali Nikayas, then we should be compelled to conclude that Buddhism is realistic. There is no explicit denial anywhere of the external world. Nor is there any positive evidence to show that the world is mind-made or simply a projection of subjective thoughts. That Buddhism recognizes the extra-mental existence of matter and the external world is clearly suggested by the texts. Throughout the discourses it is the language of realism that one encounters. The whole Buddhist practical doctrine and discipline, which has the attainment of Nibbana as its final goal, is based on the recognition of the material world and the conscious living beings living therein.

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I managed to track down the reference. It seems, indeed, Theravada is a form of direct realism.

This theory ensures that the object of direct and immediate
perception is not an object of mental interpretation but something that is
ultimately real.
-Karunadasa, Y. Buddhist Analysis of Matter, pp. 149.

This quote is also relevant:

Thus the Theravādins were able to establish the theory
of direct perception of the external object despite their recognizing the
theory of momentariness.
-ibid. page 146

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The Buddha taught the Four Noble Truths: Pain, the Cause of Pain, Relief, the Cause/Way of Relief. Knowing these Four Truths is Yathabhuta Nana Dassana, which is simply put, being free from delusion or perception/view.

When a grain of salt is put onto the tongue, salty taste appears. And one knows salt is salty. This is direct knowledge - yathabhuta nana dassana, with which one can notice the ‘relief’ when it arises.

When an itch is too strong, we wants to scratch and we do and we know when there is the itch no more. We have direct knowledge of the itch and its disappearance. We cannot find this itch anywhere after we experience the relief, as the relief remains permanent. This relief is permanent, as much as the disappearance of the itch is permanent. This knowledge is yathabhuta nana dassana.

But scratching is unnatural, but manmade. By scratching to achieve relief, one cannot know the natural relief that is what a yogi is sought after passively. Being active is atta and allowing the itch to disappear naturally is to understand the natural phenomena of anicca/impermanence, dukkha/pain and anatta/being-natural. Yes, an itch is actually a pain too so we want immediate relief rather than natural relief. By scratching, we cause (kamma) and create effect (vipaka).

Perception is one of the five aggregates, and not panna/wisdom (in this case Bhāvanā-maya Paññā). In Buddhist context, it is not imaginary.

Bhāvanamaya (भावनमय).—a. imaginary. There are Buddhist links (Burmese and Siri-Lankan) on this page.

The Essence of Wisdom by S. N. Goenka What is wisdom? Wisdom means right understanding. Knowledge of superficial apparent truth only is not true wisdom. In order to understand the ultimate truth, we must penetrate apparent reality to its depths.

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What if we create a name combining the both?

“+”

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When we look at the moon and then turn away, it’s still there. :grin:

I know that sounds pretty obvious, but you’d be surprised how many (including some buddhists) who say that it’s not there unless there is an observer.

Somewhere in the desert there is a large boulder. If no human or animal is looking at it, it’s still there.

I guess I’m a direct realist.

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In some conventional sense yes, it is always there.
However, it is actually four elements that are arising and passing away. Yes all four.

These four elements arise and pass away ingroups (kalapa)

Your sensory interaction (nāma, maybe seeing processes, etc.) with that object (the rock) (the color) only exists when you are observing it.

The eyes see only for a moment .
The mind then processes that “seeing” and then falls into bhavanga (life continuum). Then it sees this again and repeats uncountable times per second.

What sees?
What knows?

It is actually the “person” that does not really exist.
It exists as a collection of momentary nāma rūpa and causes.

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Do the moon as an external rupa appear and disappear too?

The four elements cannot appear independently so they always appear and disappear together.

With stars the reverse is probably true, we can observe them but the object is not necessarily exist anymore because the light that reach the earth might have travelled for millions of years and the star might have been destroyed in the present.

Yes.

“Delay to see” doesn’t matter. It existed. (Not mind-made or empty)

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In some sense… we see only vaṇṇarūpa (color). We do not see earth, water, fire, or air elements.
4 elements is a generalization. There are actually 8 universal elements from earth to nutriment.
Note: Despite the movie in the 90’s, vaṇṇarūpa is actually the real 5th element.

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Thanks for elaborating, Venerable.

This is the way I understand it, as well.

In other words, “the moon” exists conventionally. However, ultimately “the moon” doesn’t exist. That said, there are mind independent dhammas there, where we see “the moon” arising and falling rapidly, regardless of whether or not they are perceived and mentally processed into “the moon.”

“The moon” is pannatti (conventional reality), but, beneath the conventional reality are paramattha (ultimate reality), in the form of dhammas.

I’ll add, for anyone new to Buddhism, or new to this specific idea:

For the sake of discussing this issue with anti realists and subjective idealists like the Madhyamaka and Yogacara, who would declare that the moon does not exist in any way whatsoever, as nothing does, or it is purely imaginary, and only mind exists, respectively, and a huge swath of unrelated philosophies today which say the same, it is safe to say; “the moon” absolutely exists in the form of ultimately existing objective dhammas. Even though the “moon,” as the word and idea itself is a mental construct, the Arahants could look at it and see that, where we see “moon” there are, in fact, rapidly arising and passing away dhammas that ultimately exist, and are mind independent. Otherwise it becomes an inroad for people to rope in the Theravada, and lump it together with Madhyamaka and Yogacara, and say all three traditions teach the same thing: extreme nihilism/subjective idealism, nothing is real/everything is imaginary, which is patently false.

I think everyone is tired of me bringing this up lol! However, I have watched too many people who are not deeply enmeshed in Theravada devolve from Theravada to Mahayana, and these foundational issues are frequently the turning point, so I will always try to point the way, for anyone new to Buddhism who may be reading, to the proper Theravada points that allow for a valid philosophy, because Mahayana is not valid, since “nothing exists/everything is imaginary” is a self refuting position.

There is a great desire among people to bridge Theravada and Mahayana, but they are fundamentally incompatible, and this is one of the most significant reasons they could never be combined: if the moon does not exist in any way whatsoever, neither do the suttas, and so on, until Buddhism is meaningless, and doesn’t exist, at all. From there, only a fool would practice a bunch of written down rules and teachings, because whatever they may dream up is just as valid, since none are real in any way. The goal ends up being seeing through the very tradition itself, as it isn’t even real, and “true” Mahayana Buddhists should be above and beyond the dharma itself (as the Zen teaching goes “If you see the Buddha on the road, kill him!”). Thus, it’s important to note: in the Theravada, the dhammas, including matter, are 100% real, in fact they are considered ultimate reality, so, by extension, in a sense, are the teachings, etc. In Theravada, if you see the Buddha on the road, touch your head to the ground, and beg him to teach you. It would be a huge mistake to think he’s imaginary, and to try to kill him. Actually, this, in the Theravada, is considered one of the greatest sins imaginable.

This is one of the reasons it is so wonderful that we have Venerable Subhuti, Robertk, and everyone else and this forum! We have a place where the truth, and valid Buddhist philosophy is held high.

It is the dhammas alone that possess ultimate reality: determinate existence “from their own side” (sarupato) independent of the minds conceptual processing of the data. Such a conception of the nature of the real seems to be already implicit in the Sutta Pitaka, particularly in the Buddha’s disquisitions on the aggregates, sense bases, elements, dependent arising, etc.,…

Thus by examining the conventional realities with wisdom, we eventually arrive at the objective actualities that lie behind our conceptual constructs. It is these objective actualities – the dhammas, which maintain their intrinsic natures independent of the mind’s constructive functions…

…the commentaries consummate the dhamma theory by supplying the formal definition of dhammas as “things which bear their own intrinsic nature” (attano sabhavam dharenti ti dhamma).

…concretely produced matter…possess intrinsic natures and are thus suitable for contemplation and comprehension by insight.

Great seers who are free from craving declare that Nibbana is an
objective state which is deathless, absolutely endless, unconditioned,
and unsurpassed.
Thus as fourfold the Tathagatas reveal the ultimate realities—
consciousness, mental factors, matter, and Nibbana.
-Bhikkhu Bodhi, Acariya Anuruddha, A Comprehensive Manual of Abhidhamma, pages 3, 15, 26, 235, 260

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Well said, Venerable.

Great movie though :smile:

Both Magyamaka and Yogacara happen to meet with FUNDAMENTAL ERRORS,
where the practitioners will be answerless if anyone question them properly,
Abhidhamma scholar venerable Maggavihari says.

Actually, if any newcomer who is unaware of deep fundamentals of each sect, is still be able to get some clues on “what can be the truth” by comparing the qualities that each early sect possessed, such as higher emphasis on morality and virtues, asceticism, appeal to matured wisdom, down-to-earth-ness, simplicity, gratefulness, integrity of fundamentals, profound analysis, Anatta …etc.

@Mahavihara
Please make a new topic:

Questions to ask Magyamaka and Yogacara Cannot Answer and Why

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Yes, @Mahavihara please do, I just came here to ask you to clarify what these fundamental errors are, and also where Venerable Maggavihari says this. These are definitely topics I’d like to learn about!

Update: This Venerable is mustard on this topic! I want to hear more, and specifically where he addresses Madhyamaka and Yogacara, but I can’t find it.

I found this, though, from @ekocare on Dhammawheel:

ekocare: Here is what venerable Maggavihari at IIT sees as the verification of “paramatthadhammas as existents” by considering the usage of Nominal-case-endings.

1.18. The idea of considering paramatthadhammas as existents can be verified with evidence from the canon itself. In number of suttas the Buddha mentions rūpa, vedanā, saññā, saṅkhāra and viññāṇa to be dukkha (natures that bring suffering). When it is mentioned in suttas as “Rupaṃ dukkhaṃ” and “Vedanā dukkhā” usage of similar nominal case endings in rūpa and dukkha and vedanā and dukkha suggests that the terms are in apposition. It means what is referred by the term rūpa is the same that is referred by the word dukkha. The same should be understood with regard to the other two terms, vedanā and dukkha.

Then in the Acelakassapa Sutta, when being questioned by Acelakassapa whether there is no dukkha “Kiṃ nu kho, bho Gotama, natthi dukkhaṃ (Venerable Gotama, isn’t there dukkha)?”, the Buddha gave the direct answer, “Na kho, Kassapa, natthi dukkhaṃ. Atthi kho, Kassapa, dukkhaṃ (Kassapa, it is not that there is no dukkha. There is, indeed, dukkha)”.

Therefore, as for the teachings of the Buddha, if dukkha exists, rūpa and vedanā (and the remaining aggregates of clinging - upādānakkhandha) also should exist, because dukkha is the five aggregates (rūpa, vedanā, saññā, saṅkhāra and viññāṇa).

It is very evident that the Buddha advocated the existence of dukkha and, also, propounded that what he considered as dukkha is the five aggregates, which in turn leads to the inference that five aggregates do exist according to him. Five aggregates are the citta, cetasika and rūpa which were explained above.

In the Puppha Sutta of Saṃyutta Nikāya, the Buddha clearly advocates that he accepts the idea that five aggregates i.e., rūpa, vedanā, saññā, saṅkhāra and viññāṇa, that are impermanent, subject to change and which bring forth suffering do exist.

Moreover, in number of suttas the Buddha has clearly advocated the existence of spiritual qualities such as eight-fold noble path (ariyo aṭṭhaṅgiko maggo), seven factors of enlightenment (satta bojjhaṅgā), four-fold-mindfulness (cattāro satipaṭṭhānā), three types of feeling (tividhā vedanā) and so forth. These are also concrete evidences to prove that according to the Theravāda canon the Buddha himself has propounded the existence of paramatthadhammas.

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No, Theravada is not a system of direct realism.

Realism is the belief in the following three propositions:

  1. Objects precede consciousness.
  2. Objects exist independent of consciousness.
  3. The world of objects is the real and (more or less) permanent one.

Materialism is a subset of Realism that adds the fourth proposition:

  1. Consciousness is dependent on objects.

Idealism is the belief in the opposite for all four propositions:

  1. Consciousness precedes objects.
  2. Consciousness is independent of objects.
  3. Consciousness is the real and (more or less) permanent thing.
  4. Objects are dependent on consciousness.

Theravada proports that consciousness and objects co-arise. Neither precedes the other, neither is independent of each other, neither is the real and permanent thing. They both are dependent on each other. There are no objects without a consciousness to view them; there is no consciousness without an object to direct itself toward.

Everything is namarupa. Objects are just form (rupa). Form is beheld by the mind. There is no external object you can point to; there is only a mental image of form that can be pointed to. Any assumption or belief that a form is an external object that exists in the world independent of you is just a belief that appears in the mind.

Your description of the Theravada view of reality is, in fact, the Mahayana understanding of reality. The Classical Theravada believe that pannatti, or concepts, things like man, woman, dog, rocks, exist only mentally, but dhammas are mind independent, and dhammas are the fundamental building blocks of reality, and they exist from their own side. Hence, the dog I see is only a conceptual reality, but it is made of ultimately real, mind independent dhammas. When I die, my consciousness will leave my body, but my body will remain, unobserved, and generated by tejo, or the fire element, alone, until it is reduced to dust. The Buddha confirmed as much, in the suttas, obviously, because the suttas are what the Theravada abhidhamma is built on. But the commentaries fleshed it out, thankfully, to avoid exactly this confusion of Mahayana and Classical Theravada.

See below. I’ve edited this to make it respond to your statements, point by point. Please note, the responses to your points are written with the assumption that what is being confirmed is the dhammas, not pannatti. Also, some, or perhaps nearly all of these quotes apply to multiple, or even all of your points, but I’ve broken them up for clarity:

This is correct.

“If, friends, internally the eye is intact but no external forms come into its range, and there is no corresponding conscious engagement, then there is no manifestation of the corresponding section of consciousness. If internally the eye is intact and external forms come into its range, but there is no corresponding conscious engagement, then there is no manifestation of the corresponding section of consciousness. But when internally the eye is intact and external forms come into its range and there is the corresponding conscious engagement, then there is the manifestation of the corresponding section of consciousness.” “Now there comes a time when the external water element is disturbed. It carries away villages, towns, cities, districts, and countries.”
-MN 28

“All form is that which is…

void of idea,
neither feeling, nor perception, nor synthesis,
disconnected with thought,”
“form exists which is not due to karma having been wrought”

-Dhammasangani 2.2.3

Right, again.

“Student, suppose there were a man born blind who could not see dark and light forms, who could not see blue, yellow, red, or carmine forms, who could not see what was even and uneven, who could not see the stars or the sun and moon. He might say thus: ‘There are no dark and light forms, and no one who sees dark and light forms; there are no blue, yellow, red, or carmine forms, and no one who sees blue, yellow, red, or carmine forms; there is nothing even and uneven, and no one who sees anything even and uneven; there are no stars and no sun and moon, and no one who sees stars and the sun and moon. I do not know these, I do not see these, therefore these do not exist.’ Speaking thus, student, would he be speaking rightly?”

“No, Master Gotama. There are dark and light forms, and those who see dark and light forms…there are the stars and the sun and moon, and those who see the stars and the sun and moon. Saying, ‘I do not know these, I do not see these, therefore these do not exist,’ he would not be speaking rightly.”

“So too, student, the brahmin Pokkharasāti is blind and visionless.
-MN 99

It is the dhammas alone that possess ultimate reality: determinate existence “from their own side” (sarupato) independent of the minds conceptual processing of the data. Such a conception of the nature of the real seems to be already implicit in the Sutta Pitaka, particularly in the Buddha’s disquisitions on the aggregates, sense bases, elements, dependent arising, etc.,…

Thus by examining the conventional realities with wisdom, we eventually arrive at the objective actualities that lie behind our conceptual constructs. It is these objective actualities – the dhammas, which maintain their intrinsic natures independent of the mind’s constructive functions…

…the commentaries consummate the dhamma theory by supplying the formal definition of dhammas as “things which bear their own intrinsic nature” (attano sabhavam dharenti ti dhamma).

…concretely produced matter…possess intrinsic natures and are thus suitable for contemplation and comprehension by insight.

Great seers who are free from craving declare that Nibbana is an
objective state which is deathless, absolutely endless, unconditioned,
and unsurpassed.
Thus as fourfold the Tathagatas reveal the ultimate realities—
consciousness, mental factors, matter, and Nibbana.
-Bhikkhu Bodhi, Acariya Anuruddha, A Comprehensive Manual of Abhidhamma, pages 3, 15, 26, 235, 260

The dhammas exist even when no one is around to observe them.

For example, per the below, even after a person dies, and consciousness has ceased, their corpse remains as temperature born matter, which can generate all by itself:

But at the time of death, kamma-born material phenomena no
longer arise starting with the stage of presence of the seventeenth
consciousness preceding the death consciousness. Kamma-born
material phenomena that arose earlier occur till the death-moment
and then cease. Following that, the consciousness-born and nutriment-born material phenomena come to cessation. Thereafter,
a continuity of material qualities produced by temperature persists
as long as it can be called a corpse.
-Bodhi, ibid, p 257

Tejo is the element of heat. Cold is also a form of tejo.
Both heat and cold are included in tejo because they possess the power of maturing bodies. Tejo, in other words, is
the vitalizing energy. Preservation and decay are also due
to this element. Unlike the other three essentials of matter,
this element has the power to regenerate matter by itself.
-Narada Thera, A Manual of Abhidhamma p 319

There are also beings with no mind, but their bodies exist anyway:

There are, bhikkhus, certain gods called 'non-percipient beings.
-DN 1

No perception means no consciousness, either:

“Feeling, perception, & consciousness are conjoined, friend, not disjoined. It is not possible, having separated them one from another, to delineate the difference among them. For what one feels, that one perceives. What one perceives, that one cognizes. Therefore these qualities are conjoined, not disjoined, and it is not possible, having separated them one from another, to delineate the difference among them.”
-MN 436

The world of objects is real, but not permanent in any way. Further, in Classical Theravada, mind and mental factors are also real. Nonetheless, 2.5 out of three of your points that delineate a realist philosophy, so far, have been hit. Classical Thervada is a realist system.

“And what is it, bhikkhus, that the wise in the world agree upon as existing, of which I too say that it exists? Form that is impermanent, suffering, and subject to change: this the wise in the world agree upon as existing, and I too say that it exists."
-SN 22.94

Regarding their theory of sense perception and the nature of the cognitive object, the Theravāda Abhidhamma view is a kind of direct realism that says we do perceive external physical objects.

Karunadasa, Y. Buddhist Analysis of Matter, pp. 149.

"If we base ourselves on the Pali Nikayas, then we should be compelled to conclude that Buddhism is realistic. There is no explicit denial anywhere of the external world. Nor is there any positive evidence to show that the world is mind-made or simply a projection of subjective thoughts. That Buddhism recognizes the extra-mental existence of matter and the external world is clearly suggested by the texts. Throughout the discourses it is the language of realism that one encounters. The whole Buddhist practical doctrine and discipline, which has the attainment of Nibbana as its final goal, is based on the recognition of the material world and the conscious living beings living therein.

Karunadasa, Y. Buddhist Analysis of Matter, pp. 14, 172;

This theory ensures that the object of direct and immediate
perception is not an object of mental interpretation but something that is
ultimately real.
-Karunadasa, Y. Buddhist Analysis of Matter, pp. 149.

Thus the Theravādins were able to establish the theory
of direct perception of the external object despite their recognizing the
theory of momentariness.
-ibid. page 146

What emerges from this Abhidhammic doctrine of dhammas
is a critical realism, one which (unlike idealism) recognises
the distinctness of the world from the experiencing subject
yet also distinguishes between those types of entities that
truly exist independently of the cognitive act and those that
owe their being to the act of cognition itself.
-Y. Kunadasa, The Dhamma Theory, page 38

dhamma theory is best described as dhamma realism
-The Theravada Abhidhamma: Inquiry into the Nature of Conditioned Reality
By Y. Karunadasa, chapter 2

Depends on the context, and situation, but sometimes, yes, yes it is. For example, eye consciousness is dependent on objects. If no visible object comes in range of the eye, no eye consciousness can arise. Further, even if an object is in range, but there is no engagement, still, no consciousness. Note that the object exists, even though there is no consciousness of it.

“If, friends, internally the eye is intact but no external forms come into its range, and there is no corresponding conscious engagement, then there is no manifestation of the corresponding section of consciousness. If internally the eye is intact and external forms come into its range, but there is no corresponding conscious engagement, then there is no manifestation of the corresponding section of consciousness."
-MN 28

“Bhikkhus, consciousness comes to be in dependence on a dyad. And how, bhikkhus, does consciousness come to be in dependence on a dyad? In dependence on the eye and forms there arises eye-consciousness.:
-SN 35.93

A given instance of perceptual consciousness is said to arise only in dependence upon two conditions: the sense organ and its corresponding object-field. This implies that perceptual consciousness arises only in conjunction with an appropriate and existent object; perceptual consciousness of a nonexistent object or without an object is, therefore, impossible.
-Disputed Dharmas
Early Buddhist Theories on Existence
An Annotated Translation
of the Section on Factors Dissociated from Thought
from Sanghabhadra’s Nyayanusara
Collett Cox
p 136-137

So, there you have it: Classical Theravada is undoubtedly a realist system.

Below is a relevant selection from the Kathavatthu

Points of Controversy
9.3 Of Matter as Subjective
Controverted Point: Whether matter should be termed subjective or objective.

Theravādin: If that is so, you must also affirm of matter or body, that it has the mental features of “adverting”, ideating, reflecting, co-ordinated application, attending, willing, anticipating, aiming—things which you would, on the contrary, deny of matter.

All, or any of them you can rightly affirm of mental properties, such as contact (mental reaction), feeling, perception, volition, cognition, faith, energy, mindfulness, concentration, understanding, lust, hate, illusion, conceit, erroneous opinion, doubt, mental inertia, distraction, immodesty, indiscretion—all of which you admit as subjective. But matter is not one of these, and therefore such things may not be affirmed of it.

You deny in the case of matter all those mental features—adverting, etc.—but claim for it the term “subjective”, which is really applicable to “contact”, sensation, etc. These, as you admit, do not lack those mental features named.

Uttarāpathaka: But is not matter correlated (as an object)? Of course you assent. Then as correlated it is surely right to apply the term “subjective” to matter, etc. since “object” is one of the twenty-four (causal) relations.

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The issue with this particular subject is that direct realism is the default position of unreflective people. Language itself is oriented toward direct realism. Even though I personally have no belief in it, I still tend to talk in terms of it when speaking with other people. A great deal of these quotes are the same way: the Buddha is addressing a tangent subject and is not going to go to linguistic lengths to avoid this issue. It’s very similar to using the concept of self in everyday conversation.

You don’t need the scriptures for this issue anyways. You don’t even need meditative attainments. All you have to do is sit down and look. Direct realism is clearly wrong. The thought “this object exists in a real world” only appears as a thought…a belief. Your mind is projecting this belief into your direct perceptions in the exact same way it is projecting a self into your experience. Just look.

If realism is true, then you should be able to bring me an object that exists apart from consciousness. Bring me such an object!

“Bhikkhus, consciousness comes to be in dependence on a dyad. And how, bhikkhus, does consciousness come to be in dependence on a dyad? In dependence on the eye and forms there arises eye-consciousness.:
-SN 35.93

This fits what I said. Consciousness and objects depend on each other (and the perception-gate in this case, as dependent origination has the contact stage).

A given instance of perceptual consciousness is said to arise only in dependence upon two conditions: the sense organ and its corresponding object-field. This implies that perceptual consciousness arises only in conjunction with an appropriate and existent object; perceptual consciousness of a nonexistent object or without an object is, therefore, impossible.
-Disputed Dharmas
Early Buddhist Theories on Existence
An Annotated Translation
of the Section on Factors Dissociated from Thought
from Sanghabhadra’s Nyayanusara
Collett Cox
p 136-137

No it doesn’t. This author is wrong, because he read in “form is not dependent on consciousness in equal measure.” Form is dependent on consciousness; consciousness is dependent on form. They co-arise. Without consciousness, form does not arise. Without form, consciousness does not arise. If anything, idealism is closer to the truth than realism, as you can actually experience consciousness of nothingness (arupa-jhanas or a ~20mg dose of vaporized 5-MeO-DMT) but an object that exists but has no impact on any consciousness is literally impossible. You can’t even think of such an object as thoughts only appear in consciousness.

There are also beings with no mind, but their bodies exist anyway:

There are, bhikkhus, certain gods called 'non-percipient beings.
-DN 1

That is NOT what that says. You’re reading your interpretation into this in several quotes.

“And what is it, bhikkhus, that the wise in the world agree upon as existing, of which I too say that it exists? Form that is impermanent, suffering, and subject to change: this the wise in the world agree upon as existing, and I too say that it exists."
-SN 22.94

Form exists…like clearly the form exists as it’s directly experienced; “physical object” is a mental construct that is projected onto form. These are not the same. Disentangle these concepts!

In every case you’re projecting a specific interpretation into these passages. You’re confusing “form” with “physical object.” You don’t need scripture to figure this issue out anyways. Just look. “Physical object” is just a concept that is projected onto the experienced forms the exact same way “self” is a concept projected onto experience in general. This projection is easier to track down than “self,” as it is rooted in the idea we develop in childhood called object permanence, which has practical use but is just a heuristic none-the-less.

Again, if direct realism is the case, then bring me an object outside of my consciousness. Should be easy!

You ignored all of the quotes by scholars in my response that confirm that reality exists independent of mind in Classical Theravada. Your original claim was that Theravada is not even a realist system, and your explaination of what is ostensibly the Theravada understanding of reality was simply, flatly, wrong.

Before we discuss, specifically, direct realism further, do you recant at least that position? Do you admit you were wrong, and that Classical Theravada is a realist system? If not, and you still hold your Mahayana understanding and apply it to Theravada, I respectfully, and regretfully, see no reason to continue explaining this to you, as you seem to be deliberately ignoring agreed upon facts about Classical Theravada, presented in the form of quotes by experts in the field, in favor of your own interpretations.

  1. I didn’t ignore them. I responded to some and the others I see as following the same pattern of reading interpretations into things.

  2. Maybe Classical Theravada is a realist system (but I’m not convinced - I see these quotes as reading in a specific view, the default worldly view at that), but what matters is the truth and I could care less if it’s Theravada, Mahayana, or other. Classical Theravada, like any system, is at best a very useful approach to discovering the truth within you. Attaching to the system is just the fetter of attachment to view and the fetter of attachment to rites and rituals…trying to find the perfect system or perfect way when such a thing is impossible. So I guess what matters is getting at the truth. And you can just look in this case. A view isn’t necessary. The truth is dropping the view, and direct realism is a vie: a projection of thoughts onto experience.