1

I read the following on the internet:

Some rules assume the conceit, "I am". Importantly, Buddhist rules do not. For example, take the first three rules of MN8:

MN8:12.2: ‘Others will be cruel, but here we will not be cruel.’

MN8:12.3: ‘Others will kill living creatures, but here we will not kill living creatures.’

MN8:12.4: ‘Others will steal, but here we will not steal.’

What exactly is conceit? Does the above quote include conceit? If so, why? If not, why not?

1

10 Answers 10

7

Conceit in Buddhism is a technical term, referring to the deep-rooted habit or tendency of self-expression or self-clinging.

It's different from self-view or identity-view, which is more like a belief, than a habit.

The difference between overcoming self-view and overcoming conceit, is like the difference between overcoming wrong beliefs about diet and exercise, and overcoming obesity.

"Just like a cloth, dirty & stained: Its owners give it over to a washerman, who scrubs it with salt earth or lye or cow-dung and then rinses it in clear water. Now even though the cloth is clean & spotless, it still has a lingering residual scent of salt earth or lye or cow-dung. The washerman gives it to the owners, the owners put it away in a scent-infused wicker hamper, and its lingering residual scent of salt earth, lye, or cow-dung is fully obliterated.

"In the same way, friends, even though a noble disciple has abandoned the five lower fetters, he still has with regard to the five clinging-aggregates a lingering residual 'I am' conceit, an 'I am' desire, an 'I am' obsession. But at a later time he keeps focusing on the phenomena of arising & passing away with regard to the five clinging-aggregates: 'Such is form, such its origin, such its disappearance. Such is feeling... Such is perception... Such are fabrications... Such is consciousness, such its origin, such its disappearance.' As he keeps focusing on the arising & passing away of these five clinging-aggregates, the lingering residual 'I am' conceit, 'I am' desire, 'I am' obsession is fully obliterated."
SN 22.89

1
  • 1
    Perfect answer or contribution. I never read the above before. Sadhu! Commented Apr 19, 2022 at 10:16
3

Conceit in the Dhamma is about the tendency to assert that self is a truth & reality such that one conceives of "I am" and so on to "I am good.." etc

Saying 'I am' is akin to saying "There is a Santa Claus". The statement itself doesn't mean that we believe SC to be a truth & reality as we can say 'There is a Santa Claus, Santa Claus is something [albeit made up, a notion that a child might believe in]' whereas that child would say 'There is a Santa Claus [asserted to be a truth & reality by the child].

One's conceit is not the word 'self' or the expression "I am". One's conceit is that passionate tendency to conceive of self as a truth & reality due to one's stupidity or a lack of concentration.

“One to whom it might occur, ‘I’m a woman’ or ‘I’m a man’ Or ‘I’m anything at all’— Is fit for Mara to address.”

Because it is the foundation for craving;

"And which are the 18 craving-verbalizations (taṇhāvicaritāni) dependent on what is internal? There being 'I am,' there comes to be 'I am here,' there comes to be 'I am like this' ... 'I am otherwise' ... 'I am bad' ... 'I am good' ... 'I might be' ... 'I might be here' ... 'I might be like this' ... 'I might be otherwise' ... 'May I be' ... 'May I be here' ... 'May I be like this' ... 'May I be otherwise' ... 'I will be' ... 'I will be here' ... 'I will be like this' ... 'I will be otherwise.' These are the 18 craving-verbalizations dependent on what is internal.

"And which are the 18 craving-verbalizations dependent on what is external? There being 'I am because of this (or: by means of this),' there comes to be 'I am here because of this,' there comes to be 'I am like this because of this' ... 'I am otherwise because of this' ... 'I am bad because of this' ... 'I am good because of this' ... 'I might be because of this' ... 'I might be here because of this' ... 'I might be like this because of this' ... 'I might be otherwise because of this' ... 'May I be because of this' ... 'May I be here because of this' ... 'May I be like this because of this' ... 'May I be otherwise because of this' ... 'I will be because of this' ... 'I will be here because of this' ... 'I will be like this because of this' ... 'I will be otherwise because of this.' These are the 18 craving-verbalizations dependent on what is external.

"Thus there are 18 craving-verbalizations dependent on what is internal and 18 craving-verbalizations dependent on what is external. These are called the 36 craving-verbalizations. Thus, with 36 craving-verbalizations of this sort in the past, 36 in the future, and 36 in the present, there are 108 craving-verbalizations.

"This, monks is craving the ensnarer that has flowed along, spread out, and caught hold, with which this world is smothered & enveloped like a tangled skein, a knotted ball of string, like matted rushes and reeds, and does not go beyond transmigration, beyond the planes of deprivation, woe, & bad destinations."

AN 4.199

5
  • The tendency to assert that self is a truth & reality appears to be sakkaya-ditthi, which is cut by a stream-enterer. The word "sakkaya" means "true or real body". Conceit (mana) still arises in a non-returner therefore it appears conceit is more subtle than sakkaya-ditthi, Commented Apr 19, 2022 at 7:02
  • The view is cut off, understanding is perfected but their concentration isn't perfected and therefore they get distracted and then it still occurs to them 'I am' as they are fit for Mara to address. It's like executing a strategy requires not only understanding but also focus & concentration as to not make mistakes.
    – user23657
    Commented Apr 19, 2022 at 9:10
  • It's like a wrestler might, due to a lack of concentration, not be able to follow his game plan. When emotions overwhelm one stops thinking appropriately and acts on past conditioning giving wrong attention.
    – user23657
    Commented Apr 19, 2022 at 9:16
  • so conceit is the opposite of mindfulness? i guess so...
    – blue_ego
    Commented Jan 7, 2023 at 10:09
  • one must rely on logic and mindfulness until self characteristic is completely eradicated, i.e., no more conceit
    – blue_ego
    Commented Jan 7, 2023 at 13:05
2

a conceit, in this context, is a fanciful notion or wishful ideal. The point is that the actions of cruelty, killing, and stealing are all rooted in the fanciful notion "I am", because "I am" logically precedes "I want" or "I must have". So, for example, the Abrahamic traditions must make explicit rules like "Thou shalt not kill" and "Thou shalt not steal" because the Abrahamic traditions presume the existence of an egoic "I" which is subject to sin. Buddhists don't presume the egoic "I", and thus don't require explicit rules to restrain its actions.

3
  • 1
    Interesting answer however, even though conceit will always be involved in killing or stealing, it seems ending conceit is not required to end killing or stealing or even cruelty. Commented Apr 18, 2022 at 21:01
  • i don't understand this. the conceit fetter is tied to moral acts?
    – blue_ego
    Commented Jan 7, 2023 at 10:05
  • @blue_ego: The conceit referred to in this question is the conceit "I am" (the notion that identity exists). Moral rules can be framed in two ways: 1) identity-driven ("I am a good person who does A", "he is a bad person who does B"), or 2) deontologically ("some actions are done, some actions are not done"). In both cases a choice is made between (say) kindness and cruelty, but in the first case the choice is made to bolster self-image while in the second case the choice supports universal principles. Commented Jan 7, 2023 at 16:55
2

Conceit is the inflated sense of self, this sense of self that is coming from the ignorance/ego. For eg we rush to feed ourselves food but we don't rush to feel a worm food, because of ignorance we see two separate entities in ourself and the worm and it is the conceit itself that sees ourself as more important than the worm that we only rush to feed ourselves. Two separate mental formations but conceit is a by-product (klesha) of ignorance itself.

As you would know, conceit is one of the last fetters to be extinguished as one becomes an arhant.

I don't know the source of what you are quoting above but from looking at it it looks like the writer is trying to point out the use of the word "WE" rather than "I"

1
  • I scored this answer up because it said: "conceit is one of the last fetters to be extinguished as one becomes and arhant." Commented Apr 18, 2022 at 21:04
1

Some rules assume the conceit, "I am"

This expression "I am" is generally spoken of as a first person singular pronoun. A pronoun is a word that is used instead of a noun or noun phrase. A noun is a word that refers to a thing (book), a person (Betty Crocker), an animal (cat), a place (Omaha), a quality (softness), an idea (justice), or an action (yodeling). It's usually a single word, but not always: cake, shoes, school bus, and time and a half are all nouns.

Conceit noun: conceit; plural noun: conceits A word that can mean excessive pride in oneself, as in "he was puffed up with conceit". Ordinary usage of late Middle English origin (in the sense ‘notion’, also ‘quaintly decorative article’): from conceive, on the pattern of pairs such as deceive, deceit.

In the Dhamma, the semantic properties of what is translated as conceit would seem to overlap with common usage as in 'arrogance', or 'prideful', eg;

Ven. Sāriputta: “My friend, when the thought occurs to you, ‘By means of the divine eye, purified & surpassing the human, I see the thousand-fold cosmos,’ that is related to your conceit. When the thought occurs to you, ‘My persistence is aroused & unsluggish. My mindfulness is established & unmuddled. My body is calm & unaroused. My mind is concentrated & gathered into singleness,’ that is related to your restlessness. When the thought occurs to you, ‘And yet my mind is not released from the effluents through lack of clinging/sustenance,’ that is related to your anxiety. It would be well if—abandoning these three qualities, not attending to these three qualities—you directed your mind to the deathless property.”
AN 3.131

0
1

(I appreciate this thread is over a year old, but still figured I’d provide my understanding in the hopes it might add some value for others).

It seems that the concern stems from the statements in MN 8 being self-referential. I do agree it appears that it can appear that way in isolation. (Simply a “we” statement does not necessarily mean it isn’t conceit).

What’s most clarifying is the context: these statements were provided as instruction for how self-effacement should be practiced. Said in other words, these are statements of intent rather than declarations of the sangha’s characteristics. Alone, it could appear to be a declaration about an out-group being worse than their in-group but that isn’t the purpose of this sutta.

Inevitably, some other people will commit the above mentioned unethical acts, cultivating the intention to not do such things despite this is self effacement. It’s appropriate to dwell on the fact that other people may still do such things because other people’s behavior often has tremendous influence on your own choice of action. “Why should I do X, when so many people do Y?” Or “why shouldn’t I do X, if I don’t, someone else will,” are common beliefs that undermine our ethical integrity.

0

What exactly is conceit?

Ven. Yuttadhammo answered a related question here.

A lot of the description in that answer is that conceit is related to "comparison" -- e.g. "I am superior" or "I am inferior".

I'm also mindful of Wikipedia's definition:

Māna (Sanskrit, Pali; Tibetan: nga rgyal) is a Buddhist term that may be translated as "pride", "arrogance", or "conceit". It is defined as an inflated mind that makes whatever is suitable, such as wealth or learning, to be the foundation of pride. It creates the basis for disrespecting others and for the occurrence of suffering.

See also Ud 6.6

Folk are fixated on the I-maker,
which is tied up with the other-maker.
There are some who do not realize this,
they do not see the dart.

But when they see this dart,
they do not think, ‘I make it’,
nor ‘another makes it’.

These folk are caught up in conceit,
tied by conceit, shackled by conceit.
Vehemently defending their views,
they don’t escape transmigration.

Does the above quote include conceit? If so, why? If not, why not?

It was used in (you are quoting it from) an answer to this topic about "blame" and "blameless".

The action of "blaming" -- e.g., in a personal or intimate relationship, "It's your fault, not mine, you are guilty, I am innocent" -- seems like an obvious example of conceit as described above.

Conversely that use of "we" (as quoted from MN 8) seems less "conceited" in that sense -- it doesn't have classic symptoms of conceit, e.g. "weapons of the mouth", and "other-making".

3
  • 1
    i marked this answer down despite is quite reasonable effort & reasoning. However, for me, the final conclusion was unconvincing, namely, "that use of "we" (as quoted from MN 8) seems less "conceited" in that sense -- it doesn't have classic symptoms of conceit, e.g. "other-making". IMO, there is not evidence MN 8 will not result in "other-making". Commented Apr 18, 2022 at 20:57
  • I guess some people could use it to fuel other-making -- e.g. possibly Devadatta's "I am vegetarian, you are not" -- but it doesn't read that way to me. I find it cool (not hot-headed), inoffensive (not offensive), respectful (it's an I-message not a you-statement, definitive, welcoming (not exclusive).
    – ChrisW
    Commented Apr 20, 2022 at 5:55
  • i'm just saying the teaching in MN 8 can easily give rise to conceit Commented Apr 20, 2022 at 6:38
0

As it is easy to see: Those believing conceit isn't necessary for overcoming conceit, have developed most harmful wrong conceit, so pride that even denying what's posted right on the forehead of any sentences...

Followed by those believing conceit projected on equal and we, the most dangerous 'nuclear' conceit...

It was Samma-conceit that leaded the Buddha into his last journey, and it's Right conceit that allows and cares to develop the path.

Hardly a single Sutta not provoking right conceit, the force of effort, and as the wise told: Conceit is used to overcome conceit.

Your perverse pride might not be willing to accept a useful function of Bhava-tanha, but who could help one holding on house and stand, a stingy person not willing to give up what's fueling to be blindly caught in the conceit of a slave.

Ahara-hants are bond to Mara, to standholds, and wrong conceit, thinking 'i am' instead of 'i could do' penetrates throw all doors of Kamma, leaving behind a strong stand-holder smell, avoided by wise.

1
  • this answer sounds very extreme. Commented Apr 19, 2022 at 4:31
-1

Conceit is completely not self-view.

Conceit is thinking "This arising and vanishing thing is difference from others" although "they are same arising and vanishing" is known.

Self-view is thinking "Nothing is arising and vanishing", "Man is controllable by wrong-reason to be forever or to vanish forever because man is reality, nothing elements".

That's why Sotapanna still have Conceit, but Self-view.

1
  • I marked this answer down because it is not verified using quotes from sutta. Commented Apr 20, 2022 at 20:27
-3

Conceit is one of the last fetters to be extinguished as one becomes and arhant. In other words, only an Arahant is completely free from conceit.

Therefore, it appears illogical Buddhist rules would be "free from conceit" when it appears logical rules are not required for Arahants.

For example, while often giving dodgy teachings, in AN 4.159, Ananda says: "By relying on conceit that conceit is to be abandoned".

While MN 8 begins with the statement "self-views" are abandoned when any object is viewed with right wisdom, it appears MN 8 appears to not directly include the abandoning of "conceit" in its list of 44 practises. Also, MN 8 appears to contain many very low or basic levels of instruction which could easily give rise to conceit in a non-Arahant, such as:

(44) Others will misapprehend according to their individual views, hold on to them tenaciously and not easily discard them; we shall not misapprehend according to individual views nor hold on to them tenaciously, but shall discard them with ease — thus effacement can be done.

AN 10.48 is about the Dasadhamma, namely, ten daily reflections of a monk, as follows:

  1. "'I am now changed into a different mode of life (from that of a layman).' This must be reflected upon again and again by one who has gone forth.

  2. "'My life depends on others.' This must be reflected upon again and again by one who has gone forth.

  3. "'I must now behave in a different manner.' This must be reflected upon again and again by one who has gone forth.

  4. "'Does my mind upbraid me regarding the state of my virtue?' This must be reflected upon again and again by one who has gone forth.

  5. "'Do my discerning fellow-monks having tested me, reproach me regarding the state of my virtue?' This must be reflected upon again and again by one who has gone forth.

  6. "'There will be a parting (some day) from all those who are dear and loving to me. Death brings this separation to me.' This must be reflected upon again and again by one who has gone forth.

  7. "'Of kamma I am constituted. Kamma is my inheritance; kamma is the matrix; kamma is my kinsman; kamma is my refuge. Whatever kamma I perform, be it good or bad, to that I shall be heir.' This must be reflected upon again and again by one who has gone forth.

  8. "'How do I spend my nights and days?' This must be reflected upon again and again by one who has gone forth.

  9. "'Do I take delight in solitude?' This must be reflected upon again and again by one who has gone forth.

  10. "'Have I gained superhuman faculties? Have I gained that higher wisdom so that when I am questioned (on this point) by fellow-monks at the last moment (when death is approaching) I will have no occasion to be depressed and downcast?' This must be reflected upon again and again by one who has gone forth.

It appears obvious the above Dasadhamma, assuming for non-Arahants, could easily give rise to conceit; such as monks believing they are different to and superior to laypeople.

In summary, there appears nothing in MN 8 that shows all, many or some of the 44 practices described in MN 8 would prevent the arising of conceit.

In other words, it appears the opinion below is unsubstantiated and probably incorrect:

Some rules assume the conceit, "I am". Importantly, Buddhist rules do not.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .