Two "truths"/"descriptions" and meditation in the suttas

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Re: Two "truths"/"descriptions" and meditation in the suttas

Postby daverupa » Sun Oct 30, 2011 5:22 am

mikenz66 wrote:Seems the same as the Satipatthana Sutta, but without the detailed explanation of the various mental qualities (dhammas).


The Satipatthanasamyutta of the Samyutta Nikaya (47.*) offers... a less agglutinative approach to satipatthana, which I feel allows for a very detailed approach. For example, SN 47.40 distinguishes the establishment of mindfulness (which includes the red text you've referenced) from the development of mindfulness; this last is "satipatthanabhavana", and involves "contemplating the nature of origination...", "...vanishing...", and "...origination & vanishing..." in the four categories.

Here, and in the quote you provide, watching closely with equanimity is to see with discernment the abandoning of greed & distress (BB: covetousness & displeasure). This use of equanimity is brought up again at SN 54.10, in the Anapanasatisamyutta. This is a clear instruction, and numerous subtleties such as these are explicated throughout the many Suttas in these sections of the Samyutta.

Given the potential expansiveness of these topics, I want to stay closely focused within the domain of the OP, to wit: there is no "two truths" description given anywhere throughout these sections, even though the Buddha is careful to make distinctions such as satipatthana/satipatthanabhavana, or anapanasati/anapanasatisamadhi. At no point does a "two truths" description seem to clarify any aspect of these practices, and therefore I think the interpolation is unwarranted and unhelpful, perhaps even obfuscatory.

What does holding a two truths notion actually help you to understand?
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Two "truths"/"descriptions" and meditation in the suttas

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Oct 30, 2011 6:18 am

daverupa wrote:What does holding a two truths notion actually help you to understand?

Not so much a "notion" as the "approach" of breaking experience down into simpler bits.

Since that's what most people I've paid attention to seem to teach as part of their approach it's interesting to find that it's not universal.

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Re: Two "truths"/"descriptions" and meditation in the suttas

Postby chownah » Sun Oct 30, 2011 12:34 pm

mikenz66 wrote:
daverupa wrote:What does holding a two truths notion actually help you to understand?

Not so much a "notion" as the "approach" of breaking experience down into simpler bits.

I studied to be a teacher at university and they taught that different people have different learning styles and one of the differences they discussed was that some people are analytic while some are holistic (holisitic isn't the word they used but I've forgotten it).....the analytic learners like to see a concept divided up logically into pieces and they can get a good grasp of the whole by looking at the pieces.....holistic learners like to study the concept as a whole and through this they can come to an understanding of its various logical components.....with respect to this they suggested that a good teacher should observe students carefully and try to see which ones are which and try to have both approaches expressed in a lesson plan....and then when implementing the lesson plan the best approach can be used for each student.......maybe this is what the Buddha was doing?
Since that's what most people I've paid attention to seem to teach as part of their approach it's interesting to find that it's not universal.

It might be that you "pay attention" to those who take an analytical approach (aren't you science oriented....scientists are generally analytical learners but not always) as it resonates best with you.....and I would say that as as broad generalisation Westerners tend to go more for the analytic approach more than Asians do....also...I think that I agree that most of what I've seen has been analytical.....it seems that the holistic method is just sometimes overlooked...for instance in Nayanatiloka's Dictionary the section on Satipatthana (the Foundations of Mindfulness) contains this:
"These 4 contemplations are in reality not to be taken as merely separate exercises, but on the contrary, at least in many cases, especially in the absorptions, as things inseparably associated with each other. Thereby the Satipathāna Sutta forms an illustration of the way in which these 4 contemplations relating to the 5 groups of existence khandha simultaneously come to be realized, and finally lead to insight into the impersonality of all existence."
I'm wondering how many people just sort of skip over this paragraph or give it a cursory look because it does not give any information about the individual pieces....but really this paragraph (in my view) is key in understanding how to understand Satipathana and how to utilize it properly.......but then you were looking for sutta references and this paragraph is only Nayanatiloka's views...I guess......

I guess my previous post did not resonate?....after giving it some thought I sort of discarded that idea although I do think that how the influence of insights can cross over between RVwithE and RVwithoutE might be somthing to think about....My view is that sometimes it seems like there is a big gap between RVwith/withoutE and I'm always looking at what might bridge that gap since to me the gap seems inappropriate sort of....but maybe not....I don't know....

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Re: Two "truths"/"descriptions" and meditation in the suttas

Postby daverupa » Sun Oct 30, 2011 5:12 pm

mikenz66 wrote:
daverupa wrote:What does holding a two truths notion actually help you to understand?

Not so much a "notion" as the "approach" of breaking experience down into simpler bits.


By breaking experience down into simpler bits, can you give me an example of what you mean here? Are you suggesting that one is encouraged to see experience in terms of khandas, or ayatanas, or dhatus? That seeing this is what needs to be trained in, say, Tetrad IV of anapanasati? I want to be sure I understand how you see it.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Two "truths"/"descriptions" and meditation in the suttas

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Oct 30, 2011 6:27 pm

Hi Chownah,
chownah wrote:I studied to be a teacher at university and they taught that different people have different learning styles and one of the differences they discussed was that some people are analytic while some are holistic (holisitic isn't the word they used but I've forgotten it).....
...

Yes, that's a good summary. Thanks for the input.
chownah wrote:I guess my previous post did not resonate?....after giving it some thought I sort of discarded that idea although I do think that how the influence of insights can cross over between RVwithE and RVwithoutE might be somthing to think about....My view is that sometimes it seems like there is a big gap between RVwith/withoutE and I'm always looking at what might bridge that gap since to me the gap seems inappropriate sort of....but maybe not....I don't know....

I'm afraid I didn't really follow that very well. I'll try to read it again...

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Re: Two "truths"/"descriptions" and meditation in the suttas

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Oct 30, 2011 6:32 pm

daverupa wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:
daverupa wrote:What does holding a two truths notion actually help you to understand?

Not so much a "notion" as the "approach" of breaking experience down into simpler bits.


By breaking experience down into simpler bits, can you give me an example of what you mean here? Are you suggesting that one is encouraged to see experience in terms of khandas, or ayatanas, or dhatus? That seeing this is what needs to be trained in, say, Tetrad IV of anapanasati? I want to be sure I understand how you see it.

I don't make much use of that particular sutta, but the instructions regarding how to do the fourth tetrad say:
On that occasion the monk remains focused on mental qualities in & of themselves — ardent, alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world.

So in this case it's talking about dhammas.

The most obvious "cutting and slicing" is in the Satipatthana Sutta:
http://www.acesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/ ... .than.html
"Furthermore...just as a skilled butcher or his apprentice, having killed a cow, would sit at a crossroads cutting it up into pieces, the monk contemplates this very body — however it stands, however it is disposed — in terms of properties: 'In this body there is the earth property, the liquid property, the fire property, & the wind property.'

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Re: Two "truths"/"descriptions" and meditation in the suttas

Postby daverupa » Sun Oct 30, 2011 6:39 pm

Well, the cutting and slicing seems to be a way of framing ones given experience... yet I'm uncertain what this has to do with two truths. It seems we could just as well discuss Satipatthana without it, since so far we haven't had to employ it at all. It seems like our discussion so far has rendered it a rather vestigial concept. Am I missing something?
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Two "truths"/"descriptions" and meditation in the suttas

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Oct 30, 2011 6:54 pm

daverupa wrote:Well, the cutting and slicing seems to be a way of framing ones given experience... yet I'm uncertain what this has to do with two truths.

I guess it depends on what you mean by "two truths". I see the connection that one sees through the illusion of "my self" and "my body" by examining how the experience that I interpret as "my body" is actually a series of simpler events.
What? Do you assume a 'living being,' Mara?
Do you take a position?
This is purely a pile of fabrications.
Here no living being can be pinned down.

Just as when, with an assemblage of parts,
there's the word, chariot,
even so when aggregates are present,
there's the convention of living being.

For only stress is what comes to be;
stress, what remains & falls away.
Nothing but stress comes to be.
Nothing ceases but stress.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

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Re: Two "truths"/"descriptions" and meditation in the suttas

Postby daverupa » Sun Oct 30, 2011 7:09 pm

But this is hardly two truths - it is avijja, or it is vijja. What are two truths, here?
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Two "truths"/"descriptions" and meditation in the suttas

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Oct 30, 2011 7:18 pm

daverupa wrote:But this is hardly two truths - it is avijja, or it is vijja. What are two truths, here?

I just see it as two ways of describing experience. Beings as opposed to khandhas, etc.

The concept of a being is still usefully used in the Suttas: Beings do this and that that, get reborn as this and that...

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Re: Two "truths"/"descriptions" and meditation in the suttas

Postby David N. Snyder » Sun Oct 30, 2011 8:02 pm

I have not posted in the "two truths" threads up to now, since it is not a burning issue for me, but thought I would add my opinion now and perhaps, hopefully, some balance.

A little about my background for my views: I am Suttanta, a Sutta-Wallah, Suttanika and my teacher is Suttanta.

I have the highest regard for the Suttas and about equally as high a regard for the Vinaya; a high regard for the Abhidhamma and Commentaries, but not nearly to the same status or level as the Suttas and Vinaya.

In spite of my Suttanta position, I find the two-truths to be helpful, for example, as Mike has shown in regard to 'what is a being'. In language we often refer to I, us, we, etc. which is conventional truth. Are those opposed to the two-truths concept saying that there are not some ultimate truths and some conventional truths? Or is the argument more over that there are no ultimate truths?

If it is simply because it is not explicitly stated in the Suttas (and no other reason), then that could be a literalist view which is at odds with:

Monks, these two slander the Tathagata. Which two? He who explains a discourse whose meaning needs to be inferred as one whose meaning has already been fully drawn out. And he who explains a discourse whose meaning has already been fully drawn out as one whose meaning needs to be inferred. These are two who slander the Tathagata.”

Anguttara Nikaya 2.25


In regard to the divide between Sutta-Wallahs and Classical Mahaviharas, I think the Middle Way is best, as eloquently put by Bhikkhu Bodhi:

Bhikkhu Bodhi from an interview with Inquiring Mind:

"To be brief, I would say there are two extreme attitudes one could take to the commentaries. One, often adopted by orthodox Theravadins, is to regard them as being absolutely authoritative almost on a par with the suttas. The other is to disregard them completely and claim they represent 'a different take on the Dhamma.' I find that a prudent middle ground is to consult the commentaries and use them, but without clinging to them. Their interpretations are often illuminating, but we should also recognize that they represent a specific systematization of the early teaching. They are by no means necessitated by the early teaching, and on some points even seem to be in tension with it."


Bhikkhu Bodhi is cool. :thumbsup:
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Re: Two "truths"/"descriptions" and meditation in the suttas

Postby daverupa » Sun Oct 30, 2011 8:05 pm

mikenz66 wrote:Beings as opposed to khandhas, etc.


So "a being" is conventionally true, and "the khandas" are ultimately true, but they're talking about the same thing? Is that it? I don't think I understand how you're making this distinction, yet.

Hmm... if I could simply check something: the Dhamma doesn't deny individuality, it denies identity. Unless I'm mistaken, it seems the two truths idea is trying to explain this difference, but I don't think it does a good job of it...

Because understanding the difference hasn't got a thing to do with bhavana. Seeing this difference is a result, it's the fetter of sakkāyaditthi that drops upon stream-entry. Understanding it intellectually is a debating skill that can actually hamper the practical eradication of the fetter because one thinks one sees what one does not, in fact, see. Satipatthana is the preferred way of laying the foundation for being able to see this for oneself, but describing it isn't a part of bhavana instruction.

It's not part of Satipatthana instruction, Anapanasati instruction, or any such in the Samyutta Nikaya...
Last edited by daverupa on Sun Oct 30, 2011 8:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Two "truths"/"descriptions" and meditation in the suttas

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Oct 30, 2011 8:30 pm

daverupa wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:Beings as opposed to khandhas, etc.


So "a being" is conventionally true, and "the khandas" are ultimately true, but they're talking about the same thing? Is that it? I don't think I understand how you're making this distinction, yet.
The question here is, then, what is meant by "conventional and "ultimate."
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
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Re: Two "truths"/"descriptions" and meditation in the suttas

Postby daverupa » Sun Oct 30, 2011 8:31 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
daverupa wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:Beings as opposed to khandhas, etc.


So "a being" is conventionally true, and "the khandas" are ultimately true, but they're talking about the same thing? Is that it? I don't think I understand how you're making this distinction, yet.
The question here is, then, what is meant by "conventional and "ultimate."


Yeah, I was hoping someone who employs this distinction themselves (I do not) would explain how they use it.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Two "truths"/"descriptions" and meditation in the suttas

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Oct 30, 2011 8:36 pm

daverupa wrote:]

Yeah, I was hoping someone who employs this distinction themselves (I do not) would explain how they use it.
That has been done already. It is a way of talking about the same thing from differing perspectives, and taking the commentarial passage I quoted elsewhere as the touchstone, one not being truer than the other, both separately or together leading to awakening.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Two "truths"/"descriptions" and meditation in the suttas

Postby daverupa » Sun Oct 30, 2011 8:38 pm

tiltbillings wrote:It is a way of talking about the same thing from differing perspectives,


Yeah, that's what I thought. A way of talking, not a way of meditating. So if using the two truths idea, one isn't meditating, one is talking to oneself.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Two "truths"/"descriptions" and meditation in the suttas

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Oct 30, 2011 8:43 pm

daverupa wrote:Yeah, I was hoping someone who employs this distinction themselves (I do not) would explain how they use it.

I thought I did that. I don't really have anything to add. If it's not clear then feel free to ignore it.
daverupa wrote:... that's what I thought. A way of talking, not a way of meditating. So if using the two truths idea, one isn't meditating, one is talking to oneself about the Dhamma. That's how it looks from here.

And, as I tried to explain by quoting various suttas, it's not how it looks from here.

I therefore apologise for my poor and inadequate explanation.

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Re: Two "truths"/"descriptions" and meditation in the suttas

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Oct 30, 2011 8:47 pm

daverupa wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:It is a way of talking about the same thing from differing perspectives,


Yeah, that's what I thought. A way of talking, not a way of meditating. So if using the two truths idea, one isn't meditating, one is talking to oneself about the Dhamma. That's how it looks from here.
Sadly, that is a rather myopically one-eyed way of looking at things. When one does the practice, bhavana is the central aspect of practice, but studying and understanding the Buddha's word is not without its importance as a guidance and framework for the bhavana.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Two "truths"/"descriptions" and meditation in the suttas

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Oct 30, 2011 8:50 pm

Also, keep in mind, daverupa, no one here is saying that you must, to truly understand the Dhamma, look at things this way or that.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Two "truths"/"descriptions" and meditation in the suttas

Postby Alex123 » Sun Oct 30, 2011 8:55 pm

Hello Mike, all,

mikenz66 wrote:In which sutta does it say that a concept is an object of mind-conciousness?


And in which sutta does the Buddha splits concepts vs reality and teaches which is which?

In which sutta does the Buddha say that concepts are or are not object of mind-consciousness?


With best wishes,

Alex
I was not; I was; I am not; I do not care."
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