Trivial questions - Desire

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Trivial questions - Desire

Postby BlackBird » Sun Jul 26, 2009 10:26 am

I'd just like to chuck one out of left field here. I'd like to rock the boat, to stir the pot up, to muddy the water so that I can appreciate what clarity means :thinking:

We seem to ask a lot of pretty specific questions about the Dhamma. Somewhat akin to "What happens if X meets Y on a particular occasion where Z is present under the influence of W."

It's had me thinking for a while, I've been posting on Dhamma boards for a couple'a years now, and largely I have arrived at this conclusion:

- I have amounted a lot of intelectual understanding.
- It won't put an end to anything.

When I was staying at the Monastery in Wellington, Ajahn Tiradhammo was showing me some weeds he thought could be removed. I spaded one out, and said: "These plants, they're just home to the devas, never alive to begin with?"
Ajahn Ti just laughed and said: "Well, one thing's for sure, they're dead now!"

Everytime I did this, I'd get that kind of response. Ajahn had a wonderful sense of humor. But it taught me something on a deeper level. Not every question asked deserves an answer, not every question asked deserves your precious breath in speaking.

We talk about the Dhamma being there to be realised for ones self, but much of what I see and experience on Dhamma-boards seems to be concerned with clarifying scholastic knowledge - Often pretty trivial things. I think there is a tedency in myself, and others who visit these Dhamma-boards on the internet. A tendency to crave after knowledge. It gives a fleeting pleasure, which then reinforces the desire for more knowledge.

But this kind of knowledge is superficial.
Scholars still suffer.

This is pot calling the kettle black to the extreme. It's a beautiful contradiction, which I fully accept.

A word from a recovering INFO-holic:
It's not what you know, but how you know it.
"For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher's message & lives to penetrate it, what accords with the Dhamma is this:
'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta
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Re: Trivial questions - Desire

Postby Jechbi » Sun Jul 26, 2009 10:45 am

Hi Bird,

BlackBird wrote:It's not what you know, but how you know it.
My perspective is, when you get a little older, you'll probably know things differently. And when you get a little older still, you'll probably start forgetting some of the stuff you know. And when you die, you won't know it any more at all. So it's not what you know or how you know it, but the recognition that this type of "knowledge" is anicca, anatta and, in the end, dukkha. If we don't think so, then we're fooling ourselves, in my opinion. Intellectual knowledge is not just cummulative. It qualitatively changes over time.
Rain soddens what is kept wrapped up,
But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.
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Re: Trivial questions - Desire

Postby Ben » Sun Jul 26, 2009 11:26 am

Hi Blackbird
These types of discussion forums are good for increasing one's intellectual understanding and developing supportive relationships with dispersed co-practitioners. And they are important in their own right. But I also believe that discussion forums can have a limit in their ability to serve and help us on the path - depending on our motivation in using them. That is because the nature of the knowledge we are attempting to acrue is supramundane and can only be acquired through practice and so one can easily come to a point where one feels that continued Dhamma discussion is pointless. Unless one's motivation changes from seeking something that will benefit oneself to contributing so as to assist others. In the meantime, it doesn't hurt to keep focused on one's bhavana.
Kind regards

Ben
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Re: Trivial questions - Desire

Postby David N. Snyder » Sun Jul 26, 2009 2:19 pm

The Buddha did not have much existing knowledge to go on, but was still well-learned in the Vedas and knowledge of his time. He did not get any Dhamma instruction because the Dhamma had died out from the previous dispensation of Kassapa Buddha. The Buddha re-discovered the Dhamma in what we have today to study and practice.

Thanks to the Buddha, we do not need to re-invent the wheel. The wheel is already there for us to learn and turn. By re-invent the wheel, I mean we don't need to just sit and practice only and try to find out everything the way a samma-sam-Buddha would do it. The knowledge and studies assist us on the way.
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Re: Trivial questions - Desire

Postby rowyourboat » Tue Jul 28, 2009 1:01 pm

there are suttas where ven sariputta intentionally starts a dhamma discussion by asking a question (to which he knows the answer!). these were done to increase right view of the rest of the monks. if right view is there then the rest of the path proceeds on from there. but as you correctly said it can become an end in itself and an object of craving. another useful thing is that dhamma discussion allows you to look at the world in a certain way so that you dont get easily caught up in it, by seeing it's drawbacks. it is also some form of kusala as you could be doing much worse thigns with your time. the traditional flow goes something like this:

hearing the dhamma-->pondering-->acceptance-->practice

hearing the dhamma at the right time is always praised, but not as an end in itself.

with metta
With Metta

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Re: Trivial questions - Desire

Postby kc2dpt » Tue Jul 28, 2009 1:47 pm

One can turn studying Dhamma into ego gratification.
One can turn perfecting virtue into ego gratification.
One can turn meditation into ego gratification.
On the other hand, studying and perfecting virtue and meditation are all necessary parts of the Path.
Let's be heedful of temptations and dangers. Let's also not throw the baby out with the bathwater.
In other words, let's be careful that in warning about the dangers that can come of studying we don't end of dissuading people from studying. That would be a shame.
- Peter

Be heedful and you will accomplish your goal.
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Re: Trivial questions - Desire

Postby clw_uk » Tue Jul 28, 2009 1:52 pm

The reason Dhamma discussion boards seem more scholastic is because its a discussion board
“Happy is the man who has broken the chains which hurt the mind, and has given up worrying once and for all.” Ovid
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Re: Trivial questions - Desire

Postby David N. Snyder » Tue Jul 28, 2009 2:06 pm

Peter wrote:One can turn studying Dhamma into ego gratification.
One can turn perfecting virtue into ego gratification.
One can turn meditation into ego gratification.
On the other hand, studying and perfecting virtue and meditation are all necessary parts of the Path.
Let's be heedful of temptations and dangers. Let's also not throw the baby out with the bathwater.
In other words, let's be careful that in warning about the dangers that can come of studying we don't end of dissuading people from studying. That would be a shame.


Yes, and to add to that:

Conceit or ego is not eradicated fully until one is an arahant. Even an anagami (non-returner) can have some sense of ego and conceit. If there is some ego and conceit in the practice, it could be leading to the higher knowledge and attainments for becoming an Arahant. The 10 hindrances:

A Buddha is someone who is fully enlightened. A person who is fully enlightened, but not the Buddha of our time, is called an Arahant in Pali. Such a person has eradicated all ten hindrances to enlightenment:

1. The belief in a permanent personality, ego
2. Doubt, extreme skepticism
3. Attachment to rites, rituals, and ceremonies
4. Attachment to sense desires
5. Ill-will, anger
6. Craving for existence in the Form world (heavenly realms)
7. Craving for existence in the Formless world (heavenly realms)
8. Conceit
9. Restlessness
10. Ignorance

(from Anguttara Nikaya 10.13)

An anagami (non-returner) has completely eradicated the first five hindrances and never returns to earth or any other world system (planet, solar system). Such a person is re-born to a heavenly realm and attains enlightenment from there.

A sakadagami (once returner) has eradicated the first three hindrances and greatly weakened the fourth and fifth; attachment to sense desires and ill-will. Such a person will be re-born to either the human or heavenly realm and will attain enlightenment there.

A sottapanna (stream entrant) has eradicated the first three hindrances and will be re-born no more than seven more times and re-birth will either be as a human or a deva in a heavenly realm.
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Re: Trivial questions - Desire

Postby David N. Snyder » Tue Jul 28, 2009 2:08 pm

clw_uk wrote:The reason Dhamma discussion boards seem more scholastic is because its a discussion board


A simple, important, point and a very good one. :tongue:
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Re: Trivial questions - Desire

Postby Pannapetar » Thu Jul 30, 2009 11:10 am

BlackBird wrote:- I have amounted a lot of intelectual understanding.
- It won't put an end to anything.


It depends. Intellectual knowledge is primarily useful for those of us who have collected plenty of first-hand knowledge in past lifes. By reading and remembering such knowledge, we can tune ourselves into existing stores of citta, or perhaps even expand them. However, if the knowledge relates to something that we have not yet learned first-hand, then it becomes quite theoretical and dry. It can still be useful in the sense of giving pragmatic instruction and guidance, but it has limited value.

Cheers, Thomas
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