Contact, Suffering, Cessation Qs?

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Contact, Suffering, Cessation Qs?

Postby adosa » Sun May 16, 2010 9:43 pm

Hi All


Contact arises when the sense base (i.e. eye), form, and eye-consciousness meet. From contact, suffering arises. So a number of questions.

1) This process would seem to be going on non-stop throughout our unenlightened daily lives as contact with the sense bases is non-stop. Suffering from contact, no matter how subtle, is then nearly instantaneous. So then I take it we are basically being bathed non-stop with suffering. Is there any point during our unenlightened experience that this process stops even for a moment?

2) If it is the case that this process stops, even a moment, and we are aware of it, wouldn't this be a brief glimpse into cessation of craving and thus the cessation of suffering? Is this glimpse into cessation equivalent to a glimpse into, or of, Nibbana?

3) Can this process happen to us short of Stream-entry? Or would this glimpse necessarily be enough to foster confirmed confidence in the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha? Confirmed being witnessed personally.

Just pondering as I want to be on my toes should such a moment arise. :smile: Needless to say, I've not yet witnessed this occurrence.

Please feel free to correct any errors in my understanding.


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Re: Contact, Suffering, Cessation Qs?

Postby dennis60 » Sun May 16, 2010 10:24 pm

I am not a scholar of Theraveda....but i relate to what you are asking. For me when i am meditating, the chain of identifying with my suffering breaks. It usually occurs about 15 minutes into meditation. When this "break" occurs there is a sense of freedom and relief from the constant reactions that "contact" causes. So for many years i have cultivated that "space" between the links of chain/suffering. Once I learned to stay empty and let that space just "be" while meditating, I learned to practice this when i got up and went about my day. Of course that is when it is most difficult not to get caught up again in the contact/suffering. It takes remembering to remember that space and non-clinging. I use to use a mantra to remind me of this space that came to me while meditating.... I used "mind empty, heart open, body dancing" as a mantra during the day. Whenever the pressure to get caught up came upon me i would recite this mantra inwardly, and it helped me remember not to cling to the contact/suffering.
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Re: Contact, Suffering, Cessation Qs?

Postby Anicca » Sun May 16, 2010 11:03 pm

adosa wrote:...I want to be on my toes should such a moment arise. ...

Hi Adosa! - Ananda was half way to laying down when the moment arose - so be ready in *any* position! :)

adosa wrote:1) This process would seem to be going on non-stop throughout our unenlightened daily lives as contact with the sense bases is non-stop. Suffering from contact, no matter how subtle, is then nearly instantaneous. So then I take it we are basically being bathed non-stop with suffering. Is there any point during our unenlightened experience that this process stops even for a moment?

The process is samsara (seems like it needs to be verbized into samsara-ing) - choose your perspective - from each moment of consciousness to each breath to each day to each lifetime, whichever perspective - whatever sankhara your mind puts together to cling to - has the cyclical feature of arising, aging and decaying.

adosa wrote:2) If it is the case that this process stops, even a moment, and we are aware of it, wouldn't this be a brief glimpse into cessation of craving and thus the cessation of suffering? Is this glimpse into cessation equivalent to a glimpse into, or of, Nibbana?

According to my understanding, yes.

adosa wrote:3) Can this process happen to us short of Stream-entry?

It is by definition stream-entry.

adosa wrote:Or would this glimpse necessarily be enough to foster confirmed confidence in the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha? Confirmed being witnessed personally.

AND this glimpse would necessarily be enough to foster confirmed confidence in the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha! Confirmed by being witnessed personally!

adosa wrote:Needless to say, I've not yet witnessed this occurrence.

Don't worry about wanting to be on your toes or whatever - it is all about letting go ...

Four parts to the truths of reality:
suffering is to be comprehended
craving, its reason for being, abandoned
its cessation realized (on your toes or not!)
and the path to its cessation developed.

Please feel free to correct any errors - i'd appreciate it.

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Re: Contact, Suffering, Cessation Qs?

Postby retrofuturist » Sun May 16, 2010 11:31 pm

Greetings Adosa,

Adosa wrote:Please feel free to correct any errors in my understanding

Did you see this topic, as it seems relevant to your question...

SN 35.236 The Simile Of Hands And Feet
viewtopic.php?f=13&t=4338

When there is no longer any apparent 'self' to be contacted, contact (phassa) is said to have ceased.

Phusanti phassā upadhim paticca. Nirūpadhim kena phuseyyum phassā. (Udana 12)
Contacts contact dependent on ground -- How should contacts contact a groundless one?

An arahant does not experience phassa (contact).

See also:

Phassa
http://nanavira.xtreemhost.com/index.ph ... &Itemid=76

So long as there is avijjā, all things (dhammā) are fundamentally as described in the earlier part of the Mūlapariyāyasutta (Majjhima i,1 <M.i,1>); that is to say, they are inherently in subjection, they are appropriated, they are mine. This is the foundation of the notion that I am and that things are in contact with me. This contact between me and things is phassa.

The sutta referred to in that extract is well worth a look...

MN1: Mūlapariyāya Sutta
http://www.dhammavinaya.com/sutta/mn/1.html

I liked your questions by the way... good to see people giving thought to such things.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Contact, Suffering, Cessation Qs?

Postby adosa » Mon May 17, 2010 12:39 am

Thanks Dennis, Annica, Retro,

I looked through the thread that Retro points out the other day but missed the meaning evidently because my next question was going to be "at what point in the chain of dependent origination the whole process stops for an Arahant." I know it starts with the eradication of ignorance but I was still working out how, if an Arahant "contacts" an object, that suffering would not arise, as defined by the Buddha (much the same as dukkha is a Noble Truth but it must not be so for an Arahant, anymore.) Thanks for the clarification.

I'll give that thread a closer re-read. So dare I say that at this point the Arahant has reached the end of duality in not perceiving the separation of his/her being and the world around him/her?

At any rate thanks for the discussion.


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Re: Contact, Suffering, Cessation Qs?

Postby retrofuturist » Mon May 17, 2010 12:47 am

Greetings Adosa,

adosa wrote:So dare I say that at this point the Arahant has reached the end of duality in not perceiving the separation of his/her being and the world around him/her?

Yes. Self-view is broken with stream-entry, but for the sekha (non-arahant noble one) there is still a tendency (anusaya) to conceive in terms of "I am" (asmi)... and its the destruction of that particular conceit (mana) which occurs at arahantship. Thus, the standard dependent origination sequence in its cessation mode...

"Now from the remainderless fading & cessation of that very ignorance comes the cessation of fabrications. From the cessation of fabrications comes the cessation of consciousness. From the cessation of consciousness comes the cessation of name-&-form. From the cessation of name-&-form comes the cessation of the six sense media. From the cessation of the six sense media comes the cessation of contact. From the cessation of contact comes the cessation of feeling. From the cessation of feeling comes the cessation of craving. From the cessation of craving comes the cessation of clinging/sustenance. From the cessation of clinging/sustenance comes the cessation of becoming. From the cessation of becoming comes the cessation of birth. From the cessation of birth, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair all cease. Such is the cessation of this entire mass of stress & suffering."

Note that all those things in that chain had avijja implicit within them, otherwise the cessation of avijja wouldn't lead to their cessation. You have now discovered this in relation to phassa (contact) but it is true also of all the other aspects of the chain as well.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Contact, Suffering, Cessation Qs?

Postby adosa » Mon May 17, 2010 1:28 am

Excellent Retro. With the eradication of ignorance, D.O. all blows apart.

Time now for a little choiceless awareness sitting to let it all soak in.

:anjali:


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Re: Contact, Suffering, Cessation Qs?

Postby Kenshou » Mon May 17, 2010 1:39 am

Retro wrote:An arahant does not experience phassa (contact).


Wait, what? Unless this refers to the cessation of contact which serves to drive on paticcasamuppada and samsara, and not all contact, then this makes no sense to me. As long as this body and mind function there will be contact, weather it's fuel for craving or not is another issue.

If the answer is in the thread you linked, then I'll find it there, but I haven't got time to read it at this very moment.
Last edited by Kenshou on Mon May 17, 2010 1:50 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Contact, Suffering, Cessation Qs?

Postby bodom » Mon May 17, 2010 1:48 am

Retro wrote:An arahant does not experience phassa (contact).


Of course an Arahant experience's contact through the senses. He still has his body with six senses. He does not experience greed, hatred and delusion in regard to phassa. He has broken the link between between phassa and vedana.

Nibbana as Living Experience / The Buddha and The Arahant Two Studies from the Pali Canon by Lily de Silva
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el407.html

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Contact, Suffering, Cessation Qs?

Postby Kenshou » Mon May 17, 2010 1:54 am

That's pretty much how I think of it.

Though I just now noticed that quote from Nanavira in Retro's post, which I skimmed over before, silly me. If that's how things are, then that I can understand. Contact proper persists, but without the illusion of self, the illusion of there being somebody who is being contacted ceases.

Also, interesting article, I'mma go read that.
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Re: Contact, Suffering, Cessation Qs?

Postby retrofuturist » Mon May 17, 2010 2:18 am

Greetings Kenshou,

Yes, the little section I quoted on phassa addresses that concern.

To the uninstructed putthujana, dependent origination in its cessation mode is kind of meaningless because they can perceive of no other way in which these things could cease, short of being dead. Conversely, because the arahant does not think in terms of "I am", they are groundless and there is no phassa, and demonstrated by the sutta quotation above.

Phusanti phassā upadhim paticca. Nirūpadhim kena phuseyyum phassā. (Udana 12)
Contacts contact dependent on ground -- How should contacts contact a groundless one?

A groundless one doesn't mean a dead one.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Contact, Suffering, Cessation Qs?

Postby bodom » Mon May 17, 2010 2:28 am

Though the texts state that vedanaais destroyed in the arahant, they never say that the sense faculties are destroyed. When describing the super-conscious state of sa~n~naa-vedayitanirodha,the sense faculties are said to be refined — vippasannaani indriyaani.[M I 296]. So in the case of the arahant, too, the sense faculties must certainly be refined and not rendered deficient in any way. In that case it is possible to surmise that, though vedanaa is extinct, body-sensitivity continues to be active and is thoroughly refined.


Nibbana as Living Experience / The Buddha and The Arahant Two Studies from the Pali Canonby Lily de Silva
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el407.html

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Contact, Suffering, Cessation Qs?

Postby retrofuturist » Mon May 17, 2010 2:39 am

Greetings,

Extract from Kalahavivada Sutta
http://buddhasutra.com/files/kalahavivada_sutta.htm

"What is the source of sense-impression? From what arises so much grasping? By the absence of what is there no selfish attachment? By the disappearance of what is sense-impression not experienced?"

"Sense-impression is dependent upon the mental and the material. Grasping has its source in wanting something. What not being present there is no selfish attachment. By the disappearance of material objects sense-impression is not experienced."

"For whom does materiality disappear? How do pleasure and discomfort cease to be? Tell me how it ceases so that I may be satisfied in my mind that I have understood it."

"His perception is not the ordinary kind, nor is his perception abnormal; he is not without perception nor is his perception (of materiality) suspended. -- to such an one immateriality ceases. Perception is indeed the source of the world of multiplicity."

Note, he is not dead. He is an arahant.

The Buddha is cool. 8-)

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Contact, Suffering, Cessation Qs?

Postby bodom » Mon May 17, 2010 2:41 am

Also from above:

Here it might be asked whether an arahant has lost the ability to feel pain, which is also an essential part of the touch sensation. It has to be pointed out that this is not so, for in that case an arahant would not even know if a part of his body is seriously injured or burnt. There is plenty of evidence to show that an arahant does feel sensations caused by physical changes. For instance, the Buddha felt acute pain when he was wounded by a stone splinter [19] and when he suffered from indigestion. [20] But he was able to withstand the painful sensations with mindfulness and clear comprehension without being fatigued by them.


Very good article.

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Contact, Suffering, Cessation Qs?

Postby retrofuturist » Mon May 17, 2010 2:43 am

Greetings Bodom,

Nobody is denying the arahat experiences physical pain... that much is obvious from the suttas. Even the Buddha experienced physical pain.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Contact, Suffering, Cessation Qs?

Postby adosa » Mon May 17, 2010 2:47 am

My read, and feel free to correct me, is that "contact" denotes separation prior to the "contact" and me /it view during the contact. An Arahant has overcome that sense, or perception, of seperation, thus no "contact" as such. But yes he would still have his ability to sense tactile objects for example.


I'm hoping to find out someday.......maybe a few lifetimes from now but still..


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Re: Contact, Suffering, Cessation Qs?

Postby retrofuturist » Mon May 17, 2010 2:51 am

Greetings Adosa,

I concur with your reading and believe it accords with the teachings of the Buddha quoted above.

DN 15: Mahanidana Sutta wrote:Ven. Ananda approached the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down to the Blessed One, sat to one side. As he was sitting there he said to the Blessed One: 'It's amazing, lord, it's astounding, how deep this dependent co-arising is, and how deep its appearance, and yet to me it seems as clear as clear can be.'

[The Buddha:] 'Don't say that, Ananda. Don't say that. Deep is this dependent co-arising, and deep its appearance. It's because of not understanding and not penetrating this Dhamma that this generation is 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, and bad destinations.

:buddha2:

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Contact, Suffering, Cessation Qs?

Postby bodom » Mon May 17, 2010 2:53 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Bodom,

Nobody is denying the arahat experiences physical pain... that much is obvious from the suttas. Even the Buddha experienced physical pain.

Metta,
Retro. :)


Hi Retro

Just posting sections I found helpful. Sorry.

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Contact, Suffering, Cessation Qs?

Postby retrofuturist » Mon May 17, 2010 2:56 am

Greetings bodom,

No need to be sorry... but in the sense that tactile sensations still appear to the arahant, you were already 'preaching to the converted'.

The point is that an arahant does not experience phassa (contact) as there is no "I", "me" or "mine" by which the sense input could be said to 'contact'.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Contact, Suffering, Cessation Qs?

Postby Pannapetar » Mon May 17, 2010 3:58 am

adosa wrote:So then I take it we are basically being bathed non-stop with suffering. Is there any point during our unenlightened experience that this process stops even for a moment?


I think this question is similar to the nibbana thread. If there wasn't any escape from dependent origination, then the entire teaching would be pointless. The predetermined breaking point is craving (tanha). That's where the causal chain is interrupted. That's why tanha is mentioned in the four noble truths, at the very foundation.

adosa wrote:If it is the case that this process stops, even a moment, and we are aware of it, wouldn't this be a brief glimpse into cessation of craving and thus the cessation of suffering? Is this glimpse into cessation equivalent to a glimpse into, or of, Nibbana?


Yes.

adosa wrote:Can this process happen to us short of Stream-entry?


It's possible to experience the cessation of craving (and therefore that of suffering) at a rudimentary level, even without years of meditation. The rough outer shell seems to come off easily, but the subtle parts are quite a different story. At least that's my personal experience. Perhaps it takes years of dedicated chiselling. Perhaps lifetimes.

Cheers, Thomas
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