Contact, Suffering, Cessation Qs?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

Re: Contact, Suffering, Cessation Qs?

Postby Dmytro » Tue May 18, 2010 2:46 pm

Hi Peter,

I respect your opionion and your teachers.
What I emphasized is the necessity to deal directly with craving, as recommended by the Buddha.

May you find success in your practice!

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Re: Contact, Suffering, Cessation Qs?

Postby PeterB » Tue May 18, 2010 3:04 pm

:anjali:
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Re: Contact, Suffering, Cessation Qs?

Postby retrofuturist » Tue May 18, 2010 10:44 pm

Greetings Pannapetar,

Pannapetar wrote:Aha! Kingsley doesn't say that the arahat exhibits no contact (phassa), but that the arahat "does not pay attention" to them. That appears to be something that happens after contact, post-phassa so to speak, doesn't it?

:roll:

Once again, interpreting things according to your own physiological definitions and wondering why it doesn't make sense.

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 » Tue May 18, 2010 11:04 pm

Dmytro wrote:Hi Adosa,

adosa wrote:Thanks Dmtryo.... but from contact suffering arises. Without contact, no suffering. Contact is the necessary condition for suffering to arises. I see where you're coming from but the statement is still true.

"The Blessed One, my friend, has said that pleasure & pain are dependently co-arisen. Dependent on what? Dependent on contact. One speaking in this way would be speaking in line with what the Blessed One has said, would not be misrepresenting the Blessed One with what is unfactual, and would be answering in line with the Dhamma so that no one whose thinking is in line with the Dhamma would have grounds for criticism.


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


"Suffering arises from contact" and "suffering arises with a contact as a necessary condition" are two very different statements.

The sutta you quote tell about how the feelings of pleasure and suffering arise dependent on contact.

Feelings of suffering (dukkha-vedana) and dukkha as a link in Conditioned Arising are two very different things.

Metta, Dmytro


Hi Dmytro,

I think we are on the same page. If I said "With contact, suffering arises." then the interpretation would be open to error. But I said "From contact, suffering arises" which could be re-worded "suffering arises with contact as a necessary condition." What you're saying, if understand it right, is that contact might occur but suffering may or may not arise, it just depends on whether we crave, or are adverse, to that contact. And this is getting to the heart of my question.

Part of my original question centered around whether or not we as ordinary, unenlightened individuals have the ability to see the cessation of suffering even if for just a moment, considering that the process from contact to craving (and thus suffering) is so fast and so prolific due to the myriad of contacts occurring at a given time. I think it was Ajahn Chah that said the process from contact to suffering is in stages. But the stages are like branches in a tree. For most of us, if we fall out of the tree we hit the ground (i.e. suffering) before we can identify any of the branches (contact, feeling, craving, clinging, etc). So my initial question centered around, can we experience cessation, even on a momentary basis, prior to Stream-entry or is that experience, the experience of not craving, the moment when confirmed in the Triple Gem arises.

But you raise an interesting point. Do we as ordinary, unenlightened beings suffer every time contact arises? If we are cognizant of the contact, (which by definition we must be correct otherwise consciousness would not arise?) then does some shred of craving also arise, no matter how subtle?

That is really the heart of my original question.


adosa :smile:
"To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one's mind — this is the teaching of the Buddhas" - Dhammapada 183
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Re: Contact, Suffering, Cessation Qs?

Postby christopher::: » Wed May 19, 2010 1:12 am

Excellent questions and a very important topic, adosa. Here's something that Sobeh posted a few pages back which seems to address the key issue of contact, as being at the very root of our suffering. Can we get glimpses of this prior to complete liberation?

Not sure, but i think most sincere practitioners have...

Sobeh wrote:I'd like to copy here an extended discussion of phassa by Nanavira Thera (edited for brevity):

"Phassa, 'contact', is defined as the coming together of the eye, forms, and eye-consciousness... But it is probably wrong to suppose that we must therefore understand the word phassa, primarily at least, as contact between these three things. So long as there is avijjā, all things (dhammā) 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 ditthisampanna sees the deception, but the puthujjana accepts it at its face value and elaborates it into a relationship between himself and the world... But though the ditthisampanna is not deceived, yet until he becomes arahat the aroma of subjectivity hangs about all his experience.

"All normal experience is dual: there are present (i) one's conscious six-based body (saviññānaka salāyatanika kāya), and (ii) other phenomena (namely, whatever is not one's body); and reflexion will show that, though both are objective in the experience, the aroma of subjectivity that attaches to the experience will naturally tend to be attributed to the body. In this way, phassa comes to be seen as contact between the conscious eye and forms—but mark that this is because contact is primarily between subject and object, and not between eye, forms, and eye-consciousness. This approach makes it possible to see in what sense, with the entire cessation of all illusion of 'I' and 'mine', there is phassanirodha in the arahat (where, though there are still, so long as he continues to live, both the conscious body and the other phenomena, there is no longer any appropriation)."

"But when (as commonly) phassa is interpreted as 'contact between sense-organ and sense-object, resulting in consciousness'—and its translation as '(sense-)impression' implies this interpretation—then we are at once cut off from all possibility of understanding phassanirodha in the arahat; for the question whether or not the eye is the subject is not even raised—we are concerned only with the eye as a sense-organ, and it is a sense-organ in puthujjana and arahat alike. Understanding of phassa now consists in accounting for consciousness starting from physiological (or neurological) descriptions of the sense-organs and their functioning. Consciousness, however, is not physiologically observable, and the entire project rests upon unjustifiable assumptions from the start. This epistemological interpretation of phassa misconceives the Dhamma as a kind of natural-science-cum-psychology that provides an explanation of things in terms of cause-and-effect."


:anjali:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
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Re: Contact, Suffering, Cessation Qs?

Postby Pannapetar » Wed May 19, 2010 1:58 am

retrofuturist wrote:Once again, interpreting things according to your own physiological definitions and wondering why it doesn't make sense.


Oh, it makes perfect sense what Kingsley says. It's just in contradiction with what you stated earlier. But I am getting used to it. As in the case of naming Mahavihara a "sect", you appear to miss accurate descriptions by a few centimeters here and there. The ensuing confusion is subtle but noticeable.

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Re: Contact, Suffering, Cessation Qs?

Postby retrofuturist » Wed May 19, 2010 2:32 am

Greetings Pannapetar,

Pannapetar wrote:As in the case of naming Mahavihara a "sect", you appear to miss accurate descriptions by a few centimeters here and there.


"Mahavihara sect", "Mahavihara school", "Mahavihara tradition".... they all yield their fair share of Google results. I don't know what makes you the arbitrator on which is relevant.

It's plain as day you're just returning the criticism because you don't want to address the fact you create your own definitions for Pali terms which in no way reflect what the Buddha meant by them.

How we classify a Buddhist sect that existed centuries after the Buddha is totally inconsequential to what the Buddha meant by certain terms. Again, more irrelevancies.

:roll:

Reading through everyone else's posts, no one else seems particularly baffled by this discussion in the way that you are... yet of course, you try to turn that to be the problem of anyone engaging in discussion with you, rather than seeing the common denominator as yourself.

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 mikenz66 » Wed May 19, 2010 7:56 am

Hi Retro,
retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Pannapetar,

Pannapetar wrote:As in the case of naming Mahavihara a "sect", you appear to miss accurate descriptions by a few centimeters here and there.


"Mahavihara sect", "Mahavihara school", "Mahavihara tradition".... they all yield their fair share of Google results. I don't know what makes you the arbitrator on which is relevant.

In my view there is a big difference. School, tradition, etc are neutral terms.

By the usual modern interpretations of the term, referring to the "Mahavihara sect" has derogatory overtones, which to me would be stooping to the same level as referring to the views of present-day commentators as "Modern heretical interpretations", or the Theravada as hinayana.

Perhaps we have different dictionaries?
sect noun
a group of people with somewhat different religious beliefs (typically regarded as heretical) from those of a larger group to which they belong.
• (often derogatory) a group that has separated from an established Church; a nonconformist Church.
• a philosophical or political group, especially one regarded as extreme or dangerous.
- ORIGIN Middle English: from Old French secte or Latin secta, literally ‘following’, hence ‘faction, party’, from the stem of sequi ‘follow’.

The Oxford Dictionary of English (revised edition). Ed. Catherine Soanes and Angus Stevenson. Oxford University Press, 2005.


PS: I don't have an objection to referring to the Theravāda, Sarvāstivāda, etc as "Early Buddhist Sects" in the contexts one tends to find in, e.g.: "The Sects of the Buddhists" by T.W. Rhys Davids, in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1891. pp.409-422. In that case "sect" would be an accurate reflection of how each group disparagingly referred to the others [The 5th book of the Abhidhamma, Kathavatthu ("Points of Controversy"), is an interesting read...]. Similarly with "hinayana" in similar contexts.

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Re: Contact, Suffering, Cessation Qs?

Postby retrofuturist » Wed May 19, 2010 8:55 am

Greetings Mike,

In the interests of clarifying my use of terminology.

Any existing teaching which was not specifically classified by the Buddha as Dhammavinaya had to have been created or spoken by someone for it to come into existence.

By teaching from outside the established Dhammavinaya and the Four Great References, yet at the same time springboarding from it and claiming allegiance to Buddhism and refuge to the Buddha, lineages established themselves apart from Dhammavinaya as sects. The sum of Dhammavinaya and all sects constitutes Buddhism.

Since there is no Buddhist lineage which adheres solely to the Buddha's Dhammavinaya and the Four Great Reference - they are all by definition sectarian, thus sects.... and that includes Theravada too. (Relative) orthodoxy or majority rule doesn't grant immunity from being a sect, nor does being the one to have deviated the least distance. A sect cannot become unsectarian unless it removes its sectarian additions and returns to a pre-sectarian state (i.e. Dhammavinaya).

As to value judgement on sects, that is for the individual to decide for themselves in accord with their own reason. I do not believe terms like "Early Buddhist Sects" are inherently value laden.

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 » Wed May 19, 2010 9:18 am

retrofuturist wrote:"Mahavihara sect", "Mahavihara school", "Mahavihara tradition".... they all yield their fair share of Google results.


Well, then let me explain: a "sect" is by definition a small group deviating from a generally accepted mainstream, a small branch on tree so to speak. The Mahavihara was certainly NOT a small deviating group; it was itself mainstream. Not a branch, but the trunk of Theravada or at least a good fleshy chunk of it. It was the birthplace of the written canon and the place from which Theravada spread into Southeast Asia.

retrofuturist wrote:...you try to turn that to be the problem of anyone engaging in discussion with you, rather than seeing the common denominator as yourself.


Hm. I am not sure what you are trying to say. It looks like you seek to construct and at the same time prevent an ad hominem, lest having to send yourself a warning. A little absurd, I know. The "common denominator" is that I am insisting on sound arguments, not to annoy people, but to be able to evaluate and weigh what is being presented. After all, that's what a discussion is for, isn't it?

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Re: Contact, Suffering, Cessation Qs?

Postby retrofuturist » Wed May 19, 2010 9:26 am

Greetings Pannapetar,

Pannapetar wrote:Well, then let me explain: a "sect" is by definition a small group deviating from a generally accepted mainstream, a small branch on tree so to speak.


Theravada considers Mahayana to be sectarian and it's hardly a "small group", is it?

Yet, Theravada developed its own Abhidhamma not shared or acknowledged by any other Buddhist sect. Is that not sectarian? Were they acting in an 'orthodox' manner?

At one point in time, the Puggalavadins had more bhikkhus than any other sect - did that make them the "generally accepted mainstream"?

The one word you did get right was "deviating"... all sects have deviated from Dhammavinaya by adding their own bits, or disregarding known Dhammavinaya. That's what makes them sects.

Now, if there's any point in this line of inquiry that's in any way relevant to the topic, you'd best get around to drawing-the-dots quickly.

:focus:

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 mikenz66 » Wed May 19, 2010 10:19 am

Hi Retro,
retrofuturist wrote:By teaching from outside the established Dhammavinaya and the Four Great References, yet at the same time springboarding from it and claiming allegiance to Buddhism and refuge to the Buddha, lineages established themselves apart from Dhammavinaya as sects.

Yes, I understand that's opinion of the particular modern sect that you belong to. You mention it frequently:
http://www.dhammawheel.com/posting.php? ... 13&p=64226
retrofuturist wrote:Two unconnected things have been twisted together by Buddhaghosa. I wonder if he understood equanimity beyond what he read and thought about it.


Surely it's possible to have reasoned discussions without heaping scorn on Sangha, ancient or modern, without whom the Dhamma would no longer be available.

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Re: Contact, Suffering, Cessation Qs?

Postby retrofuturist » Wed May 19, 2010 10:30 am

Greetings Mike,

mikenz66 wrote:Yes, I understand that's opinion of the particular modern sect that you belong to.


What "modern sect" would that be?

:shock:

Where do I intentionally deviate in my understandings from the Dhammavinaya? If I ever do deviate in my understanding from Dhammavinaya, please bring it to my attention! I would welcome any such correction, for my understanding is rooted in the teachings of the Buddha, in whom I take refuge and take as my teacher. I hope my non-allegiance to any sect does not make you uncomfortable - I do not take refuge in such things. Any allegience I have is to my teacher, and even then I still question and investigate his teachings in the manner he encouraged us to do.

:buddha2:

You refer to me saying elsewhere in a completely unconnected topic...

"Two unconnected things have been twisted together by Buddhaghosa. I wonder if he understood equanimity beyond what he read and thought about it."


Buddhaghosa did read and think a lot, you know... the sum of what he read and thought could (and arguably does) fill volumes, so it's hardly "heaping scorn".

Obviously what I meant is I wonder if he had anything to bring to the table that wasn't based on his thinking or his reading or his scholarship... or in other words, did he have direct experience of the subject in question? If he did, I would have expected more from him. Alternatively, was he just acting as a "general editor", compiling treatises and eisegesis based on earlier commentaries (as is sometimes argued by his modern apologists)... which is fine in itself, but that doesn't go "beyond what he read and thought about it".

Now is this in any way connected to the topic at hand?

:offtopic:

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 tiltbillings » Wed May 19, 2010 11:05 am

Just as an aside:

retrofuturist wrote:
At one point in time, the Puggalavadins had more bhikkhus than any other sect - did that make them the "generally accepted mainstream"?
The ordination lineage, Sammitiya, in which the Puggalavadins belonged were more numerous, but that does not mean that all Sammitiyas were doctrinally Puggalavadins.
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.
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Re: Contact, Suffering, Cessation Qs?

Postby ReadyFeet » Thu May 20, 2010 7:11 am

So, If I may ask....

If one lives a life where one reads lots of Dhamma books and tries hard to meditate but still engages in social activity with friends, works and plays lota of sports etc is it possible for me to achieve any of the benefits of the Dhamma's if I am essentially "flooded with contact and suffering" all the time. I like to think that as my compassion and understanding for all those around me deepens so does my spiritual maturity. Any suggestions. Thanks.
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Re: Contact, Suffering, Cessation Qs?

Postby mikenz66 » Thu May 20, 2010 8:12 am

Hi Retro,
retrofuturist wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:Yes, I understand that's opinion of the particular modern sect that you belong to.


What "modern sect" would that be?

The Retro sect that rejects the approach of the Classical Commentaries. Is that not accurate (see below)?
retrofuturist wrote:Where do I intentionally deviate in my understandings from the Dhammavinaya? If I ever do deviate in my understanding from Dhammavinaya, please bring it to my attention! I would welcome any such correction, for my understanding is rooted in the teachings of the Buddha, in whom I take refuge and take as my teacher. I hope my non-allegiance to any sect does not make you uncomfortable - I do not take refuge in such things. Any allegience I have is to my teacher, and even then I still question and investigate his teachings in the manner he encouraged us to do.

I'm not objecting to statements about Dhamma itself that you make. I don't necessarily agree with all of them, but that's completely beside the point here. I'm simply requesting you to speak a little more respectfully, rather than making sweeping statements about the competence of the Classical Commentators, as in the statement I quoted about Venerable Buddhaghosa.

From earlier in this thread:
retrofuturist wrote:Since there is no Buddhist lineage which adheres solely to the Buddha's Dhammavinaya and the Four Great Reference - they are all by definition sectarian, thus sects.... and that includes Theravada too. (Relative) orthodoxy or majority rule doesn't grant immunity from being a sect, nor does being the one to have deviated the least distance.

Neither does implying that it is self-evident that your approach is superior.
retrofuturist wrote:A sect cannot become unsectarian unless it removes its sectarian additions and returns to a pre-sectarian state (i.e. Dhammavinaya).

According to the Retro Sect...

[Which is, if you recall, where we started...]

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Re: Contact, Suffering, Cessation Qs?

Postby retrofuturist » Thu May 20, 2010 8:36 am

Greetings Mike,

mikenz66 wrote:According to the Retro Sect...


:roll:

That's all a bit puerile don't you think?

Following the word of the Buddha and the duty he gave us in the Four Great References is somehow creating a religion in your own image now is it?

That is sad.

:(

mikenz66 wrote:The Retro sect that rejects the approach of the Classical Commentaries. Is that not accurate?

No, it is not accurate.

I assess any given Mahavihara perspective against the Four Great References, as I would any other Dhamma-related comment, regardless of source. I'm neither inherently for, nor against, the Mahavihara perspective.

Does the Mahavihara sect or the Theravada tradition as a whole reject the Four Great References? The last time I checked, they didn't...

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 retrofuturist » Thu May 20, 2010 9:48 am

Greetings ReadyFeet,

ReadyFeet wrote:If one lives a life where one reads lots of Dhamma books and tries hard to meditate but still engages in social activity with friends, works and plays lota of sports etc is it possible for me to achieve any of the benefits of the Dhamma's if I am essentially "flooded with contact and suffering" all the time. I like to think that as my compassion and understanding for all those around me deepens so does my spiritual maturity. Any suggestions. Thanks.


It sounds as if you're engaged in a lot of wordly pursuits.

I would recommend you treat them as opportunities to act in a wholesome manner (generosity, lovingkindness and wisdom) and try to keep unwholesome thoughts (greed, aversion and delusion) to a minimum. Precept adherence will help too.

These lead to good destinations and will provide support for your practice.

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 mikenz66 » Thu May 20, 2010 11:13 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Mike,
mikenz66 wrote:According to the Retro Sect...

That's all a bit puerile don't you think?

Of course. Just as when you apply it.

I'm going to give up. If you can't understand how condescending your attitude towards points of view other than your own sounds to me I'll simply have to learn to ignore you.

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Re: Contact, Suffering, Cessation Qs?

Postby retrofuturist » Thu May 20, 2010 11:25 am

:anjali:

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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