Nanavira.

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Re: Nanavira.

Postby alan » Thu Jul 01, 2010 5:36 am

Just ordered "Notes" from amazon. In anticipation of reading it, I'd like to understand why it generates so much emotional turmoil. He was not a scholar, but so what? If his thoughts are useful and compelling, motivating the reader to pursue a more noble path, what is wrong?
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Re: Nanavira.

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Jul 01, 2010 5:47 am

Greetings Alan,

I believe one of the first people to have a response of the type you describe was Mrs. Irene Quittner...

Nanavira Thera wrote:The Notes seem to have struck Mrs. Quittner[1] with considerable impact, and her immediate reaction is all that could be desired. What disturbs her is the fact that statements are made throughout the Notes 'without any reasons' being given for them, on the 'take it or leave it' principle. What the self-respecting reader wants is to have his opinion consulted by the author, who is expected to allow him to make up his own mind about the points at issue, and thus either to agree or to disagree with what is said in the book. If the author does not do this (by failing to give his reasons) he insults the reader (and particularly the feminine reader) by seeming to assume that he (or she) has no opinion worth consulting.

But the one thing I want to avoid is to have readers make up their own mind about the book; for once they have objectively decided whether they agree or disagree with the author's arguments they will shut the book, forget it, and pass on to the next one. No, the Notes are designed to be an invitation, a provocation, a challenge, to the reader to come and share the author's point of view; and if the book starts off by democratically assuming that the reader's opinion is as good as the author's, it will simply defeat its own purpose. At all costs the reader must be prevented from fraternizing with the author.

Consider, for example, Mrs. Quittner's complaint that with a few strokes of the author's pen 'we are reduced from three to two baskets and this without giving any reasons for his statement'. (The reference is evidently to note (a) of the Preface.) If I had provided a discussion of my reasons for doubting the authenticity of the Abhidhamma Pitaka (on the lines, perhaps, of what I said in my last letter to you), at once people would have had something positive to seize hold of, and learned controversy might have started up leading more and more passionately away from the point at issue. As Kierkegaard says, "In general, all that is needed to make the question simple and easy is the exercise of a certain dietetic circumspection, the renunciation of every learned interpolation or subordinate consideration, which in a trice might degenerate into a century-long parenthesis." (CUP, pp. 29-30)

As things are, the reader is informed bluntly (condescendingly?) at the beginning of the Notes which canonical books the author proposes to regard as unquestionably correct, so that there will be no room for confusion in the matter. Then, if the reader wants to know the reason for the author's rejection of certain books (the Abhidhamma Pitaka, for example), he must make the effort to understand the Notes and see things as the author sees them. When he has done this, the reason for the rejection of these books will be self-evident.

Mrs. Quittner's 'arrogant, scathing, and condescending' is a clear indication that she has been provoked by the Notes, and the fact that she has already read the NOTE ON PATICCASAMUPPĀDA no less than five times seems to confirm it. If people are going to take this much interest in the Notes they are welcome to use whatever strong language about them as they please. I shall only start worrying when people begin calling them 'insipid, flatulent, and platitudinous'.

Source: http://nanavira.xtreemhost.com/index.ph ... &Itemid=50

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)


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One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Nanavira.

Postby alan » Thu Jul 01, 2010 6:04 am

I have a new hero.
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Re: Nanavira.

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Jul 01, 2010 6:30 am

'insipid, flatulent, and platitudinous'.
Tempting.
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: Nanavira.

Postby kc2dpt » Thu Jul 01, 2010 8:41 pm

alan wrote:Just ordered "Notes" from amazon. In anticipation of reading it, I'd like to understand why it generates so much emotional turmoil.

He dismisses, contradicts, and reinterprets traditional Theravada Buddhist teachings.

He was not a scholar, but so what?

Without any such foundation, it's hard to understand why he says what he says, if what he says has any merit.

If his thoughts are useful and compelling, motivating the reader to pursue a more noble path, what is wrong?

More noble? I don't know whether it is or not. What I do know is he motivates the reader to follow a different path. That is only wrong if a] the reader wishes to pursue Buddhism and b] if his teachings turn out to not be Buddhism.
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Re: Nanavira.

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Jul 02, 2010 3:19 am

Hi Alan,
alan wrote:Just ordered "Notes" from amazon. In anticipation of reading it, I'd like to understand why it generates so much emotional turmoil. He was not a scholar, but so what? If his thoughts are useful and compelling, motivating the reader to pursue a more noble path, what is wrong?

Personally, I do not like speaking harshly of anyone's opinions, especially when I have not studied their work extensively. However, I very much agree with Tilt here:
tiltbillings wrote:Just to add, it is a bit annoying to have people say that Buddhadasa, Nanavira, or whomever else really has it in hand and poop on Vens Bodhi, Nyanaponika and whomever else who does not toe the particular line imagined of whatever particular teacher.

As I have said many times, I am interested in different views and opinions about the Dhamma. But I find it very difficult to take seriously claims that imply that Ven. Nanavira (or whoever) has figured out where just about everyone else has gone wrong, and anyone who doesn't agree is a dull, closed-minded traditionalist.

Surely it's more constructive to say something like: "I prefer Ven. X's version over ... because ...." and leave it at that.

Mike
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Re: Nanavira.

Postby alan » Fri Jul 02, 2010 4:58 am

Hi Peter
Well you seem to be one of those who have an extreme emotional reaction to Nanavira!
Do you think his thoughts are without merit? Are they not really Buddhist?
I'm not asking this as a challenge--just trying to gather some opinions before studying the book itself.
Thanks Mike for your input too.
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Re: Nanavira.

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Jul 02, 2010 5:16 am

Moderator note: It is really inappropriate to attribute to someone you cannot see or hear what their emotional reactions are, especially "extreme." Do NOT assume what a person's emotional reaction are or are not - if it is important to you: ask, preferably in private.
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: Nanavira.

Postby alan » Fri Jul 02, 2010 5:40 am

Moderator, note:
At the top of this page the question was asked "I'd like to understand why it generates so much emotional turmoil".
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Re: Nanavira.

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Jul 02, 2010 5:48 am

alan wrote:Moderator, note:
At the top of this page the question was asked "I'd like to understand why it generates so much emotional turmoil".
Then you might have asked Peter if the subject was generating such emtional response rather than suggesting that it does. You cannot see his face or hear his voice, and going by the written word alone is not always a safe basis for determining an emotional response. If you have any further comments or questions, PM them to me. There will be no further meta-discussions of this.
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: Nanavira.

Postby kc2dpt » Sun Jul 04, 2010 10:55 pm

I thought my post was rather emotionless, objective, and level-headed. Oh well. :shrug:

Whether I like his teachings or not, Nanavira's teacings are different than traditional Buddhist teachings. He says so himself. This is a fact and quite unemotional.

Do you think his thoughts are without merit? Are they not really Buddhist?

I have no idea. What little I've seen of his thoughts tells me they are different than that which I have chosen to study and practice. As such I have no interest in studying him. I have not yet found fault with the path I'm on and so I feel no urge to explore other paths. I find it is enough work to learn and practice just one school of Buddhism without chasing down every new idea which pops up. However, if a person finds they don't like traditional Buddhist teachings and wants to follow or create something else, that is their right.

If you want an emotional response... When a person says "Everyone else for hundreds of years has it wrong; but I and I alone have discovered the truth..." then I am suspicious of such a person, especially when they do so in a combative and disrespectful way. To contrast, I have heard monks present a personal opinion at odds with tradition and do so in a very respectful and careful way. One way screams to me "EGO ALERT" and the other way does not. Of course, this is only my personal, emotional, opinion. :)
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Re: Nanavira.

Postby kc2dpt » Mon Jul 05, 2010 10:17 pm

I believe I understand Alan's confusion.

Alan says, "I'd like to understand why it generates so much emotional turmoil."
Peter gives an answer.
Alan assumes that because Peter gives an answer we can infer Peter has emotional turmoil.

In other words, Alan assumed I was answering the question "why it generates emotional turmoil for me" whereas I was answering the more general question "why it generates emotional turmoil for some people. So to be clearer...

Ven. Nanavira openly dismisses, contradicts, and reinterprets traditional Theravada Buddhist teachings. This sort of thing tends to generate emotional turmoil in folks.

I hope this is clearer.
- Peter

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Re: Nanavira.

Postby Ben » Mon Jul 05, 2010 11:51 pm

Thank you Peter.
Great responses!
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Re: Nanavira.

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Jul 06, 2010 1:07 am

Greetings,

Yes, Peter did explain the position well.

And I agree that this statement is true...

Peter wrote:Ven. Nanavira openly dismisses, contradicts, and reinterprets traditional Theravada Buddhist teachings.

As a point of clarity though, it is worth pointing out that Nanavira Thera is only opposing the Abhidhamma Pitaka and certain Theravada commentarial interpretations of Sutta. Nanavira is not opposing the first four volumes of the Sutta Pitaka themselves. It would therefore probably be even more accurate to say that "Ven. Nanavira openly dismisses, contradicts, and reinterprets the traditional Theravada Buddhist understanding of the Dhamma."

To say "Teachings" would also infer the first four volumes of the Sutta Pitaka, which he clearly does not oppose. In fact, Nanavira explicitly accepts them in toto.

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: Nanavira.

Postby bodom » Tue Jul 06, 2010 1:11 am

retrofuturist wrote:As a point of clarity though, it is worth pointing out that Nanavira Thera is only opposing the Abhidhamma Pitaka and certain Theravada commentarial interpretations of Sutta. Nanavira is not opposing the first four volumes of the Sutta Pitaka themselves. It would therefore probably be even more accurate to say that "Ven. Nanavira openly dismisses, contradicts, and reinterprets the traditional Theravada Buddhist understanding of the Dhamma


Thanks for clarifying Retro. I was wondering what all the fuss was about .

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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: Nanavira.

Postby alan » Tue Jul 06, 2010 1:23 am

Thanks Peter.
I've read bits and pieces from Nanavira's website and found it fascinating and challenging--look forward soon to the opportunity of going through his thoughts from start to finish. Would like to hear from those who disagree with him and ask what it is that you don't accept.
Dismissing, contradicting, and re-interpreting, as you've noted, cause emotional turmoil among those wedded to the traditional way of understanding. So I'm hoping to hear what people dislike about his particular views, rather than critiques of his style or attitude towards later teachings.
Thanks.
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Re: Nanavira.

Postby kc2dpt » Tue Jul 06, 2010 3:12 am

alan wrote:I'm hoping to hear what people dislike about his particular views, rather than critiques of his style or attitude towards later teachings.
Thanks.

In my humble opinion, this going about it the wrong way. There will always be someone with a new view about how to attain liberation; one can spend their entire life comparing, contrasting, and debating them all. Alternatively, one can pick a method, learn it, and get down to the business of implementing it. It is only by implementing a teaching that we can see for ourselves what is true.

How to pick a method?

I have met many people who think the best way is to compare, contrast, and debate views. Interestingly, I think the Buddha regarded style and attitude and implementing as more important.

"Now, Kalamas, don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, 'This contemplative is our teacher.' When you know for yourselves that, 'These qualities are skillful; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to welfare & to happiness' — then you should enter & remain in them." - AN 3.65

"There is the case, Bharadvaja, where a monk lives in dependence on a certain village or town. Then a householder or householder's son goes to him and observes him with regard to three mental qualities — qualities based on greed, qualities based on aversion, qualities based on delusion: 'Are there in this venerable one any of these qualities that, with his mind overcome by these qualities, he might say, "I know," while not knowing, or say, "I see," while not seeing; or that he might urge another to act in a way that was for his/her long-term harm & pain?'
...
When, on observing that the monk is purified with regard to qualities based on greed, aversion, and delusion, he places conviction in him. With the arising of conviction, he visits him & grows close to him. Growing close to him, he lends ear. Lending ear, he hears the Dhamma." - MN 95
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Re: Nanavira.

Postby alan » Tue Jul 06, 2010 3:19 am

That doesn't leave much for me to go on. What is the right way?
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Re: Nanavira.

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Jul 06, 2010 3:54 am

Greetings Alan,
alan wrote:That doesn't leave much for me to go on. What is the right way?

I understand the nature of this concern.

For example, someone could follow a Christian path, practice charity, compassion and lovingkindness and find that...

When you know for yourselves that, 'These qualities are skillful; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to welfare & to happiness' — then you should enter & remain in them." - AN 3.65

... but Christianity does not lead to nibbana because it entails Wrong View about the "soul", and while that Wrong View persists, it will not lead to the noble goal which the Buddha taught.

The same questions may realistically be asked of any religion or sect.

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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