Ajahn Sucitto: Fragmentation & Distancing from Experience

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Ajahn Sucitto: Fragmentation & Distancing from Experience

Postby christopher::: » Thu Apr 22, 2010 5:15 am

Recently i've been spending a lot of time with a dhamma talk by Ajahn Sucitto called The Ground Of Relative Emptiness. The key observation he makes (if i understand him correctly) is that we need to create/maintain a ground or center to our practice that is whole, equanimous, compassionate, relatively empty of self. From there we can work with our fetters and hindrances, unravel what are often unconscious knots in our psyche. When we don't do this properly we may go through the actions of practice- even become "attached" to our practice- but it will be ineffective, because we're operating from the point of view of a self "doing" meditation, doing metta, etc... and that just doesn't work.

Here's a quote, about 40 minutes in...

"If we attach to calm then we tend to go into trance states, or we may find ourselves just loosing attention, becoming sleepy. If we attach to the ideas of impermanence we can find ourselves becoming distanced from experience, that is not really resonating with it, not really tuning into it, not really feeling it, being present with it. We can develop certain dismissive attitudes or dismissive stance towards the experiences that happen. "Oh that's just changing stuff, so what."

And so instead of there being a properly established Ground of Being that's bright, luminous, immaculate, suffusive we develop views, ideas, opinions, standpoints that are not shining, luminous, immaculate, suffusive but that tend to become aspects of "My Self." And this means there's a certain fragmentation that occurs, my self as an experience in the way I'm using it is something that splits away from experience and thereby thinks it has the experience. "Here I am having this, I can get this, I can do this, I can make this happen" and so forth.

We descend from what was an essential integrity and essential wholeness back into behavioral dualism. And then of course the whole thing begins to break down because for a certain amount of time we are able to "do" the calm, "do" the metta, "get" the anicca going but its becoming much more dishonest in a way. It becomes a strategy rather then a realization. One is no longer meeting the experience fully and embracing it fully."

~Ajahn Sucitto


Image




: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: Ajahn Sucitto: Fragmentation & Distancing from Experience

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Apr 22, 2010 6:24 am

christopher::: wrote:
Sucitto wrote:"

And so instead of there being a properly established Ground of Being that's bright, luminous, immaculate



So, if I ask what the heck he means by the very problematical expression "ground of being" I am hopelessly lost in naughty opinions and the like?
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: Ajahn Sucitto: Fragmentation & Distancing from Experience

Postby Dan74 » Thu Apr 22, 2010 6:27 am

Nice quote Chris. Incidentally it corresponds pretty much exactly to what I was taught.

Some people will no doubt be uncomfortable with the "Ground of Being" but this can just be thought of as a provisional term for the experience he is pointing to. This experience itself being provisional. But saying so is ok ony when one has let gone of even that. So I will shut up now.
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Re: Ajahn Sucitto: Fragmentation & Distancing from Experience

Postby christopher::: » Thu Apr 22, 2010 8:46 am

Indeed, Ajahn Sucitto uses all sorts of naughty words like wholeness, unity, emptiness, ground of being, luminous. But if you listen to the entire dhamma talk it seems like he's speaking metaphorically.

Either that or he had some closet Zen training...

:tongue:
"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: Ajahn Sucitto: Fragmentation & Distancing from Experience

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Apr 22, 2010 9:00 am

christopher::: wrote:Indeed, Ajahn Sucitto uses all sorts of naughty words like wholeness, unity, emptiness, ground of being, luminous. But if you listen to the entire dhamma talk it seems like he's speaking metaphorically.

Either that or he had some closet Zen training...

Life is way too short to try to sort out that stuff. I'll listen to someone else is does not need all that conceptual papanca.
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: Ajahn Sucitto: Fragmentation & Distancing from Experience

Postby christopher::: » Thu Apr 22, 2010 1:20 pm

Indeed, if this is not helpful to you no need to go any further.

Was just looking at some of Thanissaro Bhikkhu's thoughts on the infamous "Luminous, monks, is the mind.." statement from the Pabhassara Sutta.


"A more reasonable approach to understanding the statement can be derived from taking it in context: the luminous mind is the mind that the meditator is trying to develop. To perceive its luminosity means understanding that defilements such as greed, aversion, or delusion are not intrinsic to its nature, are not a necessary part of awareness. Without this understanding, it would be impossible to practice. With this understanding, however, one can make an effort to cut away existing defilements, leaving the mind in the stage that MN 24 calls "purity in terms of mind."

~Thanissaro Bhikkhu


This interpretation seems quite sensible, and in line with the point Ajahn Sucitto appears to be making...
"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: Ajahn Sucitto: Fragmentation & Distancing from Experience

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Apr 22, 2010 3:02 pm

christopher::: wrote:
This interpretation seems quite sensible, and in line with the point Ajahn Sucitto appears to be making...
Ven Sucitto is pushing the language beyond that. As I said there is way too much papanca in use of concepts such as "wholeness, unity, emptiness, ground of being, luminous."
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: Ajahn Sucitto: Fragmentation & Distancing from Experience

Postby m0rl0ck » Thu Apr 22, 2010 4:32 pm

christopher::: wrote:Either that or he had some closet Zen training...

:tongue:


Or he could be speaking from actual experience. ?
"Even if you've read the whole Canon and can remember lots of teachings; even if you can explain them in poignant ways, with lots of people to respect you; even if you build a lot of monastery buildings, or can explain inconstancy, stress, and not-self in the most detailed fashion ... The only thing that serves your own true purpose is release from suffering.

"And you'll be able to gain release from suffering only when you know the one mind."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai ... eleft.html
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Re: Ajahn Sucitto: Fragmentation & Distancing from Experience

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Apr 22, 2010 4:35 pm

m0rl0ck wrote:
christopher::: wrote:Either that or he had some closet Zen training...

:tongue:


Or he could be speaking from actual experience. ?
So could I or any number of others who opt not to use that sort of confusing and suggestive language.
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: Ajahn Sucitto: Fragmentation & Distancing from Experience

Postby Sobeh » Thu Apr 22, 2010 7:04 pm

"Ground of Being" features very prominently in various proofs for the existence of God in philosophical traditions; Heraclitus, Hegel, even Krishnamurti, and so I expect that rather than using it in a philosophical way he is, instead, using it as a phrase pulled from his memory to describe something uniquely Buddhist. I think the concept he espouses is similar to conditionally developing a solid core of Noble Virtue, the very sort of thing Sila is meant to engender, from which to explore the Dhamma - this is why the moral training precedes Samadhi. Now, of course it is conditioned, but it is akin to pulling a stepping-stone out of a river, in this case samsara, and providing thereby a solid step in the practice. No reification of Self is intended, but his use of a Western term obscures the message he is conveying, as I see things.
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Re: Ajahn Sucitto: Fragmentation & Distancing from Experience

Postby PeterB » Thu Apr 22, 2010 7:13 pm

Ajahn Sucitto is of an age where he may well have witnessed the TV debate between a well known at the time Anglican Bishop John Robinson, who had published a book that year called Honest To God, which made extensive use of the term "Ground of Being"... and Sangharakshita.
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Re: Ajahn Sucitto: Fragmentation & Distancing from Experience

Postby cooran » Thu Apr 22, 2010 8:14 pm

Hello all,

The Translators' introduction by Thanissaro Bhikkhu to MN 1 Mulapariyaya Sutta: The Root Sequence might provide food for thought about "the ground of all being".
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

with metta
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Re: Ajahn Sucitto: Fragmentation & Distancing from Experience

Postby christopher::: » Thu Apr 22, 2010 9:16 pm

Thanks everyone for jumping in.

In the Dhamma talk Ajahn Sucitto uses the phrase "Ground of Relative Emptiness" more often then Ground of Being, if i recall correctly. It might be worthwhile to give the whole talk a listen before drawing conclusions. My sense was that he was talking about a center to practice that was grounded in equanamity and our mindful presence here in each moment, but not in terms of individualized experience.

If we don't have this we tend toward "Self" making, the construction of views and attitudes, fragmentation.
"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: Ajahn Sucitto: Fragmentation & Distancing from Experience

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Apr 22, 2010 9:18 pm

Ground of being; it is an unfortunate usage, but he seems to have a bunch of them.
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: Ajahn Sucitto: Fragmentation & Distancing from Experience

Postby imagemarie » Thu Apr 22, 2010 9:38 pm

PeterB wrote:Ajahn Sucitto is of an age where he may well have witnessed the TV debate between a well known at the time Anglican Bishop John Robinson, who had published a book that year called Honest To God, which made extensive use of the term "Ground of Being"... and Sangharakshita.


More speculation, I know, but I notice Ven Sucitto had an interest in English Lit in his youth. Perhaps he read Huxley then, and "The Perennial Philosophy". The second chapter is called The Nature of The Ground, with quotes from Eckhart, the Upanishads, and references the Clear Light from The Tibetan Book of the Dead.
I enjoyed parts of the talk, whilst being a little confused by the emphasis upon having "something" to hold onto, before letting go is possible. A "resting place"?

"If anicca is the only truth, then we're looking at something quite terrifying"..

Still, I liked the idea of "You've been anicca-'d!"..which sounded to me a bit like Zen sickness.
I'll give it another listen - thanks Christopher :smile:
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Re: Ajahn Sucitto: Fragmentation & Distancing from Experience

Postby nathan » Thu Apr 22, 2010 10:08 pm

It's actually very straightforward Tilt. In the morning practice you take the ground of being and dump a couple large spoon fulls in a beaker. Then you pour hot water on it. Once the luminous mind has been distilled from it you dump the ground of emptiness into the compost. It is a very popular contribution to wakefulness for many practitioners.
:rofl:
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}
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Re: Ajahn Sucitto: Fragmentation & Distancing from Experience

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Apr 22, 2010 10:18 pm

nathan wrote:It's actually very straightforward Tilt. In the morning practice you take the ground of being and dump a couple large spoon fulls in a beaker. Then you pour hot water on it. Once the luminous mind has been distilled from it you dump the ground of emptiness into the compost. It is a very popular contribution to wakefulness for many practitioners.

If I knew anything about coffee (horrible stuff), I am sure I could expand on this already very good funny bit, but since it is better than anything I could come up with, I doff my hat to you.
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: Ajahn Sucitto: Fragmentation & Distancing from Experience

Postby ground » Fri Apr 23, 2010 4:04 am

m0rl0ck wrote:
christopher::: wrote:Either that or he had some closet Zen training...

:tongue:


Or he could be speaking from actual experience. ?


And/or - which is more likely considering the term he applies - he is inspired by Dzogchen teachings :tongue:
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Re: Ajahn Sucitto: Fragmentation & Distancing from Experience

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Apr 23, 2010 4:38 am

TMingyur wrote:
m0rl0ck wrote:
christopher::: wrote:Either that or he had some closet Zen training...

:tongue:


Or he could be speaking from actual experience. ?


And/or - which is more likely considering the term he applies - he is inspired by Dzogchen teachings :tongue:

Which only adds a layer of confusion to what is a very clear teaching by the Buddha.
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: Ajahn Sucitto: Fragmentation & Distancing from Experience

Postby Paññāsikhara » Fri Apr 23, 2010 4:53 am

I wonder how the transcriber of the talk knew that "Ground of Being" had a capital "G" and a capital "B"?
My recently moved Blog, containing some of my writings on the Buddha Dhamma, as well as a number of translations from classical Buddhist texts and modern authors, liturgy, etc.: Huifeng's Prajnacara Blog.
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