The causes for wisdom

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation
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Dan74
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Re: The causes for wisdom

Postby Dan74 » Sun Jan 27, 2013 2:02 am

dhamma follower wrote:Dear Mr Man,

but a ritualized practice may actually help one give up attachment to rules and rituals and the belief in self, don't you think?


By simple logic, if ones thinks that ritualized practice is the way, one will not give up attachment to rules and rituals.
One gives up only when one realizes than it is the wrong way.

Similarly, if one believes that there is a self who can condition dhammas as wished, which is the underlying idea of "formal practice" how can there be detachment from an idea of self?

Best wishes,

D.F


Hi D.F.

Thank you for your response.

I think there is much in our mental habits that is conditioned, rigid, unexamined and often harmful, in other words like the worst kind of ritual. To introduce a positive ritual which fosters greater awareness, spaciousness and clarity actually serves to shed light and dismantle existing negative patterns.

It seems to me that in time, when the rigidity of the mind is loosened, what used to be a ritualised practice turns more organic and natural and begins to permeate other aspects of one's life.

But in the beginning (and maybe the middle too if one can make such distinctions) introducing formal practice is very useful for many many people. And I don't just mean meditation, sitting and walking. Prostrations and chanting can also be very useful. But this is not to say that this way is for everyone.
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Re: The causes for wisdom

Postby danieLion » Sun Jan 27, 2013 2:17 am

tiltbillings wrote:
Coyote wrote:Tiltbillings, thanks for the reply, and I agree.
However, I specifically wanted to know Robertk's opinion on those questions as I don't think thus far in the thread the limits/boundaries of the "anti-formal practice" view have been clearly stated.

:anjali:
You might want to do a search for Sujin and read through the various threads that pop-up. Robertk is advocating a very particular point of view, which should be fine, except that the Sujin point of view, in the hands of her followers, can be highly critical and dismissive of other points of view. The issue here for me is not that the Sujin teachings are or are not efficacious; rather, the concern I have is about the uncompromising criticism of formal meditation practice (of whatever style) as not being efficacious.

Sujin Boriharnwanaket, author of A Survey of Paramattha Dhammas (apparently the whole book here)?

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Re: The causes for wisdom

Postby perkele » Sun Jan 27, 2013 3:44 am

Dan74 wrote:I think there is much in our mental habits that is conditioned, rigid, unexamined and often harmful, in other words like the worst kind of ritual. To introduce a positive ritual which fosters greater awareness, spaciousness and clarity actually serves to shed light and dismantle existing negative patterns.

It seems to me that in time, when the rigidity of the mind is loosened, what used to be a ritualised practice turns more organic and natural and begins to permeate other aspects of one's life.

Very well said.
And following discussions like this one can at times do much to loosen such rigidity a bit.
Very interesting things have been said here and explored from various angles.
Thanks for all the good contributions. It has been very interesting for me to follow this discussion.
:anjali:

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Re: The causes for wisdom

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Jan 27, 2013 3:48 am

danieLion wrote:Sujin Boriharnwanaket, author of A Survey of Paramattha Dhammas (apparently the whole book here)?
Yes.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
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dheamhan a fhios agam

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Re: The causes for wisdom

Postby ground » Sun Jan 27, 2013 4:19 am

robertk wrote:robertk wrote:
But what is thought to be mindfulness in common parlance is often some type of tedious focussing on an approximation of the here and now. This is merely concentration, without any sati or panna, and is a wrong path.


But if we don't pay attention to our experience, how can sati and panna develop?


So first we need to know the conditions for these factors. This thread can consider the causes for panna, wisdom.

Maybe a strange idea behind those words.

Is there something that believes to know the ideas behind each individual "parlance"? If yes this may be the effect of association with a specific group of individuals and hearing their words or reading their words generating ideas based upon these and taking these ideas to be "common parlance".

Why aren't the ideas behind the idea "common parlance" assumed to be found in MN 10: Satipatthana Sutta?

What idea is expressed with "the here and now"? :sage:

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Re: The causes for wisdom

Postby ground » Sun Jan 27, 2013 5:20 am

robertk wrote:So first we need to know the conditions for these factors. This thread can consider the causes for panna, wisdom.


The causes are the three introspective understandings:

B. Bodhi wrote:understanding of the known

understanding by scrutinization

understanding as abandonment

S. 354 n. 36 und S. 1052 n. 42 (SN, B. Bodhi)


:sage:

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Re: The causes for wisdom

Postby robertk » Sun Jan 27, 2013 7:37 am

Coyote wrote:Robertk ect.,

Do you think it would be silabbata paramasa for a Bhikkhu to devote time to formal meditation? How about for a lay person to meditate, but not "vipassana", say - Brahmavihara meditation or recollection of the Triple Gem? How about bowing or attending puja, chanting? Where is the line between formal and non formal practice anyway?
I ask this to get a clear understanding of your opinion.

Anyway, couldn't one argue that formal sitting practice helps build concentration thus making "mindfulness" (in conventional terms) clearer?
:anjali:

nice question: and it shows you differentiate between vipassana and samatha.
For reasons which are not entirely clear to me the meditation on breath is often recommended to new Buddhists. And that is one type of samatha where a secluded spot and an erect sitting posture are helpful.

But we should know that anapanasati is singled out as being the most difficult of all the 40 objects. Here is a passage from the Visuddhimagga Viii


QUOTE

211: "Although any meditation subject, no matter what, is successful only in one who is mindful and fully aware, yet any meditation subject other than this one gets more evident as he goes on giving it his attention. But this mindfulness of breathing is difficult, difficult to develop, a field in which only the minds of Buddhas, paccekabuddhas and Buddhas sons are at home. It is no trivial matter, nor can it be cultivated by trivial persons.."

We might be concentrating on the breath with subtle lobha (attachment) not realising that true samatha comes with alobha, detachment.

So in many suttas the Buddha was speaking to monks who had vast accumulations of panna and other parami. It is not, I believe, that the Buddha said that all should take up anapanasati.

There are other types of samatha - such as Maranasati (meditation on death)- that are suitable for all times.
For example the Anguttara nikaya (Book of the Elevens ii 13 p213 Mahanama) says about Buddhanusati and Dhammanusati and several other samatha objects:

"`
you should develop it as you sit, as you stand, as you lie, as you apply yourself to business. You should make it grow as you dwell at home in your lodging crowded with children"


Anyway as the visuddimagga says "any meditation subject, no matter what, is successful only in one who is mindful and fully aware," the main point has to be knowing what is real sati and what is only perception ...

For bowing and so on.
It is a way of showing respect and can help us focus on the virtues of the triple gem, or it can be done with attachment...

Your question about concentration helping: it only helps if it is associated with kusala citta. Samadhi can easily be miccha-samadhi and have the same characteristics as the samma version.

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Re: The causes for wisdom

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Jan 27, 2013 8:15 am

robertk wrote:For reasons which are not entirely clear to me the meditation on breath is often recommended to new Buddhists. And that is one type of samatha where a secluded spot and an erect sitting posture are helpful.

But we should know that anapanasati is singled out as being the most difficult of all the 40 objects. Here is a passage from the Visuddhimagga Viii


QUOTE

211: "Although any meditation subject, no matter what, is successful only in one who is mindful and fully aware, yet any meditation subject other than this one gets more evident as he goes on giving it his attention. But this mindfulness of breathing is difficult, difficult to develop, a field in which only the minds of Buddhas, paccekabuddhas and Buddhas sons are at home. It is no trivial matter, nor can it be cultivated by trivial persons.."
On one level it is, indeed, very subtle, but it is also extremely accessible and if one is consistent and persistent with it, one can see degrees of success in concentration and mindfulness, and it a direct body practice that is useful on any number of levels, in any number of ways.

We might be concentrating on the breath with subtle lobha (attachment) not realising that true samatha comes with alobha, detachment.
Without question, when one starts a practice, whether is breath awareness or cultivating right view, or mindfulness of death, there is going to be all sorts of "subtle attachments" and self centered expectations. It goes with the territory, as does varying degrees of insight into these "subtle attachments" and expectations as one does the practice, allowing one to let go of them. You cannot wish or think these problems away, but as one begans to see them and understand them as a result of directly seeing them via meditation practice and working with the rest of Eightfold Path, there can be a genuine letting go.

Any spiritual practice/discipline, including the Sujin type, can be a basis of "subtle attachments."

Anyway as the visuddimagga says "any meditation subject, no matter what, is successful only in one who is mindful and fully aware," the main point has to be knowing what is real sati and what is only perception ...
And by doing the practice as outlined in the Eightfold Path, which includes formal meditation, the conditions for the arising and maturing of concentration and mindulness are cultivated.
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.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: The causes for wisdom

Postby Coyote » Sun Jan 27, 2013 10:07 am

robertk wrote:nice question: and it shows you differentiate between vipassana and samatha....


Thank you for the reply (and dhamma follower). I certainly agree that breath meditation is harder than other meditation, and perhaps should not be done by beginners. At least, I think there is a lot to be said for not doing this kind of meditation at all until one is at least established in Sila.
"If beings knew, as I know, the results of giving & sharing, they would not eat without having given, nor would the stain of miserliness overcome their minds. Even if it were their last bite, their last mouthful, they would not eat without having shared."
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Re: The causes for wisdom

Postby Spiny Norman » Sun Jan 27, 2013 10:15 am

Coyote wrote:Anyway, couldn't one argue that formal sitting practice helps build concentration thus making "mindfulness" (in conventional terms) clearer?
:anjali:


One could argue that's the whole point of formal sitting practice - to facilitate mindfulness and insight off the cushion. From a practical perspective I've found that maintaining mindfulness without a sitting practice is much more difficult.
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Re: The causes for wisdom

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Jan 27, 2013 10:20 am

Coyote wrote:I think there is a lot to be said for not doing this kind of meditation at all until one is at least established in Sila.
There is no reason to think that breath meditation and sīla cannot work well together.

I certainly agree that breath meditation is harder than other meditation
Harder than what other meditations?
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.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: The causes for wisdom

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Jan 27, 2013 10:22 am

porpoise wrote:
One could argue that's the whole point of formal sitting practice - to facilitate mindfulness and insight off the cushion. From a practical perspective I've found that maintaining mindfulness without a sitting practice is much more difficult.
Obviously experience can vary for different people, but speaking generally, I think you are quite correct.
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.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: The causes for wisdom

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Jan 27, 2013 10:48 am

dhamma follower wrote:Dear Dan,

but a ritualized practice may actually help one give up attachment to rules and rituals and the belief in self, don't you think?


By simple logic, if ones thinks that ritualized practice is the way, one will not give up attachment to rules and rituals.
One gives up only when one realizes than it is the wrong way.
The interesting question here is what constitutes a ritual? The reality is, of course, that whatever practice we start doing one is very likely to have a variety of ideas and feelings about it that are not reflective of a mature practice in line with the Dhamma. The maturity comes with experience and insight. Doing a disciplined practice, could easily be called a ritual, but if the practice is done well, in accordance to principles of the Dhamma, then the various subtle attachment will expose themselves in light of the ongoing insights one will have as a result of the meditation and Eightfold Path practice. Why would we think it would be otherwise? Any practice one does, be it a formal, disciplined meditation practice, a Sujin style practice, or whatever is always going to be susceptible to being side tracked or failing because one might become overly rigid and locked into a particular point of view, which is why working with good teachers is of great benefit.

Similarly, if one believes that there is a self who can condition dhammas as wished, which is the underlying idea of "formal practice" how can there be detachment from an idea of self?
One does not have to "believe" in a self to take seriously the Buddha's teachings that how we choose, what choose to do and to not do does, indeed, condition the tragectory of our life, of our practice. One cannot force wisdom, but one can certainly cultivate the conditions that give rise to wisdom.
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.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: The causes for wisdom

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Jan 27, 2013 11:03 am

dhamma follower wrote:- samatha bhavana is the cultivation of kusala which is not dana, not sila. The ground for this bhavana is seeing the danger of attachment to sensuous objects. It is precisely panna which perform this function, panna of the degree of seeing the danger of attachment to sensuos objects, not the panna which sees realities of they are. This kind of panna knows the conditions for calmness to arise. It is then by virtue of this kind of panna that calmness which is kusala is developed, not because of wanting to have calm, or because of trying to sit hours after hours with ignorance.
The practical, experiential reality is, of course, you really won't know or have an idea of what attachments and other such problems there are in your mind/body process that will obstruct your cultivation of calmness until you actually do the practice to cultivate calmness and then actually bump into these problems and then have to deal with them in the light of awareness. If you do not do the practice, these issues may never clearly arise, and you'll never know. And much the same can be said for vipassana.
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.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: The causes for wisdom

Postby beeblebrox » Sun Jan 27, 2013 1:53 pm

dhamma follower wrote:. . . if one believes that there is a self who can condition dhammas as wished, which is the underlying idea of "formal practice" how can there be detachment from an idea of self?


Hi Dhamma Follower,

Who in this thread said that there was a self that conditions the dhammas as it wished?

If someone thought that a self was necessarily behind the idea of a formal practice, then which one of these (the person, or the practice) do you think has a view of the self in the first place?

If a person said that "he" was going to do a practice, conventionally speaking... and someone else, as an attempt to view this in the "ultimate sense," accused that person of having a self view... whose fault do you think this would be?

I think that if there was a real understanding, then it would be already seen that there is no permanent, unchanging self that has to be inherent within this phrase, "he was going to do something," in the first place...

This is why the conventional speech can still be seen as a truth, according to the Buddha.

:anjali:

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Re: The causes for wisdom

Postby Coyote » Sun Jan 27, 2013 10:05 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
Coyote wrote:I think there is a lot to be said for not doing this kind of meditation at all until one is at least established in Sila.
There is no reason to think that breath meditation and sīla cannot work well together.

I certainly agree that breath meditation is harder than other meditation
Harder than what other meditations?


What I meant was that it might be better for some to put off doing insight/concentration meditation until a firm commitment to sila has been established, not that you can't learn anything from it. This is what is traditionally recommended by some, isn't it? Establish Sila then work on concentration, and insight will come.
What I meant by the other one was that if the goal is insight or firm concentration, as it usually is with anapanasati, then this is something very hard to accomplish, and it might be easier to become practised in metta or some other meditation subject before one takes on this goal. Obviously other people have different experiences but it is just something I have learned from trying to take things on too fast.

:anjali:
"If beings knew, as I know, the results of giving & sharing, they would not eat without having given, nor would the stain of miserliness overcome their minds. Even if it were their last bite, their last mouthful, they would not eat without having shared."
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Re: The causes for wisdom

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Jan 27, 2013 11:42 pm

Coyote wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
Coyote wrote:I think there is a lot to be said for not doing this kind of meditation at all until one is at least established in Sila.
There is no reason to think that breath meditation and sīla cannot work well together.

I certainly agree that breath meditation is harder than other meditation
Harder than what other meditations?


What I meant was that it might be better for some to put off doing insight/concentration meditation until a firm commitment to sila has been established, not that you can't learn anything from it. This is what is traditionally recommended by some, isn't it? Establish Sila then work on concentration, and insight will come.
What I meant by the other one was that if the goal is insight or firm concentration, as it usually is with anapanasati, then this is something very hard to accomplish, and it might be easier to become practised in metta or some other meditation subject before one takes on this goal. Obviously other people have different experiences but it is just something I have learned from trying to take things on too fast.

:anjali:
Thank you for your clarification. I think we might differ a bit in a couple of things; however, it would seem that what you are saying with this clarification is still vastly different from what it seems that robertk is suggesting.
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.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: The causes for wisdom

Postby Dan74 » Sun Jan 27, 2013 11:51 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
Coyote wrote:
What I meant was that it might be better for some to put off doing insight/concentration meditation until a firm commitment to sila has been established, not that you can't learn anything from it. This is what is traditionally recommended by some, isn't it? Establish Sila then work on concentration, and insight will come.
What I meant by the other one was that if the goal is insight or firm concentration, as it usually is with anapanasati, then this is something very hard to accomplish, and it might be easier to become practised in metta or some other meditation subject before one takes on this goal. Obviously other people have different experiences but it is just something I have learned from trying to take things on too fast.

:anjali:
Thank you for your clarification. I think we might differ a bit in a couple of thing; however, it would seem that what you are saying with this clarification is still vastly different from what it seems that robertk is suggesting.


I, for one, am still not clear what robertk is suggesting.

It's not controversial to suggest that attachment to ritual is a hindrance to be overcome or let gone of in due course. But if one suggests that formalised practice is harmful and should be foregone in favour of some other non-formal practice in all cases, then this view really does need defending.

It reminds me of Krishnamurti who argued that the mind is already so rigid and conditioned and full of conflicts and dualities, that to impose another structure on it like that of formalised spiritual practice is like to clean off dirt with mud. I think he overestimated people's capacity and resolve and that's why his legacy is dwindling fast.
Last edited by Dan74 on Sun Jan 27, 2013 11:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The causes for wisdom

Postby Sekha » Sun Jan 27, 2013 11:56 pm

Coyote wrote:What I meant was that it might be better for some to put off doing insight/concentration meditation until a firm commitment to sila has been established, not that you can't learn anything from it. This is what is traditionally recommended by some, isn't it? Establish Sila then work on concentration, and insight will come.


There is one sutta directly against your claim:
pañc imāni, bhikkhave, sikkhā·dubbalyāni. katamāni pañca? pāṇ·ātipāto, adinn·ādānaṃ, kāmesu·micchā·cāro, musā·vādo, surā·meraya·majja·pamāda·ṭṭhānaṃ. imāni kho, bhikkhave, pañca sikkhā·dubbalyāni.
These five, bhikkhus, are weaknesses of the training. Which five? The destruction of life, taking what is not given, misbehavior in sensuality, false speech, and liquors, spirits and intoxicants that cause carelessness. These five, bhikkhus, are weaknesses of the training.

imesaṃ kho, bhikkhave, pañcannaṃ sikkhā·dubbalyānaṃ pahānāya cattāro satipaṭṭhānā bhāvetabbā. katame cattāro? idha, bhikkhave, bhikkhu kāye kāy·ānupassī viharati ātāpī sampajāno satimā vineyya loke abhijjhā·domanassaṃ; vedanāsu vedan·ānupassī viharati ātāpī sampajāno satimā vineyya loke abhijjhā·domanassaṃ; citte citt·ānupassī viharati ātāpī sampajāno satimā vineyya loke abhijjhā·domanassaṃ; dhammesu dhamm·ānupassī viharati ātāpī sampajāno satimā vineyya loke abhijjhā·domanassaṃ. imesaṃ kho, bhikkhave, pañcannaṃ sikkhā·dubbalyānaṃ pahānāya ime cattāro satipaṭṭhānā bhāvetabbā ti.
To abandon these five weaknesses of the training, the four satipaṭṭhānas should be developped. Which four? Here, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu remains focusing on the body in the body, ardent, understanding thoroughly, mindful, having subdued covetousness-affliction towards the world. He remains focusing on feelings in feelings, ardent, understanding thoroughly, mindful, having subdued covetousness-affliction towards the world. He remains focusing on the mind in the mind, ardent, understanding thoroughly, mindful, having subdued covetousness-affliction towards the world. He remains focusing on dhammas in dhammas, ardent, understanding thoroughly, mindful, having subdued covetousness-affliction towards the world. To abandon these five weaknesses of the training, the four satipaṭṭhānas should be developped.
http://www.buddha-vacana.org/sutta/angu ... 9-063.html

Kayanupassana includes anapanassati and dhammanupassana includes vipassana (arising and passing away of the aggregates for example)


Coyote wrote:What I meant by the other one was that if the goal is insight or firm concentration, as it usually is with anapanasati, then this is something very hard to accomplish, and it might be easier to become practised in metta or some other meditation subject before one takes on this goal. Obviously other people have different experiences but it is just something I have learned from trying to take things on too fast.

Well, the cause for non-success must be appropriately investigated. The fault doesn't fall on the technique. It falls on the way we take it.

See:
"Suppose that there is a foolish, inexperienced, unskillful cook who has presented a king or a king's minister with various kinds of curry: mainly sour, mainly bitter, mainly peppery, mainly sweet, alkaline or non-alkaline, salty or non-salty. He does not take note of his master, thinking, 'Today my master likes this curry, or he reaches out for that curry, or he takes a lot of this curry, or he praises that curry... Today my master likes non-salty curry, or he reaches out for non-salty curry, or he takes a lot of non-salty curry, or he praises non-salty curry.' As a result, he is not rewarded with clothing or wages or gifts. Why is that? Because the foolish, inexperienced, unskillful cook does not pick up on the theme of his own master.

"In the same way, there are cases where a foolish, inexperienced, unskillful monk remains focused on the body in & of itself... the mind in & of itself... As he remains thus focused on mental qualities in & of themselves, his mind does not become concentrated, his defilements are not abandoned. He does not take note of that fact. As a result, he is not rewarded with a pleasant abiding here & now, nor with mindfulness & alertness. Why is that? Because the foolish, inexperienced, unskillful monk does not take note of his own mind.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Don't get me wrong, I don't mean to call you a fool, as the use of this word here was not my choice.
Where knowledge ends, religion begins. - B. Disraeli

http://www.buddha-vacana.org

As a sweet-smelling and beautiful lotus flower may grow upon a heap of rubbish thrown on the highway, so also, out of the rubbish heap of beings may appear a disciple of the Buddha, who with his wisdom, shines resplendent in wisdom. -/ Dhp 58-59

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Re: The causes for wisdom

Postby kirk5a » Mon Jan 28, 2013 1:13 am

Sekha wrote:Well, the cause for non-success must be appropriately investigated. The fault doesn't fall on the technique. It falls on the way we take it.

:goodpost:
Very interesting sutta. I see the key word there is the "nimitta" of his master, or of his mind. Looking at the Pali dictionary, I wonder whether that could be translated as "he does not notice the condition of his mind" (with regard to the development of concentration and abandoning of defilements)

Tathā hi so bhikkhave, bālo avyatto akusalo bhikkhu sakassa cittassa nimittaṃ na uggaṇhāti.
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230


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