The causes for wisdom

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation

Re: The causes for wisdom

Postby robertk » Mon May 06, 2013 4:48 am

cooran wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:One of robertk's typically snide dismissals of formal sitting practice from this threads?


Hello Tiltbillings,

I have never found Roberts' replies to be as you describe them above. They have seemed good mannered and equanimous in the face of misunderstanding from another (yourself mainly). Your posts have sometimes seemed rude, especially in the way you referred to a well-respected Teacher, Khun Sujin, but I tried to attribute that to different ways of speech in different countries - those from the USA are often blunt to the point where those in other countries are offended.
Equally, you may be reading into Roberts' posts an emotion that was not intended.

Anyway - helpful discussion is always interesting - but Dhamma chest bumping is a little tiring.....

With metta
Chris
thanks cooran.
and also thank you retro and binocular.

Tilt,
i think you may have forgotten how and why this thread began. i started a couple of threads at the same time after seeing comments by members showing what i considered to be quite common misunderstandins about satipatthana.
in fact on the first page of this thread you asked me about the post

by robertk » Wed Jan 23, 2013 10:33
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.

tilt:Okay. Examples of this. Who teaches such a thing?



and i replied:

In this thread we have someone saying:
viewtopic.php?f=19&t=15935&start=20
Digity wrote:
My biggest issue with mindfulness is boredom. It's often boring to be mindful when I'm washing my teeth or doing the dishes. Does it ever become enjoyable to do all these things mindfully
?

on the other hand it is one of my beliefs that the development of vipassana is not a technique, so if you feel strongly that it is then you will probably never see any sense in most of my posts.
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Re: The causes for wisdom

Postby cooran » Mon May 06, 2013 5:03 am

Hello Tiltbillings,

No, I won't go any further with this. I've given my general impression, but if you don't see it that way - that's fine.

With metta,
Chris
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---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---
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Re: The causes for wisdom

Postby tiltbillings » Mon May 06, 2013 5:07 am

cooran wrote:Hello Tiltbillings,

No, I won't go any further with this. I've given my general impression, but if you don't see it that way - that's fine.

With metta,
Chris
Then your general impression, sadly, carries no weight.
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: The causes for wisdom

Postby tiltbillings » Mon May 06, 2013 5:25 am

The full quote of the OP, not edited version below: "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." A wrong path.



robertk wrote:.

Tilt,
i think you may have forgotten how and why this thread began. i started a couple of threads at the same time after seeing comments by members showing what i considered to be quite common misunderstandins about satipatthana.
in fact on the first page of this thread you asked me about the post

by robertk » Wed Jan 23, 2013 10:33
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.

tilt:Okay. Examples of this. Who teaches such a thing?



and i replied:

In this thread we have someone saying:
viewtopic.php?f=19&t=15935&start=20
Digity wrote:
My biggest issue with mindfulness is boredom. It's often boring to be mindful when I'm washing my teeth or doing the dishes. Does it ever become enjoyable to do all these things mindfully
?

on the other hand it is one of my beliefs that the development of vipassana is not a technique, so if you feel strongly that it is then you will probably never any sense in most of my posts.
I understand why you started this thread, but what is interesting is, as you are again displaying in this msg, is that you do not listen to what others have been repeatedly saying to you over and over again in this thread and elsewhere.

The problem is not with your understanding of satipatthana (though I do not particularly share your understanding), but it is with your pointed dismissal and strawman and potentially damaging characterizations of other forms of practice. The Sujin method may, indeed, work, but it is not the only way of practice and understanding of the Dhamma that does. Likely, had you started this thread with out the attack on mindfulness practice, I would have ignored it. But, unfortunately, you choose to do your usual negative take on other forms of practice of which Sujin does not approve, and that is worth responding to.

I know full well that vipassana is not a technique, but I also know full well that the causes and conditions for vipassana, insight, can be, as the Buddha taught, cultivated, and the differences between your position and that of those who see meditation practice of value has been drawn out by me and others at great length. But again, despite that significant difference between your mode of practice and the mode of practice that involves directly putting the teachings into practice, I would not say that what you are advocating does not work. Again, the problem is your dismissal of other ways of understanding and putting the Dhamma into practice.


As for poor Digity's boredom, as a meditative experience it may not be so bereft of sati or paññā. There is always something to see in what one looks at.
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: The causes for wisdom

Postby mikenz66 » Mon May 06, 2013 6:08 am

I don't find Robert's posts unpleasant, and I did have a nice afternoon tea with Robert and some of his friends in Bangkok. And I have no problem with them presenting their opinions. However, my impression of their criticisms of other teachers is like Tilt's: that they inaccurate and often evasive. Rather than pointing out something specific that someone is teaching or doing wrong, the discussion (as in this thread) tends to focus on assumptions about what "meditators" do.

For example, this is the sort of argument I have frequently heard from Robert and his friends:
viewtopic.php?f=16&t=15952&start=100#p228748
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?
The highlighted statement simply makes an assumption about the motivation.

I have given examples of what other teachers say, which I find to be consistent with the statements from the Buddha that anything that arises does so from causes and conditions. I was hoping that by giving such references we we might be able to discuss in detail where exactly particular teachers and Dhamma practitioners are, or are not, making serious errors. This is clearly an important question, but to answer it requires engagement with the specifics.

:anjali:
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Re: The causes for wisdom

Postby retrofuturist » Mon May 06, 2013 6:19 am

Greetings Tilt,

tiltbillings wrote:
cooran wrote:Hello Tiltbillings,

No, I won't go any further with this. I've given my general impression, but if you don't see it that way - that's fine.

With metta,
Chris
Then your general impression, sadly, carries no weight.

Or more specifically, carries no weight with you Tilt............ that might be an accurate statement. Cooran's statement carries weight with me.

It is not for you to define what carries weight in the context of the conversation. Different people see different value in different postings, and that is simply how it is. You are not appointed as an instigator or arbitrator of debate, nor to make sweeping qualifications on what is objectively good or bad, weighty or otherwise... such determinations are for each individual to make for themselves, taking into account the views presented in discussion by people, and their own personal experience, knowledge and reason. That is the respect we grant each other as autonomous self-responsible human beings.

That you do not find something to be useful doesn't really warrant a broadcast to that effect. Personally, I enjoy reading Robert's posts, even when I do not agree with what is being said... whether I attribute them weight, or not - but even if I didn't, it doesn't mean I need to make a big deal of it.

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: The causes for wisdom

Postby tiltbillings » Mon May 06, 2013 6:31 am

retrofuturist wrote:Or more specifically, carries no weight with you
Obviously. My opinions are mine. I do not speak for anyone else, and I do not claim that I do.

That you do not find something to be useful doesn't really warrant a broadcast to that effect.
A criticism without specifics is not useful.

Personally, I enjoy reading Robert's posts, even when I do not agree with what is being said... whether I attribute them weight, or not.
That you enjoy robertk's posts is nice and there is no reason in the world that I would even think of remotely objecting to that. As for his posts carrying weight, I don't think i raised that as an issue. I do, however, question his strawman characterization of practices not approved by Sujin.
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: The causes for wisdom

Postby tiltbillings » Mon May 06, 2013 6:34 am

Probably goes without saying, enough meta-discussion and back to the topic, please.
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: The causes for wisdom

Postby mikenz66 » Mon May 06, 2013 7:23 am

Hi Retro,
retrofuturist wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:Robertk's OP statement: "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." It is an ungrounded assertion and a wholesale dismissal of a path of practice.

TOS: Please refrain from wholesale dismissal of a particular view, approach, or teaching style.

Maybe. Or it could just be saying that CBT (and any retreat-based equivalents) are not Dhamma, because they are not founded in the forerunner of Right View.

Well, it would therefore be interesting to hear specific details about specific teachers. As far as I understand, none of the teachers I have had encountered have had such egregious wrong view and in retreat situations have been careful to point out when my view was veering off somewhere. I've illustrated the views of some teachers a few times with quotations showing that they appear to have the same understanding as the Buddha, that all phenomena that arise arise from causes and conditions (and, to this extent, they are in perfect agreement with the Khun Sujin students). Surprisingly to me, these have generated no actual discussion about the issue.
retrofuturist wrote:You can see back here - viewtopic.php?f=19&t=15935&start=20#p227898 - that it was never intended as a "wholesale dismissal" of Mahasi practice. In that topic it is made quite clear why he says mindfulness cannot be "tedious"... namely because it is kusala.

So not everyone who goes on retreats is practising from a basis of wrong view, then? That's a relief.

Yet we have statements such as:
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?

which seem to express the opinion that almost every modern teacher is teaching Wrong View.

:anjali:
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Re: The causes for wisdom

Postby Mr Man » Mon May 06, 2013 7:42 am

tiltbillings wrote:I know full well that vipassana is not a technique, but I also know full that the causes and conditions for vipassana, insight, can be, as the Buddha taught, cultivated.


Through the noble eightfold path?
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Re: The causes for wisdom

Postby tiltbillings » Mon May 06, 2013 7:48 am

Mr Man wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:I know full well that vipassana is not a technique, but I also know full that the causes and conditions for vipassana, insight, can be, as the Buddha taught, cultivated.


Through the noble eightfold path?
Sila, bhavana, and the rest of the Eightfold Path, and that unfolds choice by choice, moment by moment. I do not know how else the Dhamma practice can be meaningfully talked about. A "formal" meditation practice is very much part of this and very central is the choice of simply paying attention. This is pretty much what I have been taught by the various teachers that I have had over the years.
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: The causes for wisdom

Postby binocular » Mon May 06, 2013 7:56 am

tiltbillings wrote:I am not so much worried about the "common paralance" understanding of mindfulness. That has been debated in a number of different threads. It is, however, the nasty robertk characterization of "tedious focusing" and what follows that that binocular echos: "I agree that what is thought to be mindfulness in common parlance is often some type of tedious focusing on an approximation of the here and now, it is merely concentration." Robertk's OP statement: "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." It is an ungrounded assertion and a wholesale dismissal of a path of practice.

TOS: Please refrain from wholesale dismissal of a particular view, approach, or teaching style.


It seems there is a history you have with Robert K that I am not aware of. So I can't comment on that.

Myself, I am refering only to the parts I quoted. Note that I have left out the "without any sati or panna, and is a wrong path" - because I don't know about that.


tiltbillings wrote:
binocular wrote:
I agree that what is thought to be mindfulness in common parlance is often some type of tedious focusing on an approximation of the here and now, it is merely concentration.
You have, however, not shown that to be the case, nor has robertk is his attempt at dismissing any sort of meditation practice.


I didn't get the impression that Robert was dismissing all sorts of meditation practice, at least not in the posts I'm referring to. I did get the impression that he doesn't think very highly of mindfulness practice as it is understood in common parlance. On this point, I agree with him.

I am very skeptical about the practices taught by, say, Pema Chodron, Tara Brach, Jon Kabat-Zinn or Thich Nhat Hanh, and by some Western psychologists. My first impression is that they seem to be teaching a sophisticated nihilism. However, and this is important, I recognize that their practices may benefit some people, depending on where on the path those people are.
For example, I recently worked with a book on emotional eating by a Western therapist. Mindfulness is one of the tools taught there. I found the approach tedious and unproductive and was very angry and disappointed with it. But eventually, it occured to me that this kind of approach to mindfulness is probably good for people who are not sure about the standards by which to discern and judge. I assume that for such people, "just being mindful," "just paying attention," "non-judgmentally observing the present moment" does have a positive effect, bringing them some calm and insight.
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Re: The causes for wisdom

Postby tiltbillings » Mon May 06, 2013 8:15 am

binocular wrote:
I didn't get the impression that Robert was dismissing all sorts of meditation practice, at least not in the posts I'm referring to. I did get the impression that he doesn't think very highly of mindfulness practice as it is understood in common parlance. On this point, I agree with him.
Have you read through this whole thread?

I am very skeptical about the practices taught by, say, Pema Chodron, Tara Brach, Jon Kabat-Zinn or Thich Nhat Hanh, and by some Western psychologists. My first impression is that they seem to be teaching a sophisticated nihilism. However, and this is important, I recognize that their practices may benefit some people, depending on where on the path those people are.
For example, I recently worked with a book on emotional eating by a Western therapist.
Fine; however, do they characterize the whole of the various meditation traditions in Theravada or Buddhism in general (since you are including Mahayanists in this list)? Also, I do not care about the secular, therapuetic mindfulness movement. I do not dismiss it it as being without value, but it is not Dhamma per se, and for me it has no relevance to this discussion.

Mindfulness is one of the tools taught there. I found the approach tedious and unproductive and was very angry and disappointed with it. But eventually, it occured to me that this kind of approach to mindfulness is probably good for people who are not sure about the standards by which to discern and judge. I assume that for such people, "just being mindful," "just paying attention," "non-judgmentally observing the present moment" does have a positive effect, bringing them some calm and insight.
Okay, but this has not a thing that I can see to do with Dhamma practice and it has no bearing on the issues at hand in this thread that I can see. I am talking about practice in terms of the Eightfold Path.


Image
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: The causes for wisdom

Postby retrofuturist » Mon May 06, 2013 8:49 am

Greetings Mike,

mikenz66 wrote:So not everyone who goes on retreats is practising from a basis of wrong view, then? That's a relief.

I don't know why you're asking me. :shrug:

mikenz66 wrote:Yet we have statements such as:
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?

There's an IF condition at the start of that statement, so if that IF condition is not met in a particular instance, then the remainder of the sentence is null and void.

That being said... despite it being somewhat grammatically ambiguous I actually understood DF's comment as...

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

... which is very different to what you're implying through your highlighting, which suggests she is saying that undertaking formal practice necessarily involves belief in self.

It might be best to check with DF what she intended.

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: The causes for wisdom

Postby binocular » Mon May 06, 2013 9:26 am

tiltbillings wrote:Have you read through this whole thread?

I've read some of it, and I'm trying to understand what the core of the conflict seems to be.


I am very skeptical about the practices taught by, say, Pema Chodron, Tara Brach, Jon Kabat-Zinn or Thich Nhat Hanh, and by some Western psychologists. My first impression is that they seem to be teaching a sophisticated nihilism. However, and this is important, I recognize that their practices may benefit some people, depending on where on the path those people are.
For example, I recently worked with a book on emotional eating by a Western therapist.
Fine; however, do they characterize the whole of the various meditation traditions in Theravada or Buddhism in general (since you are including Mahayanists in this list)?

Of course they don't.


Also, I do not care about the secular, therapuetic mindfulness movement. I do not dismiss it it as being without value, but it is not Dhamma per se, and for me it has no relevance to this discussion.

For me, my insight about the potential usefulness of the secular mindfulness movement was very helpful in having understanding, some equanimity for the variety of approaches that people have in regards to the Dhamma.
I used to be a "very pissed off purist," but that insight actually mellowed me a lot, and I appreciate that.


Image

I can't see the picture, I get "You are not authorised to download this attachment."


tiltbillings wrote:robertk: Think of all the suttas that say seeing and color must be directly known, must be seen with wisdom. Yet I have even heard of people closing their eyes thinking this is part of 'doing vipasaana". (I realize this is a very extreme case, possibly no Dhammawheel members would think that, but it does show the confusions that exist about what 'meditation' really is in the Buddhist sense).

going to appeal to old threads here is robertk being plain spoken: viewtopic.php?f=17&t=1210#p16923 and this is consistent this thread's OP:

    The Buddha never taught vipassana as a technique, but sadly ,and I think contributing to the decline of the sasana , in recent times there are groups who have co-opted the word to mean some type of focusing on an object/objects. It is quite easy to fool people as if they quote the satipatthana sutta (which includes countless number of objects) then it is assumed the technique is 'vipassana'. However I believe little can be done to help anyone who thinks they are 'doing' vipassana, the attachment runs too deep usually.

Quite frankly, I think what we see in this thread clearly vitiates any sort of attempt at mitigation of his anti-meditation stance.


I know of a lady who is convinced she is practicing vipassana. Also, as her end-of-life strategy, she is ready to use a helium bag (supposedly, tying a bag of helium around one's head will ensure a quick and painless death).
Why on earth would someone who really practices vipassana, make such a plan to kill herself??
And then I think - well, maybe she doesn't practice vipassana at all, or she just hasn't come very far but likes to brag with her "vipassana practice" anyway, or some such.
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Re: The causes for wisdom

Postby binocular » Mon May 06, 2013 9:37 am

tiltbillings wrote: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.


Sure, I can relate to that.

I don't know what the right way would be to deal with such criticism in public, though. I'm not a teacher or a public figure of any kind, so it's beyond my competence to take a public stance against such criticism.

For my own private purposes, I certainly must take some kind of stance against such criticism of formal practice, as I do place a lot of faith in formal practice - be it a practice of meditation or of some physical skill etc.
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Re: The causes for wisdom

Postby tiltbillings » Mon May 06, 2013 9:40 am

... 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? Given the following, we can read this sentence exactly as it is written:

dhamma follower wrote:What I was saying is that the idea of having to do formal practice is motivated by the wrong view of self.
viewtopic.php?f=16&t=15952&start=200#p229398

it is the underlying idea of a self who can make certain dhammas to arise at certain time that motivates a formal practice.
viewtopic.php?f=16&t=15952&start=200#p229401

When one think that volition can indeed conditions dhammas to arise, isn't it a form of self-identification, of I-making?
viewtopic.php?f=16&t=15952&start=840#p243961
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: The causes for wisdom

Postby tiltbillings » Mon May 06, 2013 9:44 am

binocular wrote:I can't see the picture, I get "You are not authorised to download this attachment."
It isa guy shrugging his shoulder as if to say: "Huh?"

I know of a lady who is convinced she is practicing vipassana. Also, as her end-of-life strategy, she is ready to use a helium bag (supposedly, tying a bag of helium around one's head will ensure a quick and painless death).
Why on earth would someone who really practices vipassana, make such a plan to kill herself??
And then I think - well, maybe she doesn't practice vipassana at all, or she just hasn't come very far but likes to brag with her "vipassana practice" anyway, or some such.
And the point of this story is?
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: The causes for wisdom

Postby binocular » Mon May 06, 2013 9:45 am

tiltbillings 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? Given the following, we can read this sentence exactly as it is written:

dhamma follower wrote:What I was saying is that the idea of having to do formal practice is motivated by the wrong view of self.
viewtopic.php?f=16&t=15952&start=200#p229398

it is the underlying idea of a self who can make certain dhammas to arise at certain time that motivates a formal practice.
viewtopic.php?f=16&t=15952&start=200#p229401

When one think that volition can indeed conditions dhammas to arise, isn't it a form of self-identification, of I-making?
viewtopic.php?f=16&t=15952&start=840#p243961


In line with Thanissaro Bhikkhu's teachings on not-self as a strategy, I would say that the above quotes are examples of prematurely or unduly dropping the self-view.
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Re: The causes for wisdom

Postby binocular » Mon May 06, 2013 9:47 am

tiltbillings wrote:
I know of a lady who is convinced she is practicing vipassana. Also, as her end-of-life strategy, she is ready to use a helium bag (supposedly, tying a bag of helium around one's head will ensure a quick and painless death).
Why on earth would someone who really practices vipassana, make such a plan to kill herself??
And then I think - well, maybe she doesn't practice vipassana at all, or she just hasn't come very far but likes to brag with her "vipassana practice" anyway, or some such.
And the point of this story is?

It's an example of what Robert was talking about, as I quoted -

The Buddha never taught vipassana as a technique, but sadly ,and I think contributing to the decline of the sasana , in recent times there are groups who have co-opted the word to mean some type of focusing on an object/objects. It is quite easy to fool people as if they quote the satipatthana sutta (which includes countless number of objects) then it is assumed the technique is 'vipassana'. However I believe little can be done to help anyone who thinks they are 'doing' vipassana, the attachment runs too deep usually.
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