The causes for wisdom

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
Cormac Brown
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Re: The causes for wisdom

Postby Cormac Brown » Fri Feb 05, 2016 11:31 am

As is detailed in Canki Sutta, and as is illustrated by the example of Ven. Assaji, a teacher can help a student by ensuring that their own behaviour is free of activities that signal greed, aversion and delusion. This, as the Buddha explains, is a factor in arousing conviction in a prospective student. As much can be seen in Ven. Sariputta's admiration of Ven. Assaji's elegance. Many a person has been discouraged by seeing monastics behave in an unseemly or ungainly fashion, in more or less subtle expressions of defilement. I seem to recall that the five ascetics mightn't have even listened to the Buddha were it not for the fact his new-found demeanour was so impressive (1). The Vinaya, in particular the Sekhiya rules (the first ones new and prospective monks should learn) and Khandhakas, contain very detailed instructions on deportment, manner and etiquette. It's fair to assume that one of the Buddha's reasons for such detail was to encourage monks to behave in such a way that would inspire faith in others.

The value of this has to be verified for oneself, however. And, as the Buddha says, only a discerning person will be able to spot someone of good conduct and habit, not an undiscerning one. [AN 4.192] Some people, on seeing a monk refined in conduct, can really become inspired at heart, wanting to emulate and learn from them, as happened with Ven. Sariputta and Ven. Assaji, and subsequently Ven. Mogallanna, who knew simply from his friend's countenance that he had seen the Deathless.

(1) Regrettably, I cannot find the reference for this. Any help would be appreciated.
“I in the present who am a worthy one, rightly self-awakened, am a
teacher of action, a teacher of activity, a teacher of persistence. But the
worthless man Makkhali contradicts even me, (saying,) ‘There is no
action. There is no activity. There is no persistence.’ "
AN 3.138, trans. Ven. Thanissaro

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mikenz66
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Re: The causes for wisdom

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Feb 05, 2016 12:58 pm

Cormac Brown wrote: I seem to recall that the five ascetics mightn't have even listened to the Buddha were it not for the fact his new-found demeanour was so impressive (1).
(1) Regrettably, I cannot find the reference for this. Any help would be appreciated.

It was Ājīvaka Upaka who was particularly impressed by his appearance:
https://suttacentral.net/en/mn26/45
“Then, bhikkhus, when I had stayed at Uruvelā as long as I chose, I set out to wander by stages to Benares. Between Gayā and the Place of Enlightenment the Ājīvaka Upaka saw me on the road and said: ‘Friend, your faculties are clear, the colour of your skin is pure and bright. Under whom have you gone forth, friend? Who is your teacher? Whose Dhamma do you profess? ’ I replied to the Ājīvaka Upaka in stanzas:

However, the group of 5 did seem to be impressed enough to listen to him:
https://suttacentral.net/en/mn26/48
“Then, bhikkhus, wandering by stages, I eventually came to Benares, to the Deer Park at Isipatana, and I approached the bhikkhus of the group of five. The bhikkhus saw me coming in the distance, and they agreed among themselves thus: ‘Friends, here comes the recluse Gotama who lives luxuriously, who gave up his striving, and reverted to luxury. We should not pay homage to him or rise up for him or receive his bowl and outer robe. But a seat may be prepared for him. If he likes, he may sit down.’ However, as I approached, those bhikkhus found themselves unable to keep their pact. One came to meet me and took my bowl and outer robe, another prepared a seat, and another set out water for my feet; however, they addressed me by name and as ‘friend.’

:anjali:
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Re: The causes for wisdom

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Feb 05, 2016 2:05 pm

dhamma follower wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
dhamma follower wrote:Without one's own studying of the Teaching which is now our Teacher because the Buddha is gone, there's no way to know whether someone's teaching is the Buddha's teaching or not, let alone knowing what level of attainment he/she has, in such cases,it would be one's own speculations and expectations only.
As for the "Buddha's teachings," you really have no way of knowing if they are really the Buddha's teachings other than speculation and expectations. Working with a teacher, working on your one with the books, you are in same position as with one with the other. A good teacher may be a bit further along the path and may have some genuine insight, which may be worthwhile, but in either case, it is always stepping off the cliff's edge.


Hi Tilt,

The point was not about studying with books vs studying with one Teacher, as almost everyone has a teacher and reads books. The point was that the trust on a living teacher should not outweigh one's own studying of the Buddha's Teaching as found in the Tipitaka with careful reflection. We know very well that there are many famous and inspiring teachers, but they say different things... I don't think the Buddha encouraged speculations and expectations as part of the way. Instead, he encouraged us to consider and test out for our-self (the famous Kesaputta sutta to the people of Kalamas).
"They say different things," and those who study the Buddha's teachings say different things.
    >> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<<
    -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

Cormac Brown
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Re: The causes for wisdom

Postby Cormac Brown » Fri Feb 05, 2016 3:59 pm

Thank you Mike.
“I in the present who am a worthy one, rightly self-awakened, am a
teacher of action, a teacher of activity, a teacher of persistence. But the
worthless man Makkhali contradicts even me, (saying,) ‘There is no
action. There is no activity. There is no persistence.’ "
AN 3.138, trans. Ven. Thanissaro

Cormac Brown
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Re: The causes for wisdom

Postby Cormac Brown » Fri Feb 05, 2016 4:21 pm

robertk wrote:
Ajahn Maha Boowa also notes that it was while witnessing Ajahn Mun's deportment while doing walking meditation that he was convinced he had found an arahant. This inspired him to become a disciple of the Venerable Ajahn


Of course Mahaboowa might have been wrong in his assumption and gone the wrong way.


"As for the qualities of which you may know, 'These qualities lead to dispassion, not to passion; to being unfettered, not to being fettered; to shedding, not to accumulating; to modesty, not to self-aggrandizement; to contentment, not to discontent; to seclusion, not to entanglement; to aroused persistence, not to laziness; to being unburdensome, not to being burdensome': You may categorically hold, 'This is the Dhamma, this is the Vinaya, this is the Teacher's instruction.'"


I think that Ajahn Mun's teachings and example fit the above criteria. But that's perhaps best left for another thread.

I think we can agree that Ven. Sariputta was not wrong in his assumption and went the right way.
“I in the present who am a worthy one, rightly self-awakened, am a
teacher of action, a teacher of activity, a teacher of persistence. But the
worthless man Makkhali contradicts even me, (saying,) ‘There is no
action. There is no activity. There is no persistence.’ "
AN 3.138, trans. Ven. Thanissaro

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Re: The causes for wisdom

Postby Cormac Brown » Sat Feb 06, 2016 2:18 pm

Dhammanando wrote:In the Dvedhāvitakka Sutta the Bodhisatta's suppressing of the three kinds of unwholesome thought through the power of reflection is described as culminating in the jhānas. Since no amount of such suppression would by itself suffice to generate insight, the practice could not really be described as a "path toward vipassanā".


robertK wrote:
But if one thought that 'Oh, here is desire I must remove it', then
one is no longer following the path toward vipassana.


In relation to this discussion, it might be worth referring to SN 1.38 and its accompanying note 88 from CDB:

Then another devata uttered this inspired utterance in the presence of the Blessed One: "See his concentration well-developed and his mind well liberated - not bent forward and not bent back, and not blocked and checked by forceful suppression..."


Bhikkhu Bhodi's note: "Spk-pt: This is not achieved, not fixed, forcefully, with effort, by way of abandoning in a particular respect or by way of abandoning through suppression as is the mundane-jhana mind or insight; but rather it has been achieved because the defilements have been completely cut off" (my emphasis)


The implication, of course, is that until the defilements have been cut off, there is always an element of deliberate suppression, and the tika here can be seen most explicitly relating abandonment through suppression to the path of insight. The oft-suggested incompatibility of insight and deliberate suppression is thus challenged, to say the least. We can derive from this that, again, deliberate suppression and removal of desire/defilement is only unnecessary at arahantship. Any negligence, while still unattained, to deliberately eradicate thoughts of sensuality is, as previously quoted, "acquiescence." Deliberate suppression or removal of desire displays only that one has not yet attained to liberating insight, but it is certainly not indicate that one is not on the path toward it. Again, it is clear that without such effort, one has abandoned the path toward vipassana.

Thus a reformulation of robertK's statement would be:

But if one thought that 'Oh, here is desire I don't need to remove it', then
one is no longer following the path toward vipassana.


From SN 1.34:

They are not sense pleasures, the world's pretty things:
Man's sensuality is the intention of lust.
The pretty things remain as they are in the world
But the wise remove the desire for them.


Metta

Cormac
“I in the present who am a worthy one, rightly self-awakened, am a
teacher of action, a teacher of activity, a teacher of persistence. But the
worthless man Makkhali contradicts even me, (saying,) ‘There is no
action. There is no activity. There is no persistence.’ "
AN 3.138, trans. Ven. Thanissaro

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mikenz66
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Re: The causes for wisdom

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Feb 08, 2016 8:50 am

I don't think anyone disagrees that the removal of defilements is what the Buddha taught. Where I see people disagreeing often seems to revolve around differences of opinion over (1) The timescale; and (2) The method.

(1) Timescale: When the Buddha says "do away with X" some interpret that as immediate. They have to do away with it right now! Others, perhaps more realistically, view the removal of certain issues as a long-term, perhaps many-lifetime project.

(2) Method: Sometimes it is necessary to use specific antidotes, but in other cases paying close attention will allow one to see the disadvantages of following though with certain actions and thoughts and thus drop the problematical issue. I don't think "Right Effort" is a matter of gritting the teeth and blasting through the barriers.

And of course, doing away with deep defilements ultimately involves understanding with wisdom. And we can't will that wisdom into being. All we can do is set up the causes and conditions for it to arise. Though I don't go along with all of Robert's argument, I certainly agree that wisdom arises due to causes and conditions.

:anjali:
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Re: The causes for wisdom

Postby Dhammanando » Fri Feb 12, 2016 1:51 am

Cormac Brown wrote:In relation to this discussion, it might be worth referring to SN 1.38 and its accompanying note 88 from CDB:

Then another devata uttered this inspired utterance in the presence of the Blessed One: "See his concentration well-developed and his mind well liberated - not bent forward and not bent back, and not blocked and checked by forceful suppression..."


Bhikkhu Bhodi's note: "Spk-pt: This is not achieved, not fixed, forcefully, with effort, by way of abandoning in a particular respect or by way of abandoning through suppression as is the mundane-jhana mind or insight; but rather it has been achieved because the defilements have been completely cut off" (my emphasis)


The implication, of course, is that until the defilements have been cut off, there is always an element of deliberate suppression, and the tika here can be seen most explicitly relating abandonment through suppression to the path of insight.


The ṭīkā does nothing of the kind. On the contrary, it treats the two kinds of suppression as two different things. It states that in the non-arahant defilements may be suppressed by either mundane jhāna or by insight. In the case of the former the suppression is effected by the jhāna factors, while the path leading to it may entail deliberate acts of suppression of the kind outlined in the Vitakkasaṇṭhānasutta. As for suppression by insight (vipassanā-vikkhambhana), every instance of this described in the texts consists in the displacement of something akusala or flawed or inferior by the arising of some kind of knowledge. There isn’t a single case where it consists in the akusala thing being suppressed by a deliberate act of will.

Some examples of suppression by insight:

• Perception of permanence (niccasaññā) is displaced by the perception of impermanence (aniccasaññā).
• Perception of pleasure (sukhasaññā) is displaced by the perception of suffering (dukkhasaññā).
• Perception of self (attāsaññā) is displaced by the perception of not-self (anattāsaññā).
• Delight (nandi) is displaced by knowledge of disenchantment (nibbidā).
• Greed (rāga) is displaced by knowledge of dispassion (virāga).
• Origination (samudaya) is displaced by knowledge of cessation (nirodha).
• Appropriation (ādāna) is displaced by knowledge of relinquishment (paṭinissagga).
• Perception of compactness (ghanasaññā) is displaced by knowledge of destruction (khaya).
• Accumulation (āyūhana) is displaced by knowledge of disappearance (vaya).
• Perception of everlastingness (dhuvasaññā) is displaced by knowledge of transience (vipariṇāma).
• Signs (nimitta) are displaced by knowledge of the signless (animitta).
• Desire (paṇidhi) is displaced by knowledge of the desireless (appaṇihita).
• Voluntary adhesion (abhinivesa) is displaced by knowledge of emptiness (suññatā).
• Voluntary adhesion due to grasping at an essence (sārādānābhinivesa) is displaced by insight into dhammas at the level of higher understanding (adhipaññādhammavipassanā).
• Voluntary adhesion due to delusion (sammohābhinivesa) is displaced by knowledge and vision according to reality (yathābhūtañāṇadassana).
• Voluntary adhesion due to reliance [on formations] (ālayābhinivesa) is displaced by knowledge of the peril [in formations] (ādīnava).
• Non-reflection (appaṭisaṅkha) is displaced by reflection (paṭisaṅkha).
• Voluntary adhesion due to the fetters (saṃyogābhinivesa) is displaced by knowledge of turning away (vivaṭṭa).
* * * * * * * * * * * *

First hermit: Still there’s one thing about being a hermit, at least you get to meet people.

Second hermit: Oh yes! I wouldn’t go back to public relations.
— Monty Python, The Hermits


(I shall be offline from 27th June until November)

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Alex123
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Re: The causes for wisdom

Postby Alex123 » Sun Feb 14, 2016 8:13 pm

Hello MikeNZ, all,

mikenz66 wrote:I don't think anyone disagrees that the removal of defilements is what the Buddha taught. Where I see people disagreeing often seems to revolve around differences of opinion over (1) The timescale; and (2) The method.

(1) Timescale: When the Buddha says "do away with X" some interpret that as immediate. They have to do away with it right now! Others, perhaps more realistically, view the removal of certain issues as a long-term, perhaps many-lifetime project.


One of the qualities of Dhamma is: Akaliko.
Many people attained paths/fruits very quickly.
Many suttas say that if you do this, awakening can happen in a day-7years.

In the 4 main nikayas there is no teaching about gathering paramis for many lifetimes in order to become an Arhat.
"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

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Re: The causes for wisdom

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Feb 15, 2016 6:08 am

Yes, there is some progress in some suttas. In others it seemed to take quite a lot of time and effort.

Furthermore, many would argue that akaliko is better translated as "in this life", rather than "immediately".
Brahm wrote:On the Meaning of Sanditthika and Akalika

Some modern writers have suggested that the effect must arise simultaneously with its cause, or arise just one moment after, for this to qualify as a Dhamma which can be 'seen here and now' and be 'immediate'. They argue that since the Dhamma is sanditthika and akalika, and Dependent Origination is one of the central features of the Dhamma, therefore Dependent Origination must be sanditthika and akalika. But does 'sanditthika' mean 'seen here and now'? Does 'akalika' mean 'immediate'? As I will now show, these translations can be misleading.
...
Continued here: http://www.dhammatalks.net/Books3/Ajahn_Brahm_Paticca_Samuppada_Dependent_Origination.htm


:anjali:
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Alex123
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Re: The causes for wisdom

Postby Alex123 » Tue Feb 16, 2016 9:27 pm

Hello MikeNZ, all,

mikenz66 wrote:Yes, there is some progress in some suttas. In others it seemed to take quite a lot of time and effort.

Furthermore, many would argue that akaliko is better translated as "in this life", rather than "immediately".


In any case, "in this life" or "immediately" is far shorter than aeons of parami gathering.

In 4.5 Nikayas there aren't any teaching that it has to take that long to become an Arhat.

It is interesting how when the Buddha speaks in the suttas about time, it always talks about how short it is. Today, teachers tend to overemphasize how many countless lives it may take.
"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

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Re: The causes for wisdom

Postby dhamma follower » Wed Feb 17, 2016 6:24 am

Alex123 wrote:Hello MikeNZ, all,

mikenz66 wrote:I don't think anyone disagrees that the removal of defilements is what the Buddha taught. Where I see people disagreeing often seems to revolve around differences of opinion over (1) The timescale; and (2) The method.

(1) Timescale: When the Buddha says "do away with X" some interpret that as immediate. They have to do away with it right now! Others, perhaps more realistically, view the removal of certain issues as a long-term, perhaps many-lifetime project.


One of the qualities of Dhamma is: Akaliko.
Many people attained paths/fruits very quickly.
Many suttas say that if you do this, awakening can happen in a day-7years.

In the 4 main nikayas there is no teaching about gathering paramis for many lifetimes in order to become an Arhat.


Hi Alex,

Akaliko refers to the fact the the fruit (phala citta, supermundane dhamma) follows immediately the
Path moment (magga citta). This is as opposed to mundane dhammas, which can only give result at another moment with intervals between the moment of cause and the moment of result (nānā khanika kamma).
The term doesn't suggest the timescale for people to reach enlightenment.

The Six Qualities of the Dhamma

The Dhamma is:

Svakkhato Bhagavata Dhammo – well-proclaimed by the Blessed One,
Sanditthiko – self-realized,
Akaliko – followed by fruit without delay (of immediate result),
Ehipassiko – worthy of the invitation “Come and see”,
Opaneyyiko – brought to oneself,
Paccattam Veditabbo Vinnuhi – realized by the wise each for himself.


Brgrds,

D.F

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tiltbillings
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Re: The causes for wisdom

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Feb 17, 2016 1:49 pm

dhamma follower wrote:
Akaliko refers to the fact the the fruit (phala citta, supermundane dhamma) follows immediately the
Path moment (magga citta). This is as opposed to mundane dhammas, which can only give result at another moment with intervals between the moment of cause and the moment of result (nānā khanika kamma).
The term doesn't suggest the timescale for people to reach enlightenment.
This is spelled out in what sutta?
    >> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<<
    -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: The causes for wisdom

Postby dhamma follower » Thu Feb 18, 2016 1:42 am

tiltbillings wrote:
dhamma follower wrote:
Akaliko refers to the fact the the fruit (phala citta, supermundane dhamma) follows immediately the
Path moment (magga citta). This is as opposed to mundane dhammas, which can only give result at another moment with intervals between the moment of cause and the moment of result (nānā khanika kamma).
The term doesn't suggest the timescale for people to reach enlightenment.
This is spelled out in what sutta?


I don't think the sutta gives any explanation about the term. What I wrote above is from the Visudhimagga:

'It has no delay (lit takes no time — kala) in the man-
ner of giving its own fruit, thus it is "without delay
(akala)". "Without delay" is the same as "not delayed
(akalika)". What is meant is that instead of giving its fruit
after creating a delay (using up time), say, five days, seven
days, it gives its fruit immediately next to its own
occurrence (Sn. 266) 2 .

Or alternatively, what is delayed (kalika — lit. what
takes time) is what needs some distant time to be reached
before it gives its fruit. What is that? It is the mundane
law of profitable [kamma]. This, however, is undelayed (na
kalika) because its fruit comes immediately next to it, so it
is "not delayed" (akalikaf 3 .


Visudhimagga, page 234. Further can be read about the remaining qualities of the Dhamma.

Since a lot of the words used by the Buddha seem to be ordinary, and are interpreted as in their ordinary meaning, but actually what it is pointed to is much, much deeper (ex the Four Noble Truth), I think it can apply to the word akaliko as well. Because no further explanation is found in the sutta, either one relies on the ancient texts, or chooses to interpret it in one's own way.

Brgrds,

D.F

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Re: The causes for wisdom

Postby robertk » Sat Aug 06, 2016 9:49 am

this a somewhat related topic (viewtopic.php?f=44&t=27232) so worth reposting


A quote from N. Nanamoli:
7. “Meditation techniques” are usually sets of fairly random motions and performances, idiosyncratic to the particular meditation teacher, that require one to follow certain prescribed steps which if performed correctly, and with some luck, will make one experience “something”. Often, in return, that same teacher would have to “interpret” back these experiences for one.

To put it bluntly: if one needs to be told by another, what the significance of one’s experience was, this means one has not understood it by oneself. It means one is still concerned with the particular aspects (i.e. the random contents) of one’s meditation experience, and one fails to see the general nature of it all. As a result, any external interpretation is regarded as an explanation, which means that phenomenology remains buried deep down under layers of pre-concieved ideas and assumptions. This holds true even more when it comes to the idea of “attainments”, which are also regarded as experiences that “happen” to one, almost against one’s will and as a result of “a very good technique” one has employed. There is a concealed irony there that escapes such people, because if one needs to be “confirmed” a sotāpanna, for example, by one’s teacher, this means one doesn’t know that one actually is a sotāpanna, which means that one can still doubt it, which in return means that one is not freed from the fetter of doubt, i.e. actually not a sotāpanna. The irony is further amplified if the teacher goes ahead and “confirms” one. If one is to actually understand what “being free from doubt” (and the other two fetters, characteristic of the sotāpanna) is, one would realize how non-applicable any external affirmation or denial is.16

How obstructive to phenomenology (i.e. mindfulness) this whole way of practising is, can be seen from the nature of understanding. One understands things when one understands them, when the knowledge in regard to the nature of an arisen thing is there, and not when one successfully goes through a set of methods and observances that relies on almost mechanical set of motions one has to perform attentively. Any bodily act and any act that pertains to the bodily domain (such as the celebrated and misguided notion of “sensations”17 which involve observing different parts and aspects of one’s body) is simply irrelevant for the discerning of the nature of an arisen phenomenon.18 It is misleading and obstructive, because it is impossible to engage in a technique without the implicit belief that a set of motions, that the chosen technique consists of, performed in a particular mechanical order, will somehow, by itself, reveal the nature of things. By holding this belief and faith in a technique, one will not be trying to understand things, and by not making attempts toward the understanding, one will definitely remain devoid of it.

One sees things correctly – as phenomena – by understanding what the phenomenon is, and there is no technique that can make this magically occur. Thus, the closest to what one should do in order to obtain understanding is: trying to understand. For as long as a person is attempting to understand and see the nature of an arisen thing, that person might actually succeed in it, for it is certain that understanding cannot occur in someone who is not trying to understand. Incidentally (or not), there is never any mention of meditation techniques in the Suttas, but ‘understanding’ and ‘discernment’, as a way to reach the final freedom from suffering, is described and referred to countless times.

When one looks at the experience mindfully, it becomes apparent that regardless of the content of the particular experience, the nature of experience is present. So, whether it is the experience of “impatiently-waiting-for-a-bus,” or the experience of tiredness after a physical exertion, or strange and novel experience of a powerful light that occurred in front of me while meditating on a seven-day technique-based meditation retreat, all I should be concerned about is that an experience is there and as such it needs to be understood.19 This means that investing effort into meditation techniques is fundamentally a waste of time if one is concerned with understanding the Dhamma, and the most one can accomplish is relaxation, a sense of peace coming from withdrawal from the habitual world of senses, or – worse – fortification of the wrong views based on a misinterpretation of the nature of the novelty experiences. Either way, the results of any technique one might engage in, will remain worldly, and will draw its power from a temporary change of one’s environment, one’s usual way of regarding things. In any case, the “benefits” and “helpfulness” of a chosen technique will simply share the nature of a phenomenon of novelty that one is experiencing. As such, it means it will run out, and one will have to either do it harder, or change the technique.

If people attend meditation retreats as a form of a temporary escape from the busy and oppressing world, by all means they should do it, as often as they can. However, rather than engaging in a practice of a technique and “sensation watching,” they would be better off using their quiet time in trying to understand the nature of things according to the way the Buddha described it, whether sitting, walking or lying down. For it is that “nature” which the Dhamma means and refers to, and anything that is not dealing with this, or anything that is obscuring that very nature (i.e. phenomena) of things, consequently is not the Dhamma, no matter how “helpful” and “useful” it might be.20 In different words, one’s experience is phenomenological (i.e. the five aggregates are all simultaneously present in their respective domains), and this means that nature of things comes first,21 before anything one does based on that nature. Doing a technique in order to practice the Dhamma (i.e. see the nature of things) is like exiting the house, so as to be in it. It’s a contradiction in terms.

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Re: The causes for wisdom

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Aug 06, 2016 2:39 pm

robertk wrote:this a somewhat related topic (viewtopic.php?f=44&t=27232) so worth reposting


A quote from N. Nanamoli:
7. “Meditation techniques” are usually sets of fairly random motions and performances, idiosyncratic to the particular meditation teacher, that require one to follow certain prescribed steps which if performed correctly, and with some luck, will make one experience “something”. Often, in return, that same teacher would have to “interpret” back these experiences for one.

To put it bluntly: if one needs to be told by another, what the significance of one’s experience was, this means one has not understood it by oneself. It means one is still concerned with the particular aspects (i.e. the random contents) of one’s meditation experience, and one fails to see the general nature of it all. As a result, any external interpretation is regarded as an explanation, which means that phenomenology remains buried deep down under layers of pre-concieved ideas and assumptions. This holds true even more when it comes to the idea of “attainments”, which are also regarded as experiences that “happen” to one, almost against one’s will and as a result of “a very good technique” one has employed. There is a concealed irony there that escapes such people, because if one needs to be “confirmed” a sotāpanna, for example, by one’s teacher, this means one doesn’t know that one actually is a sotāpanna, which means that one can still doubt it, which in return means that one is not freed from the fetter of doubt, i.e. actually not a sotāpanna. The irony is further amplified if the teacher goes ahead and “confirms” one. If one is to actually understand what “being free from doubt” (and the other two fetters, characteristic of the sotāpanna) is, one would realize how non-applicable any external affirmation or denial is.16

How obstructive to phenomenology (i.e. mindfulness) this whole way of practising is, can be seen from the nature of understanding. One understands things when one understands them, when the knowledge in regard to the nature of an arisen thing is there, and not when one successfully goes through a set of methods and observances that relies on almost mechanical set of motions one has to perform attentively. Any bodily act and any act that pertains to the bodily domain (such as the celebrated and misguided notion of “sensations”17 which involve observing different parts and aspects of one’s body) is simply irrelevant for the discerning of the nature of an arisen phenomenon.18 It is misleading and obstructive, because it is impossible to engage in a technique without the implicit belief that a set of motions, that the chosen technique consists of, performed in a particular mechanical order, will somehow, by itself, reveal the nature of things. By holding this belief and faith in a technique, one will not be trying to understand things, and by not making attempts toward the understanding, one will definitely remain devoid of it.

One sees things correctly – as phenomena – by understanding what the phenomenon is, and there is no technique that can make this magically occur. Thus, the closest to what one should do in order to obtain understanding is: trying to understand. For as long as a person is attempting to understand and see the nature of an arisen thing, that person might actually succeed in it, for it is certain that understanding cannot occur in someone who is not trying to understand. Incidentally (or not), there is never any mention of meditation techniques in the Suttas, but ‘understanding’ and ‘discernment’, as a way to reach the final freedom from suffering, is described and referred to countless times.

When one looks at the experience mindfully, it becomes apparent that regardless of the content of the particular experience, the nature of experience is present. So, whether it is the experience of “impatiently-waiting-for-a-bus,” or the experience of tiredness after a physical exertion, or strange and novel experience of a powerful light that occurred in front of me while meditating on a seven-day technique-based meditation retreat, all I should be concerned about is that an experience is there and as such it needs to be understood.19 This means that investing effort into meditation techniques is fundamentally a waste of time if one is concerned with understanding the Dhamma, and the most one can accomplish is relaxation, a sense of peace coming from withdrawal from the habitual world of senses, or – worse – fortification of the wrong views based on a misinterpretation of the nature of the novelty experiences. Either way, the results of any technique one might engage in, will remain worldly, and will draw its power from a temporary change of one’s environment, one’s usual way of regarding things. In any case, the “benefits” and “helpfulness” of a chosen technique will simply share the nature of a phenomenon of novelty that one is experiencing. As such, it means it will run out, and one will have to either do it harder, or change the technique.

If people attend meditation retreats as a form of a temporary escape from the busy and oppressing world, by all means they should do it, as often as they can. However, rather than engaging in a practice of a technique and “sensation watching,” they would be better off using their quiet time in trying to understand the nature of things according to the way the Buddha described it, whether sitting, walking or lying down. For it is that “nature” which the Dhamma means and refers to, and anything that is not dealing with this, or anything that is obscuring that very nature (i.e. phenomena) of things, consequently is not the Dhamma, no matter how “helpful” and “useful” it might be.20 In different words, one’s experience is phenomenological (i.e. the five aggregates are all simultaneously present in their respective domains), and this means that nature of things comes first,21 before anything one does based on that nature. Doing a technique in order to practice the Dhamma (i.e. see the nature of things) is like exiting the house, so as to be in it. It’s a contradiction in terms.
It is, unfortunately, not at all an insightful characterization of "techniques," even N. Nanamoli, puts forth a technique based upon his reading of the texts. Why privilege his technique over the techniques of others teachers, keeping in mind that his criticism of other teachers' techniques is a straw-man characterization? Why is it that that teachers such as N. Nanamoli, Thanissaro, Vimalaramsi, and Sujin, in advocating their techniques, feel a need to disparage the teachings of other Dhamma teachers? I certainly would not say there is no value in the techniques of these three teachers in terms of Dhamma practice, but I would say that there is no value in their disparagement of other teachers.
    >> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<<
    -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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robertk
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Re: The causes for wisdom

Postby robertk » Sat Aug 06, 2016 3:26 pm

dear tilt,
i guess you mean this ( or similar) from Thanissaro:
An example of spiritual bypassing is this: Suppose you have troubles in your life and you don't want to engage in the difficult business of trying to become more mature in dealing with others or negotiating the conflicting desires in your own mind. Instead, you simply go and meditate, you do prostrations, you do chanting, and you hope that those practices will magically make the problems in your life go away. This is called spiritual bypassing — an unskillful way of clinging to habits and practices. As you can imagine, it's not very healthy — and not very effective. People often come back from meditation retreats and they still have the same problems they had before.



From: Talk 5 in "Selves & Not-self" -'The Ego on the Path', by Ven. Thanissaro Bhikkhu

and this ( both posted in other threads today and yesterday:

"
Even in Buddhist circles, you find various kinds of meditation where as they say, "Everything has all been thought out, everything has all been worked out, just follow the instructions. Don't think, don't add anything of your own." It's interesting to note that a lot of these methods also refer to the teaching on not-self as egolessness. Any sense of pride, any sense of independence is a bad thing in those meditation traditions. As one tradition would say, just be totally passive and aware, very equanimous, and just let your old sankharas burn away. And above all, don't think. Or if you are going to think, they say, learn how to think the way we think. And they have huge volumes of philosophy you have to learn, to squeeze your mind into their mold.... But that doesn't work." ~ Thanissaro Bhikkhu "Adult Dhamma", Meditations5,


you have a point ( about disparagement) but then maybe sometimes the criticisers also have a point ?

you wrote today on another thread that

Like the other phenomenological Buddhists, he writes in obscure-ese, with is the de rigueur for the phenomenological crowd. It makes what could be stated fairly simply sound more important. Also, N. Nanmoli's comments about "methods" shows a fairly immature understanding of the issue, despite the labored syntax


i would guess a N. nanamoli devotee wouldn't appreciate that but I wouldn't begrudge you the right to your opinion. personally I find being exposed to various ideas is useful, even ones I disagree with. Disclaimer: some ideas are so misinformed or weakly thought out that they truly are a waste of everyone's time.

even more important though is delving into the Theravada texts: they are where right view is expressed (IMHO) :anjali:

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tiltbillings
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Re: The causes for wisdom

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Aug 06, 2016 4:04 pm

robertk wrote:dear tilt,
i guess you mean this ( or similar) from Thanissaro:
...
Not that. Try Thanissaro's book on meditation which was discussed on DW at length.



From: Talk 5 in "Selves & Not-self" -'The Ego on the Path', by Ven. Thanissaro Bhikkhu

and this ( both posted in other threads today and yesterday:

"
Even in Buddhist circles, you find various kinds of meditation where as they say, "Everything has all been thought out, everything has all been worked out, just follow the instructions. Don't think, don't add anything of your own." It's interesting to note that a lot of these methods also refer to the teaching on not-self as egolessness. Any sense of pride, any sense of independence is a bad thing in those meditation traditions. As one tradition would say, just be totally passive and aware, very equanimous, and just let your old sankharas burn away. And above all, don't think. Or if you are going to think, they say, learn how to think the way we think. And they have huge volumes of philosophy you have to learn, to squeeze your mind into their mold.... But that doesn't work." ~ Thanissaro Bhikkhu "Adult Dhamma", Meditations5,
The problem with this is that it is a strawman construct, not at all accurately reflecting the position with which he disagrees.

you have a point ( about disparagement) but then maybe sometimes the criticisers also have a point ?
The problem is with the individuals I named that in their portrayals of what they are criticizing are grossly inaccurate, showing no real understanding of what it they criticizing. One can accurately understand a differing point of view and accurately criticize it, but this not what we see with these people.

personally I find being exposed to various ideas is useful, even ones I disagree with.
even more important though is delving into the Theravada texts: they are where right view is expressed (IMHO)
I have no problem with engaging differing opinions, finding value in well done, carefully considered criticism. I find no value in the strawman approach.
Last edited by tiltbillings on Sun Aug 07, 2016 5:34 am, edited 1 time in total.
    >> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<<
    -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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robertk
Posts: 1928
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2009 2:08 am

Re: The causes for wisdom

Postby robertk » Sat Aug 06, 2016 4:06 pm

yes good points. The strawman is always a problem, and any criticism should be fair . sometimes we criticise without a correct understanding of an issue.


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