What is controlling?

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation

Re: What is controlling?

Postby daverupa » Mon Sep 09, 2013 8:22 pm

Jason wrote:And if the answer is indeed no, then the entire debate seems to be moot, at least from a practical point of view.


Well, to be somewhat pedantic, after being mooted the entire debate is found to be fruitless and without helpful result due to an assumed metaphysical premise which dooms it from the start, e.g. that choice requires an essential chooser.

But if I say <--- this sort of phrase, with "I" in there, unless I'm giving it a slew of philosophical weight it's just a conventional term to differentiate between individuals.

We could probably flag the difference and set much of this confusion behind us by using the two terms 'self' and 'Self', I think. Hard to do in an oral tradition, though, since capitalization leaves words sounding the same even though the two terms then cover different semantic realms... probably for many brahmins they were "known" to be the same thing, especially if they thought they were already done with their practice, which would have only added to the difficulties.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: What is controlling?

Postby mirco » Mon Sep 09, 2013 8:32 pm


"Illusion control is."
Master Yoda
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Re: What is controlling?

Postby Jason » Mon Sep 09, 2013 8:51 pm

daverupa wrote:
Jason wrote:And if the answer is indeed no, then the entire debate seems to be moot, at least from a practical point of view.


Well, to be somewhat pedantic, after being mooted the entire debate is found to be fruitless and without helpful result due to an assumed metaphysical premise which dooms it from the start, e.g. that choice requires an essential chooser.

But if I say <--- this sort of phrase, with "I" in there, unless I'm giving it a slew of philosophical weight it's just a conventional term to differentiate between individuals.

We could probably flag the difference and set much of this confusion behind us by using the two terms 'self' and 'Self', I think. Hard to do in an oral tradition, though, since capitalization leaves words sounding the same even though the two terms then cover different semantic realms... probably for many brahmins they were "known" to be the same thing, especially if they thought they were already done with their practice, which would have only added to the difficulties.


Well, I agree that from a linguistic point of view, the use of terms like 'I' are generally conventional terms used for the sake of communication. But the real questions, I think, are (1) What kinds of underlying assumptions go into our use of conventional terms? and (2) Is an agent absolutely necessary for decision making?

In answer to the first, I'd say that we subconsciously imbue terms like 'I' with a great deal more than we often realize, stemming primarily from the underlying conceit (mana) 'I am,' the self-identification that designates a being (satta), and our tendency to self-identify to/with the aggregates (sakkaya-ditthi).

And in regard to the second, I'd argue that an agent (i.e., a self or independent actor) isn't absolutely necessary for decision making, utilizing both examples from the Pali Canon and commentaries and modern arguments against free will arising out of discoveries in neurobiology.
Last edited by Jason on Mon Sep 09, 2013 9:23 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: What is controlling?

Postby daverupa » Mon Sep 09, 2013 8:55 pm

Jason wrote:But the real questions, I think, are (1) What kinds of underlying assumptions go into our use of conventional terms? and (2) Is an agent absolutely necessary for decision making?


We probably agree on (2), and while (1) is a good point - the fetters of sakkaya-ditthi and asmimana being unabandoned in most - I think talking about (1) in a (2)-discussion, or talking about (2) in a (1)-discussion, ends up making a mess of things as a matter of linguistic confusion, to say the least.

People run back and forth between suttas all the time, this one talking of anatta, that one talking of training the self... it doesn't have to be this confusing for people...
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: What is controlling?

Postby Mkoll » Mon Sep 09, 2013 9:56 pm

:shrug:

I don't know what controlling is, yet. I think the meaning will become more clear at an experiential rather than intellectual level as practice matures. I'm pretty sure that at a certain point on the path, intellectual expansion is stopped because at that point, it isn't conducive to the goal: the end of suffering. It can be helpful for those of us who aren't there yet, but it must be chosen wisely and not overindulged in. To me, this means the suttas and my own thinking before anything else. Practice is of primary importance.

Who will penetrate this earth & this realm of death with all its gods? Who will ferret out the well-taught Dhamma-saying, as the skillful flower-arranger the flower?

The learner-on-the-path will penetrate this earth & this realm of death with all its gods. The learner-on-the-path will ferret out the well-taught Dhamma-saying, as the skillful flower-arranger the flower.

-http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/dhp/dhp.04.than.html

"What can be done for his disciples by a Master who seeks their welfare and has compassion and pity on them, that I have done for you, Cunda.[27] There are these roots of trees, there are empty places. Meditate, Cunda, do not delay, lest you later regret it. 'This is my message to you."

-http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.008.nypo.html

:namaste:

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When this is, that is.
From the arising of this comes the arising of that.
When this isn't, that isn't.
From the cessation of this comes the cessation of that.
-SN 12.61

Ex nihilo nihil fit.

Peace,
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Re: What is controlling?

Postby pegembara » Tue Sep 10, 2013 3:41 am

Free will is the ability of agents to make choices unconstrained by certain factors. The nature of samsara is constrain. Even the noble eight fold path is within these constraints but followed to its conclusion leads one out of the conditioned.

"Is the noble eightfold path fabricated or unfabricated?"

"The noble eightfold path is fabricated."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


Image

“I have not, brahman, seen or heard such a doctrine, such a view. How, indeed, could one — moving forward by himself, moving back by himself [2] — say: ‘There is no self-doer, there is no other-doer’? What do you think, brahmin, is there an element or principle of initiating or beginning an action?”[3]

“Just so, Venerable Sir.”

“When there is an element of initiating, are initiating beings [4] clearly discerned?”

“Just so, Venerable Sir.”

“So, brahmin, when there is the element of initiating, initiating beings are clearly discerned; of such beings, this is the self-doer, this, the other-doer. [5]




"Thus, monks, any form whatsoever that is past, future, or present; internal or external; blatant or subtle; common or sublime; far or near: every form is to be seen as it actually is with right discernment as: 'This is not mine. This is not my self. This is not what I am.'

"Any feeling whatsoever...

"Any perception whatsoever...

"Any fabrications whatsoever...

"Any consciousness whatsoever that is past, future, or present; internal or external; blatant or subtle; common or sublime; far or near: every consciousness is to be seen as it actually is with right discernment as: 'This is not mine. This is not my self. This is not what I am.'

"Seeing thus, the well-instructed disciple of the noble ones grows disenchanted with form, disenchanted with feeling, disenchanted with perception, disenchanted with fabrications, disenchanted with consciousness. Disenchanted, he becomes dispassionate. Through dispassion, he is fully released.
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Re: What is controlling?

Postby robertk » Tue Sep 10, 2013 4:19 am

one possibilty
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Re: What is controlling?

Postby barcsimalsi » Tue Sep 10, 2013 4:47 am

chownah wrote:Try again?

Sure.

chownah wrote:I see my instructions were not clear. I am not trying to show about moment awareness.....it would have been better if I had left "the moment" out of the post. Here is what I was trying for:
In your original post you talk about the mind being sometimes focused and sometimes wandering and this seems to have brought up the idea of what is controlling the mind. One way to learn about this is to read stuff and discuss it with people like here on the forum. Another way is to calm the mind and try to actually observe the mind changing from being focused to wandering. So, my idea was that if I gave you a simple task (reading a word or two written backwards) then you would need to intentionally focus your mind a bit to accomplish the task and upon successfully deciphering the word your mind would develop some kind of mental image or taste, or smell, or etc. and your mind would do this WITHOUT you intentionally focusing it or directing it in any way. In this way your mind would change from one mode of direction into another mode.....it would change from being analytical to being imaginative perhaps....or change from being focused to wandering perhaps. I am not trying to give a definition of any of the minds activities.....I am trying to create a situation which would make it easier to actually be aware of what the mind is doing so that you could directly experience your own mental changes. It is difficult to see these changes and calming the mind as much as possible will help in detecting the change. So, what I'm trying for is direct experience of mental qualities.

Thanks for elaborating.
The problem with this task is:
As long as i'm mindful of the original instruction of just watching and cognize the word, the mind will follow the instruction and restrain any imaginative process, therefore thoughts about its image, sounds and character does not arise.

The changing process of mental experience as you described can only be recognized by recalling the passing moment which awareness( of the ongoing process) seems to slack somewhere in between.
This is my reason why i can't conform into the bold phrase.

chownah wrote:In your original post you talk about the mind being sometimes focused and sometimes wandering and this seems to have brought up the idea of what is controlling the mind.

As how i see it, the wandering mind is cause by the absent of awareness( of its process) and my intention of this thread is to know better about what is directing/restraining the choice and determination at the moment we are mindful of our own thoughts.

Thanks again.
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Re: What is controlling?

Postby chownah » Tue Sep 10, 2013 8:00 am

barcsimalsi,
So, you were abiding by the instructions to read the word backwards......then you determined that the word was snake......then what happened? At some point your mind stopped abiding by the instructions......what happened then?
For me, there would be a fleeting image of a snake......but I guess this doesn't happen for you. I'm thinking that continuing along these lines is probably pointless.

Anyway, I guess my experiment doesn't work. I had hoped that it would show that in understanding your questions you could make progress through direct experience.
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Re: What is controlling?

Postby barcsimalsi » Tue Sep 10, 2013 11:46 am

chownah wrote:barcsimalsi,
So, you were abiding by the instructions to read the word backwards......then you determined that the word was snake......then what happened?

Just image of the words S-N-A-K-E and its pronounce.


chownah wrote:At some point your mind stopped abiding by the instructions......what happened then?

There's intention to investigate. The image of the snake only appeared when i tried to think about it. It does not, just appear after reading the words.


chownah wrote:Anyway, I guess my experiment doesn't work. I had hoped that it would show that in understanding your questions you could make progress through direct experience.
chownah

At some point it taught me that perception can arise without any will or thoughts.
When i saw the word S, the mind read it as Sss
When i red the word S-N-A-K-E, the mind just spells snake.
The process of cognition happen so fast and spontaneously that no effort and intention is required, in short - without control.
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Re: What is controlling?

Postby reflection » Tue Sep 10, 2013 1:44 pm

I guess these thought experiments are not really that conducive to understanding will and control. In my eyes it is samadhi that proves more insight into these things than anything else.

Stillness means lack of movement. What causes the mind to move? "Will" causes the mind to move! This is why if one wants to experi­ence stillness, then one must remove all will, all doing, all control.
http://www.what-buddha-taught.net/Books ... Jhanas.htm
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Re: What is controlling?

Postby Mkoll » Tue Sep 10, 2013 2:00 pm

pegembara wrote:
“I have not, brahman, seen or heard such a doctrine, such a view. How, indeed, could one — moving forward by himself, moving back by himself [2] — say: ‘There is no self-doer, there is no other-doer’? What do you think, brahmin, is there an element or principle of initiating or beginning an action?”[3]

“Just so, Venerable Sir.”

“When there is an element of initiating, are initiating beings [4] clearly discerned?”

“Just so, Venerable Sir.”

“So, brahmin, when there is the element of initiating, initiating beings are clearly discerned; of such beings, this is the self-doer, this, the other-doer. [5]



Thank you for that, pegembara. I had not heard it before. The Buddha clearly makes it clear that self-initiative and the initiative of others is real and connected with the arousing of energy. The source is AN 6.38. The context is a brahmin coming to the Buddha and saying he holds the thesis and view of there being "no self-initiative, no initiative taken by others."

:anjali:

James
When this is, that is.
From the arising of this comes the arising of that.
When this isn't, that isn't.
From the cessation of this comes the cessation of that.
-SN 12.61

Ex nihilo nihil fit.

Peace,
James
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Re: What is controlling?

Postby chownah » Tue Sep 10, 2013 4:06 pm

reflection wrote:I guess these thought experiments are not really that conducive to understanding will and control. In my eyes it is samadhi that proves more insight into these things than anything else.

Stillness means lack of movement. What causes the mind to move? "Will" causes the mind to move! This is why if one wants to experi­ence stillness, then one must remove all will, all doing, all control.
http://www.what-buddha-taught.net/Books ... Jhanas.htm

Interesting that you call it a "thought experiment". In my experience the term "thought experiment" means to imagine undertaking an experiment but rather than actually doing the experiment one only imagines doing it....or.....it means imaging a hypothetical situation and then applying reasoning and logic to come to some understanding.
For me it seems like the discussion referring to texts and different people's ideas about the topic at hand is very much like a "thought experiment" in that a theoretical model is suggested for examination and it is discussed without any particular reference to any actual experience or even pointing to any experiential activity that relates to the question asked. My experiment, on the other hand was an attempt to actually learn something by experimenting exactly with the experiential reality of the person seeking knowledge......this does not seem like a "thought experiment".....seems to me like am experiment grounded in actual experience........that is one reason I suggested it i.e. very little in the way of direct experience had been suggested.
I am not suggesting that my experiment is a valuable tool :jumping: as it clearly did not work the way I thought it would.... :shrug: .....But I am suggesting that if one wants to deal with the view that something is in control of mental processes then the best way to gain knowledge about this is through direct experience. I think that a lot of what the Buddha teaches has the purpose of honing our abilities to discern and that this discernment is best used when directed toward direct experience.
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Re: What is controlling?

Postby beeblebrox » Tue Sep 10, 2013 6:48 pm

There are three marks in life... impermanence, non-self and dukkha.

Is "free will" necessarily something that is never changing; does it always have something to do with self; and does it always make things easy? If so, why?

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Re: What is controlling?

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Sep 10, 2013 7:11 pm

chownah wrote: I am suggesting that if one wants to deal with the view that something is in control of mental processes then the best way to gain knowledge about this is through direct experience. I think that a lot of what the Buddha teaches has the purpose of honing our abilities to discern and that this discernment is best used when directed toward direct experience.

I agree. I seems to me the suttas provide some essential guidance, but the sense of self, and the feeling of control, is something that one needs to experience and investigate for oneself ( :tongue:). And of course, it is something most meditation teachers address in one way of another. I can't find a simple quote about mind controlling mind (or not) but here is a related quote:
Chanmyay Sayadaw wrote:When I conducted a meditation retreat in England, one of the meditators had put much effort into his practise both sitting as well as walking, and awareness of the activities too. So after about four days meditation he came to me and asked a question. ''Venerable Sir, my meditation is getting worse and worse,' he said. 'Now what happen to your meditation?' I asked him. Then he said, 'When I am walking one day, Venerable Sir, then gradually I am not aware of myself. The foot itself had lifted, and it itself pushed forward, and then dropped down by itself. There's no I or no me, no self, no myself. Sometimes though I control my foot, the foot doesn't stay with the ground. It lifted by itself. Sometimes it pushed forward very long. I couldn't control it. Then sometimes it's getting down by itself. So my meditation is getting worse and worse. What should I do?' Then eventually he said, 'I think I have gone mad.' Such an experience was very amazing.
http://buddhanet.net/vmed_4.htm


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Re: What is controlling?

Postby beeblebrox » Tue Sep 10, 2013 8:33 pm

Chanmyay Sayadaw wrote:When I conducted a meditation retreat in England, one of the meditators had put much effort into his practise both sitting as well as walking, and awareness of the activities too. So after about four days meditation he came to me and asked a question. ''Venerable Sir, my meditation is getting worse and worse,' he said. 'Now what happen to your meditation?' I asked him. Then he said, 'When I am walking one day, Venerable Sir, then gradually I am not aware of myself. The foot itself had lifted, and it itself pushed forward, and then dropped down by itself. There's no I or no me, no self, no myself. Sometimes though I control my foot, the foot doesn't stay with the ground. It lifted by itself. Sometimes it pushed forward very long. I couldn't control it. Then sometimes it's getting down by itself. So my meditation is getting worse and worse. What should I do?' Then eventually he said, 'I think I have gone mad.' Such an experience was very amazing.
http://buddhanet.net/vmed_4.htm


I don't think it's amazing when someone thinks that he's gone mad...
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Re: What is controlling?

Postby reflection » Tue Sep 10, 2013 9:34 pm

chownah wrote:
reflection wrote:I guess these thought experiments are not really that conducive to understanding will and control. In my eyes it is samadhi that proves more insight into these things than anything else.

Stillness means lack of movement. What causes the mind to move? "Will" causes the mind to move! This is why if one wants to experi­ence stillness, then one must remove all will, all doing, all control.
http://www.what-buddha-taught.net/Books ... Jhanas.htm

Interesting that you call it a "thought experiment". In my experience the term "thought experiment" means to imagine undertaking an experiment but rather than actually doing the experiment one only imagines doing it....or.....it means imaging a hypothetical situation and then applying reasoning and logic to come to some understanding.
For me it seems like the discussion referring to texts and different people's ideas about the topic at hand is very much like a "thought experiment" in that a theoretical model is suggested for examination and it is discussed without any particular reference to any actual experience or even pointing to any experiential activity that relates to the question asked. My experiment, on the other hand was an attempt to actually learn something by experimenting exactly with the experiential reality of the person seeking knowledge......this does not seem like a "thought experiment".....seems to me like am experiment grounded in actual experience........that is one reason I suggested it i.e. very little in the way of direct experience had been suggested.
I am not suggesting that my experiment is a valuable tool :jumping: as it clearly did not work the way I thought it would.... :shrug: .....But I am suggesting that if one wants to deal with the view that something is in control of mental processes then the best way to gain knowledge about this is through direct experience. I think that a lot of what the Buddha teaches has the purpose of honing our abilities to discern and that this discernment is best used when directed toward direct experience.
chownah

I acknowledge you saying direct experience is the only way and I appreciate what you tried. But it is still at a very coarse level of the mind. Will really disappears when the mind settles down, and then it is becoming obvious that it was never controlled or in control.
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Re: What is controlling?

Postby kirk5a » Wed Sep 11, 2013 2:02 am

beeblebrox wrote:
Chanmyay Sayadaw wrote:When I conducted a meditation retreat in England, one of the meditators had put much effort into his practise both sitting as well as walking, and awareness of the activities too. So after about four days meditation he came to me and asked a question. ''Venerable Sir, my meditation is getting worse and worse,' he said. 'Now what happen to your meditation?' I asked him. Then he said, 'When I am walking one day, Venerable Sir, then gradually I am not aware of myself. The foot itself had lifted, and it itself pushed forward, and then dropped down by itself. There's no I or no me, no self, no myself. Sometimes though I control my foot, the foot doesn't stay with the ground. It lifted by itself. Sometimes it pushed forward very long. I couldn't control it. Then sometimes it's getting down by itself. So my meditation is getting worse and worse. What should I do?' Then eventually he said, 'I think I have gone mad.' Such an experience was very amazing.
http://buddhanet.net/vmed_4.htm


I don't think it's amazing when someone thinks that he's gone mad...

Me either. I've had that experience. There's nothing liberating about it. It's depersonalization.
Depersonalization (or depersonalisation) is an anomaly of self-awareness. It consists of a feeling of watching oneself act, while having no control over a situation.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Depersonalization
"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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Re: What is controlling?

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Sep 11, 2013 3:01 am

kirk5a wrote:Me either. I've had that experience. There's nothing liberating about it. It's depersonalization.

I don't think he's saying that it is "liberating", in itself. Just that it's the sort of observation that people report when paying close attention to the body-mind (which, as Chownah says, seems to be the point of many discourses).

If this sort of observation is just a depersonalisation disorder then is depersonalisation disorder something that the Buddha suffered from?
"Bhikkhus, form is not-self. Were form self, then this form would not lead to affliction, and one could have it of form: 'Let my form be thus, let my form be not thus.' And since form is not-self, so it leads to affliction, and none can have it of form: 'Let my form be thus, let my form be not thus.'
...
"So, bhikkhus any kind of form whatever, whether past, future or presently arisen, whether gross or subtle, whether in oneself or external, whether inferior or superior, whether far or near, must with right understanding how it is, be regarded thus: 'This is not mine, this is not I, this is not myself.'
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .nymo.html

"If anyone were to say, 'The eye is the self,' that wouldn't be tenable. The arising & falling away of the eye are discerned. And when its arising & falling away are discerned, it would follow that 'My self arises & falls away.' That's why it wouldn't be tenable if anyone were to say, 'The eye is the self.' So the eye is not-self. If anyone were to say, 'Forms are the self,' that wouldn't be tenable... Thus the eye is not-self and forms are not-self. If anyone were to say, 'Consciousness at the eye is the self,' that wouldn't be tenable... Thus the eye is not-self, forms are not-self, consciousness at the eye is not-self.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

"And what is the development of concentration that, when developed & pursued, leads to the ending of the effluents? There is the case where a monk remains focused on arising & falling away with reference to the five clinging-aggregates: 'Such is form, such its origination, such its passing away. Such is feeling, such its origination, such its passing away. Such is perception, such its origination, such its passing away. Such are fabrications, such their origination, such their passing away. Such is consciousness, such its origination, such its disappearance.' This is the development of concentration that, when developed & pursued, leads to the ending of the effluents.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


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Re: What is controlling?

Postby kirk5a » Wed Sep 11, 2013 3:04 am

mikenz66 wrote:
kirk5a wrote:Me either. I've had that experience. There's nothing liberating about it. It's depersonalization.

I don't think he's saying that it is "liberating", in itself. Just that it's the sort of observation that people report when paying close attention to the body-mind (which, as Chownah says, seems to be the point of many discourses).

If this sort of observation is just a depersonalisation disorder then is depersonalisation disorder something that the Buddha suffered from?

Of course not. Depersonalization has nothing whatsoever to do with those quotations. Far from being free of self-grasping, depersonalization (as described in the link I posted - "a feeling of watching oneself act, while having no control over a situation") is actually extreme self-consciousness.
Last edited by kirk5a on Wed Sep 11, 2013 3:37 am, edited 1 time in total.
"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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