What fabrications to still? What acquisitions to relinquish?

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.

Re: What fabrications to still? What acquisitions to relinquish?

Postby pegembara » Sat Feb 19, 2011 12:57 pm

rowyourboat wrote:Hi Starter,

The sutta is pretty clear if you take it at face value, contorted if you try to escape its basic meaning.

If all fabrications cease for a moment, all arising and passing away (of the five aggregates) cease, self ceases, craving ceases, awareness/consciousness ceases- THIS is true stilling- the flame going out, going beyond 'death' (and life) beyond existence and non-existence, it is complete cessation with no room for doubt or rites/rituals to misinterpret- it is Nibbaana through and through. Simple and direct. Your mind may not 'leap up to it' as you see nothing good in it - but contemplations such as 'Contemplating Nibbana' (nibbanussati?) as taught to Mahanama can be helpful in making the mind more receptive to stilling, cessation, non-arising, 'cooling', putting down the burden (of the aggregates) etc.

With metta

Matheesha


Hi Matheesha,

Could you explain how the awareness ceases? By this awareness, I mean the awareness of the arising and passing away of the 5 aggregates. This awareness that is always present.

Thanks.
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Re: What fabrications to still? What acquisitions to relinquish?

Postby kirk5a » Sat Feb 19, 2011 3:41 pm

rowyourboat wrote:
Hi Kirk,

I think this is a really important question- I think we confuse the Pali terms 'niruddha' (non-arising) with 'vaya' (passing away). As we all know all phenomena are causally arisen, hence impermanent, and therefore pass away. This happens all the time- there is no need for a Buddha or any Dhamma for this to happen. However what happens when Avijja is eradicated? 'With the non-arising of avijja, there is the non-arising of fabrications, with the non-arising of fabrications, there is the non-arising of consciousness.. etc' as in the Paticcasamuppada. For there to be non-arising of avijja there has to be a great degree of insight gained into phenomena, via the noble eightfold path,ie sila,samadhi,panna must be practiced. Now if non-arising is equal to fading/passing away of phenomena (which happens all the time) there would be no need for a Buddhist path. So therefore the non-arising mentioned as 'niruddha' is different from 'vaya'. It happens as a result of practice.

With metta

Matheesha

Hi Matheesha

I'm not sure I understand how what you say there answers my question. Maybe it does, but I don't get it just yet.

You say "all phenomena are causally arisen." As far as I understand, the Buddha said "All sankhara are impermanent" ("sabbe sankhara anicca - which surely means causually arisen, as well). So - what is "sankhara"? Practically speaking. As I'm sitting here, help me identify, in my experience, what he is pointing to by "sankhara". Or is "sankhara" the absolute totality of my experience right here. The whole burrito. Nothing exluded from impermanence, not anything I might call "being aware" or "awareness" or "consciousness" or anything. The whole smash is impermanent. Anyone chip in here, thanks!

Why do I keep returning to this? Well, because some teachers say, like Ajahn Maha Boowa here:

"Keep your awareness with the breath, because in meditating by taking the breath as your preoccupation, you're not after the breath. The breath is simply something for the mind to hold to so that you can reach the real thing, just as when you follow the tracks of an ox: You're not after the tracks of the ox. You follow its tracks because you want to reach the ox. Here you're keeping track of the breath so as to reach the real thing: awareness. "
http://www.what-buddha-taught.net/Books ... ey_Are.htm

Okey doke. Practical instructions. Now what about this "awareness"? Is that impermanent too?
"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 fabrications to still? What acquisitions to relinquish?

Postby rowyourboat » Sun Feb 20, 2011 8:12 am

Hi Kirk,

Yes, consciousness is awareness, is impermanent.


"What do you think, monks — Is consciousness constant or inconstant?"

"Inconstant, lord."

"And is that which is inconstant easeful or stressful?"

"Stressful, lord."

"And is it fitting to regard what is inconstant, stressful, subject to change as: 'This is mine. This is my self. This is what I am'?"

"No, lord."

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

Furthemore:

"Consciousness is not self. If consciousness were the self, this consciousness would not lend itself to dis-ease. It would be possible [to say] with regard to consciousness, 'Let my consciousness be thus. Let my consciousness not be thus.' But precisely because consciousness is not self, consciousness lends itself to dis-ease. And it is not possible [to say] with regard to consciousness, 'Let my consciousness be thus. Let my consciousness not be thus.'

Whats important to understand is that consciousness is also dependantly originated- to put it in simply terms- it arises because something else gives rise to it. When that something else disappears, it also disappears. If you look at how consciousness/awareness/mindfulness (call it what you will) arises, you see that it occurs because nama (mental) rupa (material) phenomena arises.

..from name-&-form as a requisite condition comes consciousness."..
..from consciousness as a requisite condition comes name-&-form."..

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

Now we know all 'name and form' (mental and material phenomena ie the five aggregates) are impermanent. Hence awareness is also impermanenet. However we can only sense this (when we are awake) in deep vipassana. Otherwise, like those old film reels wich have a series of still pictures, when spun really fast, we get a sense of continuity. Vipassana slows down this process so that we can sense the individual picture/film segment (does it have a technical term?? :)). So reality is really a series of sense impressions very rapidly arising and passing away one after the next -which forms an illusion of continuity.

The most difficult one to see is the impermanent nature of consciousness itself. Often the self and even a sense of sukha -that it is pure etc can hide in it.

with metta

Matheesha
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Re: What fabrications to still? What acquisitions to relinquish?

Postby rowyourboat » Mon Feb 21, 2011 1:00 pm

Hi Kirk,

Here's another gem by Ven Katukurunde Nananda:

“It’s a pity that many Bud dhists still can not accept that the goal of this prac tice is the ces sa tion of viññāṇa. It is a suf fer ing; the sim ile for viññāṇâhāra is being beaten by a spear 300 times a day. The dark­ness of avi jjā cre ates the back ground for it. As I pointed out with the sim i les of the cin ema and the magic show, these things can only hap pen as long as there is dark ness. All this is just an illu sion, a drama. In fact, the old est mean ing of saṅkhāra is found in that con text of a stage show.
“The con nec tion between viññāṇa and nāma-rūpa can be illus trated with a child ish sim ile: it is like a dog chas ing its own tail. The mod ern Rohi tas sas who try to over come a world as seen through viññāna are no dif fer ent. They chase after what the Bud dha dis­missed as an illu sion. There is noth ing to go chas ing after here; all that needs to be done is to stay where one is, and to real ize that it is merely a shadow. When the dark ness of avi jjā is dis pelled, saṅkhāra–s are stilled. The game is over.
“Viññāṇa and nāma-rūpa revolve around each other at an inde scrib able speed. That’s why it was told to Ven. Sāti that it is wrong to say “viññāṇaṃ sand hā­vati saṃsarati anaññaṃ” (it is this same viññāṇa that runs and wan ders, not another). If only the Ābhid­ham mikas real ized that pari vatta in lahu pari vattaṃ cittaṃ means ‘revolv ing’: viññāṇa pac cayā nāmarūpaṃ, nāmarūpa pac cayā viññāṇaṃ.
“The Gāthās in the Sagāthaka Vagga, although often not given enough atten tion, are very deep. I stopped the Nib bāna series at ser mon num ber 33, but what I had planned for 34, although never deliv ered, was based on that beau ti ful verse from the Nimokkha Sutta:
Nandīb hava parikkhayā saññāviññāṇasaṅkhayā,
Vedanānaṃ nirodhā upasamā evaṃ khvāhaṃ āvuso jānāmi
Sat tānaṃ nimokkhaṃ pamokkhaṃ vivekan’ti. [SN 1.2]
When delight and exis tence are exhausted
When per cep tion and con scious ness are both destroyed
When feel ings cease and are appeased – thus, O friend,
Do I know, for them that live
Deliv er ance, free dom, detachment.
“”
– Trans la tion by Bhante Ñāṇananda: Saṃyutta Nikāya – An Anthology

“In all other reli gions, viññāṇa was taken as a unit, and worse, as the soul. It is taught that even if every­thing else is imper ma nent, this isn’t. And it is taught as that which reaches Brahmā. But the Bud dha pointed out that it is a mere illu sion. It can’t exist on its own.

With metta

Matheesha
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Re: What fabrications to still? What acquisitions to relinquish?

Postby kirk5a » Mon Feb 21, 2011 2:45 pm

Thank you for the replies Matheesha. If the scope of "consciousness" (viññāṇa) is as wide as it appears to be there, then I have trouble reconciling that with Ajahn Maha Boowa's comments on the citta, as well as the "consciousness without feature" of DN 11, and the notion of "Where consciousness does not take a hold nor grow" of SN 12.64, the instruction of "my consciousness will not be dependent on consciousness" of MN143. If viññāṇa refers to vision, hearing, smell, taste, touch, & intellection, then it fits. So - :shrug:

I personally am not coming from the standpoint of "not accepting that the goal of this practice is the cessation of viññāṇa" - I'm just trying to understand the actuality of the Buddha's Dhamma, however that actually is. In studying it, I come across the teaching that "consciousness is inconstant" but then I see the "consciousness with feature" and then I see Ajahn Maha Boowa saying things like

"Pure awareness, devoid of all contaminants, is supreme awareness: a truly amazing quality of knowing that bestows perfect happiness, as befits the Arahant’s state of absolute purity. This Supreme Happiness always remains constant. It never changes or varies like conditioned phenomena of the world, which are always burdened with anicca, dukkha, and anattã."

What's a guy to do? Take it as an apparent inconsistency, or an actual one? Just put the whole subject on the "dunno" shelf? :smile: Practice, practice, I know. Keeping on with that. But it is a puzzle, or sure seems like one.
"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 fabrications to still? What acquisitions to relinquish?

Postby starter » Mon Feb 21, 2011 4:11 pm

To my current understanding, "consciousness" (viññāṇa) has two kinds:

1) one of the five aggregates, the consciousness generated by the defiled mind in response to the six sense contacts in the conditioned worlds; it's this consciousness that needs to be stilled.
2) the consciousness generated by the luminous pure mind or "the deathless", which is the "consciousness without feature" of DN 11, and "Where consciousness does not take a hold nor grow" of SN 12.64. This is the consciousness of the arahants. But the consciousness is not the pure mind itself. The pure mind (the deathless) seems to be in another dimension, the unconditioned world. When the arahants enter nibbana, then probably even this consciousness ceases.

In "my consciousness will not be dependent on consciousness" of MN143, the 1st consciousness refers to the consciousness of the arahants, and the 2nd consciousness refers to the aggregate.

Hope this helps. Metta,

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Re: What fabrications to still? What acquisitions to relinquish?

Postby rowyourboat » Mon Feb 21, 2011 10:20 pm

starter wrote:To my current understanding, "consciousness" (viññāṇa) has two kinds:

1) one of the five aggregates, the consciousness generated by the defiled mind in response to the six sense contacts in the conditioned worlds; it's this consciousness that needs to be stilled.
2) the consciousness generated by the luminous pure mind or "the deathless", which is the "consciousness without feature" of DN 11, and "Where consciousness does not take a hold nor grow" of SN 12.64. This is the consciousness of the arahants. But the consciousness is not the pure mind itself. The pure mind (the deathless) seems to be in another dimension, the unconditioned world. When the arahants enter nibbana, then probably even this consciousness ceases.

In "my consciousness will not be dependent on consciousness" of MN143, the 1st consciousness refers to the consciousness of the arahants, and the 2nd consciousness refers to the aggregate.

Hope this helps. Metta,

Starter


Hi Kirk, Starter,

Ok, here's the grand unifying theory:

What are the 'types' of consciousness:

"There are these six classes of consciousness: eye-consciousness, ear-consciousness, nose-consciousness, tongue-consciousness, body-consciousness, mind-consciousness."

Ok, now there is no other types of consciousness, other than these. [just for completeness sake- it is through consciousness, that the five aggregates are perceived: hence consciousness itself can be perceived through consciousness]

However consciousness can be 'attached' to phenomena:

"What one intends, what one arranges, and what one obsesses about:[1] This is a support for the stationing of consciousness. There being a support, there is a landing [or: an establishing] of consciousness. When that consciousness lands and grows, there is the production of renewed becoming in the future. When there is the production of renewed becoming in the future, there is future birth, aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair. Such is the origination of this entire mass of suffering & stress.

In the mind of an arahanth, the consciousness is completely detached from phenomena:

"But when one doesn't intend, arrange, or obsess [about anything], there is no support for the stationing of consciousness. There being no support, there is no landing of consciousness. When that consciousness doesn't land & grow, there is no production of renewed becoming in the future. When there is no production of renewed becoming in the future, there is no future birth, aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, or despair. Such is the cessation of this entire mass of suffering & stress."
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Consciousness can be attached to consciousness itself! ..or detached from it. (MN143)

This type of consciousness is called 'consciousness without feature' (anidassana vinnana). Check out the question and answer below (2 questions, colour coded, 2 answers)

Where do water, earth, fire, & wind
have no footing?

Where are long & short,
coarse & fine,
fair & foul,
name & form
brought to an end?

"'And the answer to that is:


Consciousness without feature,[1]
without end,
luminous all around:
Here water, earth, fire, & wind
have no footing.

Here long & short
coarse & fine
fair & foul
name & form
are all brought to an end.
With the cessation of [the activity of] consciousness
each is here brought to an end.'"


The above refers to the mind of an arahanth (saupadisesa nibbana) going to ultimate cessation (anupadisesa nibbana or parinibbana).

The luminosity refers to the purity of the citta of an arahanths mind.

Complete cessation happens at the point of each of the attainments (maga-phala moments)...as well as the final bodily death of an arahanth (as well as when the absorb into the fruition -arahath phala) - otherwise they are very much conscious of their surrounding and live in relative happiness, bliss, mindfulness etc.

However I would disagree that any arahanth would consider consciousness to be permanent.

with metta

Matheesha
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Mudita
& Upekkha
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Re: What fabrications to still? What acquisitions to relinquish?

Postby Nyana » Mon Feb 21, 2011 11:11 pm

rowyourboat wrote:Complete cessation happens at the point of each of the attainments (maga-phala moments)... as well as when the absorb into the fruition -arahath phala)

You've yet to provide any canonical support for this "complete cessation" notion of yours. Yet you seem insistent on repeating it ad nausiam....

All the best,

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Re: What fabrications to still? What acquisitions to relinquish?

Postby Sylvester » Tue Feb 22, 2011 3:47 am

"With the remainderless stopping & fading of the six contact-media [vision, hearing, smell, taste, touch, & intellection]"



I'm with Mateesha on this.

According to MN 28's discussion of DO, that section discusses the necessity for the external ayatana, internal ayatana and corresponding engagement for the arising of the respective consciousness.

If the salayanatana are gone, how does consciousness have a chance to arise? MN 9 says so as much, where it discusses the "cessation" of contact with the "cessation" of the salayatanas.

If consciousness is at an end, what does the reverse order of DO (eg SN 12.2) say about that on Nama-Rupa?
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Re: What fabrications to still? What acquisitions to relinquish?

Postby Nyana » Tue Feb 22, 2011 8:22 am

Sylvester wrote:
"With the remainderless stopping & fading of the six contact-media [vision, hearing, smell, taste, touch, & intellection]"


Not sure if you're responding to claims that something remains after an arahant's death, i.e. nibbāna element with no fuel remaining (anupādisesa nibbānadhātu), or if you're suggesting that the noble paths and fruitions are non-cognitive "complete cessations" as Matheesha states. Regarding the latter, Ven. Ñāṇananda, Nibbāna Sermons:

    The worldling discerns the world around him with the help of six narrow beams of light, namely the six sense-bases. When the superior lustre of wisdom arises, those six sense-bases go down. This cessation of the six sense bases could also be referred to as the cessation of name-and-form, nāmarūpanirodha, or the cessation of consciousness, viññāṇanirodha.

    The cessation of the six sense-bases does not mean that one does not see anything. What one sees then is voidness. It is an in-‘sight’. He gives expression to it with the words suñño loko, “void is the world.”

In Concept and Reality Ven. Ñāṇananda equates the experience of non-indicative/non-manifestative consciousness (anidassana viññāṇa) with the fruition-gnosis samādhi (aññāphala samādhi) of an arahant. AN 9.37 describes this samādhi as follows:

    Sister, the concentration whereby -- neither pressed down nor forced back, nor with fabrication kept blocked or suppressed -- still as a result of release, contented as a result of standing still, and as a result of contentment one is not agitated: This concentration is said by the Blessed One to be the fruit of gnosis.

On page 61 of Concept and Reality he discusses this samādhi:

    The unique feature of this samādhi is its very fluxional character. In it there is no such fixity as to justify a statement that it 'depends on' (nissāya) some object (ārammaṇa) as its support -- hence the frustration of gods and men who seek out the basis of the Tathāgata's consciousness. Normally, the jhānas are characterized by an element of fixity on which consciousness finds a footing or a steadying point. It is on this very fixity that the illusion of the ego thrives. In the above jhāna of the emancipated one, however, the ego has melted away in the fire of wisdom which sees the cosmic process of arising and cessation. Not only has the concept "I" (papañca par excellence) undergone combustion, but it has also ignited the data of sensory experience in their entirety. Thus in this jhāna of the Arahant, the world of concepts melts away in the intuitional bonfire of universal impermanence.

And on p. 67:

    With his penetrative insight the Arahant sees through the concepts. Now, an object of perception (ārammaṇa) for the worldling is essentially something that is brought into focus -- something he is looking at. For the Arahant, however, all concepts have become transparent to such a degree in that all-encompassing vision, that their boundaries together with their umbra and penumbra have yielded to the radiance of wisdom. This, then, is the significance of the word ‘anantaṃ’ (endless, infinite). Thus the paradoxically detached gaze of the contemplative sage as he looks through concepts is one which has no object (ārammaṇa) as the point of focus for the worldling to identify it with.

All the best,

Geoff
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Re: What fabrications to still? What acquisitions to relinquish?

Postby Sylvester » Tue Feb 22, 2011 9:38 am

The former, which I thought was Matheesha's discussion.

As for the latter, I do not know what to make of Ven Nanananda's exposition cited. If the salayatana are completely out, what is mediating the "in-sight"? Can there be contact-less nana?
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Re: What fabrications to still? What acquisitions to relinquish?

Postby Nyana » Tue Feb 22, 2011 12:14 pm

Sylvester wrote:As for the latter, I do not know what to make of Ven Nanananda's exposition cited. If the salayatana are completely out, what is mediating the "in-sight"?

Having emerged from all signs, consciousness which is non-indicative (viññāṇa anidassana) is not experienced in terms of "the allness of the all." (MN 49). The "all" being the twelve āyatanas (SN 35.23), which are to be abandoned (SN 35.24). Thus, just like all fabricated dhammas, the twelve āyatanas and the six types of contact and the six types of consciousness are merely designations (paññattimatta) demonstrating the unsatisfactoriness of deluded cognition. They are not to be taken as "the given."

Sylvester wrote:Can there be contact-less nana?

When all acquisitions have been released (i.e. sabbūpadhipaṭinissagga) there is no need to designate "contact." Udāna 2.4 (Ud 12):

    Contacts make contact
    Dependent on acquisition.
    Where there is no acquisition,
    What would contacts contact?

Explained with slightly different translation of terms in Ven. Ñāṇananda's Nibbāna Sermons:

    In order to transcend the narrow point of view limited to the bases of sense contact or the six sense spheres and realize the state of Nibbāna indicated by the words viññāṇaṃ anidassanaṃ, anantaṃ sabbato pabhaṃ, "consciousness which is non-manifestative, endless, lustrous on all sides", one has to see the cessation of contact.

    In a certain discourse in the Mucalindavagga of the Udāna, the Buddha has declared in a verse of uplift that the cessation of contact comes about only by doing away with that which brings about contact. The wandering ascetics of other sects grew jealous of the Buddha and his congregation of monks, because of their own loss of gain and honour, and began to hurl abuse on monks in the village and in the forest. A group of monks came and reported this to the Buddha. The Buddha's response to it was only a paean of joy. Udāna actually means a spontaneous utterance of joy, and the verse he uttered was such a one. But it embodied an instruction on Dhamma and a norm of Dhamma as well.

    Gāme araññe sukhadukkhaphuṭṭho,
    nev'attato no parato dahetha,
    phusanti phassā upadhiṃ paṭicca,
    Nirūpadhiṃ kena phuseyyum phassā.

    In the first two lines we get an instruction:

    "Touched by pain in village or in forest,
    Think not in terms of oneself or others."

    The reason for it is given in the norm of Dhamma which follows:

    "Touches can touch one, because of assets,
    How can touches touch him, who is asset-less?"

    This is all what the Buddha uttered. From this we can glean another aspect of the significance of the terms sabbūpadhipaṭinissagga, relinquishment of all assets, and nirupadhi, the asset-less, used with reference to Nibbāna.

Also, Ven. Ñāṇavīra's Notes on Dhamma:

    Phassa, 'contact', is defined as the coming together of the eye, forms, and eye-consciousness... But it is probably wrong to suppose that we must therefore understand the word phassa, primarily at least, as contact between these three things. So long as there is avijjā, all things (dhammā) are... inherently in subjection, they are appropriated, they are mine. This is the foundation of the notion that I am and that things are in contact with me. This contact between me and things is phassa. The ditthisampanna sees the deception, but the puthujjana accepts it at its face value and elaborates it into a relationship between himself and the world... But though the ditthisampanna is not deceived, yet until he becomes arahat the aroma of subjectivity hangs about all his experience.

    All normal experience is dual: there are present (i) one's conscious six-based body (saviññānaka salāyatanika kāya), and (ii) other phenomena (namely, whatever is not one's body); and reflexion will show that, though both are objective in the experience, the aroma of subjectivity that attaches to the experience will naturally tend to be attributed to the body. In this way, phassa comes to be seen as contact between the conscious eye and forms—but mark that this is because contact is primarily between subject and object, and not between eye, forms, and eye-consciousness. This approach makes it possible to see in what sense, with the entire cessation of all illusion of 'I' and 'mine', there is phassanirodha in the arahat (where, though there are still, so long as he continues to live, both the conscious body and the other phenomena, there is no longer any appropriation).

    But when (as commonly) phassa is interpreted as 'contact between sense-organ and sense-object, resulting in consciousness'—and its translation as '(sense-)impression' implies this interpretation—then we are at once cut off from all possibility of understanding phassanirodha in the arahat; for the question whether or not the eye is the subject is not even raised—we are concerned only with the eye as a sense-organ, and it is a sense-organ in puthujjana and arahat alike. Understanding of phassa now consists in accounting for consciousness starting from physiological (or neurological) descriptions of the sense-organs and their functioning. Consciousness, however, is not physiologically observable, and the entire project rests upon unjustifiable assumptions from the start. This epistemological interpretation of phassa misconceives the Dhamma as a kind of natural-science-cum-psychology that provides an explanation of things in terms of cause-and-effect.

All the best,

Geoff
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Re: What fabrications to still? What acquisitions to relinquish?

Postby Sylvester » Tue Feb 22, 2011 2:18 pm

Hi Geoff

I'm afraid your reply to my first query totally escapes my simple mind. :anjali:

I read s.23 of MN 49 as being simply the abandonment of all types of ditthi in relation to the ALL. If so, then it doesn't appear to be anything more mysterious than the abandonment of the sakkaya mentioned in MN 44.

As for your reply to my 2nd query, I agree with Ud 2.4, but it seems to me to be capable of a rather simple reading of giving up of the Aggregates, which is possibly meant by sabbūpadhipaṭinissagga. Insofar as the mental aspects (vinnana, vedana, sanna and cetana) depend on phassa to arise, their having been relinquished must suggest also the disappearance of phassa. Although I have to admit that the paccaya sequence suggested by Ud 2.4 seems somewhat at variance to the standard one in MN 43.

I'm still left wondering about the contactless nana.

I'll put aside discussion of viññāṇaṃ anidassanaṃ and leave that to more qualified souls.
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Re: What fabrications to still? What acquisitions to relinquish?

Postby pulga » Tue Feb 22, 2011 2:32 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:Also, Ven. Ñāṇavīra's Notes on Dhamma:

    All normal experience is dual: there are present (i) one's conscious six-based body (saviññānaka salāyatanika kāya), and (ii) other phenomena (namely, whatever is not one's body); and reflexion will show that, though both are objective in the experience, the aroma of subjectivity that attaches to the experience will naturally tend to be attributed to the body. In this way, phassa comes to be seen as contact between the conscious eye and forms—but mark that this is because contact is primarily between subject and object, and not between eye, forms, and eye-consciousness. This approach makes it possible to see in what sense, with the entire cessation of all illusion of 'I' and 'mine', there is phassanirodha in the arahat (where, though there are still, so long as he continues to live, both the conscious body and the other phenomena, there is no longer any appropriation).


I think it is important to understand why phassa is classified under náma, and thus why any particular experience of subjectivity itself is impermanent.

In a letter to Sister Vajira the Ven. Ñanavira writes:

"In visual experience (considered alone) the eye does not appear (na pātubhavati) at all, either as cakkhundriya or as mamsacakkhu, since vision itself is not visible, and the eye does not see itself. Since visual experience alone neither reveals cakkhundriya nor mamsacakkhu there is (or should be) no justification for calling either of them subject. When other faculties (or a looking glass) are used the mamsacakkhu appears (pātubhavati), but it appears as a phenomenon (to avoid using the word 'object' for the moment) amongst other phenomena, and, as such, has no claim to be called subject. In neither case is there any subject to be found. This being so, when these two experiences, visual and the other, occur together (as is usual), although there is the constriction you speak of (I would rather call it a superposition) there is no reason whatsoever for any 'discrepancy between subject and object'; for we have not found any subject. And in the arahat (do I disconcert you?) no discrepancy is, in fact, experienced, and no dukkha. It is only in the puthujjana, for whom an apparent self is manifest, and who necessarily divides things into subject and object, that the discrepancy you speak of can arise."

One needs to fully appreciate the Ven. Ñanavira's holistic approach to understanding the Dhamma to understand what he is saying here, but it seems to me to be directly verifiable without recourse to faith in the veracity of ones interpretations of obscure sutta passages. (Though that is not to say that trying to interpret the suttas isn't without merit, only that one needs to recognize the difference between speculation and understanding.)
Last edited by pulga on Tue Feb 22, 2011 4:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"...abstraction is illusory: abstraction is a discursive escape from the singularity of the real to the plurality of the imaginary—it is not an escape from the concrete." Ven. Ñanavira
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Re: What fabrications to still? What acquisitions to relinquish?

Postby kirk5a » Tue Feb 22, 2011 4:23 pm

I'm increasingly inclined to turn to Luangta Maha Boowa's words for clarification on all this.

from Samana – Luangta Maha Boowa Memorial Book p. 91
http://www.forestdhammabooks.com/index.php?page=Books

"At the beginning of our practice the heart
had no worth, since it was filled with nothing
but the excrement of greed, hatred and delusion.
By totally washing away that excrement using
the principles of the Dhamma, the heart itself
becomes pure Dhamma. Once that happens,
it’s infinitely at ease. Wherever you go, you’re
at ease. “Nibbana is the ultimate void.” Whatever
is annihilated in that void, this you’ll know. Whatever remains there, this
also you’ll know. Who can know this better than one without defilements? The
Buddha, in saying that Nibbana is the ultimate void, was speaking from his
absolute freedom from defilement. He said this from having seen Nibbana. But
we haven’t seen it yet. No matter how much we repeat his words, we just stay
where we are. Investigate so that you truly see it. The saying “Nibbana is the
ultimate void” will no longer be a problem, because what is annihilated and
what’s not will be fully clear to the heart.

“Nibbana is the ultimate happiness.” Listen! The ultimate happiness here
isn’t a feeling of pleasure or happiness. Instead, it’s the happiness that comes
with the absolute purity of the heart, with no arising or ceasing like our feelings
of pleasure and pain. This has nothing to do with the three characteristics
of existence. The ultimate happiness as a constant feature of the pure heart has
absolutely nothing to do with the three characteristics, nothing at all to do with
impermanence, dissatisfaction and not-self – it doesn’t change, it always stays
just as it is.

The Buddha says Nibbana is constant. What’s constant? The pure heart
and nothing else; that’s what’s constant. Get so that you see it, get so that you
know."
"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 fabrications to still? What acquisitions to relinquish?

Postby rowyourboat » Tue Feb 22, 2011 9:23 pm

Hi Geoff,

Do you agree that the stream entrant see the forward (samudaya) as well as the ceasing (nirodha) portions of the paticcasamuppada?

with metta

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With Metta

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& Upekkha
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Re: What fabrications to still? What acquisitions to relinquish?

Postby Nyana » Tue Feb 22, 2011 10:03 pm

rowyourboat wrote:Do you agree that the stream entrant see the forward (samudaya) as well as the ceasing (nirodha) portions of the paticcasamuppada?

Yes. In canonical abhidhamma terms, when one who has entered the stream is abiding in supramundane jhāna they discern the signlessness of phenomena which is equivalent to the reverse sequence of paṭiccasamuppāda. The penetration of paṭiccasamuppāda in both forward sequence (anuloma) and reverse sequence (paṭiloma) eliminates adherence to any mistaken views of existence and non-existence. When one who's entered the stream has developed supramundane jhāna sufficiently they realize the fruition of stream-entry (sotāpattiphala) which is the complete termination of the first three fetters (saṃyojanā).

All the best,

Geoff
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Re: What fabrications to still? What acquisitions to relinquish?

Postby Nyana » Tue Feb 22, 2011 11:25 pm

Sylvester wrote:I'm still left wondering about the contactless nana.

When we are talking about the noble paths and fruitions we employ designations, but these are merely designations (paññattimatta). Whether the cognitions of the paths and fruitions attend to signs (i.e. when engaged in the supramundane applications of mindfulness) or discern the signlessness of phenomena (supramundane jhāna), those path and fruition cognitions are measureless (appamāṇa) and have measureless object-supports (appamāṇārammaṇa) and are non-indicative (anidassana), cf. Abhidhamma Vibhaṅga. Thus, they are all unincluded (apariyāpanna). And so, although we can employ designations such as "contact," etc., these designations are not ultimately established (paramatthasiddhi). They are merely designations (paññattimatta) employed for the purpose of explaining the path leading to the cessation of unsatisfactoriness. The raft is for crossing over, not for constructing philosophical systems.

All the best,

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Re: What fabrications to still? What acquisitions to relinquish?

Postby Sylvester » Wed Feb 23, 2011 1:38 am

Thanks Geoff.

But it looks as if this bifurcation into paññattimatta and paramattha (implied from the former) seems only necessary if one approaches from a certain Abhidhammic angle. Your treatment of phassa echoes the Sautrantika thesis, whereas the Sarvastivadins and the Pali Dhammasangani accords phassa "dhamma" status : Karunadasa p.102.

Even if I go with the Sautrantika position that phassa is merely paññattimatta, this does not alter the fact the designation "phassa" describes the phenomenon of the triad of ayatana, indriya and vinnana. Which still brings us back to the question - can there be nana without this triad?

Might you happen to have at hand a sutta that expresses or implies the bifurcation of mindfulness and jhana into mundane and supramundane? What do you or your textual source mean by "supramundane"?
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Re: What fabrications to still? What acquisitions to relinquish?

Postby rowyourboat » Wed Feb 23, 2011 8:09 am

Ñāṇa wrote:
rowyourboat wrote:Do you agree that the stream entrant see the forward (samudaya) as well as the ceasing (nirodha) portions of the paticcasamuppada?

Yes. In canonical abhidhamma terms, when one who has entered the stream is abiding in supramundane jhāna they discern the signlessness of phenomena which is equivalent to the reverse sequence of paṭiccasamuppāda.


Hi Goeff

Considering the 'patiloma' or nirodha portion of the paticcasamuppada, would you agree that it contains non-arising of consciousness, non-arising of nama rupa, non-arising of salayatana and non-arising of phassa?

with metta

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