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 Nyana » Wed Feb 23, 2011 12:34 pm

Sylvester wrote: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.

Following Ven. Ñāṇananda, there is no need and no soteriological purpose in trying to establish any dhammas as anything more than nominal designations. The teachings are prescriptive and descriptive, and this is all that one needs in order to develop the path. From his The Magic of the Mind, pp. 62-63:

    According to the phenomenalistic approach of the Buddha, not only the different types of feelings and mental states but the entire range of doctrinal categories summed up under the last section [of the Mahāsatipaṭṭhāna Sutta] i.e. ‘contemplation of mind-objects,’ has nothing in it that is worth ‘clinging to.’ All of them can be subsumed under the term ‘concept’ and that is to recognize their conditioned nature – the nature of arising and ceasing.

    “Friends, when there is the eye and there are forms and there is eye-consciousness, it is possible that one will point out a designation of contact (phassapaññatti). When there is a designation of contact, it is possible that one will point out a designation of feeling (vedanāpaññatti). When there is a designation of feeling, it is possible that one will point out a designation of perception (saññāpaññatti). When there is a designation of perception, it is possible that one will point out a designation of thought (vitakkapaññatti). When there is a designation of thought, it is possible that one will point out a designation of obsession due to reckonings born of prolific perception (papañcasaññāsaṅkhāsamudācaraṇapaññatti).

    “When there is the ear... When there is the nose... When there is the tongue... When there is the body...

    “When there is the mind and there are mental phenomena and there is mental-consciousness, it is possible that one will point out a designation of contact. When there is a designation of contact, it is possible that one will point out a designation of feeling. When there is a designation of feeling, it is possible that one will point out a designation of perception. When there is a designation of perception, it is possible that one will point out a designation of thought. When there is a designation of thought, it is possible that one will point out a designation of obsession due to reckonings born of prolific perception.” – M I 112 Madhupiṇḍika Sutta

    It would indeed appear strange to us that in Buddhist psychology even contact and feeling – with which we are so intimate – are treated as ‘designations’ (paññatti). We might feel that this is an intrusion of the ‘designation’ into the jealously guarded recesses of the psyche. Yet this is not the case, for, in the very act of apperception contacts and feelings are reckoned, evaluated, defined, and designated on the basis of one’s latencies (i.e. the aggregates). Thus there is hardly any justification for regarding them as ‘the given’, though we are accustomed to take them for granted. In other words, what we are wont to treat as ‘the given,’ turns out to be ‘synthetic’ and ‘composite’ (saṅkhata).

And from his Concept and Reality In Early Buddhist Thought, p. 87:

    The primary significance of the formula of Dependent Arising lies here. Lists of phenomena, both mental and material, are linked together with the term "paccayā" or any of its equivalents, and the fact of their conditionality and non-substantiality is emphasized with the help of analysis and synthesis. Apart from serving the immediate purpose of their specific application, these formulas help us to attune our minds in order to gain paññā. Neither the words in these formulas, nor the formulas as such, are to be regarded as ultimate categories. We have to look not so much at them as through them. We must not miss the wood for the trees by dogmatically clinging to the words in the formulas as being ultimate categories. As concepts, they are merely the modes in which the flux of material and mental life has been arrested and split up in the realm of ideation....

Concept and Reality, pp. 55 - 56:

    Concepts – be they material or spiritual, worldly or transcendental – are not worthy of being grasped dogmatically. They are not to be treated as ultimate categories and are to be discarded in the course of the spiritual endeavour.... That the emancipated sage (muni) no longer clings even to such concepts as "nibbāna" or "detachment" (virāga) is clearly indicated in the following verse of the Sutta Nipāta:

    "For the Brahmin (the Muni) who has transcended all bounds, there is nothing that is grasped by knowing or by seeing. He is neither attached to attachment nor is he attached to detachment. In this world, he has grasped nothing as the highest." [Sn 795]

And there is no need for a two truth theory either. Concept and Reality In Early Buddhist Thought, pp. 44-45:

    [T]he word ‘paramattha’ in its earlier and non-technical usage, actually meant the Highest Goal as the object of realization, and any words tending towards that goal were called ‘paramatthasaṃhita’ (connected with the Highest Goal), irrespective of their precision or technicality. However, the Buddha, for his part, was content to treat all of them as ‘sammuti’. For him, they were ‘merely worldly conventions in common use, which he made use of, without clinging to them’ (DN I 202, Poṭṭhapāda Sutta).

    One wonders whether this simple though profound attitude of the Buddha towards concepts, has been properly handed down in tradition, when for instance one comes across the following verse quoted approvingly by Buddhaghosa (source unknown) in his commentary to the Anaṅgaṇa Sutta of the Majjhima Nikāya:

    Duve saccāni akkhāsi, sambuddho vadataṃ varo;
    sammutiṃ paramatthañca, tatiyaṃ nūpalabbhati.
    Saṅketavacanaṃ saccaṃ, lokasammutikāraṇā;
    paramatthavacanaṃ saccaṃ, dhammānaṃ bhūtakāraṇā.
    Tasmā vohārakusalassa, lokanāthassa satthuno;
    sammutiṃ voharantassa, musāvādo na jāyati.

    [Translation:] "The Fully Enlightened One, the best of those who speak, declared two truths, the conventional and the absolute; there can be no third. Words of symbolic nature are true by reason of their existence in worldly parlance. Words of absolute significance, are true by reason of the existence of the elements. Hence, even though the Lord of the World, the Teacher versed in worldly parlance, makes use of such conventional speech, there arises no offense of falsehood for him."

    If one can appreciate the significance of the term ‘nippapañca,’ one might realize that the Buddha could magnanimously afford to dispense with such naïve defenses as the above, against any charges of his having violated the fourth precept.

And also, in his The Mind Stilled, Nibbāna Sermon 13:

    [Nibbāna] is not a paramattha in the sense of an absolute. It is a paramattha only in the sense that it is the highest good, parama attha. This is the sense in which the word was used in the discourses, though it has different connotations now. As exemplified by such quotations as āraddhaviriyo paramatthapattiyā, "with steadfast energy for the attainment of the highest good," the suttas speak of Nibbāna as the highest good to be attained.

    In later Buddhist thought, however, the word paramattha came to acquire absolutist connotations, due to which some important discourses of the Buddha on the question of worldly appellations, worldly expressions and worldly designations fell into disuse. This led to an attitude of dwelling in the scaffolding, improvised just for the purpose of constructing a building....

    [i]t is not proper to relegate some sermons as discursive or conventional in style. Always it is a case of using concepts in worldly parlance. In the laboratory one uses a particular set of symbols, but on returning home he uses another. In the same way, it is not possible to earmark a particular bundle of concepts as absolute and unchangeable. As stated in the Poṭṭhapādasutta, already discussed, all these concepts are worldly appellations, worldly expressions, worldly usages, worldly designations, which the Tathāgata makes use of without tenacious grasping. However philosophical or technical the terminology may be, the arahants make use of it without grasping it tenaciously. What is of importance is the function it fulfills. We should make use of the conceptual scaffolding only for the purpose of putting up the building. As the building comes up, the scaffolding has to leave. It has to be dismantled. If one simply clings onto the scaffolding, the building would never come up.

Sylvester wrote:Might you happen to have at hand a sutta that expresses or implies the bifurcation of mindfulness and jhana into mundane and supramundane?

The basic distinction is given in MN 117, and developed in the Abhidhammapiṭaka such as the Vibhaṅga, etc.

Sylvester wrote:What do you or your textual source mean by "supramundane"?

It's a translation of lokuttara, which is defined in the Paṭisambhidāmagga Treatise on the Supramundane as follows:

    What dhammas are supramundane?

    The four applications of mindfulness, the four right endeavors, the four pathways of achievement, the five faculties, the five strengths, the seven factors of awakening, the eightfold path, and the four noble paths, the four ascetic fruitions, and nibbāna.

    In what sense are they supramundane?

    They cross from the world, thus they are supramundane. They cross over from the world, thus they are supramundane.

All the best,

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

Postby Nyana » Wed Feb 23, 2011 12:55 pm

rowyourboat wrote: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?

Conditioned arising in its forward sequence is always a description of deluded cognition. When rooted in ignorance and craving, any experience automatically includes all of the first eleven links. That is, for the worldling there is always ignorance, contact, craving, grasping, becoming, and birth, which is the birth of a "being" (satta).

This sets up identity and alienation -- i.e. the struggle for ego survival -- of "my being" in "the world." Whenever there is "a being" in "the world" there is going to arise circumstances of "my being" vs. "the world."

When the forward and reverse sequences of conditioned arising are penetrated the entire deluded cognitive and conflicted affective edifice of the forward sequence of dependent arising immediately collapses like a house of cards. This is why the mind of a learner engaged in practice is designated as measureless (appamāṇa). But this does not mean that there is a non-cognitive blackout. Non-cognitive absorptions are never considered supramundane. Ven. Ñāṇananda, Nibbāna Sermons:

    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 kirk5a » Wed Feb 23, 2011 3:19 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:Following Ven. Ñāṇananda, there is no need and no soteriological purpose in trying to establish any dhammas as anything more than nominal designations.

Except for the need to breathe, in which case, oxygen does in fact need to be something more than a nominal designation. The soteriological purpose in trying to establish oxygen as something more than a nominal designation would be so that we don't take up the view of non-existence (or a variation thereof, which says everything is just a concept).

But the purpose of the path is for not-clinging, not for developing views on the ontological status of dhammas.
"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 Nyana » Wed Feb 23, 2011 3:48 pm

kirk5a wrote:
Ñāṇa wrote:Following Ven. Ñāṇananda, there is no need and no soteriological purpose in trying to establish any dhammas as anything more than nominal designations.

Except for the need to breathe, in which case, oxygen does in fact need to be something more than a nominal designation. The soteriological purpose in trying to establish oxygen as something more than a nominal designation would be so that we don't take up the view of non-existence (or a variation thereof, which says everything is just a concept).

Does one really require someone to establish oxygen as a truly existent entity in order to breathe? How did sentient beings on this planet know how to breathe before oxygen was identified as a chemical element? Does one really need someone to tell them to breathe? If they do then here's a book called Breathe! You Are Alive. But I doubt that the author felt compelled to establish oxygen as a truly existent entity in order to discuss the subject.

At any rate, the teachings are prescriptive and descriptive. They designate the path to develop in order to realize the cessation of unsatisfactoriness. For this purpose designations are used which are accepted in worldly parlance. Ven. Ñāṇananda:

    It would indeed appear strange to us that in Buddhist psychology even contact and feeling – with which we are so intimate – are treated as ‘designations’ (paññatti). We might feel that this is an intrusion of the ‘designation’ into the jealously guarded recesses of the psyche. Yet this is not the case, for, in the very act of apperception contacts and feelings are reckoned, evaluated, defined, and designated on the basis of one’s latencies (i.e. the aggregates). Thus there is hardly any justification for regarding them as ‘the given’, though we are accustomed to take them for granted. In other words, what we are wont to treat as ‘the given,’ turns out to be ‘synthetic’ and ‘composite’ (saṅkhata).

And:

    As concepts, they are merely the modes in which the flux of material and mental life has been arrested and split up in the realm of ideation.

And:

    The Buddha, for his part, was content to treat all of them as ‘sammuti’. For him, they were ‘merely worldly conventions in common use, which he made use of, without clinging to them’ (DN I 202, Poṭṭhapāda Sutta).

And:

    As stated in the Poṭṭhapādasutta, already discussed, all these concepts are worldly appellations, worldly expressions, worldly usages, worldly designations, which the Tathāgata makes use of without tenacious grasping. However philosophical or technical the terminology may be, the arahants make use of it without grasping it tenaciously. What is of importance is the function it fulfills. We should make use of the conceptual scaffolding only for the purpose of putting up the building. As the building comes up, the scaffolding has to leave. It has to be dismantled. If one simply clings onto the scaffolding, the building would never come up.

kirk5a wrote:But the purpose of the path is for not-clinging, not for developing views on the ontological status of dhammas.

Precisely.

All the best,

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

Postby kirk5a » Wed Feb 23, 2011 4:33 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:
kirk5a wrote:
Ñāṇa wrote:Following Ven. Ñāṇananda, there is no need and no soteriological purpose in trying to establish any dhammas as anything more than nominal designations.

Except for the need to breathe, in which case, oxygen does in fact need to be something more than a nominal designation. The soteriological purpose in trying to establish oxygen as something more than a nominal designation would be so that we don't take up the view of non-existence (or a variation thereof, which says everything is just a concept).

Do you really require someone to establish oxygen as a truly existent entity in order for you to breathe?

Of course not.
How did sentient beings on this planet know how to breathe before oxygen was identified as a chemical element?

They didn't need to identify it as a chemical element, but before the atmosphere contained enough oxygen, there were no sentient beings breathing on this planet.
Do you really need someone to tell you to breathe?

Of course not.
If you do then here's a book called Breathe! You Are Alive. But I doubt that the author felt compelled to establish oxygen as a truly existent entity in order to discuss the subject.

For certain.
At any rate, the teachings are prescriptive and descriptive. They designate the path to develop in order to realize the cessation of unsatisfactoriness. For this purpose designations are used which are accepted in worldly parlance.

Right. Which is different from saying that there is nothing more to dhammas other than these designations. I'm not saying you are promoting that view. I might just responding to my own thoughts. So - you aren't saying that, right?
"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 Nyana » Wed Feb 23, 2011 5:07 pm

kirk5a wrote:
Ñāṇa wrote:At any rate, the teachings are prescriptive and descriptive. They designate the path to develop in order to realize the cessation of unsatisfactoriness. For this purpose designations are used which are accepted in worldly parlance.

Right. Which is different from saying that there is nothing more to dhammas other than these designations. I'm not saying you are promoting that view. I might just responding to my own thoughts. So - you aren't saying that, right?

Dhammas "are merely the modes in which the flux of material and mental life has been arrested and split up in the realm of ideation."

All the best,

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

Postby kirk5a » Wed Feb 23, 2011 6:07 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:Dhammas "are merely the modes in which the flux of material and mental life has been arrested and split up in the realm of ideation."

All the best,

Geoff

So is he saying that the flux of material and mental life, is itself, merely a mode of ideation?
"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 » Wed Feb 23, 2011 6:13 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:
rowyourboat wrote: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?

Conditioned arising in its forward sequence is always a description of deluded cognition. When rooted in ignorance and craving, any experience automatically includes all of the first eleven links. That is, for the worldling there is always ignorance, contact, craving, grasping, becoming, and birth, which is the birth of a "being" (satta).


I agree with your statement above. But please note the patiloma (non-arising) sequence happens when avijja does not arise. If we consider at what point is it, that avijja is least likely to arise (that the stream entrant experience)- it is when vijja-insight is at it's highest ie- the magga phala moment (moment of attainment). This manifests experientially as below:
(see last sentence - where Nama-rupa and consciousness cease very much like that of the patiloma paticcasamuppada.)

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 consciousness
each is here brought to an end.'"

Where consciousness has no footing is a different matter, from when it and Nama-rupa come to an end. The former is phala ('fruit') as correctly denoted by Ven K Nanananda. This is when consciousness perceives the void. It can be correctly (as it is, in the sutta you quoted) termed a state of samadhi- because the ceasing that happens in a step-wise manner. Nama-rupa disappears BEFORE consciousness, hence it is NOT the patiloma cessation where when avijja goes, everything goes. The 'fruit' is a special state of meditation immediately (hours, days) after attainment of stream entry. It is special in that only 'ariyas' (and recently attained ones at that can absorb into).

The penetrating through concepts the venerable mentions is normal for a stream entrant (when s/he resolves on his insight)- I guess an arahanth would have it all the time - hence apparently the 'unfocused eyes'.

It is possible to come to a concordant understanding of the dhamma, without having to resort to commentarial support-away from the suttas.

With metta

Matheesha
With Metta

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

Postby Kenshou » Wed Feb 23, 2011 7:21 pm

kirk5a wrote:So is he saying that the flux of material and mental life, is itself, merely a mode of ideation?

As I understand it, it is not that our bare experience itself is said to be "merely ideation", this is just talking about the designations placed upon it. This includes the designations of a self "in here" and an objective stuff "out there", and the concepts of the dhamma itself, too. The reason that this is important is because such conceptual designations tend to be bundled up with notions of permanence and stability.

rowyourboat wrote:It is possible to come to a concordant understanding of the dhamma, without having to resort to commentarial support-away from the suttas.
Okay, but, the concept of discreet magga-phala-cittas is itself a post-suttic idea.

Also, if with the cessation of avijja, even momentarily, comes the cessation of consciousness (for that moment) due to DO not progressing, for one who has fully overcome avijja, how does consciousness ever again arise? We know that arahants were not perpetually unconscious. Does it make sense to say that the conscious experience of the arahant after his attainment is being generated due to DO in the forward sequence still occurring?

I think it is not unreasonable to say that , since arahants are conscious like everyone else, consciousness can occur when DO has been shut down. Which relates to what Geoff has said that DO is a description of deluded cognition. When DO stops, consciousness does cease, that is, consciousness rooted in craving/aversion/delusion.

rowyourboat wrote:Consciousness without feature...

With the cessation of consciousness
each is here brought to an end.


http://www.beyondthenet.net/calm/nibbana07.htm

A non-ara­hant's consciousness is established on name-and-form. The unestablished consciousness is that which is free from name-and-form and is unestablished on name-and-form. The established con­sciousness, upon reflection, reflects name-and-form, on which it is established, whereas the unestablished consciousness does not find a name-and-form as a reality. The arahant has no attachments or en­tanglements in regard to name-and-form. In short, it is a sort of pene­tration of name-and-form, without getting entangled in it. This is how we have to un­ravel the meaning of the expression anidassana viññana

But for the present, let us proceed to say something about the last two lines as well. Viññanassa nirodhena, etth'etaü upa­rujjhati. As we saw above, for all practical purposes, name-and-form seem to cease, even like the fading away of the scenes on the cinema screen. Then what is meant by this phrase viññanas­sa nirodhena, with the cessation of consciousness? The refer­ence here is to that abhisankhata viññàna, or the specifi­cally prepared consciousness. It is the cessation of that con­cocted type of consciousness which was for­merly there, like the one di­rected on the cinema screen by the audi­ence. With the cessation of that specifically prepared consciousness, all con­stituents of name-and-form are said to be held in check, upa­ruj­jhati.
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Re: What fabrications to still? What acquisitions to relinquish?

Postby Nyana » Wed Feb 23, 2011 9:33 pm

rowyourboat wrote:The former is phala ('fruit') as correctly denoted by Ven K Nanananda. This is when consciousness perceives the void.

There is no "the void" to be perceived. Any perception of a "the void" has nothing to do with nibbāna. Nibbāna is the termination of very specific fetters, underlying tendencies, and outflows. This termination occurs in supramundane jhāna where the jhāna factors are very much present.

rowyourboat wrote:It is possible to come to a concordant understanding of the dhamma, without having to resort to commentarial support-away from the suttas.

As Kenshou indicated, your entire premise of the noble paths and fruitions is based on commentaries written in the 20th century. If they are actually saying what you are suggesting then they are not accurately presenting the stages of insight-gnosis as presented in the Suttapiṭaka, Abhidhammapiṭaka, and Paṭisambhidāmagga.

All the best,

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

Postby Nyana » Wed Feb 23, 2011 9:47 pm

Kenshou wrote:
kirk5a wrote:So is he saying that the flux of material and mental life, is itself, merely a mode of ideation?

As I understand it, it is not that our bare experience itself is said to be "merely ideation", this is just talking about the designations placed upon it.

Yes. The individuation of particular dhammas requires the concomitant engagement of consciousness (viññāṇa) and name (nāma: vedanā, saññā, phassa, cetanā, manasikāra) specific to whatever dhamma is being cognitively individuated. Thus, all such individuation of particulars is fabricated, relational, and conventional. Particular dhammas are not simply given to awareness, they are learned, individuated, apperceived, and attended to.

A thorough understanding of this process of individuation exposes the problem of deluded cognition, and when the problem is thoroughly discerned one can then begin to abandon unskillful processes and develop skillful mental factors such as faith, gladness, joy, tranquility, pleasure, concentration, etc. (saddhā, pāmojja, pīti, passaddhi, sukha, samādhi). Beyond this, one begins to clearly see the futility of fabricated processes altogether. As this clear seeing (vipassanā) develops, disenchantment (nibbidā) arises. Then dispassion (virāga) arises. Then as these qualities continue to develop, eventually the path results in liberation through discernment (paññāvimutti) and one realizes the gnosis of elimination (khayeñāṇa) of the outflows (āsava-s), also referred to as the elimination of craving (taṇhakkhaya) as a shorthand expression.

All of this is developmental and soteriological. The path doesn't require establishing philosophical theories and proofs of valid cognition (pamāṇa) or ultimately existent objects. From the perspective of the early Pāḷi dhamma all of this sort of theorizing is just more proliferation (papañca). Nothing needs to be philosophically established beyond the status of mere designation (paññattimatta). This in no way entails nihilism because the dhammavinaya isn't a philosophical head trip; all components of path praxis are to be fully engaged and developed (bhāvanā).

Kenshou wrote:http://www.beyondthenet.net/calm/nibbana07.htm

But for the present, let us proceed to say something about the last two lines as well. Viññanassa nirodhena, etth'etaü upa­rujjhati. As we saw above, for all practical purposes, name-and-form seem to cease, even like the fading away of the scenes on the cinema screen. Then what is meant by this phrase viññanas­sa nirodhena, with the cessation of consciousness? The refer­ence here is to that abhisankhata viññàna, or the specifi­cally prepared consciousness. It is the cessation of that con­cocted type of consciousness which was for­merly there, like the one di­rected on the cinema screen by the audi­ence. With the cessation of that specifically prepared consciousness, all con­stituents of name-and-form are said to be held in check, upa­ruj­jhati.


Indeed.

All the best,

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

Postby Sylvester » Thu Feb 24, 2011 2:22 am

Thank you Geoff for your reply.

Sylvester wrote:
Might you happen to have at hand a sutta that expresses or implies the bifurcation of mindfulness and jhana into mundane and supramundane?

The basic distinction is given in MN 117, and developed in the Abhidhammapiṭaka such as the Vibhaṅga, etc.


I expected that MN 117 would pop up. :tongue:

Much as I may like to brandish MN 117 at the "dry-insight" camp, I refrain from rushing headlong into reading MN 117 as promoting all jhanas as supramundane. I'm sure it's not escaped you, that MN 117 applies the "with asava"/"without asava" dichotomy only to the first 5 factors of the Noble Eightfold Path. Nothing is said about the final 3 factors and whether or not they are touched by the same dichotomy. I'm very tempted to just assert that this must lead to the inference that the final 3 factors are definitely and exclusively supramundane, but it's too much of a stretch, since there are other suttas that suggest that cetovimmutti without the other factors can lead back to a lower rebirth once the kamma is exhausted.

In what sense are they supramundane?

They cross from the world, thus they are supramundane. They cross over from the world, thus they are supramundane.


I suppose the Psm definition that you gave is fairly workable, but I suspect the definition can be found within MN 117 itself. The dichotomy is between "sāsavā puññabhāgiyā upadhivepakkā" and "ariyā anāsavā lokuttarā maggaṅgā". It looks as if this is nothing more than a simple opposition of antonyms.

The "ariya" qualification is explained in the later passages as being "ariyamaggasamaṅgino", which according to SN 55.5 would restrict full possession of the N8P to a Stream Winner and upwards. The putthujana quality should be implied in the other side of the dichotomy. Likewise for the silent antonym to maggaṅgā.

I read "sāsavā puññabhāgiyā" as a pair that is opposed by "anāsavā". This then leaves "upadhivepakkā" to be opposed by "lokuttarā". I think this would simply suggest that whatever is lokuttarā, does not result in upadhis (Aggregates).

But MN 117 is silent on the place of the final 3 factors within this dichotomy. It could well be the case that the silence is due to upadhivepakkā and lokuttarā being predictive, and some latitude was saved for the final 3 factors' outcomes. I'm just not sure.

I doubt seriously if MN 117 can be pressed into service by an Abhidhammika to justify the Abhidhammic lokiya/lokuttara dichotomy for jhana.
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Re: What fabrications to still? What acquisitions to relinquish?

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Feb 24, 2011 3:02 am

Sylvester wrote:

Much as I may like to brandish MN 117 at the "dry-insight" camp,
Keep in mind that "dry-insight" is not really so dry in actual practice as spelled out in the VM.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: What fabrications to still? What acquisitions to relinquish?

Postby Nyana » Thu Feb 24, 2011 4:24 am

Sylvester wrote:Much as I may like to brandish MN 117 at the "dry-insight" camp, I refrain from rushing headlong into reading MN 117 as promoting all jhanas as supramundane.

I don't read it as saying that all jhānas are supramundane.

Sylvester wrote:I doubt seriously if MN 117 can be pressed into service by an Abhidhammika to justify the Abhidhammic lokiya/lokuttara dichotomy for jhana.

Why do you have a problem with the distinction between worldly and supramundane jhāna? It in no way entails the consequence of the "3 mind-moment path."

All the best,

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

Postby Sylvester » Thu Feb 24, 2011 6:15 am

tiltbillings wrote:
Sylvester wrote:

Much as I may like to brandish MN 117 at the "dry-insight" camp,


Keep in mind that "dry-insight" is not really so dry in actual practice as spelled out in the VM.


Of course, Tilt. I do accept that certain Vipassana strands posit a transit satipatthana nexus which is a lot more "lubricated" than mere upacara.
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Re: What fabrications to still? What acquisitions to relinquish?

Postby Sylvester » Thu Feb 24, 2011 6:45 am

I don't read it as saying that all jhānas are supramundane.


Indeed you don't, since you subscribe to a lokiya/lokuttara distinction, based on your interpretation of MN 117 as a sutta source.

The temptation was on me to hold the opinion that all ariya jhanas are lokuttara, based on an interpretation of MN 117. There, the suggestion seems to be made that the final 3 factors have their upanisa and parikkhāra in the preceding 5 factors, whether or not the preceding 5 are with or without asavas. Taken quite literally, upanisa simply mean cause or sufficient condition, while parikkhara refers to these conditions being necessary ones as well.

Of course, it might be argued that since the discussion was on "ariya sammasamadhi", it must be implied that the upanisa of ariya sammasamadhi must be restricted to the anāsavā factors. Maybe, but the sutta itself does not seem to suggest such a reading.

As for my discomfort with the Abhidhammic notion of lokiya/lokuttara jhanas, is it really necessary, when MN 117, in my view, does not posit such a distinction? If upanisa is correctly interpreted to mean a sufficient condition, that would suggest that development of the 5 factors will inevitably lead to the development of the final 3.

Another concern I have with the lokuttara notion, is that many English readers leap at "supramundane" as if it refers to some "transcendental" state, instead of the tamer "transcending" function. We can already see how easily that creeps into the discussions of viññāṇaṃ anidassanaṃ in relation to the disappearance of the salayatana.
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Re: What fabrications to still? What acquisitions to relinquish?

Postby rowyourboat » Thu Feb 24, 2011 10:00 am

Hi Geoff,

You say there is no void to be perceived, yet you quote Ven K Nanananda saying just that to support you position, a few posts before my previous reply. I see you have no problem with 20th century 'commentary' because you seem to use him a lot.

Experientially, your position of getting rid of all fetters, defilements, hindrances etc without the need for a 'complete cessation' seems problematic in that your ignorance works at a pre-conscious level, as can be seen from the paticcasamuppada. Avijja, after giving rise to sankhara, only then gives rise to vinnana/consciousness. The model that you propose simply doesn't dig deep enough to remove avijja-anusaya. I am willing to bet after suppressing some ignorance, it would keep arising repeatedly, manifesting as defilements, operating on premises of nicca, sukha, atta. Stiff resistance to a cessation experience of consciousness (while others are more willing to accept such a possibility) suggests to me an attachment to consciousnes and even knowledge (Nana), and indeed we denote ourselves by what we like to be called, if we had the choice:

"If one stays obsessed with consciousness, that's what one is measured by. Whatever one is measured by, that's how one is classified.[2]

Absence of consciousness is not the death of Nana/insight, rather it is the epitome of insight -simply because it has reached a place no ordinary insight/wisdom/learning can reach. This insight merely unravels the delusion of phenomena, down to its very existence, and it stops existing (for a moment). However ultimate existence/non-existence cannot be a standpoint based on that experience either (that is another discussion).

By magga-phala, I mean 'vimutti'-occurring through insight. Where I come from (Sri Lanka) it is common parlance to denote attaining one of the higher paths and fruits (sorry, finding it difficult to find a more accurate term to name that particular event). I am fully in line with the suttas - if you are not willing to consider the quotations I have provided there is nothing more I can do.

My one caveat is the descriptions of the visuddhis and vipassana nana. I didn't believe in these for a long time until it happened to me. I think you would agree that mindfulness of phenomena arising and passing away is a core practice. Well, what happens when you do that in a way the suttas suggest -after full penetration of the dhamma in terms of views -after saddjammasavana and yonisomanasikara and then progressing to dhammanudhammapatipada (satipatthana) the end result is nibbida, viraga and nirodha. It is this process that is expanded and detailed in the final few 'visuddhis'. If practice begins with no/inappropriate understanding of the dhamma, then mindfulness will merely skim off surface defilements, and 'make samsara peaceful'- what Bikkhu Bodhi was warning the world against. If we loose the proper deep dhamma work, then the Buddha-sasana will end right here. It will become nearly the same as any other religion/psychology preaching salvation and heaven and happiness in this lifetime.

The other reason I subscribe to the visuddhi and vipassana nana is that it was unfolding in just the manner described in my students who were watching arising and passing away of all phenomena. I must admit, I saw it best in them. The last retreat I conducted left me with no doubt that this is what happens when you observe the six sense bases, the five aggregates, Nama-rupa, call it what you will.

With metta

Matheesha
With Metta

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

Postby Nyana » Thu Feb 24, 2011 12:18 pm

rowyourboat wrote:Stiff resistance to a cessation experience of consciousness (while others are more willing to accept such a possibility) suggests to me an attachment to consciousnes and even knowledge (Nana)

The thing is Matheesha, I've experienced the "complete cessation." It is not an adequate nor reliable indication of stream entry or any of the other paths and fruitions. There is nothing specifically Buddhist about utterly void absorption cessations. In fact, precisely this type of stopping the mind is the goal of some non-Buddhist yogic traditions. Therefore, this contentless absorption cannot be equated with Buddhist nibbāna. Moreover, there are now a number of people who've had such experiences sanctioned by "insight meditation" teachers, and who have gone on to proclaim to the world that arahants can still experience lust and the other defiled mental phenomena. Taking all of this into account there is no good reason whatsoever to accept this interpretation of the four noble paths and fruitions.

rowyourboat wrote:Absence of consciousness is not the death of Nana/insight, rather it is the epitome of insight -simply because it has reached a place no ordinary insight/wisdom/learning can reach. This insight merely unravels the delusion of phenomena, down to its very existence, and it stops existing (for a moment).

If the absence of consciousness was an indication of the development of insight then unconscious beings would have developed insight and the state of deep, dreamless sleep would be the same as nibbāna. This is even more extreme than the view of the brahmin Parāsariya who taught a method of development (bhāvanā) wherein "one does not see forms with the eye, nor hear sounds with the ear." The Buddha dismissed such development in MN 152 as follows:

    If that were the case, Uttara, then a blind man would have developed faculties and a deaf man would have developed faculties, according to the words of the brahmin Parāsariya. For a blind man does not see forms with the eye, and a deaf man does not hear sounds with the ear.

rowyourboat wrote:By magga-phala, I mean 'vimutti'-occurring through insight. Where I come from (Sri Lanka) it is common parlance to denote attaining one of the higher paths and fruits (sorry, finding it difficult to find a more accurate term to name that particular event). I am fully in line with the suttas - if you are not willing to consider the quotations I have provided there is nothing more I can do.

Your notion of the noble paths and fruitions is not supported by the Pāli canon. If cognition and the jhāna factors are not present then there is no supramundane path or fruition attainment. There is no gnosis of elimination (khayeñāṇa) without gnosis (ñāṇa).

rowyourboat wrote:and then progressing to dhammanudhammapatipada (satipatthana) the end result is nibbida, viraga and nirodha.

The Paṭisambhidāmagga is clear that entrance into the supramundane path occurs after correctly engaging contemplation of release (paṭinissaggānupassanā), not after contemplation of cessation (nirodhānupassanā).

rowyourboat wrote:If we loose the proper deep dhamma work, then the Buddha-sasana will end right here.

What is a degeneration of the dispensation is mistaking momentary experiences for adequate indications of stream-entry. The only adequate and reliable indication of the fruition of stream-entry is the complete termination of the first three fetters.

All the best,

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

Postby Nyana » Thu Feb 24, 2011 12:23 pm

Sylvester wrote:Another concern I have with the lokuttara notion, is that many English readers leap at "supramundane" as if it refers to some "transcendental" state, instead of the tamer "transcending" function.

Yes, well this misunderstanding isn't limited to contemporary English readers. But this is the fault of inadequate view, not the terminology used.

All the best,

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

Postby rowyourboat » Fri Feb 25, 2011 7:56 am

Ñāṇa wrote:
rowyourboat wrote:Stiff resistance to a cessation experience of consciousness (while others are more willing to accept such a possibility) suggests to me an attachment to consciousnes and even knowledge (Nana)

The thing is Matheesha, I've experienced the "complete cessation." It is not an adequate nor reliable indication of stream entry or any of the other paths and fruitions. There is nothing specifically Buddhist about utterly void absorption cessations. In fact, precisely this type of stopping the mind is the goal of some non-Buddhist yogic traditions. Therefore, this contentless absorption cannot be equated with Buddhist nibbāna. Moreover, there are now a number of people who've had such experiences sanctioned by "insight meditation" teachers, and who have gone on to proclaim to the world that arahants can still experience lust and the other defiled mental phenomena. Taking all of this into account there is no good reason whatsoever to accept this interpretation of the four noble paths and fruitions.


Complete cessation, in a framework of successive insight knowledges arising, and the cessation moment being its culmination, is what I meant. Anyone can have void samadhi absorptions through samatha processes any day. It is difficult to differentiate these perceptually and that is not what I am suggesting. A moment of complete cessation arising after nibbida, virga is suggestive of attainment (especially acccompanied by other indicators, including the knowledge 'I am released'). Note that the similie for vimutti is the chick breaking through the egg shell. It is a sudden occurance.

'Insight teachers' can easily get it wrong- especially if they follow ideas like just be mindful of craving type teachings. Just because one person completely gets it wrong and proclaims to the world that arahanths can experience lust, that is no reason to throw the baby out with the bath water. If you did that people like Joseph Goldstein would go down the drain as well.

rowyourboat wrote:Absence of consciousness is not the death of Nana/insight, rather it is the epitome of insight -simply because it has reached a place no ordinary insight/wisdom/learning can reach. This insight merely unravels the delusion of phenomena, down to its very existence, and it stops existing (for a moment).

If the absence of consciousness was an indication of the development of insight then unconscious beings would have developed insight and the state of deep, dreamless sleep would be the same as nibbāna. This is even more extreme than the view of the brahmin Parāsariya who taught a method of development (bhāvanā) wherein "one does not see forms with the eye, nor hear sounds with the ear." The Buddha dismissed such development in MN 152 as follows:

    If that were the case, Uttara, then a blind man would have developed faculties and a deaf man would have developed faculties, according to the words of the brahmin Parāsariya. For a blind man does not see forms with the eye, and a deaf man does not hear sounds with the ear.


Again you seem to take the experience of emptiness in a samatha or simply as a faulty of the faculties. This is why the Buddha is saying in the above quote that non-perception in itself does not mean anything. However if you put it into the framework of the vipassana nana, it is the ending of aggregates, the ending of suffering, seen here and now.

rowyourboat wrote:By magga-phala, I mean 'vimutti'-occurring through insight. Where I come from (Sri Lanka) it is common parlance to denote attaining one of the higher paths and fruits (sorry, finding it difficult to find a more accurate term to name that particular event). I am fully in line with the suttas - if you are not willing to consider the quotations I have provided there is nothing more I can do.

Your notion of the noble paths and fruitions is not supported by the Pāli canon. If cognition and the jhāna factors are not present then there is no supramundane path or fruition attainment. There is no gnosis of elimination (khayeñāṇa) without gnosis (ñāṇa).


Your notion of supramundane jhana doesnt exist in the pali cannon either- please provide me with a quote with those words. What does exist is the word 'vimutti', which is another label for the same thing. The words Magga and phala does exist- but it seems more like as stage of training (magga=path), and stages of enjoying the results of the training (phala=fruit). For example there is a sutta in AN where one man says he only gives dana to those on the arahanth magga. It would be reasonable IMO to call the last moment of the training stage magga and the beginning of the results phase phala (ie- that is where the change from the previous stage to the next stage occur), but it seems that it is corruption of the way the Buddha used it.

rowyourboat wrote:and then progressing to dhammanudhammapatipada (satipatthana) the end result is nibbida, viraga and nirodha.

The Paṭisambhidāmagga is clear that entrance into the supramundane path occurs after correctly engaging contemplation of release (paṭinissaggānupassanā), not after contemplation of cessation (nirodhānupassanā).


Well the sutta pitaka seems to differ with patisambidhamagga in that respect then.

rowyourboat wrote:If we loose the proper deep dhamma work, then the Buddha-sasana will end right here.

What is a degeneration of the dispensation is mistaking momentary experiences for adequate indications of stream-entry. The only adequate and reliable indication of the fruition of stream-entry is the complete termination of the first three fetters.


Stream entry is a conventional label, best to be seen through as soon as it is received.

The Buddha said 'every moment that arises is suffering'.

He said that 'everything that is impermanent is suffering'.

How is anyone going to have faith in the Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha if they dont see an end to that suffering in this lifetime? How will the resolve the fetter of doubt? They wont be able to if the only solution is to keep things arising (yet some how get rid of all defilements) and find complete cessation only at death. This is a bit like promising heaven after death- only then you will know whether it is true or not. However if you experience complete cessation in this lifetime, after having developed sila, after having developed samadhi, after going through all the vipassana nana and in that process of deep insight and moment of complete cessation occurs then the person sees that moment to moment suffering vanish before his very eyes. THEN there is faith that this path can work. Then the fetter of doubt is eradicated. There is no other way to eradicate this fetter of doubt and that the Buddhas path can be actualized now (akalika) and not a Promise.

There would be no need for such concepts as 'parinibbana' and nibbana with residue if you thing that arising can continue and full enlightenment can be found in that.

with metta

Matheesha




Now how are you going

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