Pitch-black emptiness and Mahasi Sayadaw technique

Discussion of Satipatthana bhavanā and Vipassana bhavana.

Re: Pitch-black emptiness and Mahasi Sayadaw technique

Postby Modus.Ponens » Fri Apr 18, 2014 11:57 am

Hello

I just read through the first three pages of this topic, so I apologise if this was asked before.

Reading "The Progress of Insight", by Mahasi Sayadaw, it says:


13. Knowledge of Adaptation

Here the knowledge by way of noticing that occurs last in the series constituting insight leading to emergence, is called “knowledge of adaptation.”

This is the end of the purification by knowledge and vision of the course of practice.

14. Maturity Knowledge

Immediately afterwards, a type of knowledge manifests itself that, as it were, falls for the first time into Nibbāna, which is void of formations (conditioned phenomena) since it is the cessation of them. This knowledge is called “maturity knowledge.”⁴²

VII. Purification by Knowledge and Vision

15. Path Knowledge

It is followed immediately by knowledge that abides in that same Nibbāna, which is void of formations since it is the cessation of them. This is called “path knowledge.” It is also called “purification by knowledge and vision.”

16. Fruition Knowledge

That again is immediately followed by knowledge that belongs to the final stage and continues in the course of its predecessor. It abides in that same Nibbāna, which is void of formations since it is the cessation of them. This is called “fruition knowledge.”

17. Knowledge of Reviewing

The duration of that threefold knowledge of maturity, path, and fruition is, however, not long. It is very short, and lasts for just an instant, like the duration of a single thought of noticing. Subsequently there arises “knowledge of reviewing.” Through that knowledge of reviewing the meditator discerns that the insight leading to emergence came along with the very rapid function of noticing, and that immediately after the last phase of noticing, the path consciousness entered into the cessation (of formations). This is “knowledge reviewing the path.”



It is also known that after the attainment of the "9th jhana" (cessation of perception and feeling) the mind inclines to nibbana. From the Kamabhu Sutta:


Citta asked him a further question: "When a monk has emerged from the cessation of perception & feeling, how many contacts make contact?"

"When a monk has emerged from the cessation of perception & feeling, three contacts make contact: contact with emptiness, contact with the signless, & contact with the undirected.[3]"

"Very good, venerable sir." And, delighting in and approving of Ven. Kamabhu's answer, Citta asked him a further question: "When a monk has emerged from the cessation of perception & feeling, to what does his mind lean, to what does it tend, to what does it incline?"

"When a monk has emerged from the cessation of perception & feeling, his mind leans to seclusion, tends to seclusion, inclines to seclusion."[4]

"Very good, venerable sir." And, delighting in and approving of Ven. Kamabhu's answer, Citta asked him a further question: "How many mental qualities are of great help in the attainment of the cessation of perception & feeling?"

"Actually, householder, you have asked last what should have been asked first. Nevertheless, I will answer you. Two qualities are of great help in the attainment of the cessation of perception & feeling: tranquillity & insight."

[Footnote] 3. Emptiness, the signless, & the undirected are names for a state of concentration that lies on the threshold of Unbinding. They differ only in how they are approached. According to the commentary, they color one's first apprehension of Unbinding: a meditator who has been focusing on the theme of inconstancy will first apprehend Unbinding as signless; one who has been focusing on the theme of stress will first apprehend it as undirected; one who has been focusing on the theme of not-self will first apprehend it as emptiness.

[Footnote] 4. According to the commentary, "seclusion" here stands for Unbinding. On emerging from the cessation of perception & feeling, and having had contact with emptiness/the signless/the undirected, the mind inclines naturally to a direct experience of Unbinding.



Now my question is: if, after emerging from the "9th jhana" , the mind inclines to nibbana, why is it that the process described by some people as "pitch black emptiness", or cessation of consciousness, cannot be interpreted in the same way? Meaning, why is it that after the cessation of consciousness/pitch black emptiness the mind wouldn't incline to nibbana?

This would make sense to me. I try not to have a dogmatic approach to things, as doing so we focus on details of exposition rather than the meaning of what is being said. We've all had teachers in school who knew the subject but weren't good at explaining it. That doesn't necessarily mean that what those teachers were saying is wrong. It would probably just be a somewhat clumsy/old fashioned way of puting things. Plus, there is more than one perspective on things. As mentioned above, a stream winner who enters the stream through the signless will have an experience of nibbana coloured by the signlessness, for example.

Sources: The first quote is from "The Progress of Insight", by Mahasi Sayadaw, on ven. Pesala's site, http://www.aimwell.org/progress.html#15.PathKnowledge
; The second quote is from Access to Insight, http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Metta
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"
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