The "special sphere" in Vimuttimagga

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Akuma
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The "special sphere" in Vimuttimagga

Postby Akuma » Sat Jan 22, 2011 7:19 am

Hello,

yesterday in the Vimuttimagga I read

"The walker in hate who has keen faculties, being one endowed with
wisdom, should practise the (meditation of the) special sphere. Thus should
one practise and dispel hatred."

Sadly "special sphere" is neither used a second time in the book nor defined - does anyone know what is meant by it?

cu

Akuma

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Re: The "special sphere" in Vimuttimagga

Postby Reductor » Sat Jan 22, 2011 7:45 am

Akuma wrote:Hello,

yesterday in the Vimuttimagga I read

"The walker in hate who has keen faculties, being one endowed with
wisdom, should practise the (meditation of the) special sphere. Thus should
one practise and dispel hatred."

Sadly "special sphere" is neither used a second time in the book nor defined - does anyone know what is meant by it?

cu

Akuma


Given the context, and the use of the term 'sphere' I would bet it refers to the the brahmavihara of loving-kindness (metta) or some such thing.

Do you have a page number, or section reference so we can more easily look it up?

EDIT: fixed a crucial typo.
Michael

The thoughts I've expressed in the above post are carefully considered and offered in good faith.

And friendliness towards the world is happiness for him who is forbearing with living beings. -- Ud. 2:1
To his own ruin the fool gains knowledge, for it cleaves his head and destroys his innate goodness. -- Dhp 72


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Re: The "special sphere" in Vimuttimagga

Postby Akuma » Sat Jan 22, 2011 7:52 am

Vimuttimagga, Translated by Rev. N. R. M. EHARA, SOMA THERA, KHEMINDA THERA
"Subjects Of Meditation", Page 70

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Re: The "special sphere" in Vimuttimagga

Postby Reductor » Sat Jan 22, 2011 8:05 am

Then, given the one line just above what you quoted is "A walker in hate who has dull facilities should practice the four immeasurable" I would say my answer is wrong.

By looking at the index under 'sphere' I see only the four formless sphere of 'space', 'consciousness', 'nothing', and 'neither perception nor non perception' and discussion of the sense spheres. Perhaps one of those spheres is what is referenced, so perhaps reading each page indexed there would be helpful? I'm not sure.

But it seems possible that the four formless attainments are just the meaning here, as MN 121 discusses each mode in terms of what is not there; that is, in terms of the disturbances that have been cut off.

Give it a read if you have the energy and give it some thought.

Hopefully someone else here can be of greater help.
Michael

The thoughts I've expressed in the above post are carefully considered and offered in good faith.

And friendliness towards the world is happiness for him who is forbearing with living beings. -- Ud. 2:1
To his own ruin the fool gains knowledge, for it cleaves his head and destroys his innate goodness. -- Dhp 72


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Re: The "special sphere" in Vimuttimagga

Postby pt1 » Sun Jan 23, 2011 5:18 am

My apologies if this is a bit off topic - but is Vimuttimagga actually a part of Mahavihara tradition? From memory, when reading the intro to Visuddhimagga, I think it was said that Vimuttimagga originated in Abhayagiri monastry which was directly opposed to the Mahavihara monastery, and in fact Abhayagiri was the seat of some other Buddhist sect, so the two were sort of in the state of war (depending on which particular monastery a particualr king decided to support). Anyway, then in the Visuddhimagga itself, I could swear there was at least one instance where the view stated in Vimuttimagga is actually rejected... I checked the CSCD edition of the pali canon, but couldn't find Vimutimagga there so far either.

Best wishes

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Re: The "special sphere" in Vimuttimagga

Postby cooran » Sun Jan 23, 2011 5:32 am

Hello all,

Read online and/or download:
The Path of Freedom (Vimuttimagga) by the Arahant Upatissa (translated from the Chinese by Rev. N. R. M. Ehara, Soma Thera, & Kheminda Thera)
http://www.scribd.com/doc/32131566/The- ... muttimagga

with metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

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Re: The "special sphere" in Vimuttimagga

Postby Reductor » Sun Jan 23, 2011 5:39 am

pt1 wrote:My apologies if this is a bit off topic - but is Vimuttimagga actually a part of Mahavihara tradition? From memory, when reading the intro to Visuddhimagga, I think it was said that Vimuttimagga originated in Abhayagiri monastry which was directly opposed to the Mahavihara monastery, and in fact Abhayagiri was the seat of some other Buddhist sect, so the two were sort of in the state of war (depending on which particular monastery a particualr king decided to support). Anyway, then in the Visuddhimagga itself, I could swear there was at least one instance where the view stated in Vimuttimagga is actually rejected... I checked the CSCD edition of the pali canon, but couldn't find Vimutimagga there so far either.

Best wishes


From what I gather, the exact relationship of the vimuttimagga to those monastries is unclear. Or, it was unclear at the time that Nanamoli and Soma Thera wrote the introductions to visuddhimagga and vimuttimagga.

But as Nanamoli states in the intro of the visuddhimagga: ".. the vimuttiamagga itself contains nothing at all of the Mahayana, its unorthodoxies being well within the 'Hinayana' field." and "That it contains some minor points accepted by the Abhayagiri Monastery does not necessarily imply that it had any special connexion with the centre. The source may have been common to both. The disputed points are not schismatical. Bhadantaccariya Buddhagosa himself never mentions it." The path of purification, Introduction, pages xl and xli

Oh, and thanks cooran for the link.
Michael

The thoughts I've expressed in the above post are carefully considered and offered in good faith.

And friendliness towards the world is happiness for him who is forbearing with living beings. -- Ud. 2:1
To his own ruin the fool gains knowledge, for it cleaves his head and destroys his innate goodness. -- Dhp 72


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Re: The "special sphere" in Vimuttimagga

Postby rowyourboat » Sun Jan 23, 2011 7:59 am

I would have thought the 'four immeasurables' refer to the four brahmavihara - as they are developed 'immeasurably'. I read one sutta where the buddha says that their culmination is in the formless realm jhana states.

with metta

Matheesha
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Re: The "special sphere" in Vimuttimagga

Postby Reductor » Sun Jan 23, 2011 8:17 am

rowyourboat wrote:I would have thought the 'four immeasurables' refer to the four brahmavihara - as they are developed 'immeasurably'. I read one sutta where the buddha says that their culmination is in the formless realm jhana states.

with metta

Matheesha


Yes, I first thought that what the OP was quoting was a reference to the four brahmaviharas, here translated as "four immeasurables". But the fuller context of the passage says that the person with dull faculties develops the brahmaviharas while the one with keen faculties develops the 'special sphere.'

If the 'special sphere' is referring to the the formless attainments, then I would take the passage on the 'walker in hate' to mean: "Walkers in hate should attain the formless realm either by direct meditation on that realm, if they have keen faculties, or, if they have dull faculties, they must attain those formless realms indirectly by meditation on the brahmaviharas."
Michael

The thoughts I've expressed in the above post are carefully considered and offered in good faith.

And friendliness towards the world is happiness for him who is forbearing with living beings. -- Ud. 2:1
To his own ruin the fool gains knowledge, for it cleaves his head and destroys his innate goodness. -- Dhp 72


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Re: The "special sphere" in Vimuttimagga

Postby Akuma » Sun Jan 23, 2011 10:28 am

thereductor wrote:If the 'special sphere' is referring to the the formless attainments,


Why then is it called "sphere" and not "spheres"?

I was hoping someone actually practiced this or knew from oral transmission or from other books what it was - if I should reflect upon it myself it would go something like that...

...if you look at the other list against hatred there is for example the last of the items, analyzing sunnata.
In a (quite old) comparative study of VMM and VSM it is said

"A dosacarita with a dull intellect should practise the four
appamana cittas, while ona with a sharp intellect should
develop his insight and thus remove dosa" (Bapat, 1937)

Which could lead to a rather weak assumption that special sphere indicates the sphere of sunnata, since sunnata is named as being object of insight where its said that

"Objects of mind... are momentary... with what should I be angry" etc

Now "Sphere of Emptiness" does not sound very Theravada to me, tho :juggling:

Theres also another quote in the VMM, which seems to call our "special sphere" "special plane".

"Eight kasinas and the four formless (objects of) concentration are
named special. The eight kasinas, being true objects, are called (objects of)
speciality in concentration. And because in the fourth meditation, jhdna, one
reaches a special plane, the four formless (objects of) concentration become
special."

This is just as mysterious to me tho. Do they mean the heavens where aryas are reborn?

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Re: The "special sphere" in Vimuttimagga

Postby rowyourboat » Sun Jan 23, 2011 4:00 pm

p193 (and the pages immediately before) say that the four immeasurables are the four brahmivharas.

with metta

Matheesha
With Metta

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& Upekkha

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Re: The "special sphere" in Vimuttimagga

Postby Reductor » Sun Jan 23, 2011 6:45 pm

Akuma wrote:
thereductor wrote:If the 'special sphere' is referring to the the formless attainments,


Why then is it called "sphere" and not "spheres"?


Possibly because you can only attain one at a time, but more likely because it refers to only one particular mediation object. But I'm fairly certain that object is not 'emptiness' as it is not listed in the 38 objects of meditation found on page 63. Note that the sphere of 'nothing' and 'neither perception nor non-perception' are found enumerated separately as spheres, while 'space' and 'consciousness' are listed as kasinas. Possibly that means something.

Then on the top of pg 65 'neither perception nor non-perception' is singled out as the only one that transcends perception and feeling. Hence, it is the most 'special' in that it trancends more of the world than all the other objects of meditation.

:shrug:

Sorry for lack of definiteness here.

I was hoping someone actually practiced this or knew from oral transmission or from other books what it was - if I should reflect upon it myself it would go something like that...


Most people don't follow the commentary to the letter: they follow their teachers advice, or perhaps their own intuitions, depending on their conditioning. And as pt1 pointed out, the VM is not currently, if it ever was, part of the mahavirhara tradition; as such, there are fewer practitioners out there applying its instructions to their practice.

This is just as mysterious to me tho. Do they mean the heavens where aryas are reborn?


Possibly. The attainment of this or that is often equated with a particular mode of rebirth, e.g., RYB pointed out above that the cultivation of the four immeasurables is thought, in some places in the canon, to culminate in particular modes of rebirth and/or formless jhanas (I'm a little spotty on the details, however).

In this case these objects leads one to be reborn in those planes, and that is why such an attainment is 'special'.

All in all, an interesting question.
Michael

The thoughts I've expressed in the above post are carefully considered and offered in good faith.

And friendliness towards the world is happiness for him who is forbearing with living beings. -- Ud. 2:1
To his own ruin the fool gains knowledge, for it cleaves his head and destroys his innate goodness. -- Dhp 72


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Re: The "special sphere" in Vimuttimagga

Postby rowyourboat » Mon Jan 24, 2011 1:45 pm

Hi Akuma,

The Ariyas can be born in heavenly realms (all of which are impermanent) and in human realms as well. In any case they have to work their way towards enlightenment once they are born there. The heavenly realm which contain only Ariyas are the 'suddhawasa' realms ('pure abodes') where non-returners are born.

with metta

Matheesha
With Metta

Karuna
Mudita
& Upekkha


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