Pitch-black emptiness and Mahasi Sayadaw technique

Discussion of Satipatthana bhavanā and Vipassana bhavana.

Re: Pitch-black emptiness and Mahasi Sayadaw technique

Postby farmer » Sat Jan 29, 2011 10:25 pm

I generally try to focus on the part of the path that is right in front of me, and not speculate about things beyond my ken, but this discussion raises questions about the way I understand the suttas. RYB wrote:

It can be discussed with someone who has an initial understanding of dukkha (that is that every moment which arises is dukkha)- a discussion on how that dukkha comes to a cessation.


Is it really the case that every moment which arises is dukkha? Do arahats experience the arising of the aggregates? Do they suffer when they do?

From the Kotthita Sutta:

"And through this line of reasoning one may know how the eye is not the fetter of forms, nor are forms the fetter of the eye, but whatever desire & passion arises in dependence on the two of them: That is the fetter there....


That line of reasoning is:

There is an eye in the Blessed One. The Blessed One sees forms with the eye. There is no desire or passion in the Blessed One. The Blessed One is well-released in mind.


The Blessed One sees form with the eye, but he is well-released because there is no desire or passion in the Blessed One. That doesn't sound like pitch-black cessation. It sounds to me like the arahat is unbound by the elimination of the mind's reactiveness -- in other words, the defilements. The arahat sees forms with the eye, but because he has, through insight, eliminated the craving and clinging that would lead to further becoming, he is does not suffer from what he sees. Is that, rather than a black vacuum, nibbana?

If suffering only ends with cessation of experience, was the Buddha suffering when he was aware of his surroundings?

From the Sakalika Sutta
Now at that time his foot had been pierced by a stone sliver. Excruciating were the bodily feelings that developed within him — painful, fierce, sharp, wracking, repellent, disagreeable — but he endured them mindful, alert, & unperturbed.


Again, it sounds like the Buddha was fully aware of unpleasant feelings, but unperturbed because he had severed the bonds of craving and clinging which would allow those feelings to disturb his mind.

I guess this is how I understand nibbana: an elimination not of experience, but of the defilements which cause us to concoct suffering out of experience. Suffering is optional, a second, unnecessary arrow with which we shoot ourselves. We are trying to uproot those defilements, not experience itself. Am I wrong about this?
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Re: Pitch-black emptiness and Mahasi Sayadaw technique

Postby Sambodhi in Oz » Sun Jan 30, 2011 5:12 am

Dear Geoff,

Actually trying to describe / discuss / nibbana in words is something which I would avoid since it cant be done and is not condusive to practise.

Metta :namaste:

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Re: Pitch-black emptiness and Mahasi Sayadaw technique

Postby Kenshou » Sun Jan 30, 2011 6:30 am

That seems like a bit of a cop-out. Discussion has it's limitations but it's not useless. Furthermore, looking at the suttas, it doesn't seem like the Buddha was hesitant to speak about nibbana.
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Re: Pitch-black emptiness and Mahasi Sayadaw technique

Postby Sambodhi in Oz » Sun Jan 30, 2011 7:35 am

:anjali:
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Re: Pitch-black emptiness and Mahasi Sayadaw technique

Postby rowyourboat » Mon Jan 31, 2011 8:14 am

Hmm.. It would seem people are confusing cessation with annihilation. Rather than speculate how the five aggregates cease and how this is not annihilation, it is best to get to that place and see yourselves. But without a doubt it is the cessation of all suffering- just that moment - the point where the fish jumps out of the water and finds for the first time in it's long samsaric life, that there is a place without water. We are swimming in attachment, ignorance and aggregates- release to be understood, must be experienced. This is truly a middle path between annihilation and existence - but even though I say that, that is also prone to misapprehension as some limbo state. The sooner we understand that this thing called nibbana cannot be comprehensively conceptualised, all the wrong views we are now generating in those reading this will hopefully be lessened.

With metta

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Re: Pitch-black emptiness and Mahasi Sayadaw technique

Postby Nyana » Mon Jan 31, 2011 8:28 am

rowyourboat wrote:Hmm.. It would seem people are confusing cessation with annihilation. Rather than speculate how the five aggregates cease and how this is not annihilation, it is best to get to that place and see yourselves. But without a doubt it is the cessation of all suffering- just that moment - the point where the fish jumps out of the water and finds for the first time in it's long samsaric life, that there is a place without water. We are swimming in attachment, ignorance and aggregates- release to be understood, must be experienced. This is truly a middle path between annihilation and existence - but even though I say that, that is also prone to misapprehension as some limbo state. The sooner we understand that this thing called nibbana cannot be comprehensively conceptualised, all the wrong views we are now generating in those reading this will hopefully be lessened.

Nibbāna is the extinguishment of fetters. To be precise, the state wherein one experiences the extinguishment (nibbāna) of fetters appropriate to each path and fruition, is supramundane jhāna (lokuttarajjhāna). And this state must necessarily arise with the concomitant jhāna factors and other mental factors such as attention (manasikāra) and apperception (saññā), as well as gnosis (ñāṇa). Without the presence of these mental factors there can be no gnosis and therefore no path attainment or fruition attainment.

All the best,

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Re: Pitch-black emptiness and Mahasi Sayadaw technique

Postby kirk5a » Mon Jan 31, 2011 3:13 pm

rowyourboat wrote:Hmm.. It would seem people are confusing cessation with annihilation. Rather than speculate how the five aggregates cease and how this is not annihilation, it is best to get to that place and see yourselves. But without a doubt it is the cessation of all suffering- just that moment - the point where the fish jumps out of the water and finds for the first time in it's long samsaric life, that there is a place without water. We are swimming in attachment, ignorance and aggregates- release to be understood, must be experienced. This is truly a middle path between annihilation and existence - but even though I say that, that is also prone to misapprehension as some limbo state. The sooner we understand that this thing called nibbana cannot be comprehensively conceptualised, all the wrong views we are now generating in those reading this will hopefully be lessened.

With metta

Matheesha

I can't speak for anyone else, but my interest is focused on whether stream entry requires the total stopping of all sense experience. You have said that it does. If so, then I am also interested in how that stopping is different from anesthetized unconsciousness. It is not satisfactory to me to say "just go practice it and find out." As this thread is about, there was a guy who put a lot of effort into practicing certain instructions and all it got him was a sort of unconsciousness. Going by Ven. Thanissaro's account, that is the "state of non-perception (asaññi-bhava)".

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... mbers.html

"The second state was one I happened to hit one night when my concentration was extremely one-pointed, and so refined that it refused settle on or label even the most fleeting mental objects. I dropped into a state in which I lost all sense of the body, of any internal/external sounds, or of any thoughts or perceptions at all — although there was just enough tiny awareness to let me know, when I emerged, that I hadn't been asleep. I found that I could stay there for many hours, and yet time would pass very quickly. Two hours would seem like two minutes. I could also "program" myself to come out at a particular time.
After hitting this state several nights in a row, I told Ajaan Fuang about it, and his first question was, "Do you like it?" My answer was "No," because I felt a little groggy the first time I came out. "Good," he said. "As long as you don't like it, you're safe. Some people really like it and think it's nibbana or cessation. Actually, it's the state of non-perception (asaññi-bhava). It's not even right concentration, because there's no way you can investigate anything in there to gain any sort of discernment. But it does have other uses." He then told me of the time he had undergone kidney surgery and, not trusting the anesthesiologist, had put himself in that state for the duration of the operation.
In both these states of wrong concentration, the limited range of awareness was what made them wrong. If whole areas of your awareness are blocked off, how can you gain all-around insight? And as I've noticed in years since, people adept at blotting out large areas of awareness through powerful one-pointedness also tend to be psychologically adept at dissociation and denial. This is why Ajaan Fuang, following Ajaan Lee, taught a form of breath meditation that aimed at an all-around awareness of the breath energy throughout the body, playing with it to gain a sense of ease, and then calming it so that it wouldn't interfere with a clear vision of the subtle movements of the mind. This all-around awareness helped to eliminate the blind spots where ignorance likes to lurk."
"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: Pitch-black emptiness and Mahasi Sayadaw technique

Postby Sambodhi in Oz » Mon Jan 31, 2011 4:45 pm

Dear Kirk5a,

You wrote:

I can't speak for anyone else, but my interest is focused on whether stream entry requires the total stopping of all sense experience. You have said that it does. If so, then I am also interested in how that stopping is different from anesthetized unconsciousness. It is not satisfactory to me to say "just go practice it and find out." As this thread is about, there was a guy who put a lot of effort into practicing certain instructions and all it got him was a sort of unconsciousness. Going by Ven. Thanissaro's account, that is the "state of non-perception (asaññi-bhava)".


Please understand "Nibbana" cannot be defined, something (here again some friend can come and say it is not a 'thing') which is beyond the six senses how can you express it in words, it can only be experienced and thats it. Explaining it in words is like putting a stick in water, even though the stick may be straight by putting in water it will look tilted. Plus, it is useless also becuase it does not help anybody a wee bit and any definition you give, it cannot and will not be correct.

Yes, what I can definately say is that it is entirely different from being unconscious, even when one is unconsious the subconsious mind continues to work, it is not a state beyond the six senses and as Geoff pointed out fetters have certainly not ended.

You said that
there was a guy who put a lot of effort into practicing certain instructions and all it got him was a sort of unconsciousness
. Well for Buddha it was not a story of even one lifetime but probably millions, so for most people. You just need to keep walking the path, more than trying to understand 'Nibbana' conceptually please walk the path. Unfortunately / fortunately only you will have to achieve nibbana to understand it, nobody can do it for anybody else. Start Vipassana, even if it is a walk of a thousand miles it starts with the first step; take that step.

Metta

Parth
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Re: Pitch-black emptiness and Mahasi Sayadaw technique

Postby kirk5a » Mon Jan 31, 2011 6:40 pm

parth wrote:Yes, what I can definately say is that it is entirely different from being unconscious, even when one is unconsious the subconsious mind continues to work, it is not a state beyond the six senses and as Geoff pointed out fetters have certainly not ended.

Very well. Do you disagree with anything said below? The same question to Matheesha. As that is my primary interest. What is said here by Ajahn Amaro is "Yet we do not shut off the senses in any way."
(btw, please set aside presumptions about my practice, thank you)

http://archive.thebuddhadharma.com/issu ... amaro.html
"When we stop creating the world, we stop creating each other. We stop imputing the sense of solidity that creates a sense of separation. Yet we do not shut off the senses in any way. Actually, we shed the veneer, the films of confusion, of opinion, of judgment, of our conditioning, so that we can see the way things really are. At that moment, dukkha ceases. There is knowing. There is liberation and freedom. There is no dukkha."
"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: Pitch-black emptiness and Mahasi Sayadaw technique

Postby rowyourboat » Mon Jan 31, 2011 9:42 pm

Hi Kirk

While I agree with Ajhan Sumedho, I don't agree with Ajhan Amaro on the matter.

One of the places the Buddha uses this description is at the end of a long illustrative tale. A monk has asked, "Where is it that earth, water, fire and wind fade out and cease without remainder?" To which the Buddha replies that the monk has asked the wrong question. What he should have asked is, "Where is it that earth, water, fire and wind can find no footing?" The Buddha then answers this question himself, saying it is in "the consciousness which is invisible, limitless and radiant in all directions" that the four great elements "and long and short, and coarse and fine, and pure and impure can find no footing. There it is that nama-rupa (body-and-mind, name-and-form, subject-and-object) both come to an end. With this stopping, this cessation of consciousness, all things here are brought to an end."


It just surprises me the lengths people will go to, to avoid the cessation of consciousness. Clearly they do not consider the arising of consciousness as dukkha, but as sukha, which is no good really- especially for a Buddhist monk who teaches internationally. So how does it differ from anaesthesia? It differs because it happens when fetters are broken, and not just when things disappear (even though that happens superficially as well). It happens after a series of developments (nibbida, viraga, nirodha) and not simply by shifting focus and becoming 'de-focused' as this monk is suggesting (if that were the case everybody who starts off in meditation could be enlightened 2 minutes later).

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Re: Pitch-black emptiness and Mahasi Sayadaw technique

Postby Kenshou » Mon Jan 31, 2011 10:29 pm

How does the cessation of all consciousness as nibbana fit into passages such as this one? If you please.
Dhatu-vibhanga sutta wrote:One neither fabricates nor mentally fashions for the sake of becoming or un-becoming. This being the case, one is not sustained by anything in the world (does not cling to anything in the world). Unsustained, one is not agitated. Unagitated, one is totally unbound right within.

And, the pali:
So anabhisaṅkharonto anabhisañcetayanto bhavāya vā vibhavāya vā na kiñci loke upādiyati. Anupādiyaṃ na paritassati, aparitassaṃ paccattaṃyeva parinibbāyati.

As far as I can understand it, it simply seems to be saying that, not conditioning (anabhisaṅkharonto anabhisañcetayanto) and not clinging (na kiñci loke upādiyati), the mind is not sustained (anupādiyaṃ) by any phenomena, not bound to it, and being thus, stress doesn't arise (na paritassati). Which is release, nibbana (parinibbāyati).

rowyourboat wrote:It just surprises me the lengths people will go to, to avoid the cessation of consciousness. Clearly they do not consider the arising of consciousness as dukkha, but as sukha
Would it not be rather patronizing and presumptuous of me to tell you that you and those who hold the same view are clearly motivated by vibhavatanhā and therefore possessed of wrong view?

While I agree with Ajhan Sumedho, I don't agree with Ajhan Amaro on the matter.
It seems that your agreement with Ajahn Sumedho relies on putting his statements into your context.

viewtopic.php?f=35&t=6950&start=20#p113282
Last edited by Kenshou on Mon Jan 31, 2011 10:59 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Pitch-black emptiness and Mahasi Sayadaw technique

Postby Alexei » Mon Jan 31, 2011 10:56 pm

Hi rowyourboat,

Venerable Amaro don't say that arising of consciousness is sukha.

As far as I can understand he say that results of practise shouldn't be measured just by some states in meditation which even can't reduce suffering in everyday life.



A few quotes from suttas about "shifting focus":


    And what is the Unbinding property with fuel remaining? There is the case where a monk is an arahant whose fermentations have ended, who has reached fulfillment, finished the task, laid down the burden, attained the true goal, ended the fetter of becoming, and is released through right gnosis. His five sense faculties still remain and, owing to their being intact, he is cognizant of the agreeable & the disagreeable, and is sensitive to pleasure & pain. His ending of passion, aversion, & delusion is termed the Unbinding property with fuel remaining.
    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... ml#iti-044

    Now, the well-instructed disciple of the noble ones, when touched with a feeling of pain, does not sorrow, grieve, or lament, does not beat his breast or become distraught. So he feels one pain: physical, but not mental.
    [...]
    Sensing a feeling of pleasure, he senses it disjoined from it. Sensing a feeling of pain, he senses it disjoined from it. Sensing a feeling of neither-pleasure-nor-pain, he senses it disjoined from it. This is called a well-instructed disciple of the noble ones disjoined from birth, aging, & death; from sorrows, lamentations, pains, distresses, & despairs. He is disjoined, I tell you, from suffering & stress.
    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

    Monks, the All is aflame. What All is aflame? The eye is aflame. Forms are aflame. Consciousness at the eye is aflame. Contact at the eye is aflame. And whatever there is that arises in dependence on contact at the eye — experienced as pleasure, pain or neither-pleasure-nor-pain — that too is aflame. Aflame with what? Aflame with the fire of passion, the fire of aversion, the fire of delusion. Aflame, I tell you, with birth, aging & death, with sorrows, lamentations, pains, distresses, & despairs.
    ...
    Disenchanted, he becomes dispassionate. Through dispassion, he is fully released.
    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

    And how does a monk not burn? There is the case where a monk's conceit of 'I am' is abandoned, its root destroyed, made like a palmyra stump, deprived of the conditions of development, not destined for future arising. This is how a monk doesn't burn.
    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

    He should develop the perception of inconstancy so as to uproot the conceit, 'I am.' For a monk perceiving inconstancy, the perception of not-self is made firm. One perceiving not-self attains the uprooting of the conceit, 'I am' — Unbinding in the here and now.
    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

    Freed, dissociated, & released from form, the Tathagata dwells with unrestricted awareness. Freed, dissociated, & released from feeling... perception... fabrications... consciousness... birth... aging... death... stress... defilement, the Tathagata dwells with unrestricted awareness.
    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

    "Just as if a skilled butcher or butcher's apprentice, having killed a cow, were to carve it up with a sharp carving knife so that — without damaging the substance of the inner flesh, without damaging the substance of the outer hide — he would cut, sever, & detach only the skin muscles, connective tissues, & attachments in between. Having cut, severed, & detached the outer skin, and then covering the cow again with that very skin, if he were to say that the cow was joined to the skin just as it had been: would he be speaking rightly?"
    "No, venerable sir. Why is that? Because if the skilled butcher or butcher's apprentice, having killed a cow, were to ... cut, sever, & detach only the skin muscles, connective tissues, & attachments in between; and ... having covered the cow again with that very skin, then no matter how much he might say that the cow was joined to the skin just as it had been, the cow would still be disjoined from the skin."
    "This simile, sisters, I have given to convey a message. The message is this: The substance of the inner flesh stands for the six internal media; the substance of the outer hide, for the six external media. The skin muscles, connective tissues, & attachments in between stand for passion & delight. And the sharp knife stands for noble discernment — the noble discernment that cuts, severs, & detaches the defilements, fetters, & bonds in between.
    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

    Here, Hemaka, with regard to things that are dear — seen, heard, sensed, & cognized — there is: the dispelling of passion & desire, the undying state of Unbinding. Those knowing this, mindful, fully unbound in the here & now, are forever calmed, have crossed over beyond entanglement in the world.
    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

    Then, Bahiya, you should train yourself thus: In reference to the seen, there will be only the seen. In reference to the heard, only the heard. In reference to the sensed, only the sensed. In reference to the cognized, only the cognized. That is how you should train yourself. When for you there will be only the seen in reference to the seen, only the heard in reference to the heard, only the sensed in reference to the sensed, only the cognized in reference to the cognized, then, Bahiya, there is no you in terms of that. When there is no you in terms of that, there is no you there. When there is no you there, you are neither here nor yonder nor between the two. This, just this, is the end of stress.
    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

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Re: Pitch-black emptiness and Mahasi Sayadaw technique

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Jan 31, 2011 11:05 pm

rowyourboat wrote:It just surprises me the lengths people will go to, to avoid the cessation of consciousness. ...

Perhaps the question is what exactly is meant by such cessation.

Here is something I've quoted before. Bhikkhu Nanananda's notes to SN1.2:
SN1.2 http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... #passage-2
Nanananda wrote:When delight and existence [8] are exhausted
When perception and conciousness[9] are both destroyed
When feelings cease and are thus appeased [10] - thus, O friend,
Do I know, for them that live
Deliverance, freedom, detatchment.

[Note 8] Delight (nandi) is said to be the root of existence (bhava), and hence the fading away of the former results in the cessation of the latter. It amounts to a realization, here and now, of the fact that one has crossed over all forms of existence (bhavass paragu - Dhp v. 348). This experience that the consciousness is not established anywhere - neither here (neva idha), nor beyond (na huam), no in between (na ubhayamantara - Ud. 81) - provides for the arahant certitude often expressed in the words: 'Extinct is birth, lived is the holy life, done is the task, and there is nothing beyond this for (a designation of) the conditions of this existence.'

[Note 9] This refers to the experience of the cessation of consciousness (vinnananirodha DI.213) with the removal of its support name and form. The experience is described in the Suttas as a very unusual kind of 'jhana' or 'samadhi', since it does not partake of any perceptual data. (A.IV.427, V.7,8,318,319,324f,353ff).

[Note 10] The cessation of appeasement of feelings is yet another aspect of this experience. Thereby the arahant realizes the extinction of all suffering, mental as well as physical, which in effects is the bliss of nibbana as the deliverance from all samsaric suffering. What is most significant about this paradoxical jhana is that, despite the extinction of all that normally constitutes our waking experience, the arahant is still said to be mindful and aware. It is sometimes referred to as 'the sphere' (ayatana) in which the six sense spheres have totally ceased (See MIII.218, S.IV.98)

:anjali:
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Re: Pitch-black emptiness and Mahasi Sayadaw technique

Postby Kenshou » Mon Jan 31, 2011 11:45 pm

From Nibbana Sermon #15:

What actually happens in the attainment to the fruit of arahant-hood? 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". What it means is that all the sense objects, which the worldling grasps as real and truly existing, get penetrated through with wisdom and become non-manifest.

So as far as I can understand, the cessation of the six-sense-bases/consciousness/the loka of sense-experience refers to how with the full understanding of impermanence, it is known that these phenomena which were taken for granted as self-evident, "real" things are known to be empty and void. So for the arhat, consciousness and the world as "things" are destroyed.
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Re: Pitch-black emptiness and Mahasi Sayadaw technique

Postby Nyana » Tue Feb 01, 2011 12:17 am

mikenz66 wrote:[Note 9] This refers to the experience of the cessation of consciousness (vinnananirodha DI.213) with the removal of its support name and form. The experience is described in the Suttas as a very unusual kind of 'jhana' or 'samadhi', since it does not partake of any perceptual data. (A.IV.427, V.7,8,318,319,324f,353ff).

In Concept and Reality Ven. Ñāṇananda equates the experience of featureless/non-manifestative consciousness (anidassana viññāṇa) with the fruition-gnosis samādhi (aññāphala samādhi) of an arahant, which after first attainment can be re-entered later as the arahant's meditation. 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 Ven. Ñāṇananda 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.

This general description also pertains to the supramundane jhāna of streamwinners, once returners, and non-returners as well.

All the best,

Geoff
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Re: Pitch-black emptiness and Mahasi Sayadaw technique

Postby Nyana » Tue Feb 01, 2011 12:43 am

Kenshou wrote:So as far as I can understand, the cessation of the six-sense-bases/consciousness/the loka of sense-experience refers to how with the full understanding of impermanence, it is known that these phenomena which were taken for granted as self-evident, "real" things are known to be empty and void. So for the arhat, consciousness and the world as "things" are destroyed.

Yes. There are three gateways to supramundane liberation: the signless, the desireless, and the emptiness deliverances. The signless deliverance is realized by beginning with the contemplation of impermanence (aniccānupassanā). In the Nibbāna Sermons Ven. Ñāṇananda describes this process of insight as follows:

    With the dispelling of the perception of permanence, the tendency to grasp a sign or catch a theme is removed. It is due to the perception of permanence that one grasps a sign in accordance with perceptual data. When one neither takes a sign nor gets carried away by its details, there is no aspiration, expectation, or objective by way of craving. When there is no aspiration, one cannot see any purpose or essence to aim at.

    It is through the three deliverances, the signless, the desireless, and the void, that the drama of existence comes to an end. The perception of impermanence is the main contributory factor for the cessation of this drama....

    Why do we call the vision of the arahant a vacant gaze? At the highest point of the development of the three characteristics impermanence, suffering and not-self, that is, through the three deliverances animitta, appaṇihita and suññata, the "signess", the "undirected" and the "void", the arahant is now looking at the object with a penetrative gaze. That is why it is not possible to say what he is looking at. It is a gaze that sees the cessation of the object, a gaze that penetrates the object, as it were.

This corresponds with what is taught in the Paṭisambhidāmagga, where the contemplation of impermanence is said to result in entrance to the signless:

    When he gives attention as impermanent his mind emerges from the sign; his mind enters into the signless.

Which is the supramundane contemplation of the signlessness (animittānupassanā) of all phenomena. Again, the Paṭisambhidāmagga:

    Gnosis of contemplation of the signlessness of form... feeling... recognition... fabrications... consciousness... etc., is signless deliverance because it liberates from all signs.

It's worth noting here that signlessness pertains to seeing the signlessness of phenomena, what Ven. Ñāṇananda sometimes refers to as seeing through the object. With the arising of this supramundane gnosis, objects no longer represent anything of significance. And it is this gnosis which is truly liberating. It can't be shaken by any sensory experience because the signlessness of all experience has been fully understood. There is no need whatsoever to slip into a blackout cessation. In The Magic of the Mind Ven. Ñāṇananda offers the following insight into the relationship between signs and significance:

    The question of 'seeing what-is-shown', brings us to the relationship between sign and significance. Sense-perception at all levels relies largely on signs. This statement might even appear as a truism since the Pāli word saññā denotes perception as well as 'sign', 'symbol', 'mark' or 'token.' It is due to the processes of grasping and recognition implicit in sense-perception that the sign has come to play such an important part in it. Grasping -- be it physical or mental -- can at best be merely a symbolical affair. The actual point of contact is superficial and localized, but it somehow props up the conceit of grasping. Recognition too, is possible only within arbitrarily circumscribed limits. The law of impermanence is persistently undermining it, but still a conceit of recognition is maintained by progressively ignoring the fact of change....

    Furthermore, as the Suttas often make it clear, all percepts as such are to be regarded as mere signs (saññā, nimitta). Hence while the worldling says that he perceives 'things' with the help of signs, the Tathāgata says that all we perceive are mere signs. Sights, sounds, smells, tastes, touches and ideas are, all of them, signs which consciousness pursues. But still the question may be asked: "What do these signs signify?" "Things, of course" -- the Tathāgata would reply. 'Things', however, are not those that the worldling has in mind when he seeks an answer to this question. Lust, hatred and delusion are the 'things' which, according to the teaching of the Tathāgata, are signified by all sense-percepts. "Lust, friend, is a something; hatred is a something; delusion is a something." (M I 298, Mahāvedalla S.) "Lust, friends, is something significative, hatred is something significative, delusion is something significative" (ibid).

All the best,

Geoff
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Re: Pitch-black emptiness and Mahasi Sayadaw technique

Postby tinhtan » Wed Feb 02, 2011 8:43 am

Hello all

Among the 31 realms of existence, there is the 22nd realm (part of 4th jhana of the fine material world - rupa loka)

    (22) Unconscious beings (asaññasatta) - Only body is present; no mind.

"no mind" could misled one info a false thinking of deliverance - what is the difference with the cessation of consciousness ? how one can discern it ?

I don't know if there is any relationship with the kind of pitch black emptiness experience.

So I'd appreciate it if anyone could pointed out what kind of meditation pratice could put one to be born in this realm ? what can trap one in this kind of meditation ?


metta
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Re: Pitch-black emptiness and Mahasi Sayadaw technique

Postby rowyourboat » Wed Feb 02, 2011 10:05 am

Hi Goerge, Mike, others..

We seem to be discussing different elements of same process. If I were to put in to some kind of a structure (which hopefully makes some sense of all of this..):

The training process- vipassana/vipassana nana/seeing tilakkana
The yogi sees anicca, dukkha, anatta and the insubstantial nature of the all phenomena (the five aggregates)
This is seen to progress through various stages like nibbida, viraga, nirod/visuddhi/vipassana nana
There is a sense of detachment which progressively gets stronger
There is no 'let-up' in the arising of the aggregates- we perceive everything arising and passing away. ie the object of meditation doesn't change.

The moment of attaining magga-phala/vimutti/release/nibbana (at the 4 stages of stream entry, sakadagami,anagami and arahanth)
Fetters are broken
Aggregates cease/stop arising/emptiness ensues/consciousness ceases/'pitch black emptiness' for a moment (or two)
(this is the culmination of the vipassana practice mentioned above. Detachment is at its highest. Insight/vijja is at its strongest. The lack of avijja ie- the cessation of avijja leads to the ...the cesation of consciousness as per paticcasamuppada)
The object of meditation (and everything else) vanishes.

What happens afterwards
Consciousness is not bound by the fetters just broken
Aggregates start up again
-there is a higher degree of peace

Aggregates 'start up again' -ie arising and passing away resumes as the yogi hasn't died and the body, which is a result of avijja (my interpretation) still continue to function/live- hence the 'ariya' continues to perceive the world. But once the 'jivita-indriya- 'life faculty' also fades there is 'pari-nibbana'- complete cessation, where the aggregates stop arising and all suffering ceases permanently. So in answer to the question does the arahanth suffer- we cannot give a categorical answer as yes or no, but it is to be explained that he does not experience mental suffering, but has the suffering of the aggregates, which will also cease when the arahanth dies.

Re-experiencing of the cessation(nibbana moment)/phala-samawatha/samadhi without perceptions

Ariyas, especially (aparently) those with jhana, can experience the nibbana moment/magga-phala moment repeatedly by entering 'phala'/'fruit' (of the practice). (see Progress of Insight by Mahasi Saydaw).

Nirodha samapatti/Attainment of cessation (?)

This is a special state of cessation or nibbana which can be attained by Non-returners or Arahanths who have developed the formless jhanas. That is having done previous vipassana, thereby destroying the fetters of craving and aversion these ariyas are bound to samsara in a very 'weak' way- hence when they attempt to go into a higher jhana, than that of the highest arupa jhana, they end up in Nirodha- complete sensory cessation. Since each succeeding jhanic level of is more refined than the earlier/grosser ones, it stands to reason that the most subtle, is the highest bliss. ie Nibbana is the highest bliss.

with metta

Matheesha
With Metta

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Re: Pitch-black emptiness and Mahasi Sayadaw technique

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Feb 02, 2011 10:09 am

rowyourboat wrote:The moment of attaining magga-phala/vimutti/release/nibbana (at the 4 stages of stream entry, sakadagami,anagami and arahanth)
Fetters are broken
Aggregates cease/stop arising/emptiness ensues/consciousness ceases/'pitch black emptiness' for a moment (or two)(this is the culmination of the vipassana practice mentioned above.
Says who?
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: Pitch-black emptiness and Mahasi Sayadaw technique

Postby rowyourboat » Wed Feb 02, 2011 10:13 am

tinhtan wrote:Hello all

Among the 31 realms of existence, there is the 22nd realm (part of 4th jhana of the fine material world - rupa loka)

    (22) Unconscious beings (asaññasatta) - Only body is present; no mind.

"no mind" could misled one info a false thinking of deliverance - what is the difference with the cessation of consciousness ? how one can discern it ?

I don't know if there is any relationship with the kind of pitch black emptiness experience.

So I'd appreciate it if anyone could pointed out what kind of meditation pratice could put one to be born in this realm ? what can trap one in this kind of meditation ?


metta


Hi tinhan

If you develop a samadhi, based on a samatha process (that is focusing on some object or topic), and if that end up in a unconscious/semi-conscious state, and you develop that state until your death (and hence become very attached to it) you could end up in one of these asanna realms you mentioned.

If you develop vipassana, and this process...I am hesitant to write any further, but you must understand the process of vipassana as seen here:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... gress.html

With that process you can get to the 'real' thing. :smile:

with metta

Matheesha
With Metta

Karuna
Mudita
& Upekkha
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