He is a populariser, so he does "dumb it down" to some extent. And I understand if people take exception to this and to his manner. But what about the actual content? Where does he diverge?
Some quotes to substantiate the description of "Australian Brahmic Buddhism", and to put it in wider contexṭ.
rowyourboat wrote:Does he seriuosly say that it is possible to get to nirodhasamapatti without breaking all of the lower fetters, through vipassana?
Yes, he never talks about practicing vipassana, saying that instead:
"For one who experiences samādhi there is no need to make resolutions, to choose, or decide, ‘Oh, may I see things as they truly are’ (yatā bhūta-ñā adassana): it’s a natural process, it happens as an automatic consequence, for one who achieves samādhi. You are seeing truly all the insights that come up from the process of meditation which produces jhāna."
Brahmavamso conflates "Nirodha" as the epithet of Nibbana with Nirodha-samapatti:
"The Buddha would also very often equate Nibbāna and nirodha, cessation. Even though it is not true Nibbāna, it is close. Why is it close? It is close because a lot of cessation has already occurred. In these very refined states a lot has ceased, by ceasing it has ended, disappeared, finished. That is why it is very close to Nibbāna."
"This cessation is the ending of everything. Sometimes people get afraid. It is bleak, thinking of Nibbāna as cessation, ending! Whether we like it or not, that’s just what happens. We don’t have any say in it." http://www.scribd.com/doc/38209909/Ajah ... his-Moment
"Very often the Buddha would equate Nibbana and nirodha, cessation, and here in these states a lot has ceased, by ceasing it has ended, disappeared, finished."http://www.metta.lk/english/ways-jhana.htm
"Nirodha-samāpatti, the end of all perception and feelings. Nibbāna here and now. To actually see the ‘doer’ and the ‘knower’ in the mind as just arising and falling, as insubstantial, instead of entities which exist by themselves."http://www.what-buddha-taught.net/Books ... actice.pdf
Sylvester in this thread writes another strange idea of Brahmavamso's group:
"Of course, the Mahavihara Buddhists in DW must trot out the Abhidhammic lokuttara/lokiya Jhanas to flatly contradict the simple suttanta message that nirodha samapatti leads inexorably to Non-Return or Arahanta."
As Sylvester's message also shows, this group attempts to label other points of view, which consider the Pali Suttas and Commentaries to be of value, as "Mahavihara", and to hijack the Theravada title to themselves.
About jhanas as a liberation vehicle, attachment to which is impossible:
"Then, as one progresses onwards to the higher Jhanas and contemplates why each further one is ever more pleasing, one comes to understand that it is because one is letting go of refined mental attachments, such as the attachment to rapture, happiness and equanimity. It becomes clear that even these most lofty of mind states are just refined forms of suffering, because when one lets them go, then more suffering goes too. The higher one goes , the more Dukkha is let go of and through this process Dukkha becomes known. One cannot know fully the Truth of Suffering, and thus the Buddha's Four Noble Truths, except by letting go of suffering through the experience of Jhana.
It is very odd, therefore, that some suggest that the practise of Jhana leads to attachment. How can, what is the practice of letting go, lead to attachment?" http://www.viet.net/anson/ebud/ebmed075.htm
Brahmavamso on following Dharmagupta Vinaya:
"... One of the biggest myths is that bhikkhunis in the Mahayana tradition are somehow separated from the Theravada. But the truth of the matter is, there is no such thing as a Mahayana Vinaya. In all the Mahayana schools, they follow mostly a Dharmagupta Vinaya. Dharmagupta is one of the Theravada sects. They follow Theravada Vinaya. So the bhikkhunis we see even now in Taiwan and China is a lineage that is unbroken since the time of the Buddha. ..."http://www.bangkokpost.com/leisure/leis ... i-question
The historical dogmatics in Brahmavamso's group is handled by Sujato.
Sujato about preferring the Sarvastivada, and Mula-Sarvastivada in particular:
"Sometimes i think it's just that Sarv is a bit stale and
ordinary and Mula-S is a sexier theory! Of course, it is not at all
unlikely that within one school there may be several different
versions of the canon. After all, even within the arch-orthodox
Theravadins the Burmese Tipitaka today differs substantially from
the Sinhalese and Thai. Even within the four Nikayas we witness the
movement of the Maha Satipatthana Sutta from the Digha to the
Majjhima, probably in the fifth (Burmese) council."http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Pali/message/5270
"So in such cases, the Chinese translations are just as accurate and authoritative as the Pali, and sometimes may even be more reliable."http://sites.google.com/site/santipada/ ... allytaught
Sujato on inauthenticity of Pali Satipatthana sutta, in comparison with Chinese versions and Mahayana sutras:
"These philosophical suppositions, inherited from the tradition and largely unexamined, underlie and inform the major schools of contemporary Theravāda meditation. Meditators practice precisely in order to see the elements of ‘ultimate reality’. The prime source text for this approach is the ‘Mahāsatipaṭṭhāna Sutta’, which we suggest would be better called the ‘Piltdown Sutta’. Is it too much to hope that the revelation that this is one of the latest and least authentic of all the texts in the Nikāyas will cause such meditation schools to question their own assumptions and methods?"http://sites.google.com/site/santipada/sathipattana
Sujato on Theravadin Abhidhamma:
"I suggest that the abhidhamma is most profitably considered, not as a psychology or as a philosophy, but as a mystical cult."
"A History of Mindfulness" by Sujato, page 199:
"the Theravada Abhidhamma scholars, for all their insistence on radical momentariness, still betray a nervousness, amounting almost to neurosis, in their obsessively repetitive texts, a massive attempt to freeze the Dhamma in a matrix of abstract, contextless, and bloodless dhammas"
"It's time"by Sujato:
"It’s time. We need a new paradigm. Buddhism is suffering from schizophrenia; there is a split in consciousness between the historical and the mythic conceptions of the origin of the Dhamma. For 2500 years Buddhism has been constantly changing, adapting, evolving; yet the myths of the schools insist that the Dhamma remains the same. All existing schools of Buddhism justify their idiosyncratic doctrines mythologically; this is what all religions do. Thus the Theravada insists that the Abhidhamma was taught by the Buddha in Tavatimsa heaven during his seventh rains retreat. The Mahayana claims that the Mahayana sutras were written down in the time of the Buddha, preserved in the dragon world under the sea, then retreived by Nagarjuna 500 years later. Zen claims authority from an esoteric oral transmission outside the scriptures descended from Maha Kassapa, symbolized by the smile of Maha Kassapa when the Buddha held up a lotus. All of these are myths, and do not deserve serious consideration as explanations of historical truth. Their purpose, as myths, is not to elucidate facts, but to authorize religious convictions."
By his definition, are there then no Sammasambuddhas? I was under the impression all Sammasambuddhas have studied with previous ones in some of their past lives.
That's a question for Brahmavamso.
Also, how do you mean "after his expulsion"? I'm aware of Brahmavamso's situation, I'm just curious about the context. Was he not making such statements before his expulsion?
He did made such eccentric statements before, but with time the key notions of his movement are drifting further and further.
Ajahn Brahm's inference that any effort, apart from the effort to let go, is wrong effort.
The reason I put this to your attention is that I meet with Brahmavamso's Russian followers with such deluded notions.
The practice is masked under the seemingly authoritative terms like "letting go" and "nirodha-samapatti", but actually leads to a meditative blackout, with no development of wisdom (panna).
The "letting go" Brahmavamso talks about is slipping without any resistance into the passion for "beautiful representation" (subha-nimitta):
http://archive.thebuddhadharma.com/issu ... brahm.htmlhttp://www.palikanon.com/english/wtb/s_ ... imitta.htm
the breath calms down. It changes from a coarse, ordinary breath, to a very smooth and peaceful “beautiful breath.” The mind recognizes this beautiful breath and delights in it. The mind experiences a deepening of contentment. It is happy just to be there watching this beautiful breath.
You do not need to do anything here, because the intense beauty of the nimitta is more than capable of holding the attention without your assistance. Be careful not to go assessing. Questions such as, “What is this?” “Is this jhana?” “What should I do next?” and so on are all the work of the “doer” trying to get involved again. This is disturbing the process. You may assess everything once the journey is over. A good scientist assesses the experiment only at the end, when all the data is in. So do not assess or try to work it all out.
And isn't every Theravada bhikkhuni including the thousands in Sri Lanka descended from the Dharmagupta lineage.
Fortunately there's another example, Siladhara nuns in the Thai Forest Sangha:http://www.amaravati.org/fsn/html/81/order.htm
Best wishes, Dmytro