Anatta vs contemplations of death & metta vs merits making

Discussion of Satipatthana bhavanā and Vipassana bhavana.

Re: Anatta vs contemplations of death & metta vs merits making

Postby rowyourboat » Sun Mar 27, 2011 7:56 am

Hi starter,

The 'development of the mind' which the putajjanas don't have is 'citta visuddhi' or 'adhicitta sikkha'. When the mind is purified it emanates a kind of luminosity much like the moon at night. What is taught as nimittas is this. This can be arrived at, in a temporary manner, by samatha alone. IMO this corresponds to 'breathing in sensitive to the mind' bit. However when a mind is purified both through samatha and vipassana, and defilement are abandoned, it must be a glorious sight.

For nibbana (extinguishment) to happen, the mind must be free from akusala in terms of precepts, then in terms of the five hindrances, then many upakilesa, before a luminous mind can be reached. It is this pure mind which takes up vipassana, then cuts through avijja. It must be said that no other mind can reach stream entry.

When the mind (Nama components- phassa, vedana, sanna, cetana, manasikara) are seen for what they truly are, as anicca, dukkha and anatta, they are abandoned. Even the luminous mind is dukkha. Ven Sariputta says even 'anantarika samadhi' the highest form of samadhi, which happens immediately before the moment of attainment, must be let gone of. (dasuttara sutta/DN).

The Buddha has used the terms nibbana dhathu etc. Yet he has also said:
1) nibbana is beyond sense objects
2) beyond designation
3) beyond discernment
4) beyond description/expression

The only way to reconcile this conundrum is to take the stance that the Buddha had to call it something (nibbana, that is). Otherwise there would be no way to communicate it to the masses. However this runs the risk of reifying it, but that was probably a risk worth taking as when people understand, using concepts, get drawn into the practice they can see it for themselves. He even called it the highest bliss, knowing fully well that nothing could be felt in nibbana! This is clearly being aware of his purpose- being a Sammasambuddha and the role of the teacher to devas and men- that was foremost in his mind. Accuracy was/seems to be, of secondary importance, when he did speak in those terms. He clearly knew that people are initially drawn into the dhamma based on defilements like craving and ego. He must have also seen that human beings cannot grasp nibbana in its pure form, but needed approximations based on their current delusions. Especially those alluding to nicca (undecaying), Sukha (highest bliss), atta (merging into the ocean). If it is beyond description, we shouldn't attempt to describe it. However, the Buddha's job was somewhat different IMO. I realise that this might not be satisfactory to you, but this is the dhamma.

With metta
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Re: Anatta vs contemplations of death & metta vs merits making

Postby starter » Sun Mar 27, 2011 2:53 pm

Hello Matheesha and other friends,

Many thanks for your kind help.

"When the mind is purified it emanates a kind of luminosity much like the moon at night."
-- I experienced this radiant mind once, but I never took it as the pure mind or "luminous" mind or "luminous all around consciousness" the Buddha refers to in AN1, because such radiance only occurred during samatha meditation when the hindrances were temporarily gone (but the incoming defilements have not yet been removed)-- it's surely conditioned and anicca and it's surely not non-manifestive, encompassing the entire universe. The pure "mind" or mind "essence", or "luminous all-around [transcendental] 'consciousness'" free from all incoming defilements (including ignorance and the delusion of "I"/conceit) is the unconditioned, not anicca, the deathless -- nibbana [otherwise what would be deathless?]. It's just another label(s) some like Ajahn Mun, Maechee Kuam, Ajahn Maha Boowa, Ajahn Chaah, Ajahn Thanissaro, Ajahn Sumedho, ... and many enlightened ones (like Master Huineng) in Mahayana school use for nibbana. It could be wrong though, but I believe their levels are far above ours and their experience of nibbana would be much closer to the truth [if not yet the ultimate truth] than our understanding of nibbana.

I agree it might not be really necessary to pin down the exact meaning of nibbana for liberation from greed/aversion/delusion and from samsara, since the 1st five disciples became arahants after just detaching from the five aggregates and removing the defilements. As to what's left there which remains deathless, after removing the incoming defilements and the conditioned phenomena (five aggregates), we don't have to ponder.

Metta to all,

Starter

PS: I forgot then that the 1st five disciples of the Buddha were already sottapanas who already body-witnessed and eye-witnessed nibbana before listening to the Anatta sutta and become arahants. Knowing and comprehending nibbana is necessary for enlightenment as taught in MN 1. For deeper discussion on nibbana please see another thread
Viññāṇaṃ anidassanaṃ=unestablished consciousness=nibbana? [http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=8350]
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Re: Anatta vs contemplations of death & metta vs merits making

Postby rowyourboat » Mon Mar 28, 2011 2:55 pm

Hi starter,

I agree that is the best course of action. Our initial impressions with samatha samadhi can fortel great things to come. The Buddha made full sense/use of his samatha experience with Alara kalama and Uddakaramaputta, when he saw that even the most sublime states were not free from agitations, so subtle like vedana and sanna, yet still a form of suffering. This is why he sought out another path to the ending of suffering. However he always says nibbana is for those who have reached the first jhana. So the jhanas are an integral part of the gradual path to nibbana (see the visuddhis). They require 1-2 hours of daily samatha practice, in 1-2 sessions a day. Jhanas I believe make the path to stream entry much easier. This path takes effort. Did you know about the 3 types of effort- the effort of starting something (nikkhama dathu), the effort of persevering with it and the effort of finishing it off (parakrama dhathu). All three must be present. A person may start but not have the strength to continue, instead heading down avenues of interest. Another might find it difficult to get started but be ok once she gets going. Another might start and persever but not have the effort to end it. It is well worthwhile noting these patterns in ourselves. It is then this these aspects can be developed.

With metta

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Re: Anatta vs contemplations of death & metta vs merits making

Postby starter » Mon Mar 28, 2011 4:24 pm

Hello Matheesha,

Many thanks for your very sincere and kind advice. Even though I've been wondering if a more wisdom/vipasana-based approach would fit the lay practitioners better, I still think samadhi is surely necessary and I'm not going to stop my sitting meditation (usually 2 x 1-1.5h). I'm just trying to cultivate another type of samadhi during the daily activities -- no attachment /no wondering thoughts and etc., borrowed from another school which I'd better not mention the name since a few friends here seem to be fed up with it. I thought the Buddha taught us to look at the moon he is trying to point to, not just to hold on to his words (pointer) instead of the moon. I'd like to take a more broad-minded approach, but I might be wrong. If I'm wrong, I'd appreciate the kind warning and advice from the Dhamma teachers/friends here, instead of just asking me to go to another forum ...

Metta to all,

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Re: Anatta vs contemplations of death & metta vs merits making

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Mar 28, 2011 7:34 pm

starter wrote: The pure "mind" or mind "essence", or "luminous all-around [transcendental] 'consciousness'" free from all incoming defilements (including ignorance and the delusion of "I"/conceit) is the unconditioned, not anicca, the deathless -- nibbana [otherwise what would be deathless?].
You are still objectifying the "mind." You still have not answered the questions I put to you.
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: Anatta vs contemplations of death & metta vs merits making

Postby starter » Mon Mar 28, 2011 9:03 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
starter wrote: The pure "mind" or mind "essence", or "luminous all-around [transcendental] 'consciousness'" free from all incoming defilements (including ignorance and the delusion of "I"/conceit) is the unconditioned, not anicca, the deathless -- nibbana [otherwise what would be deathless?].
You are still objectifying the "mind." You still have not answered the questions I put to you.


-- If I change the label of the pure "mind" into nibbana, do you think I'm objectifying nibbana? As long as we still have subjectivity, we'll have to have objectivity. As I understand, when Ven. Saiputta talked about non-objectivation (sorry I forgot which sutta) of nibbana, he probably meant it's not a conditioned object but the unconditioned.

As to your question "So, where is nibbana? If there were no arahants, where is nibbana?", I thought I've answered it last time:

"Just as in the great ocean neither a decrease nor an increase will appear though all the streams of the world flow into it and rains fall into it from the sky; even so in the Nibbana element that is without a remainder of substrata of existence [the conditioned]; there is no decrease nor increase even if many monks enter it. [-- because these monks don’t have conditioned existence anymore, but rather the unconditioned, the pure imperturbable "mind" devoid of defilements and unestablished upon name and form]. [A. N. ii.47.Paharada Sutta]

To clarify it further, nibbana, the 'deathless element' (amata-dhatu), has been there all the time and will be there all the time (nibbana is causeless, timeless and unperishable). The samsara of defiled minds and nibbana of the arahants -- like the arising and ceasing of the "foams"/"bubbles" of the "sea" of nibbana.

Metta,

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Re: Anatta vs contemplations of death & metta vs merits making

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Mar 28, 2011 9:35 pm

starter wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
starter wrote: The pure "mind" or mind "essence", or "luminous all-around [transcendental] 'consciousness'" free from all incoming defilements (including ignorance and the delusion of "I"/conceit) is the unconditioned, not anicca, the deathless -- nibbana [otherwise what would be deathless?].
You are still objectifying the "mind." You still have not answered the questions I put to you.


-- If I change the label of the pure "mind" into nibbana, do you think I'm objectifying nibbana?
Given the way you have used "pure mind," probably. The mind is "pure" in as much as it is not conditioned by greed, hatred and delusion. Also, keep in mind that for the arahant the mind rises and falls just as it does for anyone, except it is free of the conditionings of greed, hatred and delusion.

As long as we still have subjectivity, we'll have to have objectivity.
Are you still trying to argue that nibbana is some sort of objective truth thing that is out there that we get?

As I understand, when Ven. Saiputta talked about non-objectivation (sorry I forgot which sutta) of nibbana, he probably meant it's not a conditional object but the unconditional.
Probably best to have the actual text to look at.

As to your question "So, where is nibbana? If there were no arahants, where is nibbana?", I thought I've answered it last time:

--"The Buddha also refers to Nibbana as a 'dhatu,' an element, the 'deathless element' (amata-dhatu). He compares the element of Nibbana to an ocean. He says that just as the great ocean remains at the same level no matter how much water pours into it from the rivers [the unconditioned, the pure "mind" of arahants], without increase or decrease, so the Nibbana element remains the same, no matter whether many or few people attain Nibbana."
http://hkims.org/documents/Nibbana%20by ... 0Bodhi.pdf[/quoter]And here nibbana is being objectified, reified based upon the word dhatu. Nibbana is "deathless because there is no further rebirth and no further rebirth, no further death: amata, freedom from death.

To clarify it further, nibbana, the 'deathless element' (amata-dhatu), has been there all the time and will be there all the time.
Now, you are talking Hinduism, but that aside, where is this all the time been here nibbana? And how is it?
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: Anatta vs contemplations of death & metta vs merits making

Postby starter » Mon Mar 28, 2011 10:35 pm

I tried to search the internet to find the Buddha's discourse which Bikkhu Bodhi refers to in the following paragaph:
--"The Buddha also refers to Nibbana as a 'dhatu,' an element, the 'deathless element' (amata-dhatu). He compares the element of Nibbana to an ocean. He says that just as the great ocean remains at the same level no matter how much water pours into it from the rivers [the unconditioned, the pure "mind" of arahants], without increase or decrease, so the Nibbana element remains the same, no matter whether many or few people attain Nibbana."
http://hkims.org/documents/Nibbana%20by ... 0Bodhi.pdf

I just listened to Bikkhu Bodhi's talk "In the Buddha's words" (7d), in which he mentioned that the Buddha refers Dhamma as Brahma caria [?], the spiritual laws/principles, which is perfectly complete and purified.

If some friend knows these suttas, I'd greatly appreciate to have the opportunity to read them.

Now come back to my internet search. After searching several internet engines, I only found the following relevant information to share with the friends:

―Just as the river Ganges inclines toward the sea, flows towards the sea, and merges with the
sea, so too Master Gotama‘s assembly with its homeless ones and its householders inclines
toward Nibbana, and merges with Nibbana.‖
Majjhima Nikaya 73.14

―Bhikkhus, just as the river Ganges slants, slopes, and inclines toward the ocean, so too a
bhikkhu who develops and cultivates the Noble Eightfold Path slants, slopes, and inclines toward
Nibbana.‖ Samyutta Nikaya 45.97-102

"Nibbana is sometimes referred to as the great Divine ocean and each mind of ours is like a drop entering this ocean in the experience of nibbana. This, should not be taken literally however, since our language limits us and nibbana is not limited and can not be explained by language. Nibbana is the unlimited, the unconditioned, the perfect state.

Nibbana - (Pali) Beyond all concepts of duality, the perfect, unconditioned state. It can not be described in words, but must be experienced. It is one with enlightenment. It represents the extinction of re-birth and suffering, but it is not nihilistic. The pantheistic concept of a mind being like a drop of water entering a Divine ocean with the Divine ocean being nibbana is the nearest definition, but still not adequate or entirely appropriate. It is neither existence nor is it non-existence, nor is it both; it simply must be experienced."
[Right Understanding; http://www.thedhamma.com/buddhaslists.pdf]

After these efforts, I'd like to end my participation in the discussion about nibbana in this thread [but the info about the above-mentioned suttas are still most welcome]. As I mentioned in my previous post:

"it might not be really necessary to pin down the exact meaning of nibbana for liberation from greed/aversion/delusion [of the five aggregates as "self"] and from samsara, since the 1st five disciples became arahants after just detaching from the five aggregates and removing the defilements. As to what's left there which remains deathless, after removing the incoming defilements and the conditioned phenomena (five aggregates), we don't have to ponder [about it but better try to experience it].

Metta to all!

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Re: Anatta vs contemplations of death & metta vs merits making

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Mar 28, 2011 10:39 pm

starter wrote:. . .
In giving essentially a literalist reading to the texts you are quoting, you are still trying to turn nibbana into some "thing" other than what is is: freedom from the conditioning of greed, hatred, and delusion.
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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