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Pitch-black emptiness and Mahasi Sayadaw technique - Page 5 - Dhamma Wheel

Pitch-black emptiness and Mahasi Sayadaw technique

On the cultivation of insight/wisdom
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kirk5a
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Re: Pitch-black emptiness and Mahasi Sayadaw technique

Postby kirk5a » Thu Feb 03, 2011 1:00 pm

"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 Akuma » Thu Feb 03, 2011 1:03 pm


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kirk5a
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Re: Pitch-black emptiness and Mahasi Sayadaw technique

Postby kirk5a » Thu Feb 03, 2011 1:12 pm

"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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kirk5a
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Re: Pitch-black emptiness and Mahasi Sayadaw technique

Postby kirk5a » Thu Feb 03, 2011 1:24 pm

I asked earlier whether Ajahn Chah said more on the nature of stream-entry. I did find this story, retold by Ajahn Amaro.

"The newcomer proudly introduced himself as a stream-enterer (the first stage of Enlightenment in which one is free from the first three of the 10 fetters that bind one to the sensuous world). After replying “In the village I’m from, stream-enterer is another word for a mangy dog,” Ajahn Chah watched the new arrival stomp off in anger. “Well, so much for stream-entry,” he commented in so many words."
http://www.abhayagiri.org/main/article/1878/

My interpretation is that Ajahn Chah was testing the newcomer. And the test seemed to concern whether this person had really gotten past identity-view or not. If this person had, I suspect there would not have been the stomping off in anger. So Ajahn Chah concluded - nope. (I'm sure Ajahn Chah would have tried to help this person more if they had stuck around, but pride seems to have been more important than being open enough to hear what a teacher was saying. Too bad!)

The rest of that article is quite relevant to the question “How do you know when you are enlightened?”
"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 Parth » Thu Feb 03, 2011 4:24 pm


rowyourboat
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Re: Pitch-black emptiness and Mahasi Sayadaw technique

Postby rowyourboat » Thu Feb 03, 2011 6:22 pm

I think Ajhan Chah was testing whether this man could let go of him-self even for a little bit- and see the jibe with wisdom (that he should have gained)- clearly he couldn't.

There are loads of methods of evaluating whether a person is a stream entrant:

This sutta for example, and those suttas linked to underneath

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

with metta

Matheesha
With Metta

Karuna
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& Upekkha

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Re: Pitch-black emptiness and Mahasi Sayadaw technique

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Feb 03, 2011 7:54 pm


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Re: Pitch-black emptiness and Mahasi Sayadaw technique

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Feb 03, 2011 8:10 pm


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Re: Pitch-black emptiness and Mahasi Sayadaw technique

Postby kirk5a » Thu Feb 03, 2011 9:09 pm

Fair enough, and nicely said Tilt. I can live with that.
"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 tiltbillings » Thu Feb 03, 2011 9:15 pm


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Re: Pitch-black emptiness and Mahasi Sayadaw technique

Postby Akuma » Thu Feb 03, 2011 9:53 pm


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Re: Pitch-black emptiness and Mahasi Sayadaw technique

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Feb 03, 2011 10:16 pm


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Re: Pitch-black emptiness and Mahasi Sayadaw technique

Postby Nyana » Thu Feb 03, 2011 10:37 pm


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Re: Pitch-black emptiness and Mahasi Sayadaw technique

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Feb 03, 2011 10:45 pm

the perception of impermanence should be cultivated for the removal of the conceit 'I am.' For when one perceives impermanence, Meghiya, the perception of not-self is established. When one perceives not-self one reaches the removal of the conceit 'I am,' which is called Nibbana here and now."

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Re: Pitch-black emptiness and Mahasi Sayadaw technique

Postby rowyourboat » Fri Feb 04, 2011 8:11 am

Stream entry or any other attainment is a tough call. For decades the Buddha was the only person who decided what degree of attainment a person had reached. Each time he visited a village where he had taught before, and if one of those disciples had died, Ven Ananda would ask him what the attainment of that person was. Then the Buddha would proclaim him/her as a stream entrant, sakadagamin etc. However he had so many disciples and Ven Ananda would ask so many times that the Buddha gave a sermon on the 'Mirror of the Dhamma' where one could decide for oneself whether they were a stream entrant or not. It is noteworthy that emptiness experiences are not included in these sermons. I think this is because of the confusion and misleading that can occur when we look/think of such experiences. The Buddha wisely avoided confusing his disciples. I think this type of thing (including the vipassana nanas) are not for students to decide but rather for instructors who have seen the same sequence of vipassana nanas arising and seen the nirodha experiences of their students at the culmination of their vipassana. These insights/experiences are difficult to 'diagnose' - it requires a theoretical framework, experience within oneself, and seeing it manifesting in students repeatedly and knowing what all the 'soft signs' (non-verbal communication) are before apprehending these states. It would be very difficult for a student to have this depth of knowledge and experience.

In any case Tilt is right. All we have to do is let go off all 'attainments' and focus on the task at hand- because they can be a genuine hindrance. Better to be heedful:
"This is how one dwells in heedlessness.

"And how does one dwell in heedfulness? When a monk dwells with restraint over the faculty of the eye, the mind is not stained with forms cognizable via the eye. When the mind is not stained, there is joy. There being joy, there is rapture. There being rapture, there is serenity. There being serenity, he dwells in ease. The mind of one at ease becomes centered. When the mind is centered, phenomena (dhammas) [and their characteristics] become manifest. When phenomena are manifest, one is classed simply as one who dwells in heedfulness."

With metta

Matheesha
With Metta

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Re: Pitch-black emptiness and Mahasi Sayadaw technique

Postby Freawaru » Wed Feb 16, 2011 8:26 am


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Re: Pitch-black emptiness and Mahasi Sayadaw technique

Postby Alexei » Wed Apr 06, 2011 6:21 pm


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Re: Pitch-black emptiness and Mahasi Sayadaw technique

Postby starter » Sat Apr 09, 2011 4:01 pm

As I understand, the Pitch-black emptiness is considered as the experience/taste of nibbana in Mahasi Sayadaw system of vipassana practice. Since nibbana is described as "This is peaceful. This is sublime..." (also consdier the descriptions about "body witness"), I assume one should maintain some sort of awareness in nibbana. I wonder if one still has clear awareness and comprehension in such pitch-black emptiness, and if it would fall into "wrong samadhi" described by Ajahn Chah:

"So, there can be right samadhi and wrong samadhi.

Wrong samadhi is where the mind enters calm and there's no awareness at all. One could sit for two hours or even all day but the mind doesn't know where it's been or what's happened. It doesn't know anything. There is calm, but that's all. It's like a well-sharpened knife which we don't bother to put to any use. This is a deluded type of calm, be¬cause there is not much self-awareness. The meditator may think he has reached the ultimate already, so he doesn't bother to look for anything else. Samadhi can be an enemy at this level. Wisdom cannot arise because there is no awareness of right and wrong.

With right samadhi, no matter what level of calm is reached, there is awareness. There is full mindfulness and clear comprehension. This is the samadhi which can give rise to wisdom, one cannot get lost in it. Practitioners should understand this well. You can't do without this awareness, it must be present from beginning to end. This kind of samadhi has no danger."

Buddhadasa bikkhu also commented that it's dangerous to become attached to any special state of mind ...

Metta to all,

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rowyourboat
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Re: Pitch-black emptiness and Mahasi Sayadaw technique

Postby rowyourboat » Sun Apr 10, 2011 7:34 am

Hi starter,

We know that nibbana is an unconditioned (asankhata) state. We also know that states like samadhi and sati (and vinnana) are conditioned states. Therefore to characterise nibbana using conditioned states like these is not appropriate.

We know what an experience of conditioned dhammas are like (from when we meditate). We know what sati and samadhi feel like. Yet, how can we know what an unconditioned 'experience' feels like? To characterise it in terms of conditioned experience is not appropriate.

Therefore the 'experience' of the unconditioned is better explained in terms of 1) the absence of conditioned experience 2) as manifesting at the end of practice (ie after completion of panna portions of the path).

Taking 2) first- it would arise at the culimination of serious vipassana practice, after all the vipassana nana/visuddhi (or any other way of depicting this progression) have been sequentially completed. Therefore this would immediately rule out non- perceptive (asanna) samadhi states, which as Ajhan Chah states, are useless.

Finally taking 1), an absence of conditioned states would mean that we cannot experience this in terms of light, knowledge, awareness or bliss, except when describing it in a metaphorical way. The experience of it would be an absence of conditioned states. This then would also be the best way to describe it as well ( all those wonderful conditioned states having arisen before this experience is reached). So calling it a 'pitch black emptiness' is correct in that it doesn't speak of conditioned states, but incorrect in that it falls into the 'non-existence' trap. Maybe the best to leave it and simply call it an experience of nibbana- or from a more functional angle - the cessation of suffering. (including sankhara dukkha).

With metta


Matheesha

Edit- there is no further use of a nibbanic experience, as it is the 'fruit', the result of all those states we used before to get there.
With Metta

Karuna
Mudita
& Upekkha

starter
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Re: Pitch-black emptiness and Mahasi Sayadaw technique

Postby starter » Sun Apr 10, 2011 8:32 pm

Hm, I happened to read the following which is relevant to this thread and would like to share with the friends:

"When I returned to practice in Ajahn Chah’s community following more than a year of silent Mahasi retreat, I recounted all of these experiences—dissolving my body into light, profound insights into emptiness, hours of vast stillness and freedom. Ajahn Chah understood and appreciated them from his own deep wisdom. Then he smiled and said, “Well, something else to let go of.”

-- Jack Kornfield "Enlightenments" (in this article he compares the different views / experiences of enlightenment in different traditions -- Mahasi Sayadaw vs. Ajahn Chah)



Metta to all,

Starter


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