DO not depending on avijja and sankhara?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

Re: DO not depending on avijja and sankhara?

Postby tiltbillings » Wed May 04, 2011 4:47 am

TMingyur wrote:
rowyourboat wrote:The conventional truth is also a truth, even though less true, compared to the ultimate truth.


If there is no thought "conventional truth" there is no thought "ultimate truth". Thoughts are one type of manifestation of the aggregates.
The so called "conventional truth" is caused by compassionately taking into account so-called "worldly" experience which is non-informed in the first place. The notion "true" (or "false") also belongs to that sphere as does the term "ultimate truth" as do all verbal expressions including this post.

Kind regards


THERAVADA VERSION OF THE TWO TRUTHS
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: DO not depending on avijja and sankhara?

Postby tiltbillings » Wed May 04, 2011 4:54 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Tilt,

tiltbillings wrote:The reality is, of course, that paticcasamuppada is couched within the broader context of rebirth, which why I quoted those three texts (which could be multiplied considerably).

I would say instead that paticcasamuppada is couched within the broader context of samsara.
Samsara. Itself an expression of death and birth.
Those three texts, like dependent origination, can be read through many frames of reference... I of course choose phenomenologically, and they do not present any incongruence.
No incongruence, except that one must work at the figurative interpretation and it does present a picture of the Buddha not expressing himself directly.
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: DO not depending on avijja and sankhara?

Postby retrofuturist » Wed May 04, 2011 5:49 am

Greetings Tilt,

tiltbillings wrote:No incongruence, except that one must work at the figurative interpretation and it does present a picture of the Buddha not expressing himself directly.

Not really... it's well established that the Buddha worked with modern lexicon of the time (karma, nirvana, jati, khandha, sankhara, vinnana, nutriment etc.) and tweaked the meanings to meet the actuality of his observations. The opaqueness arises when those who didn't appreciate the nuances of the Buddha's tweakings started re-affirming the original brahmanic meanings behind certain terms, and the suttas came to be translated through those frames of reference.

Not that I've read anything much by Gombrich, but I've heard that he and others have regularly evidenced such things from a scholastic perspective, whilst the likes of ven. Nanananda, Buddhadasa, Nanavira, Bodhi, Thanissaro etc. have raised visibility of the subtle and obscured meanings (papanca, being a classic example), and hence we have the appearance of a non-time-delineated model of dependent origination in the post-Mahavihara age and it has come to be taught by a good many Buddhist teachers (ordained or otherwise) who are not beholden to the commentarial superstructures. For having the nerve to challenge orthodoxy they are invariably loved or loathed (depending on one's viewpoint) but I praise them for their courage to have the Buddha's words understood in their own light, and for putting forward their findings even though they know full well they will be subject to criticism from 'conservatives' for doing so.

The Buddha spoke clearly and he spoke appropriately to his audience - how the meaning and interpretation of the words he used has evolved over 2,600 years is no fault of his. Hence I would recommend to anyone sincerely interested in Theravada Buddhism to read widely, and with an open mind, in relation to key concepts underpinning the Buddha's teaching... these concepts include, for starters, every link in the dependent origination sequence. Reviewing the concepts, relating them to the teachings and the way the teachings inter-relate, and relating them to one's own experience and knowledge.

Metta Sutta wrote:By not holding to fixed views,
The pure-hearted one, having clarity of vision,
Being freed from all sense desires,
Is not born again into this world.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: DO not depending on avijja and sankhara?

Postby tiltbillings » Wed May 04, 2011 6:05 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Tilt,

tiltbillings wrote:No incongruence, except that one must work at the figurative interpretation and it does present a picture of the Buddha not expressing himself directly.

Not really... it's well established that the Buddha worked with modern lexicon of the time (karma, nirvana, jati, khandha, sankhara, vinnana, nutriment etc.) and tweaked the meanings to meet the actuality of his observations. The opaqueness arises when those who didn't appreciate the nuances of the Buddha's tweakings started re-affirming the original brahmanic meanings behind certain terms, and the suttas came to be translated through those frames of reference.
Damdifino what you mean here. Modern lexicon of time, what is that? And who working with the brahmanical meanings? Not me.

Not that I've read anything much by Gombrich, but I've heard that he and others have regularly evidenced such things from a scholastic perspective, whilst the likes of ven. Nanananda, Buddhadasa, Nanavira, Bodhi, Thanissaro etc. have raised visibility of the subtle and obscured meanings (papanca, being a classic example), and hence we have the appearance of a non-time-delineated model of dependent origination in the post-Mahavihara age and iy has come to be taught by a good many Buddhist teachers (ordained or otherwise) who are not beholden to the commentarial superstructures.
"non-time-delineated model of dependent origination" if one is dealing with the empirical, phenomenological world, what could possibly even mean?

The Buddha spoke clearly and he spoke appropriately to his audience - how the meaning and interpretation of the words he used has evolved over 2,600 years is no fault of his. Hence I would recommend to anyone sincerely interested in Theravada Buddhism to read widely, and with an open mind, in relation to key concepts underpinning the Buddha's teaching... these concepts include, for starters, every link in the dependent origination sequence. Reviewing the concepts, relating them to the teachings and the way the teachings inter-relate, and relating them to one's own experience and knowledge.
No doubt the language can be difficult at times.

Metta Sutta wrote:By not holding to fixed views,
The pure-hearted one, having clarity of vision,
Being freed from all sense desires,
Is not born again into this world.
Yep. After death no further birth.
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: DO not depending on avijja and sankhara?

Postby retrofuturist » Wed May 04, 2011 8:44 am

Greetings Tilt,

tiltbillings wrote:Damdifino what you mean here. Modern lexicon of time, what is that? And who working with the brahmanical meanings? Not me.


The modern lexicon of the time ... (i.e. the vocabulary as it was then) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lexicon .

I'm not saying whether you or anyone else here is working with brahmanical definitions or not. As to whether you inadvertently are using meanings influenced by other Indic religions I don't know, or allege to know - the point is simply not to assume that your definitions are bhahman-proof simply because they were received from someone who adheres to an "orthodox" line of transmission. Even though I am cautious myself of this contimation, I strongly suspect there is some degree of "other religionist" influence that's crept into my understanding too, merely on account of the translations and teachings I have read in the name of the Dhamma - I remain vigilant in ferreting it out, if it is there.

tiltbillings wrote:"non-time-delineated model of dependent origination" if one is dealing with the empirical, phenomenological world, what could possibly even mean?

It's stating simply that the model is not time-delineated. Any model that inherently spans multiple lives is inherently time-delineated. If a model is phenomenological, time is not a relevant variable... it's just about causality of experienced phenomena, regardless of time.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: DO not depending on avijja and sankhara?

Postby tiltbillings » Wed May 04, 2011 9:21 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Tilt,

tiltbillings wrote:Damdifino what you mean here. Modern lexicon of time, what is that? And who working with the brahmanical meanings? Not me.


The modern lexicon of the time ... (i.e. the vocabulary as it was then) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lexicon .
I do know what lexicon means, not being totally stupid.

I'm not saying whether you or anyone else here is working with brahmanical definitions or not. As to whether you inadvertently are using meanings influenced by other Indic religions I don't know, or allege to know - the point is simply not to assume that your definitions are bhahman-proof simply because they were received from someone who adheres to an "orthodox" line of transmission. Even though I am cautious myself of this contimation, I strongly suspect there is some degree of "other religionist" influence that's crept into my understanding too, merely on account of the translations and teachings I have read in the name of the Dhamma - I remain vigilant in ferreting it out, if it is there.
Of course, it assumes that one knows what the brahmin defintions are/were, but I also wonder how much modern day stuff is being back-read into the Buddha's doctrine.

tiltbillings wrote:"non-time-delineated model of dependent origination" if one is dealing with the empirical, phenomenological world, what could possibly even mean?

It's stating simply that the model is not time-delineated. Any model that inherently spans multiple lives is inherently time-delineated. If a model is phenomenological, time is not a relevant variable... it's just about causality of experienced phenomena, regardless of time.
"causality of experienced phenomena," which, of course, happens in time.
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: DO not depending on avijja and sankhara?

Postby retrofuturist » Wed May 04, 2011 9:28 am

Greetings Tilt,

tiltbillings wrote:Of course, it assumes that one knows what the brahmin defintions are/were

It would be certainly be useful for comparative purposes to know... maybe I might endeavour to investigate that at some point, although I expect scholars and the like have already incorporated such elements into their research.

tiltbillings wrote:but I also wonder how much modern day stuff is being back-read into the Buddha's doctrine.

Quite possibly some - it's another trap to be wary of if one is honestly committed to understanding the meaning of Buddha-vacana.

tiltbillings wrote:"causality of experienced phenomena," which, of course, happens in time.

Right, but the lifetimes in which that time operates needn't be forcibly delineated... particularly since for most of us, unable to see past and future lives, such delineations would take us beyond the realm of "experienced phenomena" which are knowable via perception, or via sati (memory).

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: DO not depending on avijja and sankhara?

Postby tiltbillings » Wed May 04, 2011 9:40 am

retrofuturist wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:"causality of experienced phenomena," which, of course, happens in time.

Right, but the lifetimes in which that time operates needn't be forcibly delineated... particularly since for most of us, unable to see past and future lives, such delineations would take us beyond the realm of "experienced phenomena" which are knowable via perception, or via sati (memory).
So, like the Buddha, if we had the experience of past lives (without scare quotes), that could then put the experience of paticcasamuppada over several actual lives.
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: DO not depending on avijja and sankhara?

Postby retrofuturist » Wed May 04, 2011 9:44 am

Greetings Tilt,

tiltbillings wrote:So, like the Buddha, if we had the experience of past lives (without scare quotes), that could then put the experience of paticcasamuppada over several actual lives.

Sure, why not? It needn't be pegged to the traditional "3-lives" either... it could be any number so long as the causality of phenomena by way of the nidanas was actually observed (and not merely speculated upon).

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: DO not depending on avijja and sankhara?

Postby daverupa » Wed May 04, 2011 10:26 am

Ñānavīra Thera:

7. No doubt more such specific inadequacies and inconsistencies in the traditional interpretation of paticcasamuppāda could be found, but since this is not a polemic we are not concerned to seek them out. There remains, however, a reason for dissatisfaction with the general manner of this interpretation.

The Buddha has said (Majjhima iii,8 <M.i,191>) that he who sees the Dhamma sees paticcasamuppāda; and he has also said that the Dhamma is sanditthika and akālika, that it is immediately visible and without involving time (see in particular Majjhima iv,8 <M.i,265>). Now it is evident that the twelve items, avijjā to jarāmarana, cannot, if the traditional interpretation is correct, all be seen at once; for they are spread over three successive existences. I may, for example, see present viññāna to vedanā, but I cannot now see the kamma of the past existence—avijjā and sankhārā—that (according to the traditional interpretation) was the cause of these present things. Or I may see tanhā and so on, but I cannot now see the jāti and jarāmarana that will result from these things in the next existence.

And the situation is no better if it is argued that since all twelve items are present in each existence it is possible to see them all at once. It is, no doubt, true that all these things can be seen at once, but the avijjā and sankhārā that I now see are the cause (says the traditional interpretation) of viññāna to vedanā in the next existence, and have no causal connexion with the viññāna to vedanā that I now see. In other words, the relation sankhārapaccayā viññānam cannot be seen in either case. The consequence of this is that the paticcasamuppāda formulation (if the traditional interpretation is correct) is something that, in part at least, must be taken on trust. And even if there is memory of the past existence the situation is still unsatisfactory, since memory is not on the same level of certainty as present reflexive experience.

Instead of imass'uppādā idam uppajjati, imassa nirodhā idam nirujjhati, 'with arising of this this arises, with cessation of this this ceases', the traditional interpretation says, in effect, imassa nirodhā idam uppajjati, 'with cessation of this, this arises'. It is needless to press this point further: either the reader will already have recognized that this is, for him, a valid objection to the traditional interpretation, or he will not. And if he has not already seen this as an objection, no amount of argument will open his eyes. It is a matter of one's fundamental attitude to one's own existence—is there, or is there not, a present problem or, rather, anxiety that can only be resolved in the present?
Last edited by daverupa on Wed May 04, 2011 10:27 am, edited 2 times in total.
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    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: DO not depending on avijja and sankhara?

Postby mikenz66 » Wed May 04, 2011 10:26 am

Hi Retro,
retrofuturist wrote:It's stating simply that the model is not time-delineated. Any model that inherently spans multiple lives is inherently time-delineated. If a model is phenomenological, time is not a relevant variable... it's just about causality of experienced phenomena, regardless of time.

As I have said before, I don't think that "phenomenological" gives any restriction on time scales. I believe you need some extra assumptions to rule out long timescales.

And perhaps you could explain what impact these models would have on actual practice? I've never seen a coherent explanation of how it would make any difference whether one subscribed to a time-delineated model or not, so I find most of these conversations (and Nanavira's quote above) of only academic interest.

:anjali:
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Re: DO not depending on avijja and sankhara?

Postby retrofuturist » Wed May 04, 2011 10:34 am

Greetings Mike,

mikenz66 wrote:As I have said before, I don't think that "phenomenological" gives any restriction on time scales.

Sure, this is precisely what I just said. That's what non time-delineated signifies.

mikenz66 wrote:I believe you need some extra assumptions to rule out long timescales.

Well since I'm not trying to (see my last message to Tilt), I don't believe I need to do any such thing.

mikenz66 wrote:And perhaps you could explain what impact these models would have on actual practice?

They allow you to know and see "sabbe sankhara dukkha" for yourself... knowing and seeing "sabbe sankhara dukkha" is integral to becoming completely disenchanted with sankharas, and letting them go.

mikenz66 wrote:I've never seen a coherent explanation of how it would make any difference whether one subscribed to a time-delineated model or not, so I find most of these conversations (and Nanavira's quote above) of only academic interest.

As I said... seeing "sabbe sankhara dukkha", rather than just believing it, rather than just having faith in it, or speculating dependent origination to be so. I trust that you take the direct knowledge of "sabbe sankhara dukkha" to be something more than simple academic interest.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: DO not depending on avijja and sankhara?

Postby daverupa » Wed May 04, 2011 10:40 am

mikenz66 wrote:And perhaps you could explain what impact these models would have on actual practice? I've never seen a coherent explanation of how it would make any difference whether one subscribed to a time-delineated model or not


It's largely an exercise in deriving answers to any questions about the Dhamma from SuttaVinaya material, and in so doing showcasing the superfluity of abhidhamma and Commentarial exegeses. That it can be done using only SuttaVinaya generates a thrill of saddha in the face of "2600 years ago", and this is a benefit in one's practice. There are others.

:heart:
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: DO not depending on avijja and sankhara?

Postby mikenz66 » Wed May 04, 2011 11:09 am

OK, since I don't understand any of these answers I'll just keep practising...

Unless someone has some actual evidence that the particular model one uses might prevent one from practising effectively...
Which seems rather unlikely to me, but perhaps I should cultivate an agnostic attitude towards time delineation.

:anjali:
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Re: DO not depending on avijja and sankhara?

Postby mikenz66 » Wed May 04, 2011 11:11 am

retrofuturist wrote: I trust that you take the direct knowledge of "sabbe sankhara dukkha" to be something more than simple academic interest.

Of course. I just don't agree with your augment that it requires a particular philosophical model to see it.

:anjali:
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Re: DO not depending on avijja and sankhara?

Postby retrofuturist » Wed May 04, 2011 11:18 am

Greetings Mike,

mikenz66 wrote:Of course. I just don't agree with your augment that it requires a particular philosophical model to see it.

It's not philosophical... at least not the way I regard it. It's an analytical tool to assist in the discernment of dhammas - so in that sense it's about causality, much like what you endeavour to observe when you 'practice' by way of vipassana meditation.

A question for you then.... do modern meditation techniques cover all the nidanas detailed by the Buddha in his teachings on dependent origination? And if not, how do they help you know that sabbe sankhara dukkha? Remember, it's not just 'sabbe vedana dukkha', but 'sabbe sankhara dukkha'.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: DO not depending on avijja and sankhara?

Postby mikenz66 » Wed May 04, 2011 12:05 pm

retrofuturist wrote:A question for you then.... do modern meditation techniques cover all the nidanas detailed by the Buddha in his teachings on dependent origination? And if not, how do they help you know that sabbe sankhara dukkha? Remember, it's not just 'sabbe vedana dukkha', but 'sabbe sankhara dukkha'.

I've no idea. I haven't completed the path.

Anyway, my question is what I would do differently if I subscribed to a particular model. I don't see anything in any of the instructions I am familiar with from any teachers that depend on such issues. Is there something in the instructions from Mahasi, Goenka, Thanissaro, Nanananda, Chah, Sumedho, or whoever, that actually depend on such details as time-delineated, realist, etc?

This is actually a serious question. I simply can't see what difference it would make.

:anjali:
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Re: DO not depending on avijja and sankhara?

Postby piotr » Wed May 04, 2011 4:51 pm

Hi Retrofuturist,

retrofuturist wrote:What I mean is that…


Thanks for response. I basically agree with your point. I asked that question because it seemed to me that you treated dependent arising and four noble truths as not connected sets of teachings — which would be a mistake, as Tiltbillings and I have shown.
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Re: DO not depending on avijja and sankhara?

Postby rowyourboat » Wed May 04, 2011 7:02 pm

Personally, I find that belief in rebirth motivates me to practice with much more viriya than if I remained non-committed about the issue. I wonder if I would practice at all if I felt it all ended at death.
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Re: DO not depending on avijja and sankhara?

Postby retrofuturist » Wed May 04, 2011 11:06 pm

Greetings Mike,

mikenz66 wrote:I don't see anything in any of the instructions I am familiar with from any teachers that depend on such issues. Is there something in the instructions from Mahasi, Goenka, Thanissaro, Nanananda, Chah, Sumedho, or whoever, that actually depend on such details as time-delineated, realist, etc?

This is actually a serious question. I simply can't see what difference it would make.

Not that I've seen. In fact, at least two of them (e.g. Nanananda and Sumedho... and therefore possibly Ajahn Chah?) do not ascribe to a time-delineated model of dependent origination.

It would probably be a better question to pose to teachers and meditators you respect in those traditions, whose instructions you might personally be inclined to take on board. Asking, "How can these instructions lead to me to see that all sankharas are dukkha?", and "How can these instructions lead to me to see that all sankharas are capable of ceasing?". As you may have observed, these questions are quite fundamental to the Four Noble Truths, and should be very easy for someone accomplished to answer.

Depending upon how they respond, you could ask follow up questions exploring the this/that conditionality of specific nidana combinations from the dependent origjnation teachings (e.g. sankhara to consciousness, bhava to jati). The answer received would want to satisfy any doubts that there is anything formed that is not subject to this/that conditionality, and satisfy any doubts that vijja will bring about their cessation.

retrofuturist wrote:And if not, how do they help you know that sabbe sankhara dukkha?

mikenz66 wrote:I've no idea. I haven't completed the path.

No one's saying you should have completed the path, but it is beneficial to understand the causality of the path that lies ahead - in other words, how cessation of sankharas can actually occur. If we don't see what we need to do in order to make that happen, and how our present actions are connected with making that happen, we are essentially flying blind... hoping and taking it on faith that our practice will lead to the results we strive towards, rather than just to mundane happiness.

Such enquiry, would be similar to starter's enquiry here (but obviously customised regarding your practice rather than his)...

The Buddha's path: from right view to nibbana
viewtopic.php?f=13&t=8276

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
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