Unorthodox Vipassana

Discussion of Satipatthana bhavanā and Vipassana bhavana.

Re: Unorthodox Vipassana

Postby PeterB » Fri Sep 23, 2011 7:48 am

Do you know Ajahn Amaro ? Or any of the sucessors to Luang Por Chah ?
If you do you will know that they wouldnt give a damn about being mistaken about the Pali... :smile:


He was borrowing a term to give words to the unsayable.

" The only book worth reading is the book of the heart "
Ajahn Chah.

That kind of approach will be anathema to some.
Probably best if that is the case to leave the Forest Sangha alone and concentrate on those teachers who are Pali scholars


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Last edited by PeterB on Fri Sep 23, 2011 7:52 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Unorthodox Vipassana

Postby PeterB » Fri Sep 23, 2011 7:50 am

Sacha G wrote:Hi
I just wanted to expose the unorthodox way I practice vipassana (not always but for a good part of my practice).
When I'm concentrated enough, I focus my awareness on the pure consciousness which appears "around" and "between" the thoughts (I hope it's clear enough). I would call this, "recognizing" of the pure consciousness.
Then I try to stay on it as much as I can, without paying attention to the thoughts. Like somebody looking at a mirror, and wanting to see the mirror itself, not the reflections.
When I leave the cushion, I try to be aware of my environment as just "phenomena" appearing on the surface of this consciousness, and I try to keep this detached awareness.
What do you think? Can you call this vipassana? Or does it sound more like zen/dzogchen/advaita? :juggling:
Thanx
Sacha

This was the OP, and I replied in accord with what I have learned from Ajahn Amaro.
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Re: Unorthodox Vipassana

Postby piotr » Fri Sep 23, 2011 8:02 am

Hi PeterB,

Thanks for advice, I'll stay away from your sacred cow.
Bhagavaṃmūlakā no, bhante, dhammā...
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Re: Unorthodox Vipassana

Postby PeterB » Fri Sep 23, 2011 8:21 am

piotr wrote:Hi PeterB,

Thanks for advice, I'll stay away from your sacred cow.



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Re: Unorthodox Vipassana

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Sep 23, 2011 8:27 am

PeterB wrote: Because it is not a gaffe. Ajahn Amaro was appointed at a young age as abbott of one of the Forest Traditions leading western monasteries because of his palpable attainment.
You will find him and a number of other spiritual descendents of Luang Por Chah using Pali in a creative and living way.
This is of course is upsetting to some...and the Forest Tradition we may conclude, is not their way.
But it is not bad scholarship....it is a conscious eschewel of scholarship.
What this illustrates vividly is the fact that the Forest Tradition is rooted in the experiential...not in the Sutta tradition.
As such they feel able to tale liberties with the Pali. They bend it to reflect experience rather than use language to create a model of anticipated experience.
Luang Por Chah said repeatedly " The only book worth reading is the book of the heart ".
This was not a flippant throw away remark, he meant it.
The Forest Tradition have a working knowledge of Pali, as much as it tales to encourage the real work on the cushion.
The results of this non scholastic approach can be see anytime one has contact with the Forest Sangha...
Their wisdom , humour and vitality are inspiring.
Sounds like a rationale for the starting of the Mahayana.
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: Unorthodox Vipassana

Postby PeterB » Fri Sep 23, 2011 8:31 am

You wouldn't be the first to say so....in fact of course they distance themselves even more from the Mahayana written corpus. Their approach is like or not, radically experiential. As such they are true heirs to Ajahns Mun and Chah.
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Re: Unorthodox Vipassana

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Sep 23, 2011 8:38 am

PeterB wrote:You wouldn't be the first to say so....in fact of course they distance themselves even more from the Mahayana written corpus. Their approach is like or not, radically experiential. As such they are true heirs to Ajahns Mun and Chah.
That's fine, but the touch stone is the suttas.
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: Unorthodox Vipassana

Postby PeterB » Fri Sep 23, 2011 8:44 am

For whom Tilt ?
You had better tell THEM that. They would gently and politely beg to differ.
I must have attended several hundred hours of teachings by various Forest Ajahns including Ajahn Sumedho and I dont recall them referring to the Suttas at all.
Perhaps they are not Theravada . Seriously. And if they were not considered so I dont think they would lose sleep.
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Re: Unorthodox Vipassana

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Sep 23, 2011 8:47 am

PeterB wrote:For whom Tilt ?
You had better tell THEM that. They would gently and politely beg to differ.
I must have attended several hundred hours of teachings by various Forest Ajahns including Ajahn Sumedho and I dont recall them referring to the Suttas at all.
Perhaps they are not Theravada . Seriously. And if they were not considered so I dont think they would lose sleep.
And perhaps they are not even Buddhist.
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: Unorthodox Vipassana

Postby PeterB » Fri Sep 23, 2011 8:50 am

Thats certainly one interpretation of their teachings.
The fact that Ajahn Amaro followed by a number of other Bhikkhus became formal Dzogchen students came as no surprise.
And clearly had the approval of Ajahn Sumedho.
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Re: Unorthodox Vipassana

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Sep 23, 2011 8:55 am

PeterB wrote:For whom Tilt ?
You had better tell THEM that. They would gently and politely beg to differ.
I must have attended several hundred hours of teachings by various Forest Ajahns including Ajahn Sumedho and I dont recall them referring to the Suttas at all.
Which is, of course, not at all true, as is evidenced in this very thread:

viewtopic.php?f=17&t=9731#p149595

But Sylverster is correct, Ven Amaro clearly screwed up in talking about atthi.
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: Unorthodox Vipassana

Postby PeterB » Fri Sep 23, 2011 9:13 am

The fact that I attended hundreds of hours of teachings from Forest Sangha Ajahns and that during those teachings they did not refer to the Sutta is pretty much the case. I never claimed that none of them ever refer to the Suttas.

Whether Ajahn Amaro made a slip in the Pali in the context of this thread which is actually about a member asking if he was practising unorthodox Vipassana or orthodox Dzogchen is not of much consequence in the context of the thread in my opinion.
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Re: Unorthodox Vipassana

Postby Sacha G » Fri Sep 23, 2011 11:11 am

Thanks guys for all the interesting comments.
Actually I consider myself a disciple of Ajahn Amaro. I didn't know he was so welcoming to this idea of unconditioned awareness.( I knew Luang Po Sumedho was however).
So I might not be mistaken after all.
Thanks
Sacha
Pali and Theravada texts:
http://dhamma.webnode.com
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Re: Unorthodox Vipassana

Postby PeterB » Fri Sep 23, 2011 11:24 am

I dont think you are mistaken at all Sacha.
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Re: Unorthodox Vipassana

Postby Nyana » Fri Sep 23, 2011 4:25 pm

PeterB wrote:What this illustrates vividly is the fact that the Forest Tradition is rooted in the experiential...not in the Sutta tradition.
As such they feel able to tale liberties with the Pali. They bend it to reflect experience rather than use language to create a model of anticipated experience.

Indeed. It's unfortunate when some get stuck on the letter and miss the meaning.

PeterB wrote:Their approach is like or not, radically experiential. As such they are true heirs to Ajahns Mun and Chah.

And the samaṇa Gotama.

All the best,

Geoff
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Re: Unorthodox Vipassana

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Sep 23, 2011 7:23 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:
PeterB wrote:What this illustrates vividly is the fact that the Forest Tradition is rooted in the experiential...not in the Sutta tradition.
As such they feel able to tale liberties with the Pali. They bend it to reflect experience rather than use language to create a model of anticipated experience.

Indeed. It's unfortunate when some get stuck on the letter and miss the meaning.

PeterB wrote:Their approach is like or not, radically experiential. As such they are true heirs to Ajahns Mun and Chah.

And the samaṇa Gotama.

All the best,

Geoff
So, meaning be damned? I am certainly not questioning the experiential basis of of the venerables, but they are not scholar and practitioner monks, and maybe sometimes some of them should not pontificate on matters of Pali grammar and textual subtleties in which they really do not have an expertise.
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: Unorthodox Vipassana

Postby Nyana » Fri Sep 23, 2011 7:40 pm

tiltbillings wrote:So, meaning be damned? I am certainly not questioning the experiential basis of of the venerables, but they are not scholar/practitioner monks, and maybe sometimes some of them should not pontificate on matters of Pali grammar and textual subtleties in which they really do not have an expertise.

Working through the subtleties of textual comparison to make the connections between the Pāli dhamma and appropriate Mahāyāna texts in order to discuss the continuities and discontinuities between the Theravāda texts, the Theravāda Thai forest tradition, and the dzogchen view, takes considerable effort on its own. There are very few people in this world sufficiently qualified in all of these areas. People like Amaro and Goldstein are trying to bridge the gap, but there is clearly still some way to go in order to communicate this level of practice.
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Re: Unorthodox Vipassana

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Sep 23, 2011 7:55 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:So, meaning be damned? I am certainly not questioning the experiential basis of of the venerables, but they are not scholar/practitioner monks, and maybe sometimes some of them should not pontificate on matters of Pali grammar and textual subtleties in which they really do not have an expertise.

Working through the subtleties of textual comparison to make the connections between the Pāli dhamma and appropriate Mahāyāna texts in order to discuss the continuities and discontinuities between the Theravāda texts, the Theravāda Thai forest tradition, and the dzogchen view, takes considerable effort on its own. There are very few people in this world sufficiently qualified in all of these areas. People like Amaro and Goldstein are trying to bridge the gap, but there is clearly still some way to go in order to communicate this level of practice.
I am far more kindly disposed toward Goldstein than Ven Amaro, given that Goldstein is well versed in the Pali textual traditions of Theravada is far less likely to make the sort of mistake Ven Amaro did.

But recognizing the difficultly of the of the enterprise of "Working through the subtleties of textual comparison to make the connections between the Pāli dhamma and appropriate Mahāyāna texts in order to discuss the continuities and discontinuities between the Theravāda texts, Theravāda Thai forest tradition, and the dzogchen view" one should not suggest a lack of insight because someone takes exception to how a Pali text or term is handled by Ven Amaro. If there is going to be a meaning exploration of the and discontinuities between the Pali/Theravada and other schools of Buddhism, it would do well to really have a strong handle on the texts and terminology that is being employed.

Like anyone else, the Forest Tradition monks are not above or beyond criticism.
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: Unorthodox Vipassana

Postby Nyana » Fri Sep 23, 2011 8:02 pm

tiltbillings wrote:If there is going to be a meaning exploration of the and discontinuities between the Pali/Theravada and other schools of Buddhism, it would do well to really have a strong handle on the texts and terminology that is being employed.

And there are very few people in a qualified position to do this at this time.

tiltbillings wrote:Like anyone else, the Forest Tradition monks are not above or beyond criticism.

Of course.
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Re: Unorthodox Vipassana

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Sep 23, 2011 8:06 pm

This is a very interesting and important conversation that goes to the heart of Dhamma practice.

I've certainly got a lot more from instruction by those (famous or not) who have clearly walked the path than from studying minute details of suttas and commentaries. On the other hand, that material that has been preserved from ancient times does provide an important "reality check". So it is a little disappointing to find what appear to be rather elementary errors in a written document that purports to be a careful analysis of texts.

However, the chances that any analytical work is entirely free of errors is rather small, so perhaps we should recognize that there seems to be an error in this case and move on.


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