Two "truths"/"descriptions" and meditation in the suttas

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Two "truths"/"descriptions" and meditation in the suttas

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Oct 29, 2011 6:46 am

As I pointed out on a couple of recent threads:
viewtopic.php?f=29&t=10184#p155954
viewtopic.php?f=29&t=10184&p=156512#p156504
viewtopic.php?f=19&t=10222#p156368
it is well known that in the suttas we find two descriptions.
One in terms of "beings"/"concepts" and one in terms of various "subdivisions" (khandhas/sense bases/elements, etc).

In many cases this distinction seems rather important in mental cultivation instructions. For example, expositions on metta, etc use the "conceptual" language:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... ml#brahma1
"That disciple of the noble ones, headman — thus devoid of covetousness, devoid of ill will, unbewildered, alert, mindful — keeps pervading the first direction [the east] with an awareness imbued with good will, likewise the second, likewise the third, likewise the fourth. Thus above, below, & all around, everywhere, in its entirety, he keeps pervading the all-encompassing cosmos with an awareness imbued with good will — abundant, expansive, immeasurable, without hostility, without ill will. Just as a strong conch-trumpet blower can notify the four directions without any difficulty, in the same way, when the awareness-release through good will is thus developed, thus pursued, any deed done to a limited extent no longer remains there, no longer stays there.

I.e. the concept of metta is developed.

On the other hand, many of the instructions in the Satipatthana Sutta http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html use the "subdivisions" language, and these are the parts typically used for "vipassana" approaches such as Goenka's, which initially focusses on vedena:
"When feeling a painful feeling of the flesh, he discerns, 'I am feeling a painful feeling of the flesh.' When feeling a painful feeling not of the flesh, he discerns, 'I am feeling a painful feeling not of the flesh.' When feeling a pleasant feeling of the flesh, he discerns, 'I am feeling a pleasant feeling of the flesh.' ...

or Sayadaw Mahasi's, whose instructions tend to involve elements (translated as "properties" here):
"Furthermore...just as a skilled butcher or his apprentice, having killed a cow, would sit at a crossroads cutting it up into pieces, the monk contemplates this very body — however it stands, however it is disposed — in terms of properties: 'In this body there is the earth property, the liquid property, the fire property, & the wind property.'

I.e. contemplation of the body in terms of harness/softness, fluidity/cohesion, heat/cold, motion/distension. [Mahasi's instructions talk particularly about the motion aspect - feet or abdomen.]

And, of course, there are the various other satipatthanas that may be discerned: mind, dhammas, which are of the "subdivision" type.

Suttas where insight into anicca, dukkha, and anatta is developed tend to employ the "subdivision" language, e.g. the second discourse:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
"Form, monks, is not self. If form were the self, this form would not lend itself to dis-ease. It would be possible [to say] with regard to form, 'Let this form be thus. Let this form not be thus.' But precisely because form is not self, form lends itself to dis-ease. And it is not possible [to say] with regard to form, 'Let this form be thus. Let this form not be thus.'
... feeling ... peception ... fabrications .... conciousness.
...
"Thus, monks, any form whatsoever that is past, future, or present; internal or external; blatant or subtle; common or sublime; far or near: every form is to be seen as it actually is with right discernment as: 'This is not mine. This is not my self. This is not what I am.'
... feeling ... peception ... fabrications .... conciousness.


Whereas the "conceptual" meditation objects such as metta do not seem to lead to those insights.
They do have benefits, however:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
"Monks, for one whose awareness-release through good will is cultivated, developed, pursued, handed the reins and taken as a basis, given a grounding, steadied, consolidated, and well-undertaken, eleven benefits can be expected. Which eleven?

"One sleeps easily, wakes easily, dreams no evil dreams. One is dear to human beings, dear to non-human beings. The devas protect one. Neither fire, poison, nor weapons can touch one. One's mind gains concentration quickly. One's complexion is bright. One dies unconfused and — if penetrating no higher — is headed for the Brahma worlds.


Are there any suttas where contemplation of conceptual objects leads to insight into the characteristics, etc?

:anjali:
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Re: Two "truths"/"descriptions" and meditation in the suttas

Postby Ben » Sat Oct 29, 2011 7:05 am

Excellent and interesting post, Mike!
I look forward to the discussion with interest.

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Re: Two "truths"/"descriptions" and meditation in the suttas

Postby cooran » Sat Oct 29, 2011 7:27 am

Hello Mike, all,

My understanding of ‘concept’ is that it is an Idea or Notion formed in the mind.
Is this how you are using it here?

In which case, I don’t see how it applies to Metta meditation.

When I do metta, it is a ‘feeling’ that I pervade, not an Idea.

With metta
Chris
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Re: Two "truths"/"descriptions" and meditation in the suttas

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Oct 29, 2011 7:47 am

Hi Cooran,

Good question!

The way I saw it, I was using "conceptual" to mean something created by the mind.

As I understand it, with metta one generates a loving-kindness concept ("may all beings be happy" or some such).
Of course this will result in the experience of feeling (vedana).

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Re: Two "truths"/"descriptions" and meditation in the suttas

Postby retrofuturist » Sat Oct 29, 2011 8:29 am

Greetings Mike,

mikenz66 wrote:Are there any suttas where contemplation of conceptual objects leads to insight into the characteristics, etc?

mikenz66 wrote:I was using "conceptual" to mean something created by the mind.

In which case you would be including so called "volitional formations" (sankhara) into the mix.

I think the distinction, using metta-bhavana as per the example you've given, is that if it is a case of absorption is into the volitional object itself, then it could lead only to heavenly destination (hence, brahma-vihara).

If however, the focus was the perception (sanna) on the anicca/anatta/dukkha of the volitional formation itself, then that would lead to insight into the characteristics.

In other words, for insight, it doesn't matter what sankhata-dhamma you are watching (whatever division, sub-division etc.), so long as you are observing its anicca/anatta/dukkha characteristics, as compared to absorbing into the formed object itself.

Does that make sense to you?

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)


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One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Two "truths"/"descriptions" and meditation in the suttas

Postby cooran » Sat Oct 29, 2011 9:14 am

mikenz66 wrote:Hi Cooran,

Good question!

The way I saw it, I was using "conceptual" to mean something created by the mind.

As I understand it, with metta one generates a loving-kindness concept ("may all beings be happy" or some such).
Of course this will result in the experience of feeling (vedana).

:anjali:
Mike


Hello Mike,
When I’m about to begin Metta meditation, I initially think of an endearing little baby or puppy or kitten etc.
Visualising them evokes a distinct feeling throughout and all over the body and mind of warmth and love.

At that point, immersed in the feeling, I visualise individual persons and hold them in my heart-mind with loving-kindness while saying ‘’May you be safe and protected, may you be healthy and strong, may you be happy of heart and mind, May you live with ease and well-being. May you swiftly progress on the Path to Nibbana, May you have happiness and the causes of happiness, May you be free of mental and physical pain.’’

But the visualising and the feeling being radiated are the important things. I don’t need the words at all.

Do you see the above – as concept?

With interested metta, :smile:
Chris
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Re: Two "truths"/"descriptions" and meditation in the suttas

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Oct 29, 2011 9:15 am

retrofuturist wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:I was using "conceptual" to mean something created by the mind.

In which case you would be including so called "volitional formations" (sankhara) into the mix.

I guess, so but a "concept" is non-trivial to classify it in terms of khandhas, whether it's the concept of "quantum mechanics" the concept of "my self". See below.
retrofuturist wrote:I think the distinction, using metta-bhavana as per the example you've given, is that if the case of absorption is into the volitional object itself, then it could lead only to heavenly destination (hence, brahma-vihara).

If however, the focus was the perception (sanna) on the anicca/anatta/dukkha of the volitional formation itself, then that would lead to insight into the characteristics.

Yes, and that would mean analysing the metta in terms of khandas, such as the feelings that arise.
retrofuturist wrote:In other words, for insight, it doesn't matter what sankhata-dhamma you are watching (whatever division, sub-division etc.), so long as you are observing its anicca/anatta/dukkha characterists, as compared to absorbing into the object itself.

Does that make sense to you?

Somewhat, but note that concepts don't really have such characteristics. There's no anicca/dukkha/anatta in the concept of "quantum mechanics" or "may all beings be happy".

Of course, the machinations that the mind does when trying to do quantum mechanical calculations does have such characteristics.. :coffee:

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Re: Two "truths"/"descriptions" and meditation in the suttas

Postby retrofuturist » Sat Oct 29, 2011 9:22 am

Greetings Mike,

mikenz66 wrote:Somewhat, but note that concepts don't really have such characteristics. There's no anicca/dukkha/anatta in the concept of "quantum mechanics" or "may all beings be happy".

I disagree with your assertion that there's no no anicca/dukkha/anatta in concepts.

What is a concept? A concept is a thought construct that you have. A thought construct is in loka. Thoughts arise, change and pass away just like anything else in loka.

There is asankhata dhamma (i.e. nibbana) and everything else experienced (no matter how you opt to slice, dice and form it) is sankhata dhamma.

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: Two "truths"/"descriptions" and meditation in the suttas

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Oct 29, 2011 9:24 am

Hi Chris,
cooran wrote:...
But the visualising and the feeling being radiated are the important things. I don’t need the words at all.

Do you see the above – as concept?

With interested metta, :smile:
Chris

Hmm, ... I wouldn't make a distinction about concepts based on words or lack of words.
But I'm getting a little tired and I'm losing my conceptual continuity...

:anjali:
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Re: Two "truths"/"descriptions" and meditation in the suttas

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Oct 29, 2011 9:30 am

retrofuturist wrote:I disagree with your assertion that there's no no anicca/dukkha/anatta in concepts.

Of course. That's one of the key interesting issues...

I agree that thoughts about concepts have characteristics.

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Re: Two "truths"/"descriptions" and meditation in the suttas

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Oct 29, 2011 9:31 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Mike,

mikenz66 wrote:Somewhat, but note that concepts don't really have such characteristics. There's no anicca/dukkha/anatta in the concept of "quantum mechanics" or "may all beings be happy".

I disagree with your assertion that there's no no anicca/dukkha/anatta in concepts.

What is a concept? A concept is a thought construct that you have. A thought construct is in loka. Thoughts arise, change and pass away just like anything else in loka.
That is a philosophical argument that goes way beyond the scope of this thread, which I would not touch at all, but how does one "see" the three marks of a concept?

There is asankhata dhamma (i.e. nibbana) and everything else experienced (no matter how you opt to slice, dice and form it) is sankhata dhamma.
As a matter of setting a basis for discussion, it would be helpful to state what is meant by the word dhamma -- just so we can all be on the same page..
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

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Re: Two "truths"/"descriptions" and meditation in the suttas

Postby retrofuturist » Sat Oct 29, 2011 9:41 am

Greetings Tilt,

tiltbillings wrote:how does one "see" the three marks of a concept?

Concept is an object of mind-consciousness, and it is observed and explained as follows...

SN 22.59 wrote:"What do you think of this, O monks? Are mental formations permanent or impermanent?"

"Impermanent, O Lord."

"Now, those that are impermanent, are they unsatisfactory or satisfactory?"

"Unsatisfactory, O Lord."

"Now, those that are impermanent, unsatisfactory, subject to change, is it proper to regard them as: 'They are mine, this I am, this is my self'?"

"Indeed, not that, O Lord."

"Now what do you think of this, O monks? Is consciousness permanent or impermanent?"

"Impermanent, O Lord."

"Now, what is impermanent, is that unsatisfactory or satisfactory?"

"Unsatisfactory, O Lord."

"Now, what is impermanent, unsatisfactory, subject to change, is it proper to regard it as: 'This is mine, this I am, this is my self'?"

"Indeed, not that, O Lord."

........

"Therefore, surely, O monks, whatever mental formations, past, future or present, internal or external, coarse or fine, low or lofty, far or near, all those mental formations must be regarded with proper wisdom, according to reality, thus: 'These are not mine, this I am not, this is not my self.'

"Therefore, surely, O monks, whatever consciousness, past, future or present, internal or external, coarse or fine, low or lofty, far or near, all that consciousness must be regarded with proper wisdom, according to reality, thus: 'This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self.'

"O monks, the well-instructed noble disciple, seeing thus, gets wearied of form, gets wearied of feeling, gets wearied of perception, gets wearied of mental formations, gets wearied of consciousness. Being wearied he becomes passion-free. In his freedom from passion, he is emancipated. Being emancipated, there is the knowledge that he is emancipated. He knows: 'birth is exhausted, lived is the holy life, what had to be done is done, there is nothing more of this becoming.'"

This the Blessed One said. Pleased, the group of five monks were delighted with the exposition of the Blessed One; moreover, as this exposition was being spoken, the minds of the group of five monks were freed of defilements, without attachment.

Indeed, at that time there were six arahants in the world.


... and ...

MN 10 wrote:He understands consciousness and mental objects and the fetter that arises dependent on both (consciousness and mental objects); he understands how the arising of the non-arisen fetter comes to be; he understands how the abandoning of the arisen fetter comes to be; and he understands how the non-arising in the future of the abandoned fetter comes to be.


tiltbillings wrote:As a matter of setting a basis for discussion, it would be helpful to state what is meant by the word dhamma -- just so we can all be on the same page..

As an experience.

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: Two "truths"/"descriptions" and meditation in the suttas

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Oct 29, 2011 9:51 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Tilt,

tiltbillings wrote:how does one "see" the three marks of a concept?

Concept is an object of mind-consciousness, and it is observed and explained as follows...
A concept is a "mind-object" when it is a mind object. As for the rest of it. It is kind of unnecessary to quote at length suttas.

tiltbillings wrote:As a matter of setting a basis for discussion, it would be helpful to state what is meant by the word dhamma -- just so we can all be on the same page..

As an experience.
Simple enough.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

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Re: Two "truths"/"descriptions" and meditation in the suttas

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Oct 29, 2011 9:57 am

retrofuturist wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:how does one "see" the three marks of a concept?

Concept is an object of mind-consciousness ...

In which sutta does it say that a concept is an object of mind-conciousness?

At the very least, thinking about a concept involves a very complicated sequence of mind-objects. At least that's my experience...

Which is the point of this thread. In the suttas insight (where it is explained in detail) seems to arise as a result of breaking down experience into simple objects.

It seems like an important question to ask whether there are examples of insight arising via complicated objects. Some sutta references would be appreciated.

:anjali:
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Re: Two "truths"/"descriptions" and meditation in the suttas

Postby retrofuturist » Sat Oct 29, 2011 10:00 am

Greetings Tilt,

tiltbillings wrote:A concept is a "mind-object" when it is a mind object.

And it can be nothing else. There is no "concept" separate from experience of it as a mind object.

tiltbillings wrote:As for the rest of it. It is kind of unnecessary to quote at length suttas.

Well, when you ask how something is done, this being the forum it is, I quote the Buddha's instruction for how it is done. Quite simple, really. That said, I do endeavour to clip anything out that doesn't seem closely related.

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: Two "truths"/"descriptions" and meditation in the suttas

Postby retrofuturist » Sat Oct 29, 2011 10:14 am

Greetings Mike,

mikenz66 wrote:In which sutta does it say that a concept is an object of mind-conciousness?

In the Kalakarama Sutta (Nanananda transaltion), the Tathagatha explains of himself that...

He does not conceive of a cognizable thing as apart from cognition; he does not conceive of an uncognized; he does not conceive of a 'thing-worth-cognizing'; he does not conceive about one who cognizes.

Thus, monks, the Tathagata being such-like in regard to all phenomena seen, heard, sensed, and cognized is 'such'.

In setting himself apart in this way, the Tathagata infers that puthujjanas do indeed "conceive of a cognizable thing as apart from cognition"... in other words, they birfurcate between "concept" and "reality" like the Sujinites.

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: Two "truths"/"descriptions" and meditation in the suttas

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Oct 29, 2011 10:15 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Tilt,

tiltbillings wrote:A concept is a "mind-object" when it is a mind object.

And it can be nothing else. There is no "concept" separate from experience of it as a mind object.
As I said, this, I am not touching.

tiltbillings wrote:As for the rest of it. It is kind of unnecessary to quote at length suttas.

Well, when you ask how something is done, this being the forum it is, I quote the Buddha's instruction for how it is done. Quite simple, really. That said, I do endeavour to clip anything out that doesn't seem closely related.[/quote]Just as an aside, while the Buddha describes what is done, it is not necessarily how it is done, as the texts quoted make quite clear.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
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Re: Two "truths"/"descriptions" and meditation in the suttas

Postby ground » Sat Oct 29, 2011 10:15 am

A concept can only arise after having been learned. Learning is connecting a mere experience with an optical (reading, seeing) and/or acoustical (hearing) symbol amended by a universal distorting visualization of the experience. A (learned) concept actually is a memory ready to come into mind once the experiential stimulus occurs.

This "memory coming into mind" is nothing other than the cascade of dependent origination. Therefore "memory" or "concept" arises in dependence on all aggregates.
First there is a "stirring" dependent on form/body which may be called "sankhara". Only if there is attention this "stirring" develops further until it "crystallizes" (implying alleged "concreteness"). If there is contact of mind consciousness perception and feeling and papanca and volitional formations ensue.
The sense bases involved are one or more of the physical senses and the mind base. Mind base entails determining consciousness which necessarily implies "memory".


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Re: Two "truths"/"descriptions" and meditation in the suttas

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Oct 29, 2011 10:18 am

TMingyur wrote:A concept can only arise after having been learned. Learning is connecting a mere experience with an optical (reading, seeing) and/or acoustical (hearing) symbol amended by a universal distorting visualization of the experience. A (learned) concept actually is a memory ready to come into mind once the experiential stimulus occurs.

This "memory coming into mind" is nothing other than the cascade of dependent origination. Therefore "memory" or "concept" arises in dependence on all aggregates.
First there is a "stirring" dependent on form/body which may be called "sankhara". Only if there is attention this "stirring" develops further until it "crystallizes" (implying alleged "concreteness"). If there is contact of mind consciousness perception and feeling and papanca and volitional formations ensue.
The sense bases involved are one or more of the physical senses and the mind base. Mind base entails determining consciousness which necessarily implies "memory".


Kind regards
and we can let it go at that.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
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Re: Two "truths"/"descriptions" and meditation in the suttas

Postby retrofuturist » Sat Oct 29, 2011 10:21 am

Greetings Tilt,

retrofuturist wrote:There is no "concept" separate from experience of it as a mind object.

tiltbillings wrote:As I said, this, I am not touching.

Not even touching it in the context of the Kalakarama Sutta? (Perhaps it might be an opportune time to revisit "Magic Of The Mind"?)

tiltbillings wrote:Just as an aside, while the Buddha describes what is done, it is not necessarily how it is done, as the texts quoted make quite clear.

So a small handful of people here seem to say on a regular basis.

Yet, "moreover, as this exposition was being spoken, the minds of the group of five monks were freed of defilements, without attachment"... so what more "how it is done" are you looking for?

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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