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

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

Postby dhamma follower » Mon Nov 07, 2011 12:38 pm

mikenz66 wrote:
Birth is suffering, aging is suffering, sickness is suffering, death is suffering, sorrow and lamentation, pain, grief and despair are suffering; association with the loathed is suffering, dissociation from the loved is suffering, not to get what one wants is suffering — in short, suffering is the five categories of clinging objects.

So dukkha is applied to both complex objects (people) as well as more basic objects (khandhas in this case).

:anjali:
Mike


Dear Mike,

I think aging, sickness... give rise to the feeling of suffering, not exactly as the suffering in tilakkhana, which is the underlying characteristic of both unpleasant and pleasant feeling alike.

It seems that in this sutta, the Buddha first make poeple become clearly aware of the feeling of suffering (as feeling aggregate or vedanna khanda), then proceed on to make them to realize the five khandas, which is the basis to realizing Dukkha lakkhana

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

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Nov 07, 2011 6:23 pm

Hi Dhamma Follower,

Perhaps to rephrase what you are saying, "dukkha" can be applied both as a characteristic and also to conceptual objects. It also occurs to me that dukkha is the central problem pointed to by the Buddha, so it wouldn't be very useful to his teaching if the word only occurred in the more technical suttas.

However, I think it's interesting that I've never seen similar statements using the other characteristics. This may be my lack of good Pali skills, but I don't see statements like: "association with the loathed is anicca".

Interestingly, some modern teachers do use such examples in their talks, along the lines of "bad things will pass soon", etc.

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

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Nov 07, 2011 10:32 pm

Greetings Mike,
mikenz66 wrote:However, I think it's interesting that I've never seen similar statements using the other characteristics.

I have. There's suttas about the impermanence of husbands, wives, sons, wealth, world-systems and all manner of things. To use your terminology, they are being "applied... to conceptual objects". Impermanence "as a characteristic" however, pertains directly to aniccata in the loka of 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 mikenz66 » Mon Nov 07, 2011 10:40 pm

Hi Retro,
retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Mike,
mikenz66 wrote:However, I think it's interesting that I've never seen similar statements using the other characteristics.

I have. There's suttas about the impermanence of husbands, wives, sons, wealth, world-systems and all manner of things. To use your terminology, they are being "applied... to conceptual objects". Impermanence "as a characteristic" however, pertains directly to aniccata in the loka of experience.

Do you have some references?

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

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Nov 07, 2011 10:46 pm

Greetings Mike,

mikenz66 wrote:Do you have some references?

I'll track some down soon - at the moment I'm a tad sleep deprived courtesy of a dog who freaks out at inclement weather.

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 » Tue Nov 08, 2011 8:16 am

Greetings Mike,

I can't seem to find the one I was thinking of, but I found this...

MN 82 wrote:"Master Ratthapala, you say, 'The world is swept away. It does not endure.' Now how is the meaning of this statement to be understood?"

"What do you think, great king: When you were twenty or twenty-five years old — an expert elephant rider, an expert horseman, an expert charioteer, an expert archer, an expert swordsman — were you strong in arm & strong in thigh, fit, & seasoned in warfare?"

"Yes, Master Ratthapala, when I was twenty or twenty-five years old... I was strong in arm & strong in thigh, fit, & seasoned in warfare. It was as if I had supernormal power. I do not see anyone who was my equal in strength."

"And what do you think, great king: Are you even now as strong in arm & strong in thigh, as fit, & as seasoned in warfare?"

"Not at all, Master Ratthapala. I'm now a feeble old man, aged, advanced in years, having come to the last stage of life, 80 years old. Sometimes, thinking, 'I will place my foot here,' I place it somewhere else."

"It was in reference to this, great king, that the Blessed One who knows & sees, worthy & rightly self-awakened, said: 'The world is swept away. It does not endure.' Having known & seen & heard this, I went forth from the home life into homelessness."

Not the greatest example, but it will do until I find something else...

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 dhamma follower » Tue Nov 08, 2011 1:32 pm

mikenz66 wrote:Hi Dhamma Follower,

Perhaps to rephrase what you are saying, "dukkha" can be applied both as a characteristic and also to conceptual objects. It also occurs to me that dukkha is the central problem pointed to by the Buddha, so it wouldn't be very useful to his teaching if the word only occurred in the more technical suttas.

However, I think it's interesting that I've never seen similar statements using the other characteristics. This may be my lack of good Pali skills, but I don't see statements like: "association with the loathed is anicca".

Interestingly, some modern teachers do use such examples in their talks, along the lines of "bad things will pass soon", etc.

:anjali:
Mike


Not really, Mike. What I was having in mind was that when talking about aging, sickness, being separated from the loved ones, the Buddha was refering to dukkha vedana. From that there can arise a understanding about the nature of impermanence, that things change, and what ever arises will pass away is not worth clinging to.

However, I doubt that as such it goes beyond intellectual understanding. Perhaps, for those who have practiced a lot in many lives and have accumulated a great deal of wisdom, it can lead to a subsequent direct experience of the five khandas as empty of a substantial self and is released instantly.

Even in that case, the direct experience of the five khandas should occur before the experience of Nibbana. Anyway, its how I understand it. If one doesn't see through the five khandas, how can sakkaya ditthi be removed , since sakkaya ditthi is the belief in a self in the combination of the five aggregates.

Similarly, concepts can be perfectly understood as impermanent, but whether it goes beyond intellectual level is another thing. To better illustrate this idea, lets take the example bellow

When we think about how much we have changed from childhood to now, we might think «yes, its anicca« but its only thinking.
But when we become clearly aware of the arising of a thought and simultanously understand without words «this is just a thought, nobody it's there«, then it goes a bit further than intellectual understanding.
When our sati-sampajana becomes sharper, we might directly experience the rapid ceasing of a thought as soon as it arises as well as the awarenessthat knows it, a simultanous intuitive understanding arises knowing anicca as the nature of all things that have arised.
Clearly it is another level.

I don't know whether there is any sutta that goes more into the details of this process than simply asking and answering...but from my experience so far, the difference between the intellectual level and intuitive level is worth mentioning.

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

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Nov 08, 2011 6:22 pm

Hi Dhamma Follower,

Yes, I think that's a good way to put it.

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

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Nov 08, 2011 6:30 pm

On a slightly different tack, there are example in the suttas that refer to attaining Jhana on the basis of conceptual objects:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... all-Buddha
"Furthermore, there is the case where you recollect the Dhamma: 'The Dhamma is well-expounded by the Blessed One, to be seen here & now, timeless, inviting verification, pertinent, to be realized by the wise for themselves.' At any time when a disciple of the noble ones is recollecting the Dhamma, his mind is not overcome with passion, not overcome with aversion, not overcome with delusion. His mind heads straight, based on the Dhamma. And when the mind is headed straight, the disciple of the noble ones gains a sense of the goal, gains a sense of the Dhamma, gains joy connected with the Dhamma. In one who is joyful, rapture arises. In one who is rapturous, the body grows calm. One whose body is calmed experiences ease. In one at ease, the mind becomes concentrated.


However, suttas that talk in detail about awakening do not stop at the attainment of jhana:
"When the mind was thus concentrated, purified, bright, unblemished, rid of defilement, pliant, malleable, steady, & attained to imperturbability, I directed it to the knowledge of the ending of the mental fermentations. I discerned, as it was actually present, that 'This is stress... This is the origination of stress... This is the cessation of stress... This is the way leading to the cessation of stress... These are fermentations... This is the origination of fermentations... This is the cessation of fermentations... This is the way leading to the cessation of fermentations.' My heart, thus knowing, thus seeing, was released from the fermentation of sensuality, released from the fermentation of becoming, released from the fermentation of ignorance. With release, there was the knowledge, 'Released.' I discerned that 'Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for this world.'

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

Postby Brizzy » Wed Nov 09, 2011 8:30 am

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.028.than.html


"And what is the earth property? The earth property can be either internal or external. Which is the internal earth property? Whatever internal, within oneself, is hard, solid, & sustained [by craving]: head hairs, body hairs, nails, teeth, skin, flesh, tendons, bones, bone marrow, kidneys, heart, liver, pleura, spleen, lungs, large intestines, small intestines, contents of the stomach, feces, or whatever else internal, within oneself, is hard, solid, & sustained: This is called the internal earth property. Now both the internal earth property and the external earth property are simply earth property. And that should be seen as it actually is with right discernment: 'This is not mine, this is not me, this is not my self.' When one sees it thus as it actually is with right discernment, one becomes disenchanted with the earth property and makes the mind dispassionate toward the earth property.

"Now there comes a time, friends, when the external liquid property is provoked,[2] and at that time the external earth property vanishes. So when even in the external earth property — so vast — inconstancy will be discerned, destructibility will be discerned, a tendency to decay will be discerned, changeability will be discerned, then what in this short-lasting body, sustained by clinging, is 'I' or 'mine' or 'what I am'? It has here only a 'no.'


This seems to be using the characteristics of impermanence and not-self to concepts (external).

I also seem to remember a sutta or two when the questioner asks someone if they regard the "Tathagatha" (a concept) as having a self. (can't find it at the moment). It seems neither here nor there to me, as the characteristic of suffering, is primarily suffering because of its impermanece.

Metta

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

Postby dhamma follower » Wed Nov 09, 2011 10:01 am

This seems to be using the characteristics of impermanence and not-self to concepts (external).


Hi Brizze2,

In my last post (see above) I offered my view about this. There's no problem with concepts sharing the three characteristics. But from the experiential point of view, can one directly experience the rise and fall of a concept? Unlikely, as it has been discussed throughout this thread.

To Mike,

What do you think of the teaching on Dependent Originations? It seems to me that it is a very clear detailed description of the insight level of basic elements at work.

In the reverse order, when the arising of the six sense doors is clearly seen for what they are, defilements have no chance to arise, it brings an end to the circle i.e the unconditioned is revealed.

Any comment?

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

Postby Brizzy » Wed Nov 09, 2011 11:53 am

Hi Dhamma follower,

Whether one can directly experience the rise and fall of a concept obviously depends on how one classifies concepts. Thoughts could be seen to come under the heading of concepts and thoughts can be seen to arise/persist & fade.
I was really thinking that concepts were being used by the Buddha to be a catalyst for the "path factors to arise" as in............

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an05/an05.057.than.html

Contemplation of concepts and applying the 3 characteristics to these concepts are a recurring theme within the suttas and some instructions of how this is approached are to be found here.................

SN 46:3: Virtue

http://www.bps.lk/olib/wh/wh107-p.html#SN46:3:Virtue

All of this does not negate that the Dhamma has to be experienced internally, only that the path can arise within by using concepts. My personal opinion is that a lot of the Buddha's instructions are either a means to enter Right Samadhi or are a description of what can be discerned whilst in jhana. If one can enter jhana via conceptual (right)thought this would appear to be developing samadhi & wisdom in tandem.
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Re: Two "truths"/"descriptions" and meditation in the suttas

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Nov 09, 2011 6:44 pm

Hi DF,
dhamma follower wrote:
To Mike,

What do you think of the teaching on Dependent Originations? It seems to me that it is a very clear detailed description of the insight level of basic elements at work.

Yes, I agree. It's a very important teaching.

Thanks Brizzy, for the useful references.

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

Postby dhamma follower » Fri Nov 11, 2011 9:29 am

Brizzy wrote:Hi Dhamma follower,

Whether one can directly experience the rise and fall of a concept obviously depends on how one classifies concepts. Thoughts could be seen to come under the heading of concepts and thoughts can be seen to arise/persist & fade.


Dear Brizzy,

Thoughts are not concepts, they come under the sanna khanda and of course they rise and fall. The content of thoughts consists of many concepts, but thought it self is not. A simple example: Thinking about a person/school etc... is an activity of the mind, or sanna at work; while a person, school etc... are concepts.

The reason why concepts and thoughts are mistakenly considered to be the same comes from, I think, the common saying that non- conceptual experience is free of discursive thoughts. While this is true, it doesn't mean that thoughts are concepts.

That thoughts are actually sanna is a little difficult to perceive is because of the verbal processing. When wisdom is stronger, it can see clearly that this verbal formation is just an extension of sanna that arises in each moment. Only then sanna starts to be understood for what it is.

I hope it has been clear enough, I don't know if I have any sutta backing for that, though !

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