Vipassanā: What Is Dissolution, Really?

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Re: Vipassanā: What Is Dissolution, Really?

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Dec 20, 2011 9:36 am

Ñāṇa wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
Ñāṇa wrote:Already addressed: A perception of momentariness without discrete momentary dhammas is nonsense.
But that still does not address what i said.

It does. Your attempt to have it both ways is meaningless.
But it still does not address what I have said.

tiltbillings wrote:Obviously there is no compromise, no room for finding a common basis.

I already indicated where there can be a common basis. Beyond that, compromise only obscures. Acquiescing to untenable theories results in woolly-minded, vague, and muddled relativism. As I've previously mentioned, there is no need for consensus, nor should consensus even be desired.
If there can be a common basis, let us see it; give us something more than the negitivity of "clearing the path" of those things you think are impediments.

tiltbillings wrote:This “doctrine of momentariness” is to be rejected

Yes.
And in the process it looks like you are telling us that in these thing you think that should be cleared away and those things that you think that do not really have much to offer that's especially interesting or important there is no value in their practice, implying that they do not lead to any significant insight into the Dhamma. You have been asked about this more than once, and you do not deny that this is the implcation of your point of view in your path clearing argumentation.
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.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: Vipassanā: What Is Dissolution, Really?

Postby Nyana » Tue Dec 20, 2011 9:49 am

mikenz66 wrote:As I understand it, I build up concentration and mindfulness and observe what is happening.

If you were to follow the sutta exposition, concentration (samādhi) is used to develop singleness of mind (cittekaggatā) pertaining to one object basis (ārammaṇa), such as the breath or the recognition of unattractiveness, etc. The relationship between the development of the four applications of mindfulness (catunna satipaṭṭhānā bhāvanā) and integral meditative composure is presented in SN 47.4 Sāla Sutta:

    Come, friends, remain contemplating the body in the body, ardent, fully aware, unified, with a limpid mind, composed, with singleness of mind, in order to know the body as it really is. Remain contemplating feelings in feelings, ardent, fully aware, unified, with a limpid mind, composed, with singleness of mind, in order to know feelings as they really are. Remain contemplating mind in mind, ardent, fully aware, unified, with a limpid mind, composed, with singleness of mind, in order to know the mind as it really is. Remain contemplating phenomena in phenomena, ardent, fully aware, unified, with a limpid mind, composed, with singleness of mind, in order to know phenomena as they really are.

The mental qualities of remaining ardent (ātāpī) and fully aware (sampajāna), which are standard in the descriptions of integral mindfulness, are here directly related to remaining unified (ekodibhūtā), with a limpid mind (vippasannacittā), composed (samāhitā), with singleness of mind (ekaggacittā). All of these latter terms indicate the onset of integral meditative composure.

So to develop the applications of mindfulness, first one picks one of the meditation subjects as object support (i.e. kāyānupassanā, such as mindfulness of breathing, or recognition of the unattractiveness of the 31 body parts, or cemetery contemplation, etc.), then abandons carnal joy and pleasure and develops non-carnal joy and pleasure (i.e. vedanānupassanā), and recognizes the difference between limited and afflicted states of mind vs. expansive states of mind (i.e. cittānupassanā), and engages in the appropriate categories of phenomena to (a) abandon any further occurrences of hindrances, and (b) develop insight (i.e. dhammānupassanā).

mikenz66 wrote:And I observe sensations, feelings,thoughts, and sensations arising and disappearing with greater rapidity the more concentrated I get

Are they really arising and disappearing with greater rapidity? Do you actually generate a greater quantity of feelings or thoughts the more concentrated you get?

mikenz66 wrote:You see, the problem with this thread is that it's supposedly talking about vipassana, which has to do with what one is experiencing, but the discussion often seems to me to be always veering towards philosophical ideas that I can't see how to relate to experience and claims about how people practice that appear to have little to do with the instructions I know about.

The "philosophical ideas" such as the doctrine of momentariness and the realist epistemology of unique particulars and so on, are inextricably tied to the Visuddhimagga and post-Visuddhimagga thought-world. It makes no sense at all to accept the the stages of insight knowledge as they're presented in the Visuddhimagga and further elaborated in later commentaries without accepting these embedded views.

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Re: Vipassanā: What Is Dissolution, Really?

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Dec 20, 2011 10:18 am

Ñāṇa wrote: Are they really arising and disappearing with greater rapidity? Do you actually generate a greater quantity of feelings or thoughts the more concentrated you get?
Thoughts? Not as much, given the function of concentration, but as concentrated awareness becomes more refined one can see in finer detail that what is being perceived is not static, like looking at a fire or feeling the wind blowing through one's hair. It would be hard not to call the observed constant "movement" change, swelling and ebbing, rising and falling. It is not a matter of greater quantity; it is a matter of a greater awareness of what is happening in finer detail. What is happening at any moment is a great deal busier than we assume.
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.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: Vipassanā: What Is Dissolution, Really?

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Dec 20, 2011 11:04 am

Ñāṇa wrote:The "philosophical ideas" such as the doctrine of momentariness and the realist epistemology of unique particulars and so on, are inextricably tied to the Visuddhimagga and post-Visuddhimagga thought-world. It makes no sense at all to accept the the stages of insight knowledge as they're presented in the Visuddhimagga and further elaborated in later commentaries without accepting these embedded views.


These four msgs in this order might be of interest to those who are closely following the twists and turns of this:

http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=33&t=10229&hilit=Buddhaghosa&start=60#p156913

http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=33&t=10229&hilit=Buddhaghosa&start=80&sid=3ea156bb3fc5a46fc62604cb4f10f2bc#p156987

http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=33&t=10229&hilit=Buddhaghosa&start=80&sid=3ea156bb3fc5a46fc62604cb4f10f2bc#p156988

http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=33&t=10229&hilit=Buddhaghosa&start=80&sid=3ea156bb3fc5a46fc62604cb4f10f2bc#p157019
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.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: Vipassanā: What Is Dissolution, Really?

Postby Nyana » Tue Dec 20, 2011 2:30 pm

tiltbillings wrote:It would be hard not to call the observed constant "movement" change, swelling and ebbing, rising and falling.

Change and alteration of what persists do not entail the "constant perishing of phenomena" or "incessant dissolution." To arrive at this latter conclusion requires belief in a view of discrete dhammas subject to momentary arising, subsistence, and dissolution.

Ledi Sayādaw, A Manual of the Excellent Man:

    In the ultimate sense, however, new psychophysical phenomena arise only after the old phenomena have perished, which is death. This constant perishing of phenomena is also called cessation (nirodha) or dissolution (bhaṅga). It is only when one discerns the ultimate truth of this cessation of phenomena that one gains insight.

Mahāsi Sayādaw, The Great Discourse on the Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta:

    The yogī perceives that all the nāmas, rūpas which manifest themselves at the moment of seeing, hearing etc., are undergoing instant dissolution and are, therefore, transient.... When the yogī comes to the bhaṅga stage, during the interval of one cycle of rising and falling, numerous moments of dissolution will be seen to flit by. The material body of rising and falling, being subjected to incessant dissolution is indeed not permanent.

And one doesn't have to look too far to find this view spelled out in detail. For example, the Visuddhimaggamahāṭīkā:

    [Conditioned dhammas] individual essences (sabhāva) have rise and fall and change. Herein, conditioned dhammas' arising owing to causes and conditions, their coming to be after non-existence, their acquisition of an individual self (attalābha), is 'rise'. Their momentary cessation when arisen is 'fall'. Their changedness due to aging is 'change'.

So here we have discrete momentary dhammas acquiring individual selves, then aging, then dying. In other words, the "constant perishing of phenomena."

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Re: Vipassanā: What Is Dissolution, Really?

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Dec 20, 2011 3:28 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:It would be hard not to call the observed constant "movement" change, swelling and ebbing, rising and falling.

Change and alteration of what persists do not entail the "constant perishing of phenomena" or "incessant dissolution." To arrive at this latter conclusion requires belief in a view of discrete dhammas subject to momentary arising, subsistence, and dissolution.
Or it requires a clear seeing of what is what as it is.

But if we are to believe you, "Burmese Vipassanā doesn't really have much to offer that's especially interesting or important," which is to say that by practicing Burmese vipassana one is not likely to gain any significant insight into the Dhamma.
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.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: Vipassanā: What Is Dissolution, Really?

Postby Nyana » Tue Dec 20, 2011 4:04 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
Ñāṇa wrote:Change and alteration of what persists do not entail the "constant perishing of phenomena" or "incessant dissolution." To arrive at this latter conclusion requires belief in a view of discrete dhammas subject to momentary arising, subsistence, and dissolution.

Or it requires a clear seeing of what is what as it is.

Actually, according to this view the mind attends to a completely new and different object each moment. For example, take the mundane experience of listening attentively to a song as it plays. In terms of conventional designation one can describe this song as undergoing alteration and change as it plays. But according to the view of radical momentariness, each moment of attentive listening requires a new and different object. So instead of listening to "a song" there are now how many "songs" or "sub-songs" or "pieces of song"? 100 thousand?... 100 million?... 100 trillion?... Is this not arbitrary? How could it not be? Ven. Sujato:

    Thus impermanence becomes, not simply being subject to birth and death, rise and fall, but the momentary dissolution of phenomena – one dhamma rises and ceases in an instant, leaving no trace of residue in the next. Samadhi becomes, not an exalted, stable coalescence of mind, but a ‘momentary samadhi’ running after the fluctuations of phenomena. The path becomes, not a gradual program of spiritual development, but a ‘path-moment’, gone in a flash. And the mind itself becomes just a series of ‘mind-moments’.... This idea seems to derive some of its impressiveness from its air of acrid, pessimistic, reductionist severity, which is often mistaken as a sign of really uncompromising wisdom.

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Re: Vipassanā: What Is Dissolution, Really?

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Dec 20, 2011 4:07 pm

Ñāṇa wrote: . . .
And your point is?
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.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: Vipassanā: What Is Dissolution, Really?

Postby Nyana » Tue Dec 20, 2011 4:51 pm

tiltbillings wrote:And your point is?

(a) adhering to the idea of a direct perception of momentary dissolution without accepting the existence of discrete, momentary dhammas is nonsensical; (b) the doctrine of momentariness is itself arbitrary with no demonstrable basis; and therefore both are untenable views. Ven. Sujato:

    Find this hard to swallow? You might be interested to know that in contemporary abhidhamma circles it is, apparently, the orthodox position that the series of ‘mind-moments’ can only be directly seen by Buddhas, and perhaps chief disciples. This is, admittedly, challenged by some, who claim it can be seen in meditation. In just the same way, a Christian meditator will claim to see God, or a Hindu to see the universal Self. Seek and ye shall find. The very fact that such a controversy could possibly arise is a sign how far we have drifted from the Buddha’s pragmatic empiricism.

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Re: Vipassanā: What Is Dissolution, Really?

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Dec 20, 2011 5:50 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:And your point is?

(a) adhering to the idea of a direct perception of momentary dissolution without accepting the existence of discrete, momentary dhammas is nonsensical; . . .
And so, what does this have to do with anything in the real world?

You have tried to tie Burmese vipassana and Buddhaghosa and so forth to all this. And so the implication is that any claim of insight into the Dhamma must by following Burmese vipassana and so forth must be delusional. Is that what you are saying? In other words, the teachings of Mahasi Sayadaw is not real Buddha-Dhamma. And people such as Ven Nanananda who follow that method have no real insight. So that must be what it has to do with the real world. Why else would you be trying to clear the path of these impediments?
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.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: Vipassanā: What Is Dissolution, Really?

Postby Nyana » Tue Dec 20, 2011 6:32 pm

tiltbillings wrote:And so, what does this have to do with anything in the real world?

It should be quite evident. As Sujato says, "The very fact that such a controversy could possibly arise is a sign how far we have drifted from the Buddha's pragmatic empiricism."

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Re: Vipassanā: What Is Dissolution, Really?

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Dec 20, 2011 6:34 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:As I understand it, I build up concentration and mindfulness and observe what is happening.

If you were to follow the sutta exposition, concentration (samādhi) is used to develop singleness of mind (cittekaggatā) pertaining to one object basis (ārammaṇa), such as the breath or the recognition of unattractiveness, etc. The relationship between the development of the four applications of mindfulness (catunna satipaṭṭhānā bhāvanā) and integral meditative composure is presented in SN 47.4 Sāla Sutta: ...

Sure, and that's how I understand the role of the "primary object", to build up that concentration, as in the sutta quotes.

Ñāṇa wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:And I observe sensations, feelings,thoughts, and sensations arising and disappearing with greater rapidity the more concentrated I get

Are they really arising and disappearing with greater rapidity? Do you actually generate a greater quantity of feelings or thoughts the more concentrated you get?

Stuff is seen to arise and disappear with greater rapidity. As Tilt says, one does, of course, tend to "think less" due to higher concentration and mindfulness. It's more that things are broken up. Motion of the foot, for example, breaks up into very small parts. As I've said, I understood this was completely normal, since everyone I know experiences this sort of thing.

And it's got nothing to do with adhering to some view about momentariness or whatever, since I had no idea about that stuff when I started practising, and the habit of teachers I know (and Mahasi-style teachers in general) is to get students to observe and report experiences in their own language, rather than proliferate concepts by trying to find a Pali word for it, and to not tell them what they are going to observe.

Ñāṇa wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:You see, the problem with this thread is that it's supposedly talking about vipassana, which has to do with what one is experiencing, but the discussion often seems to me to be always veering towards philosophical ideas that I can't see how to relate to experience and claims about how people practice that appear to have little to do with the instructions I know about.

The "philosophical ideas" such as the doctrine of momentariness and the realist epistemology of unique particulars and so on, are inextricably tied to the Visuddhimagga and post-Visuddhimagga thought-world. It makes no sense at all to accept the the stages of insight knowledge as they're presented in the Visuddhimagga and further elaborated in later commentaries without accepting these embedded views.

Sure, if you read them as philosophy. It does if you read them as reported experience. Which is how I read it (and Ven Mahasi's "Progress of Insight").

If it's not something to do with experience, why would anyone care?

I have limited experience with different approaches, but it seems to me that they lead to related, but slightly different, experiences, probably due to the way the objects are chosen and observe. So the scanning technique of Goenka, etc seems to often lead to an experience of the whole body dissolving, or even appearing to disappear. Whereas the Mahasi approach tends to give experiences of motion breaking up into smaller chunks.

Now how one relates these observed experiences in detail to the phenomenological descriptions of the suttas, abhidhamma, etc, is, I think, the interesting thing. I guess I see all of those descriptions are generalized attempts to describe what happens.

:anjali:
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Re: Vipassanā: What Is Dissolution, Really?

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Dec 20, 2011 6:54 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:And so, what does this have to do with anything in the real world?

It should be quite evident. As Sujato says, "The very fact that such a controversy could possibly arise is a sign how far we have drifted from the Buddha's pragmatic empiricism."

Here's Ven Sujato's essay if readers want to read the whole thing:
http://santifm.org/santipada/2010/the-m ... bhidhamma/

This bit can be applied to not only the Abhidhamma, but to any attempt at Dhamma analysis:
Sujato wrote:Any specialized field of endeavor – from mechanics to mathematics, from fishing to physics – will develop a technical vocabulary of terms used in narrowly defined and sometimes eccentric ways – a jargon. Dhamma is no different. We just take our jargon a tad too seriously.


:anjali:
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Re: Vipassanā: What Is Dissolution, Really?

Postby Nyana » Tue Dec 20, 2011 7:34 pm

mikenz66 wrote: And it's got nothing to do with adhering to some view about momentariness or whatever, since I had no idea about that stuff when I started practising, and the habit of teachers I know (and Mahasi-style teachers in general) is to get students to observe and report experiences in their own language, rather than proliferate concepts by trying to find a Pali word for it, and to not tell them what they are going to observe.

The instructions themselves are geared towards framing and labeling experiences in accord with this type of reductionism.

mikenz66 wrote:It does if you read them as reported experience.... If it's not something to do with experience, why would anyone care?... Now how one relates these observed experiences in detail to the phenomenological descriptions of the suttas, abhidhamma, etc, is, I think, the interesting thing. I guess I see all of those descriptions are generalized attempts to describe what happens.

Yes, this appeal to experience seems to be related to what tiltbillings attempted to establish earlier:

tiltbillings wrote:I would say that the "disctete dhamma" business centers around the limitations of our physical perceptual apparatus when pushed to its limits.

How would one directly perceive the limits of perception when perception is itself constrained by its own limitations? And how would one correctly differentiate between this veridical perception and any number of adventitious phenomena that can be perceived as side effects of samādhi? Having experienced various kinds of adventitious occurrences myself, such as a perceptual strobing effect, or incessant dissolution, or the momentary cessation of awareness, etc., I don't consider any of these experiences to be a reliable basis for insight, especially since one is just as prone to experience many other more stable mental nimittas as side effects of samādhi.

Fortunately, all of this is easily avoided by basing insight into impermanence on pragmatic empiricism, just as we find in the suttas, where there is nothing esoteric, mysterious, or hidden about impermanence. Your body will surely die. My body will surely die. Death could occur at any time. And mental processes are subject to even greater change, alteration, and passing away than the body. Conventional description offers a more meaningful, pragmatic, and therefore useful reference, using a clearly demonstrable basis for designation.

In this way there is no need for inducing painful sensations in order to recognize dukkha, or perceptions of incessant dissolution in order to recognize impermanence, or any other adventitious experiences. One can get on with developing the noble eightfold path.

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Re: Vipassanā: What Is Dissolution, Really?

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Dec 20, 2011 7:57 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:
mikenz66 wrote: And it's got nothing to do with adhering to some view about momentariness or whatever, since I had no idea about that stuff when I started practising, and the habit of teachers I know (and Mahasi-style teachers in general) is to get students to observe and report experiences in their own language, rather than proliferate concepts by trying to find a Pali word for it, and to not tell them what they are going to observe.

The instructions themselves are geared towards framing and labeling experiences in accord with this type of reductionism.

Sure, that's what I said already. From my limited experience Mahasi/Goenka/various Ajahn Chah students/other miscellaneous teachers/ give instructions that I notice reveal different aspects of experience. I imagine the same goes for what other people do. That doesn't make them invalid, of course. The interesting question is how seriously one takes those experiences as "something important", or "something useful" and what one does next.

And whether they are consistent with the Suttas. Obviously to me they are quite consistent. Others seem to have other opinions... The difficulty is that there are a wide variety of suttas to choose from, and a variety of ways of interpreting them...

:anjali:
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Re: Vipassanā: What Is Dissolution, Really?

Postby Nyana » Tue Dec 20, 2011 8:17 pm

mikenz66 wrote:Sure, that's what I said already. From my limited experience Mahasi/Goenka/various Ajahn Chah students/other miscellaneous teachers/ give instructions that I notice reveal different aspects of experience. I imagine the same goes for what other people do. That doesn't make them invalid, of course.

Similarly, if you were to train in mahāmudrā or dzogchen you would receive different instructions that are geared towards framing and labeling experience according to those views.

mikenz66 wrote:The interesting question is how seriously one takes those experiences as "something important", or "something useful" and what one does next.

The mind is highly susceptible to the power of suggestion as well as the urge towards confirmation bias and other cognitive biases. This is why insight has to proceed further to deconstruct the saññā embedded in experience itself. This is the progression from right view to no view, where no experience is special.

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Re: Vipassanā: What Is Dissolution, Really?

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Dec 20, 2011 8:48 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:This is the progression from right view to no view, where no experience is special.

Sure, Isn't this what all reputable teachers teach?

:anjali:
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Re: Vipassanā: What Is Dissolution, Really?

Postby Ben » Tue Dec 20, 2011 8:54 pm

Hi Mike,

mikenz66 wrote:
Ñāṇa wrote:This is the progression from right view to no view, where no experience is special.

Sure, Isn't this what all reputable teachers teach?

:anjali:
Mike


As far as I know - yes.
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Re: Vipassanā: What Is Dissolution, Really?

Postby Nyana » Tue Dec 20, 2011 9:06 pm

mikenz66 wrote:Sure, Isn't this what all reputable teachers teach?

Rhetorical question.

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Re: Vipassanā: What Is Dissolution, Really?

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Dec 20, 2011 9:46 pm

Greetings,

Ñāṇa wrote:Fortunately, all of this is easily avoided by basing insight into impermanence on pragmatic empiricism, just as we find in the suttas, where there is nothing esoteric, mysterious, or hidden about impermanence. Your body will surely die. My body will surely die. Death could occur at any time. And mental processes are subject to even greater change, alteration, and passing away than the body. Conventional description offers a more meaningful, pragmatic, and therefore useful reference, using a clearly demonstrable basis for designation.

In this way there is no need for inducing painful sensations in order to recognize dukkha, or perceptions of incessant dissolution in order to recognize impermanence, or any other adventitious experiences. One can get on with developing the noble eightfold path.

:goodpost:

I like this. Reverting back to what the Buddha said about anicca and how he encouraged people to regard it takes esoteric mysticism with reference to anicca out of the frame. (Interestingly, reverting back to what the Buddha said also puts the notion of "bhanga", as dissolution, out of the frame too).

Note: not wrong, just out of the frame.

Metta,
Retro. :)
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