Vipassana vs Theravada

Theravāda in the 21st century - modern applications of ancient wisdom

Re: Vipassana vs Theravada

Postby Zom » Tue Dec 27, 2011 7:58 am

Zom, I think its incredible that you feel qualified to judge that what a respected teacher is teaching "wrong view" based on your own incomplete knowledge of what he teaches


Here I'm judging students, not teacher.

Here, again, you display your very real lack of knowledge of what he teaches.


So, does Goenka teach kamma and rebirth?

Because he talks about the last path factor first?


Not only (but this is very important too). When explaining Right Mindfulness I don't see 4 satipatthanas. When explaining Right Concentration I don't see 4 jhanas. I heard that he gives satipatthana teachings for "some students" , but as far as I know - he doesn't teach jhanas.
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Re: Vipassana vs Theravada

Postby Ben » Tue Dec 27, 2011 8:27 am

Zom wrote:
Zom, I think its incredible that you feel qualified to judge that what a respected teacher is teaching "wrong view" based on your own incomplete knowledge of what he teaches


Here I'm judging students, not teacher.

Here, again, you display your very real lack of knowledge of what he teaches.


So, does Goenka teach kamma and rebirth?

Because he talks about the last path factor first?


Not only (but this is very important too). When explaining Right Mindfulness I don't see 4 satipatthanas. When explaining Right Concentration I don't see 4 jhanas. I heard that he gives satipatthana teachings for "some students" , but as far as I know - he doesn't teach jhanas.


You might want to do some research, Zom.
kind regards,

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Re: Vipassana vs Theravada

Postby daverupa » Tue Dec 27, 2011 12:18 pm

ancientbuddhism wrote:And all of these factors can be found in the Buddha’s teachings on one contemplative effort where ānāpānasati, which is the support of satipaṭṭhāna, leads to the fulfillment of satta bojjhaṅga and vijjāvimuttiṃ. (S.N.5.10.2.3. Ānanda Sutta)


It seems to me that this is factual and helpful and said at a good time.

: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: Vipassana vs Theravada

Postby ancientbuddhism » Tue Dec 27, 2011 2:40 pm

Ben wrote:
ancientbuddhism wrote:
Ben Wrote: I've never heard of the Burmese vipassana tenet system.
Perhaps you could do us the favour of explaining what you mean by this statement.


Call it by its various dīpanī or kathā if you like.


I don't call it anything. Purely for the purposes of discussion, the teachings of various Burmese Vipassana teachers have been described as "Burmese Vipassana". By describing it as a 'tenet system' as you have, you infer something monolithic - which it isn't.


cooran wrote:'Tenet System'' does seem an unusual term to introduce into a discussion on a Theravada list.

My understanding of the term is that, in religion, a tenet can be a central belief or doctrine that is proclaimed to be true without scientific proof.

I don't think this could be applied to tried and tested methods of meditation.


te-net (noun) : a principle, belief, or doctrine generally held to be true; especially: one held in common by members of an organization, movement, or profession

And doctrinal tenets within sectarian Theravāda are being discussed here.

Again, call it dīpanī or kathā if you like. Below is from the Mahāsi system, which are found in common, although arranged differently perhaps, within Burmese Vipassanā, and as regurgitated throughout Theravāda for the most part.

The Progress of Insight (Vipassanā) Through the (seven) Stages of Purification:

I. Purification of Conduct (sīla-visuddhi)

II. Purification of Mind (citta-visuddhi)

III. Purification of View (diṭṭhi-visuddhi)
1. Analytical Knowledge of Body and Mind (nāma-rūpa-pariccheda-ñāṇa)

IV. Purification by Overcoming Doubt (kaṅkhā-vitaraṇa-visuddhi)

2. Knowledge by Discerning Conditionality (paccaya-pariggaha-ñāṇa)
3. Knowledge by Comprehension (sammasana-ñāṇa)
4. Knowledge of Arising and Passing Away (I) (udayabbaya-ñāṇa)

V. Purification by Knowledge and Vision of what is Path and Not-Path (maggāmagga-ñāṇadassana-visuddhi)

VI. Purification by Knowledge and Vision of the Course of Practice (paṭipadā-ñāṇadassana-visuddhi)

5. Knowledge of Dissolution (bhaṅga-ñāṇa)
6. Awareness (Knowledge) of Fearfulness (bhayatupaṭṭhāna-ñāṇa)
7. Knowledge of Misery (ādīnava-ñāṇa)
8. Knowledge of Disgust (nibbidā-ñāṇa)
9. Knowledge of Desire for Deliverance (muñcitu-kamyatā-ñāṇa)
10. Knowledge of Re-observation (paṭisaṅkhānupassana-ñāṇa)
11. Knowledge of Equanimity about Formations (saṅkhārupekkhā-ñāṇa)
12. Insight leading to Emergence (vuṭṭhānagāminī-vipassanā-ñāṇa)
13. Knowledge of Adaptation (anuloma-ñāṇa)
14. Maturity of Knowledge (gotrabhu-ñāṇa)

VII. Purification by Knowledge and Vision (ñāṇadassana-visuddhi)

15. Path Knowledge (magga-ñāṇa)
16. Fruition Knowledge (phala-ñāṇa)
17. Knowledge of Reviewing (paccavekkhaṇa-ñāṇa)
18. Attainment of Fruition (phala-samāpatti)
19. The Highest Paths and Fruitions (Uparimagga-bhāvanā

A well organized system of doctrinal tenets.


ancientbuddhism wrote:The distinction that I made is that 19th century Burmese vipassanā cannot be found in the Buddha’s teachings.


Ben wrote:As you have already stated, vipassana is found in the Buddha's teaching.


And this is where we are talking around each other. I have shown that there is a distinct difference between nikāyan vipassanā and Burmese Vipassanā in terms of context and to the suttas. To discuss or guess the reasons for this disconnect I will leave to others. I only suggest that the above tenet-system cannot be found in the suttas.

Ben wrote:The fact that certain "insight exercises" were later developed to facilitate the arising of vipassana, I think, is not important.


The above list is taken directly from the Visuddhi Ñāṇa Kathā and similar lists are found in U Ba Khin's and Ledi Sayādaw's literature. These are not simply "insight exercises", but are assertions of values to be found and developed in contemplative effort. Where these would fit in the suttas and where they fail is important to some.

ancientbuddhism wrote:That Burmese vipassanā claiming support from the suttas is one thing, but to back-read its tenet system into the suttas is quite another.


Ben wrote:I am beginning to wonder whether your use of the use of the term "tenet system" is to cast negative aspersions on something you don't like.


I prefer to distinguish what are the teachings of the Buddha, as closely as I can discern from the suttas. If discussing the doctrines of Burmese Vipassanā as tenets bothers you, I suggest that you simply read this as dīpanī or kathā as these would apply in yours or other Vipassanā schools. Also, I realize that there can be some degree of emotional investment in ones 'school' or 'tradition'. And as I have none other than the Buddha as Ajahn, I apologize if my discussing these matters has upset you 'and others'.

Ben wrote:Since you have used the term several times in this thread I would appreciate it if you could tell us what this tenet system is. Especially since it has never been defined nor discussed in any literature that I have ever come across.


As given above, and there are other examples from the U Ba Khin and Ledi Sayādaw literature. I must admit that I am a little surprised that you haven't read these, but many are content to just ad-hoc from retreats.

Ben wrote:Please feel free to provide textual support.


This has been given as relevant.
Fingers walk the darkness down
Mind is on the midnight
Gather up the gold you've found
You fool, it's only moonlight.
If you try to take it home
Your hands will turn to butter
You better leave this dream alone
Try to find another. – Townes Van Zandt ‘Lungs’

Secure your own mask before assisting others. – NORTHWEST AIRLINES (Pre-Flight Instruction)

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Re: Vipassana vs Theravada

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Dec 27, 2011 4:04 pm

ancientbuddhism wrote:. . . and as regurgitated throughout Theravāda for the most part.
Regurgitated. Vomited up. Another one here with the idea of having the pure teachings, and everything else is just stuff that is vomited up by distorters of the pure teachings.
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.

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Re: Vipassana vs Theravada

Postby Zom » Tue Dec 27, 2011 4:11 pm

You might want to do some research, Zom.
kind regards,

Ben


Don't use that Jedi trick on me, Ben :D
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Re: Vipassana vs Theravada

Postby daverupa » Tue Dec 27, 2011 5:41 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
ancientbuddhism wrote:. . . and as regurgitated throughout Theravāda for the most part.
Regurgitated. Vomited up. Another one here with the idea of having the pure teachings, and everything else is just stuff that is vomited up by distorters of the pure teachings.


Was anything in that post factually incorrect? Is this your sole objection?
    "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: Vipassana vs Theravada

Postby Clarence » Tue Dec 27, 2011 5:53 pm

Has anyone here read Gethin's Buddhist Path to Awakening? In it, he gives a good view on the commentaries and their place in Buddhist history and practice. I haven't finished the book yet but what I have read thus far was worth the time.
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Re: Vipassana vs Theravada

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Dec 27, 2011 6:10 pm

daverupa wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
ancientbuddhism wrote:. . . and as regurgitated throughout Theravāda for the most part.
Regurgitated. Vomited up. Another one here with the idea of having the pure teachings, and everything else is just stuff that is vomited up by distorters of the pure teachings.


Was anything in that post factually incorrect? Is this your sole objection?
As far as "facts" are concerned, probably not, but as far as my objection is concern, what comes across here is a contempt, or in the very least a bit of disparagement, of doctrinal Theravada that spins things in a lopsided comparative manner. Is that really necessary?

There seems to to be an assumption among the Sutta Purists here that the Theravadins have got it mostly, if not all, wrong, have distorted the Dhamma, lost its essence and wandered hopelessly down the garden path, Visuddhimagga firmly in hand. The Sutta Purists brush aside any claimed value in what these tenet-istas teach when compared to the pure truly true truths they so neatly mined from the suttas. And never, ever mind, however, the serious problems that the Sutta Purist position presents.

Since you asked, that is my objection.
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: Vipassana vs Theravada

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Dec 27, 2011 6:11 pm

Clarence wrote:Has anyone here read Gethin's Buddhist Path to Awakening? In it, he gives a good view on the commentaries and their place in Buddhist history and practice. I haven't finished the book yet but what I have read thus far was worth the time.
It is a good book. Well worth reading.
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: Vipassana vs Theravada

Postby daverupa » Tue Dec 27, 2011 7:12 pm

tiltbillings wrote:As far as "facts" are concerned, probably not, but..


I'd like to know whether you agree on the veracity of the statements in the post, but the scare quotes around the word "facts" leaves things unclear. So as far as facts are concerned: what wasn't factual?

(I didn't read any contempt, so that - and the rest of the objection which hangs on it - is a subjective assessment on your part which I'm not interested in.)
    "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: Vipassana vs Theravada

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Dec 27, 2011 7:35 pm

daverupa wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:As far as "facts" are concerned, probably not, but..


I'd like to know whether you agree on the veracity of the statements in the post, but the scare quotes around the word "facts" leaves things unclear. So as far as facts are concerned: what wasn't factual?

(I didn't read any contempt, so that - and the rest of the objection which hangs on it - is a subjective assessment on your part which I'm not interested in.)

My main objection to these discussions is that I read the insight stages as a report on the experience of practitioners, not as "tenet systems", or "philosophy".

In my view there are a number of ways of implementing the dhamma, all quite consistent with the suttas, which are, after all, rather vague on details. Hence the numerous expositions by various teachers of the anapanasati sutta, for example.

:coffee:
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Re: Vipassana vs Theravada

Postby Ben » Tue Dec 27, 2011 9:23 pm

ancientbuddhism wrote:
Ben wrote:I am beginning to wonder whether your use of the use of the term "tenet system" is to cast negative aspersions on something you don't like.


I prefer to distinguish what are the teachings of the Buddha, as closely as I can discern from the suttas. If discussing the doctrines of Burmese Vipassanā as tenets bothers you, I suggest that you simply read this as dīpanī or kathā as these would apply in yours or other Vipassanā schools. Also, I realize that there can be some degree of emotional investment in ones 'school' or 'tradition'. And as I have none other than the Buddha as Ajahn, I apologize if my discussing these matters has upset you 'and others'.

I am not emotionally invested in anything and I am sorry to disappoint you but I am upset with nothing that you have said. However, what does concern me is the misrepresentation of a number of Burmese traditions by you. This need to run-down "Burmese Vipassana" speaks volumes about the lack of knowledge, the lack of spiritual maturity and conceitedness of those who feel qualified to to do so.

Ben wrote:Since you have used the term several times in this thread I would appreciate it if you could tell us what this tenet system is. Especially since it has never been defined nor discussed in any literature that I have ever come across.


As given above, and there are other examples from the U Ba Khin and Ledi Sayādaw literature. I must admit that I am a little surprised that you haven't read these, but many are content to just ad-hoc from retreats.

I have read everything Ledi Sayadaw has written that is available in English. I have also read everything written by Sayagyi U Ba Khin. I have not read anything resembling a tenet system.

Ben wrote:Please feel free to provide textual support.


This has been given as relevant.


Yes, and what you have given is, as Mike has said, a list of reported experiences. A tenet isystem it does not make. Furthermore, its origins is in the Vism - a document authored by the Mahavihara and used extensively throughout the Theravadin world and not just in Burma.
What you have not given us is any published material by a respected modern or ancient scholar that describes the teachers and traditions of Burma as having a 'tenet system'. Your use of the term "tenet system" as I have said elsewhere, as well as other negative expressions "regurgitated" actually reflects on your lack of objectivity and your own investment in your prosecution of something you do not like.

Ben
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Re: Vipassana vs Theravada

Postby ancientbuddhism » Tue Dec 27, 2011 9:59 pm

The Progress of Insight (Visuddhi Ñāṇa Kathā), Original English publication translated by Nyanaponika Thera with the Original Pāḷi text.

The original publication of The Progress of Insight (Visuddhi Ñāṇa Kathā) seems nowhere to be found on the internet, so I am offering a scan of this here. I think this will be helpful for Vipassanā practitioners (and critics), as this also contains Mahāsi Sayādaw’s original pāḷi version of the document.
Fingers walk the darkness down
Mind is on the midnight
Gather up the gold you've found
You fool, it's only moonlight.
If you try to take it home
Your hands will turn to butter
You better leave this dream alone
Try to find another. – Townes Van Zandt ‘Lungs’

Secure your own mask before assisting others. – NORTHWEST AIRLINES (Pre-Flight Instruction)

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Re: Vipassana vs Theravada

Postby Passavipa » Tue Dec 27, 2011 10:11 pm

The term 'vipassana' is rarely found in the discourses. What exactly, in terms of detailed explanation, do the suttas impart about vipassana? Not very much, in reality, if not close to nothing.

It follows teachers over the years have done their best to explain vipassana. The dhammas listed above, such as bhaṅga-ñāṇa, bhayatupaṭṭhāna-ñāṇa, ādīnava-ñāṇa, nibbidā-ñāṇa, etc, are certainly not alien to the sutta discourses . The terms ādīnava (danger) and nibbidā (revulsion) are used abundantly in the sutta discourses. Bhayatupaṭṭhāna is found at least at the very end of MN 130, which states: "Clinging they look upon with fear".

Anāpānasati may indicate one contemplative effort but the discourse offers little explanation. Is the term vipassana found in the Anāpānasati sutta? Or consider, the terms sabbakāyapaṭisaṃvedī and cittasaṅkhārapaṭisaṃvedī as found in Anāpānasati. Do they relate to vipassana? What do they mean, exactly?

The opinions on these subjects are numerous because the suttas often do not provide detailed explanations. :)
Last edited by Passavipa on Wed Dec 28, 2011 9:40 am, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Vipassana vs Theravada

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Dec 28, 2011 12:50 am

ancientbuddhism wrote:The Progress of Insight (Visuddhi Ñāṇa Kathā), Original English publication translated by Nyanaponika Thera with the Original Pāḷi text.

The original publication of The Progress of Insight (Visuddhi Ñāṇa Kathā) seems nowhere to be found on the internet, so I am offering a scan of this here. I think this will be helpful for Vipassanā practitioners (and critics), as this also contains Mahāsi Sayādaw’s original pāḷi version of the document.

Thanks for pointing out the interesting addition of the Pali version.

The English is available here (I don't think Bhikkhu Pesala has changed it):
http://aimwell.org/Books/Mahasi/Progress/progress.html
This treatise was first written in the Burmese language and later, in 1950, a Pāli version of it was composed by the author. As the treatise deals chiefly with the advanced stages of the practice, it was originally not intended for publication. Handwritten or typed copies of the Burmese or Pali version were given only to those who, with some measure of success, had concluded a strict course of practice at the meditation centre. For the use of meditators from foreign countries, only a few cyclostyled sheets in English, briefly describing the phases of insight knowledge, were issued instead of the treatise itself. This was done to enable the meditator to identify his personal experience with one or other of the stages described, so that he might direct his further progress accordingly, without being diverted or misled by any secondary phenomena that may have appeared during his practice.

In 1954 the Venerable Author agreed to a printed edition of the Pāli version in Burmese script, and after this first publication he also permitted, at the translator's request, the issue of an English version. He had the great kindness to go carefully through the draft translation and the Notes, with the linguistic help of an experienced Burmese lay meditator, U Pe Thin, who for many years had ably served as an interpreter for meditators from foreign countries. The translator's gratitude is due to both his Venerable Meditation Master, the author, and to U Pe Thin.

Nyanaponika Thera
Forest Hermitage
Kandy, Ceylon,
On the Full-moon Day of June (Poson) 1965.



:anjali:
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Re: Vipassana vs Theravada

Postby ancientbuddhism » Wed Dec 28, 2011 1:42 am

mikenz66 wrote:Thanks for pointing out the interesting addition of the Pali version.

The English is available here (I don't think Bhikkhu Pesala has changed it):


Pesala may have access to a better copy than I could scan. As you can tell, mine is a bit weathered.
Fingers walk the darkness down
Mind is on the midnight
Gather up the gold you've found
You fool, it's only moonlight.
If you try to take it home
Your hands will turn to butter
You better leave this dream alone
Try to find another. – Townes Van Zandt ‘Lungs’

Secure your own mask before assisting others. – NORTHWEST AIRLINES (Pre-Flight Instruction)

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Re: Vipassana vs Theravada

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Dec 28, 2011 7:09 am

daverupa wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:As far as "facts" are concerned, probably not, but..


I'd like to know whether you agree on the veracity of the statements in the post, but the scare quotes around the word "facts" leaves things unclear. So as far as facts are concerned: what wasn't factual?

(I didn't read any contempt, so that - and the rest of the objection which hangs on it - is a subjective assessment on your part which I'm not interested in.)
Facts or "facts" does not matter in the point I am making. My objection pivots on the certainly negatively connotating, if not contempuous, "regurgitated," which rather neatly colors what was said. My objection still stands.
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: Vipassana vs Theravada

Postby Passavipa » Wed Dec 28, 2011 9:53 am

ancientbuddhism wrote:The confusion is when there is a conflation between the context of vipassanā in the nikāyas and later Burmese Vipassanā. Vipassanā still means clear-seeing, intense-seeing or ‘insight’ if you like....

To add, vipassanā certainly means clear-seeing. But 'clear seeing' into what? What things or realities are clearly seen? Do the objects of clear seeing differ between the nikāyas and later Burmese Vipassanā?

:shrug:

Does the Anapanasati Sutta list the insight about Knowledge of Misery/Danger (ādīnava-ñāṇa) found in MN 148? If not, if these various insights or ñāṇa are not listed systematically, is it possible one may over-estimate their practise?

If, when touched by a feeling of neither pleasure nor pain, one discerns, as it actually is present, the origination, passing away, allure, drawback (ādīnavañca) & escape from that feeling, then one's ignorance-obsession doesn't get obsessed. That a person — through abandoning passion-obsession with regard to a feeling of pleasure, through abolishing resistance-obsession with regard to a feeling of pain, through uprooting ignorance-obsession with regard to a feeling of neither pleasure nor pain, through abandoning ignorance and giving rise to clear knowing — would put an end to suffering & stress in the here & now: such a thing is possible.

MN 148
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Re: Vipassana vs Theravada

Postby Brizzy » Wed Dec 28, 2011 9:58 am

Passavipa wrote:The term 'vipassana' is rarely found in the discourses. What exactly, in terms of detailed explanation, do the suttas impart about vipassana? Not very much, in reality, if not close to nothing.

A rose by any other name. I wouldn't get to hung up over the modern day use of 'vipassana meditation'

It follows teachers over the years have done their best to explain vipassana. The dhammas listed above, such as bhaṅga-ñāṇa, bhayatupaṭṭhāna-ñāṇa, ādīnava-ñāṇa, nibbidā-ñāṇa, etc, are certainly not alien to the sutta discourses . The terms ādīnava (danger) and nibbidā (revulsion) are used abundantly in the sutta discourses. Bhayatupaṭṭhāna is found at least at the very end of MN 130, which states: "Clinging they look upon with fear".

Anāpānasati may indicate one contemplative effort but the discourse offers little explanation. Is the term vipassana found in the Anāpānasati sutta? Or consider, the terms sabbakāyapaṭisaṃvedī and cittasaṅkhārapaṭisaṃvedī as found in Anāpānasati. Do they relate to vipassana? What do they mean, exactly?

The opinions on these subjects are numerous because the suttas often do not provide detailed explanations. :)


If all else fails, blame the Buddha for being a poor teacher (The sutta's are predominantly the Buddha's words or his close disciples).

The Buddha has taught a straightforward path to awakening, trouble is the wood has been obscured by to many trees. Interpretations of such things as 'what is discerning things as they really are' or 'what is right concentration' have done nothing but generate confusion, blur the sutta's teachings and gradually superimpose a 'tenet' system onto the Buddha's teachings.

Metta

:smile:

BTW Good first post. :twothumbsup:
Ignorance is an intentional act.
Brizzy
 
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