Why Meditate?

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.

Re: Why Meditate?

Postby nibs » Sun May 27, 2012 12:13 pm

danieLion wrote:
nibs wrote:Ok. Where does it say in the suttas a 'sense of self' does not dissapear for good at full awakening?

Where does it say it does?

The Buddha wanted us to examine our assumptions about self, not come to ultimate conclusions about the ontological (metaphysical) status of self/selves.


No argument here. But if one examines the assumptions about 'self' and thus stops construing it from the 5 aggregates, how and why does it still arise as an ongoing experience of 'self' in your opinion? The felt sense of existing...the affective feeling of existing, is it not a fabrication of mind in your opinion? Why not?

Let's start with a passage from MN 22, Alagaddupama Sutta: The Water-Snake Simile
"And when the devas, together with Indra, the Brahmas, & Pajapati, search for the monk whose mind is thus released, they cannot find that 'The consciousness of the one truly gone (tathagata) is dependent on this.' Why is that? The one truly gone is untraceable even in the here & now.

"Speaking in this way, teaching in this way, I have been erroneously, vainly, falsely, unfactually misrepresented by some brahmans and contemplatives [who say], 'Gotama the contemplative is one who misleads. He declares the annihilation, destruction, extermination of the existing being.' But as I am not that, as I do not say that, so I have been erroneously, vainly, falsely, unfactually misrepresented by those venerable brahmans and contemplatives [who say], 'Gotama the contemplative is one who misleads. He declares the annihilation, destruction, extermination of the existing being.'

"Both formerly and now, monks, I declare only stress and the cessation of stress.


I don't think I said a 'self' exists to be annihilated. Beyond the 5 aggregates being (mis) read as 'self, what exists? If there is no 'self' seen in the aggregates, there is no 'self' being experienced, no? This idea of annihilation is an idea that holds weight when someone holds the view that there is some 'self' to be annihilated, right? If from the outset, there is no 'self' seen in the aggregates, then why is there still such a tangible felt sense of 'existing/self/being/me-ness'? How and why does it arise? What is triggering that experience? I know Thanissaro likes to talk about causes and seeing what causes this and that.

If one trains the mind to simply recognize pure sense contact, the very moment an 'object hits the sense door to give rise to that sense consciousness, there is no tangibly felt sense of 'me-ness' experienced in that fleeting moment', and when the mind is trained to recognise those moments more and more, the experience of pure sense contact void of any tangibly felt sense of existing lengthens, and one sees, my goodness, there is no felt sense of 'self' arising, how illusory it is, and my goodness, there is no mental unsatisfactoriness arising at all due to its absence, well, one may have a different opinion on what 'stress' is.

How is this not what the Buddha is pointing to for Bahiya in your opinion?

"Then, Bahiya, you should train yourself thus: In reference to the seen, there will be only the seen. In reference to the heard, only the heard. In reference to the sensed, only the sensed. In reference to the cognized, only the cognized. That is how you should train yourself. When for you there will be only the seen in reference to the seen, only the heard in reference to the heard, only the sensed in reference to the sensed, only the cognized in reference to the cognized, then, Bahiya, there is no you in terms of that. When there is no you in terms of that, there is no you there. When there is no you there, you are neither here nor yonder nor between the two. This, just this, is the end of stress."Bahiya sutta


The Blessed One said, "What is the All? Simply the eye & forms, ear & sounds, nose & aromas, tongue & flavors, body & tactile sensations, intellect & ideas. This, monks, is called the All. [1] Anyone who would say, 'Repudiating this All, I will describe another,' if questioned on what exactly might be the grounds for his statement, would be unable to explain, and furthermore, would be put to grief. Why? Because it lies beyond range." Sabba Sutta


If no 'self' is seen in any of the 'all', then what 'self' is there? If perception is righted and no 'self' is construed from such phenomena, then how and why would it still arise, if one has dispassionately (via seeing the 3 C's in it all) not construed any of it anymore? Why would a a tangibly felt sense of 'self' be still part of the experience if one had ceased construing it from the aggregates?

In terms of what: He explicitly states he cannot envision a doctrine of self that, if clung to, would not lead to sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, & despair. He does not list all the possible doctrines of self included under this statement, but MN 2 provides at least a partial list:

I have a self... I have no self... It is precisely by means of self that I perceive self... It is precisely by means of self that I perceive not-self... It is precisely by means of not-self that I perceive self... or... This very self of mine — the knower that is sensitive here & there to the ripening of good & bad actions — is the self of mine that is constant, everlasting, eternal, not subject to change, and will endure as long as eternity. This is called a thicket of views, a wilderness of views, a contortion of views, a writhing of views, a fetter of views. Bound by a fetter of views, the uninstructed run-of-the-mill person is not freed from birth, aging, & death, from sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair. He is not freed, I tell you, from suffering & stress.

Thus the view "I have no self" is just as much a doctrine of self as the view "I have a self." Because the act of clinging involves what the Buddha calls "I-making" — the creation of a sense of self — if one were to cling to the view that there is no self, one would be creating a very subtle sense of self around that view (see AN 4.24). But, as he says, the Dhamma is taught for "the elimination of all view-positions, determinations, biases, inclinations, & obsessions; for the stilling of all fabrications; for the relinquishing of all acquisitions; the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding."


I agree. If one is not pulling it all apart and seeing in real time in one's practice and one simply decides there is no 'self', then what is this 'view' based on but ignorance and more 'I' making. Clinging to the view that there is no self versus seeing in real time no self in the aggregates are two different things, no?

Have you ever experienced the cessation of all 'me-ness' and then its re-arising? One's notion of 'stress' may change if so. As you can already tell, I'm an Ayya Khema fan:

"The path moment doesn't have any thinking or feeling in it. It is not comparable to the meditative absorptions (jhana). Although it is based upon them because only the concentrated mind can enter into a path moment, it does not have the same qualities. the meditative absorptions have — in their initial stages — the ingredients of rapture, happiness and peacefulness. Later on, the mind experiences expansion, nothingness and a change of perception. The path moment does not contain any of these states of mind."
"It has a quality of non-being. This is such a relief and changes one's world view so totally that it is quite understandable that the Buddha made such a distinction between a worldling and a Noble One. While the meditative absorptions bring with them a feeling of oneness, of unity, the path moment does not even contain that. The moment of fruition, subsequent to the path moment, is the understood experience and results in a turned-around vision of existence."

"The new understanding recognizes every thought, every feeling as stress (dukkha). The most elevated thought, the most sublime feeling still has this quality. Only when there is nothing, is there no stress. There is nothing internal or external that contains the quality of total satisfactoriness. Because of such an inner vision, the passion for wanting anything is discarded. All has been seen for what it really is and nothing can give the happiness that arises through the practice of the path and its results."

"The Nibbanic element cannot be truly described as bliss, because bliss has a connotation of exhilaration. We use the word "bliss" for the meditative absorption, where it includes a sense of excitement. The Nibbanic element does not recognize bliss because all that arises is seen as stress. "The bliss of Nibbana" may give one the impression that one may find perfect happiness, but the opposite is true. One finds that there is nothing and therefore no more unhappiness, only peace.

To look for path and fruit will not bring them about, because only moment to moment awareness can do so. This awareness will eventually culminate in real concentration where one can let go of thinking and be totally absorbed. We can drop the meditation subject at that time. We need not push it aside, it falls away of its own accord, and absorption in awareness occurs. If there has to be an ambition in one's life, this is the only worthwhile one. All others will not bring fulfillment." http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... .html#ch12


Thanks for all the references. I guess we just have different ways of looking at it.

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Re: Why Meditate?

Postby nibs » Sun May 27, 2012 12:28 pm

danieLion wrote:
nibs wrote:Isn't one construing such an experience of a 'sense of self/existing'?

When you're not construing your hand, where does it go? When you are construing it, where is it? It's existence does not dependent on you construing it, but when you're not construing it it doesn't go away; and you know this because when you rely on it, it works--it's there for use.

So with self. When not awake, you perceive it with wrong view. When awake, you perceive it with right view.


Sounds like Dr ingram's version of the arhat. I ultimately disgreed with his interpretation .

Could you walk without a sense of form? Buddhas still walk, right? Could you know your hungry or full without a sense of feeling? Buddhas still eat, right? Could you tell time without perception? Buddha's still distinguish day from night, right? Could you make a decision or behave without formations/fabrications? Buddha's still decide and behave, right? Could you see, hear, smell, taste, touch or construe without consciousness? Buddha's still see, hear, smell, taste, touch and construe, right?


Disclaimer: I'm not a Buddha, so can't answer these questions accurately, obviously. But i can speculate a little. The mind/body organism can function perfectly fine without the (illusory) fabrication of 'self' arising. Decisions can be made, seeing, hearing, tasting, touching, can be experienced. Construing of 'objects' to segregate 'parts' of the field of experience may not occur for there to be a subjective reaction towards them, but all would be quite normal seeming to those around him. Seeing, hearing, tasting etc, would not become 'objects' for consciousness to land on to establish a relationship with. Yet, the mind would function just fine, cognising everything within the field of experience, yet not sectioning out via construing 'parts' or 'objects' from the 'all'. Just a soup of liberating sense contact, everything working just fine, better even.(End of speculation about the Buddha's ongoing experience while alive)

Form, feeling, perception, formations/fabrications and consciousness are not just in your imagination. If they were, you wouldn't cling to them, and if you didn't cling to them, you wouldn't need to let go of the perception that one or any combination of them is Me, I or Mine.
metta


I'd say there is a big difference between the aggregates experienced as 'objects' of consciousness versus them simply experienced as a mass of sense contact, a continuum of distinctions. No 'fabrication' of the aggregates as 'objects' for consciousness to land on. Yet the mind functions perfectly fine.

"And why do you call them 'fabrications'? Because they fabricate fabricated things, thus they are called 'fabrications.' What do they fabricate as a fabricated thing? For the sake of form-ness, they fabricate form as a fabricated thing. For the sake of feeling-ness, they fabricate feeling as a fabricated thing. For the sake of perception-hood... For the sake of fabrication-hood... For the sake of consciousness-hood, they fabricate consciousness as a fabricated thing. Because they fabricate fabricated things, they are called fabrications. [3]

[3] This passage suggests that there is a potential for each of the aggregates (form-ness, feeling-ness, etc.) to turn into discernible aggregates through the process of fabrication. See MN 109, note 2.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
Thanissaro Bhikkhu


Thanks for engaging.

nibs
Last edited by nibs on Sun May 27, 2012 12:43 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: Why Meditate?

Postby danieLion » Sun May 27, 2012 12:33 pm

Perhaps when the dhutanga bhikkhus speak of intentionally "going to scary places" this is a type of self-imposed "dark night."

Also, with all this talk of fear, no one's mentioned the beneficial aspects of fear as in the principle of "fear of wrongdoing."

I've just always assumed if practice doesn't help you learn how to deal with fear you're not practicing. I feel sorry for those who've allegedly been misled, but if your'e surprised by fear or terror or other such negativity, you're being naive and have no one but yourself to blame. Therapists and Buddhist teachers may have helped, but the choices are still yours.

I just took it down, but my old signature used to have a quote form Gil Fronsdal I think's appropriate. "At the heart of Buddhism lies both realism and optimism." IOW, it has a dukkha-teaching side and a joy/release-teaching side. But no matter which map you try to impose on the territory, you still have to take the the road through hell to get to heaven. And your constant companions, aging, sickness, death, etc..., will always be your passengers.

In this sense "dark nights" are much more than just "stages" on the Path--their essential conditions for the Fruition of Release. I think the Buddha was alluding to this when he talked about the tears (or was it blood?) we've shed in all previous lives being greater than the ocean.

Finally,
RON: where in the suttas can we find the Buddha teaching a type of "meditation" called "vipassana"?
metta
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Re: Why Meditate?

Postby danieLion » Sun May 27, 2012 12:36 pm

nibs wrote:
No argument here. But if one examines the assumptions about 'self' and thus stops construing it from the 5 aggregates, how and why does it still arise as an ongoing experience of 'self' in your opinion?

Following the Buddha's lead on this very topic, my opinion about it is irrelevant.
metta
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Re: Why Meditate?

Postby nibs » Sun May 27, 2012 12:40 pm

danieLion wrote:
nibs wrote:
No argument here. But if one examines the assumptions about 'self' and thus stops construing it from the 5 aggregates, how and why does it still arise as an ongoing experience of 'self' in your opinion?

Following the Buddha's lead on this very topic, my opinion about it is irrelevant.
metta


Fair enough,
Thanks for the exchange. :focus:

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Re: Why Meditate?

Postby danieLion » Sun May 27, 2012 12:45 pm

nibs wrote:Clinging to the view that there is no self versus seeing in real time no self in the aggregates are two different things, no?

The Buddha didn't teach "seeing in real time no self in the aggregates" but perceiving the aggregates as not-self, and he dismissed formulas categorically equating or distinguishing any thing with self/selves.
metta
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Re: Why Meditate?

Postby danieLion » Sun May 27, 2012 12:48 pm

nibs wrote:
danieLion wrote:
nibs wrote:
No argument here. But if one examines the assumptions about 'self' and thus stops construing it from the 5 aggregates, how and why does it still arise as an ongoing experience of 'self' in your opinion?

Following the Buddha's lead on this very topic, my opinion about it is irrelevant.
metta


Fair enough,
Thanks for the exchange. :focus:

nibs

Okay. But I'll wait to hear what Ron (OP) says about whether it's off topic or not (I suspect it's not because from what I've gathered from his website and comments here he also misunderstands the Buddha's not-self teachings, which goes directly to his "Why Meditate" thesis).
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Re: Why Meditate?

Postby nibs » Sun May 27, 2012 12:55 pm

danieLion wrote:
nibs wrote:Clinging to the view that there is no self versus seeing in real time no self in the aggregates are two different things, no?

The Buddha didn't teach "seeing in real time no self in the aggregates" but perceiving the aggregates as not-self, and he dismissed formulas categorically equating or distinguishing any thing with self/selves.
metta


What is the difference between 'seeing in real time no self in the aggregates' VS 'perceiving the aggregates as not-self'? I read them as the same approach. Am I using language you disagree with? Yes, we are coming from very different places. I read things differently. Experiencing the absence of a tangible felt sense of 'self'/being/presence/me-ness has shown what is stress and what is not in my own experience. Thus it is does not compute nor lead to being able to reconcile with your view of what the Buddha is pointing to.

Each to his/her own.

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Re: Why Meditate?

Postby danieLion » Sun May 27, 2012 12:57 pm

nibs wrote:Isn't one construing such an experience of a 'sense of self/existing'?

danieLion wrote:When you're not construing your hand, where does it go? When you are construing it, where is it? It's existence does not dependent on you construing it, but when you're not construing it it doesn't go away; and you know this because when you rely on it, it works--it's there for use.

So with self. When not awake, you perceive it with wrong view. When awake, you perceive it with right view.


nibs wrote:Sounds like Dr ingram's version of the arhat. I ultimately disgreed with his interpretation .
I wouldn't know/don't know who Ingram is.

danielion wrote:Could you walk without a sense of form? Buddhas still walk, right? Could you know your hungry or full without a sense of feeling? Buddhas still eat, right? Could you tell time without perception? Buddha's still distinguish day from night, right? Could you make a decision or behave without formations/fabrications? Buddha's still decide and behave, right? Could you see, hear, smell, taste, touch or construe without consciousness? Buddha's still see, hear, smell, taste, touch and construe, right?


nibs wrote: Disclaimer: I'm not a Buddha, so can't answer these questions accurately, obviously. But i can speculate a little. The mind/body organism can function perfectly fine without the (illusory) fabrication of 'self' arising. Decisions can be made, seeing, hearing, tasting, touching, can be experienced. Construing of 'objects' to segregate 'parts' of the field of experience may not occur for there to be a subjective reaction towards them, but all would be quite normal seeming to those around him. Seeing, hearing, tasting etc, would not become 'objects' for consciousness to land on to establish a relationship with. Yet, the mind would function just fine, cognising everything within the field of experience, yet not sectioning out via construing 'parts' or 'objects' from the 'all'. Just a soup of liberating sense contact, everything working just fine, better even.(End of speculation about the Buddha's ongoing experience while alive)

Do you think there was a conspiracy to make up a walking, talking, eating, sleeping, shitting, pissing, Buddha? How is this not a dodge?
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Re: Why Meditate?

Postby nibs » Sun May 27, 2012 1:02 pm

danieLion wrote:
nibs wrote:Sounds like Dr ingram's version of the arhat. I ultimately disgreed with his interpretation .
I wouldn't know/don't know who Ingram is.


Ah, sorry. Not important.

Do you think there was a conspiracy to make up a walking, talking, eating, sleeping, shitting, pissing, Buddha? How is this not a dodge?
metta


Not sure what you are getting at, Daniel. Can you clarify? What conspiracy? What does a 'dodge' refer to?
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Re: Why Meditate?

Postby Nyana » Sun May 27, 2012 4:05 pm

nibs wrote:Have you ever experienced the cessation of all 'me-ness' and then its re-arising? One's notion of 'stress' may change if so. As you can already tell, I'm an Ayya Khema fan:

"The path moment doesn't have any thinking or feeling in it. It is not comparable to the meditative absorptions (jhana). Although it is based upon them because only the concentrated mind can enter into a path moment, it does not have the same qualities. the meditative absorptions have — in their initial stages — the ingredients of rapture, happiness and peacefulness. Later on, the mind experiences expansion, nothingness and a change of perception. The path moment does not contain any of these states of mind."

This is a mistaken understanding of the path. Supramundane path-consciousness is a supramundane jhāna which includes the presence of the jhāna factors. Visuddhimagga, Ch. 21:

    According to governance by insight, the path arisen in a bare-insight worker, and the path arisen in one who possesses a jhāna attainment but who has not made the jhāna the basis for insight, and the path made to arise by comprehending unrelated fabrications after using the first jhāna as the basis for insight, are paths of the first jhāna only. In each case there are seven awakening factors, eight path factors, and five jhāna factors. For while their preliminary insight can be accompanied by happiness and it can be accompanied by equanimity, when their insight reaches the state of equanimity about fabrications at the time of emergence it is accompanied by happiness.

Ven. Ñāṇārāma, Seven Stages of Purification & the Insight Knowledges:

    At whatever moment he attains the supramundane path, that path-consciousness comes to be reckoned as a jhāna in itself, since it has some affinity with the factors proper to jhānas, such as the first jhāna. What are known as transcendental meditations in Buddhism are these supramundane levels of concentration within the reach of the pure insight meditator.

This is in keeping with the Dhammasaṅgaṇī, where supramundane jhāna includes the jhāna factors and the five faculties and various other saṅkhāras necessary for the presence of right view and the other components of the noble path.
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Re: Why Meditate?

Postby Prasadachitta » Sun May 27, 2012 4:39 pm

Ron said....

@mikenz66- regarding the question of whether the path inevitably leads to a dark night, the answer is, unfortunately, "it depends." The issue rests on the kind of meditation a person is doing. In classical buddhism there is a distinction made between "wet" and "dry" insight, which is the difference between the insight knowledges (nanas) experienced directly after deep concentration ("wet" = jhana) or without deep concentration ("dry" = no jhana). If you are doing it wet, then the dukkha nanas (dark night stages) seem like a breeze, a mild bit of turbulence in an otherwise smooth flight. If you are doing it dry however, then the dukkha nanas can really rock your world - and not in a good way. In the old texts and commentaries they divide it up into these two types as if they were all or nothing, but in truth almost everyone mixes it up and so the ambiguous answer of "it depends." Essentially, it depends on how deep your concentration is and how well you use it to move through the insight stages. So, while everyone will go through the insights into suffering in one form or another, how you experience it depends a lot on your concentration. Stronger concentration equals less difficulty.
Hope that helps.


Hi Ron,

If we take the above as an accurate model then why not emphasize more jhana? Why risk the tendency for what sounds like a seriously depressing episode that could cause a person to quit the practice and wallow in a dark place for the rest of their life? Why would anyone advocate a "dry vipasana technique?

Prasadachitta
"Beautifully taught is the Lord's Dhamma, immediately apparent, timeless, of the nature of a personal invitation, progressive, to be attained by the wise, each for himself." Anguttara Nikaya V.332
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Re: Why Meditate?

Postby Ron Crouch » Sun May 27, 2012 6:07 pm

danieLion wrote:Hi Ron,

It seems to me you're blaming the general problems of discernment on psychotherapy. This might be a good time to recall your "causes aren't correlations" training and incorporate it into your analysis of the relationship between psychotherapy and practice. Psychotherapists have been "harming" (cf. your Dr. Britton reference) people for years, long before several of them co-opted "mindfulness" to attract more clients. The problem is neither Buddhist nor psychotherapeutic. The problem is dukkha/samsara. There are crappy therapists and crappy meditation teachers and a whole lot of messed up people in the world. "Adversities" will happen. Identifying causes in this mess, as the Buddha duly noted, is merely academic.


I'm not totally sure how to respond to this, as it agrees with a lot that I've been saying in previous posts - the DN is a direct experience of dukkha - check - we agree. Psychotherapists aren't causing the DN to happen (but unwittingly creating the causes and conditions for it because they don't know it exists) - check -we agree. Psychotherapists have been harmful in the past - well, I never, ever said that. But we agree anyway. - check.


danieLion wrote:In the Buddha's sense, then, the "dark night" is much more banal than most of us want to admit. It's not a special occurrence at some so called "stage" on the Path.


You aren't really disagreeing with me so much as with Theravada. The way they are described in the texts is anything but banal, and they do proceed in a series of stages (eight in the VM). Please check out the Visuddhimagga yourself about the insight stages (nanas). They begin on page 666 in the Chapter entitled "Purification by Knowledge and Vision of the Way":
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... on2011.pdf

Again - before anyone makes a claim that the dark night doesn't exist, isn't a set of stages, is the product of poor practice or sila, or means you are doing meditation wrong, I urge you to read about them in the VM directly. Don't take my word for it. They have been written about by meditation masters in the Theravada for literally thousands of years.

danieLion wrote:Perhaps this stems for your belief that the purpose of meditation is to become enlightened? For that, I'd recommend some good doses of Ajahn Sumedho.


Again, I'm not sure how to respond. Ajahn Sumedho is a funny guy, and is a really good teacher, primarily of compassion and sila. Uhm... are you saying one shouldn't become enlightened? If that is the case, there isn't much more for us to talk about. I see Buddhism, which is roughly "Wake-up-ism," as a path to enlightenment. If I'm wrong about that, please correct me.


danieLion wrote:The Buddha didn't teach that life is suffering or that the self is a dream. As Thanissaro (Hang on to Your Ego et al) points out, the Buddha taught you need a healthy ego (Thanissaro also, to my surprise, generally speaks highly of psychotherapy as a beneficial supplement to practice). The Buddha didn't eradicate all his senses of self. The Buddha taught what is not self, not that there is no self. He taught us to see our senses of selves for what they are: inconstant (anicca) aggregates (khanda).


We just keep agreeing! Please check out my essay on the Buddhist Geeks website on this topic:
http://www.buddhistgeeks.com/2011/05/ps ... s-no-self/

danieLion wrote:Christian Mysticism and practice, are in my opinion, incompatible. I love St. John of the Cross, but Uniting my SOUL with GOD is not part of any Buddhist practice I'm aware of.


After having taught many people, interviewed many experienced practioners, talked to people in the Christian Mystic practice and read way too much, I respectfully disagree. Many of the experiences of impermanence, suffering and non-self between the traditions are virtually identical in terms of phenomenology. What is different is how they conceptualized and fit into a worldview. Uniting the soul with god is how the experience of impermanence and non-self are interpreted in that tradition. Same experience - different interpretation. I urge people to talk across traditions and find this out for themselves.

danieLion wrote:Also, you've not addressed the problems inherent in psychotherapeutic classifications/taxonomies/diagnosis tools themselves. Psychopathology is itself culturally bound. Realities like death, old age, sickness, disease transcend cultural boundaries.
metta


I don't think this thread is about the DSM-IV and it's flaws. Maybe you are suggesting that seeing dukkha through a diagnostic lens is missing the point about what dukkha is. I would agree with you there. Dukkha is much bigger than that, but it also includes it. - did I understand you correctly?

Thanks for the thought-provoking points! This is turning out to be a great discussion and good fun.
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Re: Why Meditate?

Postby Ron Crouch » Sun May 27, 2012 6:28 pm

Prasadachitta wrote:Ron said....

@mikenz66- regarding the question of whether the path inevitably leads to a dark night, the answer is, unfortunately, "it depends." The issue rests on the kind of meditation a person is doing. In classical buddhism there is a distinction made between "wet" and "dry" insight, which is the difference between the insight knowledges (nanas) experienced directly after deep concentration ("wet" = jhana) or without deep concentration ("dry" = no jhana). If you are doing it wet, then the dukkha nanas (dark night stages) seem like a breeze, a mild bit of turbulence in an otherwise smooth flight. If you are doing it dry however, then the dukkha nanas can really rock your world - and not in a good way. In the old texts and commentaries they divide it up into these two types as if they were all or nothing, but in truth almost everyone mixes it up and so the ambiguous answer of "it depends." Essentially, it depends on how deep your concentration is and how well you use it to move through the insight stages. So, while everyone will go through the insights into suffering in one form or another, how you experience it depends a lot on your concentration. Stronger concentration equals less difficulty.
Hope that helps.


Hi Ron,

If we take the above as an accurate model then why not emphasize more jhana? Why risk the tendency for what sounds like a seriously depressing episode that could cause a person to quit the practice and wallow in a dark place for the rest of their life? Why would anyone advocate a "dry vipasana technique?

Prasadachitta


In my own teaching I do. I teach concentration to anyone who does not have at least access concentration. I already wrote about this, but it's becoming an awfully long thread so I understand why it got lost.

Hope that clears things up.

Ron
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Re: Why Meditate?

Postby Ron Crouch » Sun May 27, 2012 6:35 pm

danieLion wrote:
Ron Crouch wrote:If you want to verify for yourself that they are part of the path please read them in the Visuddhimagga. They start on page 666, in the chapter entitled: Purification by Knowledge and Vision of the Way
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... on2011.pdf

Why would their inclusion in the VM convince anyone they're part of the Path?
metta



This discussion already took up the first part of the whole thread - but essentially if you don't view the VM as a legit source of dhamma we are talking past each other. We can stop discussion about the path is and isn't because we just don't view it the same.

Let's just acknowledge that and call it a difference. We could debate it, but ultimately it won't get us anywhere because what I view as dhamma isn't the same as what you do...
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Re: Why Meditate?

Postby manas » Sun May 27, 2012 8:51 pm

Prasadachitta wrote:Ron said....

@mikenz66- regarding the question of whether the path inevitably leads to a dark night, the answer is, unfortunately, "it depends." The issue rests on the kind of meditation a person is doing. In classical buddhism there is a distinction made between "wet" and "dry" insight, which is the difference between the insight knowledges (nanas) experienced directly after deep concentration ("wet" = jhana) or without deep concentration ("dry" = no jhana). If you are doing it wet, then the dukkha nanas (dark night stages) seem like a breeze, a mild bit of turbulence in an otherwise smooth flight. If you are doing it dry however, then the dukkha nanas can really rock your world - and not in a good way. In the old texts and commentaries they divide it up into these two types as if they were all or nothing, but in truth almost everyone mixes it up and so the ambiguous answer of "it depends." Essentially, it depends on how deep your concentration is and how well you use it to move through the insight stages. So, while everyone will go through the insights into suffering in one form or another, how you experience it depends a lot on your concentration. Stronger concentration equals less difficulty.
Hope that helps.


Hi Ron,

If we take the above as an accurate model then why not emphasize more jhana? Why risk the tendency for what sounds like a seriously depressing episode that could cause a person to quit the practice and wallow in a dark place for the rest of their life? Why would anyone advocate a "dry vipasana technique?

Prasadachitta


If one has taken upon oneself the Noble Eightfold Path, one will cultivate jhana, just as one cultivates the other factors; the Path is meant to be developed as a whole way of living, afaik. (And by 'cultivation' I meant that one is 'working on it', not that one has 'mastered' it as yet - just to be clear). So I share the concern for the 'average joe' who just walks in off the street and signs up for a ten-day retreat, without the gradual but steady preparation that comes when one cultivates the Dhamma over a longer period of time.

This is not to criticize Ron or anyone else, it's just grounded in my own personal experience. If I had tried to squeeze into ten days (or even a month) the understanding that has taken me about 20 years of (not always consistent, but gradually unfolding) practice, i would have lost my marbles, I'd say. And ime, taking things gradually, one still does not necessarily escape a 'dark night' that can make one feel as though life has lost it's meaning, that everything is deadened and has lost it's joy, that one is stuck because one cannot go back to the 'old perspective', but has not yet broken through to the newer one either - but, if one has had some time to prepare, there can be this voice inside saying, "stay calm man, it's not the end of the world! So the world isn't what you thought it was - so what? You're still here - and life still needs to be lived, whatever it's 'ultimate' nature. The floor might well be conditionally arisen, but it still needs sweeping!" :)

:anjali:
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Re: Why Meditate?

Postby nibs » Sun May 27, 2012 9:14 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:
nibs wrote:Have you ever experienced the cessation of all 'me-ness' and then its re-arising? One's notion of 'stress' may change if so. As you can already tell, I'm an Ayya Khema fan:

"The path moment doesn't have any thinking or feeling in it. It is not comparable to the meditative absorptions (jhana). Although it is based upon them because only the concentrated mind can enter into a path moment, it does not have the same qualities. the meditative absorptions have — in their initial stages — the ingredients of rapture, happiness and peacefulness. Later on, the mind experiences expansion, nothingness and a change of perception. The path moment does not contain any of these states of mind."

This is a mistaken understanding of the path. Supramundane path-consciousness is a supramundane jhāna which includes the presence of the jhāna factors. Visuddhimagga, Ch. 21:

    According to governance by insight, the path arisen in a bare-insight worker, and the path arisen in one who possesses a jhāna attainment but who has not made the jhāna the basis for insight, and the path made to arise by comprehending unrelated fabrications after using the first jhāna as the basis for insight, are paths of the first jhāna only. In each case there are seven awakening factors, eight path factors, and five jhāna factors. For while their preliminary insight can be accompanied by happiness and it can be accompanied by equanimity, when their insight reaches the state of equanimity about fabrications at the time of emergence it is accompanied by happiness.


Hi Ñana,

Yeh, not a Visuddhimagga fan these days. I'd rather go with the end of what is seen as 'stress' from personal experience than what Buddhaghosa wrote. As long as it leads to the complete dropping away of misery, I'm cool with it. Each to his/her own.

Ven. Ñāṇārāma, Seven Stages of Purification & the Insight Knowledges:

    At whatever moment he attains the supramundane path, that path-consciousness comes to be reckoned as a jhāna in itself, since it has some affinity with the factors proper to jhānas, such as the first jhāna. What are known as transcendental meditations in Buddhism are these supramundane levels of concentration within the reach of the pure insight meditator.

This is in keeping with the Dhammasaṅgaṇī, where supramundane jhāna includes the jhāna factors and the five faculties and various other saṅkhāras necessary for the presence of right view and the other components of the noble path.


I see. Sounds like abbidhamma. Not a fan either. As long as it gets someone to end of what they consider 'stress' though, I'm all for it. Thanks for expressing your take.

nibs
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Re: Why Meditate?

Postby Ron Crouch » Sun May 27, 2012 9:49 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:
nibs wrote:Have you ever experienced the cessation of all 'me-ness' and then its re-arising? One's notion of 'stress' may change if so. As you can already tell, I'm an Ayya Khema fan:

"The path moment doesn't have any thinking or feeling in it. It is not comparable to the meditative absorptions (jhana). Although it is based upon them because only the concentrated mind can enter into a path moment, it does not have the same qualities. the meditative absorptions have — in their initial stages — the ingredients of rapture, happiness and peacefulness. Later on, the mind experiences expansion, nothingness and a change of perception. The path moment does not contain any of these states of mind."

This is a mistaken understanding of the path. Supramundane path-consciousness is a supramundane jhāna which includes the presence of the jhāna factors. Visuddhimagga, Ch. 21:

    According to governance by insight, the path arisen in a bare-insight worker, and the path arisen in one who possesses a jhāna attainment but who has not made the jhāna the basis for insight, and the path made to arise by comprehending unrelated fabrications after using the first jhāna as the basis for insight, are paths of the first jhāna only. In each case there are seven awakening factors, eight path factors, and five jhāna factors. For while their preliminary insight can be accompanied by happiness and it can be accompanied by equanimity, when their insight reaches the state of equanimity about fabrications at the time of emergence it is accompanied by happiness.

Ven. Ñāṇārāma, Seven Stages of Purification & the Insight Knowledges:

    At whatever moment he attains the supramundane path, that path-consciousness comes to be reckoned as a jhāna in itself, since it has some affinity with the factors proper to jhānas, such as the first jhāna. What are known as transcendental meditations in Buddhism are these supramundane levels of concentration within the reach of the pure insight meditator.

This is in keeping with the Dhammasaṅgaṇī, where supramundane jhāna includes the jhāna factors and the five faculties and various other saṅkhāras necessary for the presence of right view and the other components of the noble path.



I know Nibs isn't a big fan of the VM, but I still root for Buddhaghosa, so I went and took a look at this passage in context, and it looks as if Nibs is right, there is some Abhidhamma stuff popping up there. Essentially, those writing the VM were trying to sort out three distinct theories describing how the path-consiousness could be different for different people. One of which comes out of the AbDm and confuses things by implying that there is no anicca-gate to path (I think it is only and implication and not a real assertion in the AbDm). So to smooth things out, the Buddhaghosa team writing the VM propose that no matter what you are cultivating prior to path, whichever jhana, insight knowledge, etc, you always experience the insight knowledge of "Equanimity of Formations" just before path and the factors in EQ are determined by what you were previously cultivating.If you were cultivating a particular jhana just prior, then those jhana factors will be present in EQ, and the description of the path moment will sound different coming from different people for this reason.

It all sounds pretty academic to me, but I can see the practicality of sorting this out when you are responsible for teaching hundreds of monks all practicing in somewhat different ways.

But still, the quote above is a pretty interesting take on things. The idea that the path moment itself is a kind of super-jhana is one that I'm not that familiar with, but has some merits.

One issue may be how we are using the term "path." I'm assuming that when you are talking about "path" you are not referring to the moment when one directly apprehends Nibbana - right? Because that is nothing on top of nothing and there really can't be any factors of anything in Nibbana. However, I think Nib is talking about a direct apprehension of Nibbana. Which might help distinguish why there is a disagreement...

Fascinating discussion folks.
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Re: Why Meditate?

Postby Nyana » Sun May 27, 2012 9:52 pm

nibs wrote:Yeh, not a Visuddhimagga fan these days. I'd rather go with the end of what is seen as 'stress' from personal experience than what Buddhaghosa wrote. As long as it leads to the complete dropping away of misery, I'm cool with it. Each to his/her own.

Sure, that's fine. However, when using terms such as "path moment" one is implicitly relying on the commentaries. There's no notion of a "path moment" in the suttas, and no one has ever seen a path "moment" (or any other kind of "moment" for that matter). It's a conceptual construct used to account for the realization of knowledge.
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Re: Why Meditate?

Postby nibs » Sun May 27, 2012 9:59 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:
nibs wrote:Yeh, not a Visuddhimagga fan these days. I'd rather go with the end of what is seen as 'stress' from personal experience than what Buddhaghosa wrote. As long as it leads to the complete dropping away of misery, I'm cool with it. Each to his/her own.

Sure, that's fine. However, when using terms such as "path moment" one is implicitly relying on the commentaries. There's no notion of a "path moment" in the suttas, and no one has ever seen a path "moment" (or any other kind of "moment" for that matter). It's a conceptual construct used to account for the realization of knowledge.


Hi, Ñana,

Sure, I'm ok with that too. I'm not a fan of the concept of 'path moment' either (although one can find things I've expressed that would say differently), but on a more personal level I think there are a variety of 'experiences' being labeled 'path moments' yet not leading to the dropping of fetters and massive behavioral changes one would expect (from reading the suttas) thus not agreeing with my current take on it all (sorry Ron). But if post-such 'moments' do make the mind easier to navigate, more malleable, pliant, luminous and the dropping away of all mental 'stress' a real possibility, then I'm all for it. The knowledge part I agree with too. There must be insight into certain elements for one's mind to change profoundly.

Thanks.

nibs
Last edited by nibs on Sun May 27, 2012 10:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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