Being nobody (Classical)

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Being nobody (Classical)

Postby Coyote » Sun Jun 03, 2012 7:21 pm

Some teachers, especially those of the Thai Forest Traditions, emphasise an attitude that is characterised by "being nobody, going nowhere" over getting to this or that stage or attainment. While I recognise, with the teaching of Anatta and Anicca in mind, that this is ultimately true, I wonder how "traditional" or "classical" this method of teaching of practice is. My understanding is that it is somewhat of a peculiarity to Thai Forest Buddhism, and as a practice may have been influenced by similar attitudes in Mahayana schools such as Zen (not to say that it is not useful or authentic). So, from a Classical POV, is this a useful attitude to cultivate or not?

With metta,

Coyote
"If beings knew, as I know, the results of giving & sharing, they would not eat without having given, nor would the stain of miserliness overcome their minds. Even if it were their last bite, their last mouthful, they would not eat without having shared."
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Re: Being nobody

Postby Alex123 » Sun Jun 03, 2012 7:42 pm

Maybe this is to help prevent Self View (sakkāyadiṭṭhi) and conceit (māna)? If one thinks and believes that "I am this stage" or " I need to become that..." then that is sakkāyadiṭṭhi.

Believing that "I am unawakened and messed up, so I need to practice in order that I will become Awakened" is really really wrong view.
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Re: Being nobody

Postby David2 » Sun Jun 03, 2012 8:23 pm

I think Philipp Moffit wrote in his book "Dancing with life" something like: "Don't give up your ego too early." (I'm not sure if that were his exact words.) The meaning is that it's a gradual path - if you try to give up your ego over night, you will fail because it's impossible. Be patient.
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Re: Being nobody

Postby Coyote » Sun Jun 03, 2012 8:50 pm

Hi Alex and David,

While I agree that any kind of self view would be wrong view, I agree with this sentiment:

David2 wrote:I think Philipp Moffit wrote in his book "Dancing with life" something like: "Don't give up your ego too early." (I'm not sure if that were his exact words.) The meaning is that it's a gradual path - if you try to give up your ego over night, you will fail because it's impossible. Be patient.


I wonder how useful an egoless attitude is for a beginner, and sounds like the kind of thing that would be taught to those who are almost ready to give up self view. After all, unless we are stream-enterers, we still have an ego in daily life. Anyway, I wonder if this is an attitude that is talked about in the commentarial sources or traditional literature.
It may be good for some, and not for others.

Metta,

Coyote
"If beings knew, as I know, the results of giving & sharing, they would not eat without having given, nor would the stain of miserliness overcome their minds. Even if it were their last bite, their last mouthful, they would not eat without having shared."
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Re: Being nobody

Postby Alex123 » Sun Jun 03, 2012 8:54 pm

Hello Coyote,

Coyote wrote:I wonder how useful an egoless attitude is for a beginner, and sounds like the kind of thing that would be taught to those who are almost ready to give up self view.


Precisely speaking, there is no Ego (as Atta). So nothing to lose, except suffering and worldliness. Why harbor wrong views and spin longer in samsara?
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Re: Being nobody

Postby Coyote » Sun Jun 03, 2012 9:12 pm

Alex123 wrote:Precisely speaking, there is no Ego (as Atta). So nothing to lose, except suffering and worldliness. Why harbor wrong views and spin longer in samsara?


Because an ego can be used skilfully, especially for those who may find it hard to raise effort and perseverance on the path without an ego "getting" something. Ultimately desire must be given up, but surely while it is still there it can be skilfully directed to become desire for awakening or desire to lessen suffering? I know Ajahn Thanissaro talks of this a bit. The noble 8fold path is a conditioned thing.

Metta,

Coyote
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Re: Being nobody

Postby Birgit » Sun Jun 03, 2012 9:23 pm

If there isn´t an I, how can one of you or me wright these reply-textes? Its a paradox for me!
You, just as you are, can meet life on its own terms, taking delight in that which is enjoyable without clinging to it while also living with what is difficult and unpleasant without contracting into resistance to it. To dance with life is to meet life on its terms to be at ease, even enjoy the ever-changing interplay without clinging. Philip Moffit: Dancing with Life page 91/92
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Re: Being nobody

Postby Alex123 » Sun Jun 03, 2012 9:43 pm

Birgit wrote:If there isn´t an I, how can one of you or me wright these reply-textes? Its a paradox for me!


The fingers type this. Body is. Mind is.
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Re: Being nobody

Postby Alex123 » Sun Jun 03, 2012 9:46 pm

Coyote wrote:Because an ego can be used skilfully,


For worldly ends. And even then, that is questionable.

Coyote wrote:especially for those who may find it hard to raise effort and perseverance on the path without an ego "getting" something.


When there is no ego belief, there is no ego belief to get in the way of Awakening. The whole Idea of striving for awakening itself might be a Self view about "I am messed up, so I need to raise effort in order that I can reach Awakening and drop the ego."
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Re: Being nobody

Postby Birgit » Sun Jun 03, 2012 10:36 pm

Alex123 wrote:
Birgit wrote:If there isn´t an I, how can one of you or me wright these reply-textes? Its a paradox for me!


The fingers type this. Body is. Mind is.


My fingers obey my mind. And I identify myself with my mind. I can´t feel that I am not I.
You, just as you are, can meet life on its own terms, taking delight in that which is enjoyable without clinging to it while also living with what is difficult and unpleasant without contracting into resistance to it. To dance with life is to meet life on its terms to be at ease, even enjoy the ever-changing interplay without clinging. Philip Moffit: Dancing with Life page 91/92
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Re: Being nobody

Postby Alex123 » Sun Jun 03, 2012 10:47 pm

Birgit wrote:
Alex123 wrote:
Birgit wrote:If there isn´t an I, how can one of you or me wright these reply-textes? Its a paradox for me!


The fingers type this. Body is. Mind is.


My fingers obey my mind. And I identify myself with my mind. I can´t feel that I am not I.



This idea is just a thought. "I am" is a thought, wrong view. It is a process of consciousness. If all consciousness would cease, where is this Self?
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Re: Being nobody

Postby suttametta » Sun Jun 03, 2012 10:59 pm

Coyote wrote:Some teachers, especially those of the Thai Forest Traditions, emphasise an attitude that is characterised by "being nobody, going nowhere" over getting to this or that stage or attainment. While I recognise, with the teaching of Anatta and Anicca in mind, that this is ultimately true, I wonder how "traditional" or "classical" this method of teaching of practice is. My understanding is that it is somewhat of a peculiarity to Thai Forest Buddhism, and as a practice may have been influenced by similar attitudes in Mahayana schools such as Zen (not to say that it is not useful or authentic). So, from a Classical POV, is this a useful attitude to cultivate or not?

With metta,

Coyote


I don't think this is the way Buddha presented the practice.
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Re: Being nobody

Postby jason c » Sun Jun 03, 2012 11:12 pm

This idea is just a thought. "I am" is a thought, wrong view. It is a process of consciousness. If all consciousness would cease, where is this Self?[/quote]

"I am" is a thought, the "I" is an illusion. mind consists of 4 processes; consciousness, perception,sensation,and reaction. consciousness is mind free from the body, there is no "I" in consciousness. if consciousness would cease, nibbana(no-thingness) is left. "being nobody" is consciousness.
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Re: Being nobody

Postby manas » Sun Jun 03, 2012 11:49 pm

It is so easy to get tangled up in our own words here. Here is Thanissaro Bhikkhu on yoniso manasikara:

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:...the Buddha gave prime importance to the ability to frame the issue of suffering in the proper way. He called this ability yoniso manasikara — appropriate attention — and taught that no other inner quality was more helpful for untangling suffering and gaining release (Iti 16).

In giving his most detailed explanation of appropriate attention (MN 2), he starts with examples of inappropriate attention, which center on questions of identity and existence: "Do I exist?" "Do I not?" "What am I?" "Did I exist in the past?" "Will I exist in the future?" These questions are inappropriate because they lead to "a wilderness of views, a thicket of views" such as "I have a self," or "I have no self," all of which lead to entanglement, and none to the end of suffering.

In contrast, the Buddha then depicts appropriate attention as the ability to identify that "This is suffering (the Pali word dukkha here covers stress and pain as well)," "This is the origination of suffering," "This is the cessation of suffering," and "This is the path of practice leading to the cessation of suffering." These are the four categories that the Buddha, in his first discourse, called the four noble truths. The ability to frame the issue of suffering in line with these categories is what enables you ultimately to put an end to the problem of suffering once and for all. This is why they're appropriate.


Here is an excerpt from MN2:

"This is how he attends inappropriately: 'Was I in the past? Was I not in the past? What was I in the past? How was I in the past? Having been what, what was I in the past? Shall I be in the future? Shall I not be in the future? What shall I be in the future? How shall I be in the future? Having been what, what shall I be in the future?' Or else he is inwardly perplexed about the immediate present: 'Am I? Am I not? What am I? How am I? Where has this being come from? Where is it bound?'

"As he attends inappropriately in this way, one of six kinds of view arises in him: The view I have a self arises in him as true & established, or the view I have no self... or the view It is precisely by means of self that I perceive self... or the view It is precisely by means of self that I perceive not-self... or the view It is precisely by means of not-self that I perceive self arises in him as true & established, or else he has a view like this: 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 stay just as it is for 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.

Thanissaro article: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... gling.html

MN2 Sabbasava Sutta: All the Fermentations: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

kind regards

_/I\_
Last edited by manas on Sun Jun 03, 2012 11:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Being nobody

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Jun 03, 2012 11:55 pm

Greetings Coyote,

suttametta wrote:
Coyote wrote:Some teachers, especially those of the Thai Forest Traditions, emphasise an attitude that is characterised by "being nobody, going nowhere" over getting to this or that stage or attainment. While I recognise, with the teaching of Anatta and Anicca in mind, that this is ultimately true, I wonder how "traditional" or "classical" this method of teaching of practice is. My understanding is that it is somewhat of a peculiarity to Thai Forest Buddhism, and as a practice may have been influenced by similar attitudes in Mahayana schools such as Zen (not to say that it is not useful or authentic). So, from a Classical POV, is this a useful attitude to cultivate or not?

With metta,

Coyote


I don't think this is the way Buddha presented the practice.

Correct, nor is it the way it's presented Classically. As for whether it's a "useful attitude to cultivate or not" you're effectively asking it about the efficacy of a teaching from outside its domain, making it tough to answer. Your best bet may be to investigate what "bhava" (i.e. becoming, existence) means in the Theravada tradition and decide for yourself whether there is compatibility or otherwise.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Being nobody

Postby Alex123 » Mon Jun 04, 2012 12:54 am

Greetings Retro,

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Coyote,

suttametta wrote:
Coyote wrote:Some teachers, especially those of the Thai Forest Traditions, emphasise an attitude that is characterised by "being nobody, going nowhere" over getting to this or that stage or attainment. While I recognise, with the teaching of Anatta and Anicca in mind, that this is ultimately true, I wonder how "traditional" or "classical" this method of teaching of practice is. My understanding is that it is somewhat of a peculiarity to Thai Forest Buddhism, and as a practice may have been influenced by similar attitudes in Mahayana schools such as Zen (not to say that it is not useful or authentic). So, from a Classical POV, is this a useful attitude to cultivate or not?

With metta,

Coyote


I don't think this is the way Buddha presented the practice.

Correct, nor is it the way it's presented Classically. As for whether it's a "useful attitude to cultivate or not" you're effectively asking it about the efficacy of a teaching from outside its domain, making it tough to answer. Your best bet may be to investigate what "bhava" (i.e. becoming, existence) means in the Theravada tradition and decide for yourself whether there is compatibility or otherwise.

Metta,
Retro. :)



Do you mean that Classical position is that "Be someone, get somewhere" ? Am I understanding you correct? Hopefully I am misinterpreting what you mean.

As long as there is Self View, Awakening cannot occur. Maggaphala should not be seen as some good self-attainment that is personally attained.
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Being nobody

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Jun 04, 2012 1:23 am

Greetings Alex,

Alex123 wrote:Do you mean that Classical position is that "Be someone, get somewhere" ? Am I understanding you correct?

No, I'm not saying that either. That's like saying that if I say something is not white then it has to be black.... dodgy logic on your part.

I'm just saying that "being nobody, going nowhere" is not how such matters are explained classically. As the OP discerned, that's more of a Zen-like means of explanation.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Being nobody

Postby Alex123 » Mon Jun 04, 2012 1:38 am

Greetings Retro,

retrofuturist wrote:I'm just saying that "being nobody, going nowhere" is not how such matters are explained classically. As the OP discerned, that's more of a Zen-like means of explanation.


But isn't Anatta a Classical View? So being nobody = Anatta, and since there isn't atta, there is no atta to go anywhere.
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Re: Being nobody

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Jun 04, 2012 1:50 am

Greetings Alex,

Read the OP and see if you can find something useful to say in response to it.

At the moment you're just shadowboxing.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Being nobody

Postby Ben » Mon Jun 04, 2012 3:38 am

Greetings all

This is a reminder that posts that do not conform to the Classical Mahavihara Theravada forum guidelines are subject to moderator action.
thanks for your cooperation.

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