50th Anniversary of Nanavira's sotapatti

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

Re: 50th Anniversary of Nanavira's sotapatti

Postby gavesako » Sat Jun 27, 2009 5:55 am

Ben wrote:Dear Bhante

gavesako wrote:"Do not be a bodhisattva, do not be an arahant, do not be anything at all. If you are a bodhisattva, you will suffer, if you are an arahant, you will suffer, if you are anything at all, you will suffer."

--Ajahn Chah

:anjali:


That is an interesting quote from Luang Por Ajahn Chah. However, it appears to this deluded human being (me) that Ajahn is not only discouraging one from attaining the noblest aspirations, but also seems to be contra to the Buddha's teaching that ariya aṭṭhangika magga is the way to the end of suffering.
I would appreciate your comments.
Thank you for your kind consideration.
Metta

Ben



Hello Ben,

It all comes down to the language people use and also the conceptual framework that we use in order to interpret such statements. I noticed that some people's mind-set requires highly structured descriptions and detailed step-by-step explanations, and there danger there is rather than just taking them as pedagogical tools (i.e. approximations) they will be grasped as a particular "view" (ditthi-upadana) and will block someone's progress on the path, which requires loosening even more subtle forms of grasping. So this is what I see Ajahn Chah as doing, but it is also necessary to look at the context of course.

Compare this other quote from him about the eightfold path:

Today I would like to ask you all. ''Are you sure yet, are you certain in your meditation practice?'' I ask because these days there are many people teaching meditation, both monks and lay people, and I'm afraid you may be subject to wavering and doubt. If we understand clearly, we will be able to make the mind peaceful and firm.
You should understand the eightfold path as morality, concentration and wisdom. The path comes together as simply this. Our practice is to make this path arise within us. ...
Morality has one function, concentration has another function and wisdom another. These factors are like a cycle. We can see them all within the peaceful mind. When the mind is calm it has collectedness and restraint because of wisdom and the energy of concentration. As it becomes more collected it becomes more refined, which in turn gives morality the strength to increase in purity. As our morality becomes purer, this will help in the development of concentration. When concentration is firmly established it helps in the arising of wisdom. Morality, concentration and wisdom help each other, they are inter-related like this.
In the end the path becomes one and functions at all times. We should look after the strength which arises from the path, because it is the strength which leads to insight and wisdom.

http://www.ajahnchah.org/book/Path_in_Harmony1.php
Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

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Re: 50th Anniversary of Nanavira's sotapatti

Postby Rhino » Sat Jun 27, 2009 8:57 am

Ben wrote:In my mind, Venerable Nanavira's suicide calls into question his claimed attainments.

Yes, I think so too. Nanavira Thera never suggested suicide. Reading the whole correspondence makes it comprehensible to me. As he quoted:
If anyone is going to commit suicide—not that I advocate it for anyone—it is a great mistake to do it when one is feeling at one's most suicidal. The business should be carefully planned so that one is in the best possible frame of mind—calm, unmoved, serene—when one does it.

and
The ravages of amoebiasis play havoc with the practice of mental concentration, and if I cannot practise mental concentration I have no further use for this life.

It makes sense to me that someone whose body is not appropriate to achieve the goal of liberation from suffering wants to get rid of his useless body. In his mind he attained sotapatti and could be sure to reach nibbana within seven lifes. Nanavira was absolutely aware of the consequences of suicide and what the Buddha taught about it. Once again Nanavira (Letter 47):
And the Buddha himself warns (in the Mahāsuññata Sutta—M. 122: iii,109-18) that one who becomes a layman after following a teacher may fall into the hells when he dies. There is no doubt at all that, whatever public opinion may think, a bhikkhu is probably worse advised to disrobe than to end his life—that is, of course, if he is genuinely practising the Buddha's Teaching. It is hard for laymen (and even, these days, for the majority of bhikkhus, I fear) to understand that when a bhikkhu devotes his entire life to one single aim, there may come a time when he can no longer turn back—lay life has become incomprehensible to him. If he cannot reach his goal there is only one thing for him to do—to die (perhaps you are not aware that the Buddha has said that 'death' for a bhikkhu means a return to lay life—Opamma Samy. 11: ii,271).
With best wishes

Only in a vertical view, straight down into the abyss of his own personal existence, is a man capable of apprehending the perilous insecurity of his situation; and only a man who does apprehend this is prepared to listen to the Buddha's Teaching.
Nanavira Thera - Notes on Dhamma
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Re: 50th Anniversary of Nanavira's sotapatti

Postby cooran » Sat Jun 27, 2009 9:12 am

Hello all,

Saying one is a Sotapanna doesn't make it so.
The person may be one - or he equally may be deluded.

What is important is not so much what a being living over 2,500 years after the parinibbana of the Buddha says, but what the Fully Enlightened Sammasambuddha taught.

Attending to our own practice based on the Teachings of the Buddha is all that is required of us.

We don't need to debate, take sides, believe, disbelieve or argue over whether Nanavira Thera had or had not reached any level of enlightenment.
It is not important.

metta
Chris
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Re: 50th Anniversary of Nanavira's sotapatti

Postby Rhino » Sat Jun 27, 2009 11:59 am

Chris wrote:We don't need to debate, take sides, believe, disbelieve or argue over whether Nanavira Thera had or had not reached any level of enlightenment.
It is not important.

Fully agreement. Unfortunately most discussions about Nanavira are predominantly about his suicide and whether sotapanna or not. Important are his writings and his understanding of the Dhamma. He was unquestionable controversial because of his refusal of most traditional commentaries and most buddhists can or will not agree with his view. Nanavira knew that:
On the other hand, I fear that, even without the references to the A.P., bhikkhus of the traditional school—the majority, naturally—cannot be expected to like the book if they read it; and it is vain to hope that it is going to win general approval. I do not for a moment imagine that the general atmosphere of Buddhist studies is going to be in the least affected by the Notes; but I do allow myself to hope that a few individuals (...) will have private transformations of their way of thinking as a result of reading them. The question is, how to reach these individuals. (Letter 84)


In my opinion it would be more constructive to discuss the content of the Notes on Dhamma than such negligibilities as sotapanna or suicide. The topic is although the anniversary of Nanaviras sotapatti, but the intention was more a rememberance that there was once a monk who had perhaps personal insight into the Dhamma combined with the mental ability to note it down. Maybe someone will be interested and read the Notes on Dhamma (which are just now again available in a new version).
With best wishes

Only in a vertical view, straight down into the abyss of his own personal existence, is a man capable of apprehending the perilous insecurity of his situation; and only a man who does apprehend this is prepared to listen to the Buddha's Teaching.
Nanavira Thera - Notes on Dhamma
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Re: 50th Anniversary of Nanavira's sotapatti

Postby gavesako » Sat Jun 27, 2009 9:17 pm

Compare:

SUICIDE IN BUDDHISM -- POST-CANONICAL DEFLECTIONS

Bhikkhu Professor Dhammavihari

http://www.metta.lk/english/suicide.htm
Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

ajahnchah.org - Teachings of Ajahn Chah in many languages
Dhammatube - Videos on Buddhist practice
Ancient Buddhist Texts - Translations and history of Pali texts
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Re: 50th Anniversary of Nanavira's sotapatti

Postby Cittasanto » Sat Jun 27, 2009 11:20 pm

I keep thinking teeth when I read the posts in this thread.

if a tooth was or is causing problems due to decay, do you keep it or let it go, have it removed?

I think this is relevant to whether those on the path to enlightenment (sotapanna and above) would undergo euthanasia (to distinguish from seuiside as this to me is more about the worldly conditions and trying to get away from them rather than accepting the situation and working with it in a manner)

also the Karaniya Metta Sutta comes to mind


This is to be done by one skilled in aims
who wants to break through to the state of peace:
Be capable, upright, & straightforward,
easy to instruct, gentle, & not conceited,
content & easy to support,
with few duties, living lightly,
with peaceful faculties, masterful,
modest, & no greed for supporters.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: 50th Anniversary of Nanavira's sotapatti

Postby clw_uk » Sun Jun 28, 2009 12:21 am

Ben wrote:Dear Bhante

gavesako wrote:"Do not be a bodhisattva, do not be an arahant, do not be anything at all. If you are a bodhisattva, you will suffer, if you are an arahant, you will suffer, if you are anything at all, you will suffer."

--Ajahn Chah

:anjali:


That is an interesting quote from Luang Por Ajahn Chah. However, it appears to this deluded human being (me) that Ajahn is not only discouraging one from attaining the noblest aspirations, but also seems to be contra to the Buddha's teaching that ariya aṭṭhangika magga is the way to the end of suffering.
I would appreciate your comments.
Thank you for your kind consideration.
Metta

Ben


My understanding is if one wants to become one then that blocks it off. Also the idea "I am/will be a ...." is an ignorant view that leads to dukkha

I think i heard a similar teaching from Ajahn Sumedho (although my memory may be wrong) that its not a case of becoming a stream-winner or becoming enlightened but letting go more and more to be with the present moment without delusion and attachment

metta
“ Your mind is likewise blocked. But the right road awaits you still. Cast out your doubts, your fears and your desires, let go of grief and of hope as well, for where these rule , then the mind is their subject." Boetius
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Re: 50th Anniversary of Nanavira's sotapatti

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Jun 28, 2009 2:04 am

clw_uk wrote:My understanding is if one wants to become one then that blocks it off.


And then if one wants not to become one because wanting to become one block it off, then that too blocks it off, which, off course, is a myopically one-eyed view of the Buddha's teachings. Motivation is part of practice. Like Nanda, as one gains insight, one's practice matures. Wanting to be a streamwinner may be, in fact, an appropriate motivation for an individual, and in terms of practice, this is very different from 'the idea "I am/will be a ...."'.
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: 50th Anniversary of Nanavira's sotapatti

Postby BlackBird » Sun Jun 28, 2009 7:37 am

When I was staying at the NZ Branch Monastery - Bodhinyanarama, there was a photo of Ajahn Chah with the quote Venerable Gavesako has posted here. When I first arrived it pissed me off.

I thought: "Who does this guy think he is..."
"I want to get enlightened, shouldn't I be striving for this?"
"Why are there so many photos of this guy around, he doesn't seem so special to me!"

The more time that went by, the more I came to realise the truth in Luang Por Chah's words.
It's not that you shouldn't strive for enlightenment
It's that the way to strive for enlightenment is by letting go.

Let go of being a Bodhisattva.
Let go of being an arahant.
In fact, let go of all your attachments.
That is the path.

Now when I think of Ajahn Chah, it's with a heart full of affection, for a man who's words shouldn't always be taken at face value.

With karuna
Jack.
Last edited by BlackBird on Sun Jun 28, 2009 7:56 am, edited 2 times in total.
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'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta
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Re: 50th Anniversary of Nanavira's sotapatti

Postby BlackBird » Sun Jun 28, 2009 7:53 am

tiltbillings wrote:Which likely puts him in violation of the Vinaya, but it is all too easy for one to assume that one's experiences are more than they are. It happens all the time. How was Nanvira's supposed attainment verified, by whom?


Of which rule are you refering to friend? Parajika 4?
"For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher's message & lives to penetrate it, what accords with the Dhamma is this:
'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta
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Re: 50th Anniversary of Nanavira's sotapatti

Postby atulo » Sun Jun 28, 2009 8:50 am

Fully agreement. Unfortunately most discussions about Nanavira are predominantly about his suicide and whether sotapanna or not. Important are his writings and his understanding of the Dhamma. He was unquestionable controversial because of his refusal of most traditional commentaries and most buddhists can or will not agree with his view.

I agree here. But it seems that for most people Notes on Dhamma are too difficult to discuss and therefore none is prepared to read it, or discuss it. It is much easier to talk controversial facts, as Michael Jackson’s fans do.

My understanding is if one wants to become one then that blocks it off. Also the idea "I am/will be a ...." is an ignorant view that leads to dukkha
I think that is nonsense to aim to be a sotapanna. I think all of us should aim to be Arahats. Sotapanna is only a stage on the path when one doesn’t have any doubts and knows for himself what needs to be done: he or she knows when to relax and when to put more effort in practice (in similar terms speaks also Ajahn Chah).

It is like when we like when we work hard outside and we like to reach a juice in the fridge. If our aim in to reach the fridge-doors is nonsense and that doesn’t help much. But when we aim to get juice and we reach and open the fridge, then we know that juice is there and we know what to do: to drink it. Freedom from greed, hate and delusion is to be extinguished, and not to be more the Noble. I hope that makes some sense, even that it is not very good example.
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Re: 50th Anniversary of Nanavira's sotapatti

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Jun 28, 2009 9:30 am

atulo wrote:
Fully agreement. Unfortunately most discussions about Nanavira are predominantly about his suicide and whether sotapanna or not. Important are his writings and his understanding of the Dhamma. He was unquestionable controversial because of his refusal of most traditional commentaries and most buddhists can or will not agree with his view.

I agree here. But it seems that for most people Notes on Dhamma are too difficult to discuss and therefore none is prepared to read it, or discuss it.


Why complain about people discussing Nanavira's supposed Sotapatti, which is the subject of this thread, or his method of death; rather, show us what is so unique and difficulrt about it.
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: 50th Anniversary of Nanavira's sotapatti

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Jun 28, 2009 10:06 am

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: 50th Anniversary of Nanavira's sotapatti

Postby gavesako » Sun Jun 28, 2009 11:34 am

BlackBird wrote:When I was staying at the NZ Branch Monastery - Bodhinyanarama, there was a photo of Ajahn Chah with the quote Venerable Gavesako has posted here. When I first arrived it pissed me off.

I thought: "Who does this guy think he is..."
"I want to get enlightened, shouldn't I be striving for this?"
"Why are there so many photos of this guy around, he doesn't seem so special to me!"

The more time that went by, the more I came to realise the truth in Luang Por Chah's words.
It's not that you shouldn't strive for enlightenment
It's that the way to strive for enlightenment is by letting go.

Let go of being a Bodhisattva.
Let go of being an arahant.
In fact, let go of all your attachments.
That is the path.

Now when I think of Ajahn Chah, it's with a heart full of affection, for a man who's words shouldn't always be taken at face value.

With karuna
Jack.



In the beginning, I felt similar, because when one is starting one needs to get going on the path first of all. But Ajahn Chah is aware of that, see: http://ajahnchah.org/book/Path_Peace.php

As one goes along, however, the situation changes and -- as Ajahn Chah points out -- one starts to cling to those steps of the practice which should merely be used and let go of.

So then one needs to refine one's practice and work on the more subtle attachments. If you have been around Buddhist circles for long enough, you will notice that the most difficult people to be around are those who believe to have "got somewhere" in their practice, who have some level of "attainment" or other. Such people tend to be very hard-headed and conceited, you cannot really discuss anything with them, because they assume that others simply "don't get it" and are unenlightened puthujjanas. When they lack feedback from a Sangha and appoint themselves to the position of teachers, they may just stay on that track until their dying day and just continue to affirm what they already believe in. Anything you say will just prove to them even more how mistaken you are. So this is what Ajahn Chah is referring to.

In another example, a monk came once to Ajahn Chah and said to him that he believed to have reached the stage of Sotapanna. Ajahn Chah's comment was: "That's just a little bit better than a dog..." and he walked away. So he did not support anybody's sense of identity (sakkaya-ditthi) like some other teachers might do.

Gavesako
Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

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Re: 50th Anniversary of Nanavira's sotapatti

Postby atulo » Sun Jun 28, 2009 11:44 am

Here are two more websites - Publisher of Ven. Nanavira's works, and other relevant materials.
Path Press: http://www.pathpress.co.cc
Path Press Publications: http://www.pathpresspublications.com

How many of you did read Notes on Dhamma?
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Re: 50th Anniversary of Nanavira's sotapatti

Postby woini » Sun Jun 28, 2009 3:57 pm

gavesako wrote:SUICIDE IN BUDDHISM -- POST-CANONICAL DEFLECTIONS

Bhikkhu Professor Dhammavihari

http://www.metta.lk/english/suicide.htm


Good; also his: http://www.metta.lk/english/euthanasia.htm

All these three incidents of Godhika, Vakkali and Channa clearly show that the persons here concerned had all gone beyond the stage of 'entertaining any longing for life or continuing the life process' : nàvakaïkhanti jãvitaü. This total detachment or eradication of craving [ samålaü taõhaü abbuyha ] also implied that they were not going to be reborn. In such a situation their act of suicide would be one which is incapable of fruition or bearing fruit. Their behaviour in this context would be in the same category like the criminal acts of murder of Angulimala who committed them prior to his attainment of final liberation. They would in fact, we believe, fall in the category of 'acts only' [ ahosi kamma ] which 'bear no fruit' [ na vipàko ].


From the Buddhist point of view, one would here question the correctness of the patient's decision. It is to be remembered that except in the case of the liberated ones, i.e. those in Nirvana who are not destined to be born again, death begets life anew for everyone. Death does not terminate life, or more precisely the life process. Hence it cannot terminate pain and unhappiness.


conclusions from the quotes, articles, messages above:

SUTTAS: euthanasia only possible among arahants
commentaries: arahants attained liberation shortly after using the knife
euthanasia: not allowed for anyone who is not an arahant, not allowed for anagamis, sottapanas, or anyone else

my conclusions from above correct ? or not ?

apologies if off-topic - mods, can move to new thread if nec.
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Re: 50th Anniversary of Nanavira's sotapatti

Postby Cittasanto » Mon Jun 29, 2009 4:18 pm

Hi Woini,
i don't think it is entirely off topoc but maybe it would be more open (not restricted to Nanavira) if a new thread was started.
I don't think any of the levels would be blameworthy if they opted (on an individual basis, depending on circumstances) for euthanasia, if they are more of a hinderance to their supporters or to their practice than anything else, then I think it would be something they may considder, they are all destined for enlightenment within a maximum of seven lifetimes after all.
Their are comments in the suttas and some of the rules are there so that unscrupulous monks are not a burden on those around them, so it would be a case of (I think anyway) how much of a burden would they need to be befor they opted for that choice. the quality of life even for a monk needs to be at a certain level.

but some food for thought may be found in my earlier post above on page two!

WM
Manapa

woini wrote:SUTTAS: euthanasia only possible among arahants
commentaries: arahants attained liberation shortly after using the knife
euthanasia: not allowed for anyone who is not an arahant, not allowed for anagamis, sottapanas, or anyone else
my conclusions from above correct ? or not ?
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: 50th Anniversary of Nanavira's sotapatti

Postby woini » Mon Jun 29, 2009 8:02 pm

Manapa wrote:i don't think it is entirely off topoc but maybe it would be more open (not restricted to Nanavira) if a new thread was started.
I don't think any of the levels would be blameworthy if they opted (on an individual basis, depending on circumstances) for euthanasia, if they are more of a hinderance to their supporters or to their practice than anything else, then I think it would be something they may considder, they are all destined for enlightenment within a maximum of seven lifetimes after all.

hey Manapa,

That makes sense - thanks. A noble one who is sotappana, + has put down most of the burden - attachment and has different mind state. If this is correct then Nanavira's self-inflicted euthanasia would not negate the possiblity of him being sotapanna.

We don't have direct suttas to confirm? but from inference it does make sense.
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Re: 50th Anniversary of Nanavira's sotapatti

Postby Cittasanto » Mon Jun 29, 2009 8:49 pm

woini wrote:
We don't have direct suttas to confirm? but from inference it does make sense.


:woohoo:
I made sense
:woohoo:
:tongue:
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: 50th Anniversary of Nanavira's sotapatti

Postby atulo » Tue Jun 30, 2009 6:03 am

Hello Rhino and moderator,
could you close (lock) this thread since the conversation is not about the anniversary anymore. Thank you.
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