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AN 7.63: Nagara Sutta — The Fortress - Dhamma Wheel

AN 7.63: Nagara Sutta — The Fortress

Each week we study and discuss a different sutta or Dhamma text

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AN 7.63: Nagara Sutta — The Fortress

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Dec 04, 2012 6:21 am


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Sam Vara
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Re: AN 7.63: Nagara Sutta — The Fortress

Postby Sam Vara » Tue Dec 04, 2012 10:49 am

Another sutta based upon a very fine simile. I can't help thinking that perhaps these are intended for those followers who have a metaphorical cast of mind. Those who grasp a holistic symbol or idea first, and then use it as a reminder of the specifics that it elucidates, rather than those who are happy with the linear account of consecutive items. And they are often good literature, in that the parts of the simile (or metaphor) can be pushed quite far. When the Buddha describes the different hindrances, for example, as being like bowls of impure water, or like the vicissitudes that can befall a householder, I have often been struck by how apt these comparisons are. And it all goes to show that even warfare and danger has something useful to offer us.

I find these similes really helpful. Often on these pages people get bogged down in a type of battle over definitions and meanings that is rather like lawyers looking at statutes and case-law. But here we have the Buddha saying, in effect: "Can you imagine this? Well, mindfulness is like that..."

This one has an interesting set of qualities, but it is really just the Panc'Indriya plus Hiri-Ottappa and hearing and recalling the true Dhamma. These latter two are inserted into the more familiar list of Faculties, and concentration is separated out and treated as analogous to the food consumed by the fortress. The fact that it is treated as food, rather than the requisites of warfare, is quite telling. The other qualities will enable one to make progress, to defend the ramparts and kill one's enemies. But the Jhanas are there for ease and comfort, for sustaining one in whatever one does. Thanissaro often talks about this, as does Ajahn Sucitto. Meditation should feel good. Sucitto often teaches meditation as being to do with a sense of fulfilment, of being replete, or whole. With this feeling, we can do the other bits of the practice which might otherwise feel difficult and unrewarding. Without being well-fed and happy, it is difficult to defend the fortress. As Napoleon famously said, an army marches on its stomach. (And leading the French army, he surely would have known!)

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Re: AN 7.63: Nagara Sutta — The Fortress

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Dec 04, 2012 6:29 pm


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Re: AN 7.63: Nagara Sutta — The Fortress

Postby Sam Vara » Tue Dec 04, 2012 8:05 pm


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marc108
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Re: AN 7.63: Nagara Sutta — The Fortress

Postby marc108 » Wed Dec 05, 2012 11:22 pm

"It's easy for us to connect with what's wrong with us... and not so easy to feel into, or to allow us, to connect with what's right and what's good in us."

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Re: AN 7.63: Nagara Sutta — The Fortress

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Dec 06, 2012 4:49 am


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Re: AN 7.63: Nagara Sutta — The Fortress

Postby Sam Vara » Fri Dec 07, 2012 12:26 am


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Re: AN 7.63: Nagara Sutta — The Fortress

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Dec 07, 2012 7:58 am

Hi Sam,

I guess this is more a "foundation post" than a "tethering post", and the message is that saddha is the foundation of the rest of the practice.

I thought the things learned as "weapons" was interesting...

And that the Jhana similes have to do with food --- sustaining the troops, I guess...

:anjali:
Mike

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Re: AN 7.63: Nagara Sutta — The Fortress

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Dec 07, 2012 8:01 am


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Re: AN 7.63: Nagara Sutta — The Fortress

Postby Sam Vara » Fri Dec 07, 2012 9:55 am

A thought about the real fortresses that the Buddha would have been familiar with and which he would have based his similes on. I read in Stephen Batchelor's "Confessions of a Buddhist Atheist" that the Buddha lived in a time and place where the art of firing bricks had been lost. Buildings would have been made of wood or mud bricks, which can support very little weight. (I'm not sure about stone - I can't recall any references to stone or stonemasons in the Suttas, although there are references to modest stone structures in the monastic code) If true, it means that the physical blueprints for such similes would have been very humble indeed.

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Re: AN 7.63: Nagara Sutta — The Fortress

Postby Sam Vara » Fri Dec 07, 2012 10:13 am


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Re: AN 7.63: Nagara Sutta — The Fortress

Postby Appamada Magga » Sat Dec 08, 2012 8:35 pm

Hi, :anjali:

I find it interesting that mindfulness is compared to a gate keeper. It implies a few qualities about mindfulness that one doesn't usually find in modern definitions. Modern interpretations are sometimes that it is all accepting and non-judgemental. Firstly it suggests that it includes a critical faculty of judgement: whether something is skilful/unskilful. It also suggests that it also touches on the factor of right effort in letting in some (skilful qualities) but not others (unskilful). This simile of the gate keeper suggests that right mindfulness develops out of right effort and is not separate practice as is sometimes taught.

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Re: AN 7.63: Nagara Sutta — The Fortress

Postby daverupa » Sat Dec 08, 2012 8:41 pm


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Re: AN 7.63: Nagara Sutta — The Fortress

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Dec 08, 2012 8:53 pm


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Re: AN 7.63: Nagara Sutta — The Fortress

Postby Appamada Magga » Sun Dec 09, 2012 12:08 am



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