Nature of Awakening, the role of practice

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Alex123
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Nature of Awakening, the role of practice

Postby Alex123 » Fri May 17, 2013 8:15 pm

Hello all,

I have multiple ideas as to how the practice ultimately works.

1) "Super Insight". One gains super insight after which negative qualities automatically cease and never arise. The problem is, If one already believes in anicca, asubha, dukkha, anatta, then what is this super insight?

2) "Strong arm tactic". One realizes the drawback of negative qualities and trains to resist them. Of course the reason why it is difficult in the beginning is because of strength of habit and one needs to build a new habit.

3) "Moment to moment understanding of anatta". Since there is no self, then whatever mental&physical states arise (good or bad), there is no one to control them so that one should merely not cling to them and don't consider them to be "mine". If there is no considering them as "mine", then they don't affect one.


Any comments?
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Re: Nature of Awakening, the role of practice

Postby fivebells » Fri May 17, 2013 8:56 pm

By ultimately, do you mean final release, or the way the practice releases specific instances suffering? In the latter case, I think it can work in any of those ways.

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Re: Nature of Awakening, the role of practice

Postby Alex123 » Fri May 17, 2013 9:14 pm

By "ultimately" I mean Nibbāna, Arhatship.

Some additions to what I've said.

If Nibbāna is uncreated, unconditioned, unborn, etc then what are implications for correct practice? After all, one cannot create Nibbāna.


In Ptsm there is this interesting teaching:
Ptsm Ch XXIII wrote:11. [When] this [noble person] abandons defilements,4 [then] he abandons past defilements, abandons future defilements, abandons presentlyarisen
defilements? [Suppose that] he abandons past defilements. If he abandons past defilements, he destroys what has already been destroyed, causes to cease what has already ceased, causes to vanish what has already vanished, causes to subside what has already subsided. What is past, which is non-existent, that he abandons? He does not abandon past defilements. [Suppose that] he abandons future defilements. If he abandons future defilements, he abandons what has not been born, he abandons what has not been generated, he abandons what has not arisen, he abandons what has not become manifest. What is future, which is non-existent, that he abandons? He does not abandon future defilements. [Suppose that] he abandons presently-arisen defilements. If he abandons presently-arisen defilements, then though inflamed with greed, he abandons greed, though corrupted by hate, he abandons hate, though deluded, he abandons delusion, though shackled, he abandons conceit (pride), though misapprehending, he abandons [wrong] view, though distracted, he abandons agitation, though undecided, he abandons uncertainty, though having inveterate habits, he abandons underlying tendency, dark and bright ideas occur coupled together, and there is development of a path that has defilement.

He does not abandon past defilements, he does not abandon future defilements, he does not abandon presently-arisen defilements. If he does not abandon past defilements and he does not abandon future defilements, and he does not abandon presently-arisen defilements, then there is no development of the path, there is no realization of its fruition, there is no convergence of ideas?

That is not so. There is development of the path, there is realization of its fruition, there is convergence of ideas. In what way?

12. Suppose there were a young tree with unborn fruit, and a man cut its root, then the unborn fruit of the tree remain unborn and do not come to be born, they remain ungenerated and do not come to be generated, they remain unarisen and do not come to be arisen, they remain unmanifest
and do not come to be manifested. So too, arising is a cause, arising is a condition, for the generation of defilements. Seeing danger in arising,
cognizance enters into (launches out into) non-arising. With cognizance's entering into (launching out into) non-arising the defilements that would
be generated with arising as their condition remain unborn and do not come to be born,...So with the cessation of the cause there is the cessation of suffering. Thus there is development of the path, there is realization of its fruition, there is convergence of ideas.
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Re: Nature of Awakening, the role of practice

Postby m0rl0ck » Sat May 18, 2013 6:25 pm

Just responding to point 1., it doesnt matter what you believe. The belief system is there to get you to the cushion or what ever practice you do. Practice gives knowledge and then a belief system is dead weight. There is a big difference between seeing something as a reality and believing in it as a concept.

Good post tho, i have been thinking about this myself. i would like to beleive 1. is possible but im afraid at times that 3. is the limit. There is and ajhan dune quote, where he is talking about having anger but "not picking it up" This sounds to me like what you are talking about in point 3.
"When you meditate, don't send your mind outside. Don't fasten onto any knowledge at all. Whatever knowledge you've gained from books or teachers, don't bring it in to complicate things. Cut away all preoccupations, and then as you meditate let all your knowledge come from what's going on in the mind. When the mind is quiet, you'll know it for yourself. But you have to keep meditating a lot. When the time comes for things to develop, they'll develop on their own. Whatever you know, have it come from your own mind.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai ... eleft.html

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Re: Nature of Awakening, the role of practice

Postby Alex123 » Sat May 18, 2013 9:50 pm

m0rl0ck wrote:Just responding to point 1., it doesnt matter what you believe. The belief system is there to get you to the cushion or what ever practice you do. Practice gives knowledge and then a belief system is dead weight. There is a big difference between seeing something as a reality and believing in it as a concept.


Some say that investigation of experience of deep meditative state is never devoid of some theory behind it, and that such experience can just reinforce one's belief system. After all, how does one interpret the experience? One interprets it through what one knows... A christian can call Jhanic experience to be "union with God", and say "here you go, I have experiential truth that God exists and is pure bliss". A yogin following Samkhya can call it union with purusha, etc etc...
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Re: Nature of Awakening, the role of practice

Postby chownah » Sun May 19, 2013 2:46 am

Alex123 wrote:
m0rl0ck wrote:Just responding to point 1., it doesnt matter what you believe. The belief system is there to get you to the cushion or what ever practice you do. Practice gives knowledge and then a belief system is dead weight. There is a big difference between seeing something as a reality and believing in it as a concept.


Some say that investigation of experience of deep meditative state is never devoid of some theory behind it, and that such experience can just reinforce one's belief system. After all, how does one interpret the experience? One interprets it through what one knows... A christian can call Jhanic experience to be "union with God", and say "here you go, I have experiential truth that God exists and is pure bliss". A yogin following Samkhya can call it union with purusha, etc etc...

While it is true that holding a theory (or any view for that matter) can lead to misinterpretation of deep meditative states (or any experience no matter how mundane) but I think it would be mistaken to say that holding theories or views completely determines the outcome. I think this is because theories and views are just ideas and arise from moment to moment and not continuously. I think that the main point of meditation is to quiet the mind so that theories and views are not arising so that experience can proceed without intention.
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Re: Nature of Awakening, the role of practice

Postby IanAnd » Sun May 19, 2013 5:36 am

Alex123 wrote:I have multiple ideas as to how the practice ultimately works.

A common mistake: having ideas about how something is to be. It is an inevitable and excusable fault of a conditioned mind seeking answers which are already apparent, but which the mind has not yet grasped or realized because there is still too much mind-noise for discernment to occur.

Have you had the opportunity to read and contemplate Ven. K. Nanananda's book Concept and Reality? If not, you may wish to take it up as a starting point for study into the "problem" you present.

Someone else intoned the following, which comes closer to answering the question: "I think that the main point of meditation is to quiet the mind so that theories and views are not arising so that experience can proceed without intention."

However, answers also abound in the discourses. Such as the following (translated by John D. Ireland):

Herein, Bahiya, you should train yourself thus: "In the seen will be merely what is seen; in the heard will be merely what is heard; in the sensed will be merely what is sensed; in the cognized will be merely what is cognized." In this way you should train yourself, Bahiya.

When, Bahiya, for you in the seen is merely what is seen; in the heard is merely what is heard; in the sensed is merely what is sensed; in the cognized is merely what is cognized, then, Bahiya, you will not be "with that." When, Bahiya, you are not "with that," then, Bahiya, you will not be "in that." When, Bahiya, you are not "in that," then, Bahiya, you will be neither here nor beyond nor in between the two. Just this is the ending of suffering.*

* Footnote: This is a difficult passage. An explanation of it derived from the Commmentary would be something like this: "In the seen is merely what is seen" without adding one's own views, opinions, concepts, personal likes and dislikes, etc.: that is, just seeing what is there as it actually is. "You will not be with what," bound by that view, by attraction or repulsion, etc. "You will not be in that" situation of being deluded and led astray by views and emotions. "You will be neither here nor beyond nor in between the two": neither in this world nor another world. This means the experience of Nibbana or enlightenment, which is a stepping out of the mundane world.
"The gift of truth exceeds all other gifts" — Dhammapada, v. 354 Craving XXIV

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Re: Nature of Awakening, the role of practice

Postby Alex123 » Sun May 19, 2013 10:46 am

IanAnd wrote:Have you had the opportunity to read and contemplate Ven. K. Nanananda's book Concept and Reality? If not, you may wish to take it up as a starting point for study into the "problem" you present.


I've read his books and Nibbāna sermons. Thank you for reminding to look again.

IanAnd wrote:Someone else intoned the following, which comes closer to answering the question: "I think that the main point of meditation is to quiet the mind so that theories and views are not arising so that experience can proceed without intention."


This quieting of mind (I also like Bahia sutta), does it follow 1st, 2nd or 3rd type of mechanism outlined in 1st post? It appears to be the 3rd.

Is it possible to have "quiet" mind even during restlessness (let in cognized be the cognized)?

Anyhow. In any case, the interpretation of direct experience is always through some sort of conceptual filter. Christian will analyze direct experience through their perspective, Buddhist through theirs, and atheists through theirs. It is impossible to get around it unless one is permanently in insentient state.
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Re: Nature of Awakening, the role of practice

Postby kirk5a » Sun May 19, 2013 1:57 pm

Alex123 wrote:Anyhow. In any case, the interpretation of direct experience is always through some sort of conceptual filter. Christian will analyze direct experience through their perspective, Buddhist through theirs, and atheists through theirs. It is impossible to get around it unless one is permanently in insentient state.

The Bahiya sutta is not describing "experience through a conceptual filter" or an insentient state.
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230

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Re: Nature of Awakening, the role of practice

Postby binocular » Sun May 19, 2013 2:35 pm

kirk5a wrote:
Alex123 wrote:Anyhow. In any case, the interpretation of direct experience is always through some sort of conceptual filter. Christian will analyze direct experience through their perspective, Buddhist through theirs, and atheists through theirs. It is impossible to get around it unless one is permanently in insentient state.

The Bahiya sutta is not describing "experience through a conceptual filter" or an insentient state.

I think what Alex (and myself too) have been getting at is that an ordinary person operates with an awareness that there is a meta-level, and as such, direct perception is not possible, or at least not particularly meaningful.

Compare:

A person, whose mother tongue is German, and who reads a text in English (a language that they have learned later in school, but which they understand relatively well) is actually reading the text through the conceptual filter of German, their mother tongue.
IOW, a German cannot understand English on English terms; a German can only understand English through the conceptual filter of German.

Similarly, a person, whose native discourse (or life philosophy or religion) is not Buddhism, and who reflects on a Buddhist proposition, does so through the conceptual filter of their native, non-Buddhist discourse.
People don't come to Buddhism as tabula rasas.

Arguably, only a tabula rasa could have direct experience in the plain meaning of the term "direct experience."


I find that traditional religious exegesis is often intra-religious: suitable for people who have already converted, who are already members of said religion, who are already convinced of its truthfulness. But it is not suitable for the people outside of said religion.
Which is why preaching to non-members tends to come down to "Just shut up, don't think, don't ask any questions, and just believe and repeat what we tell you." So it is much like the way a child learns their mother tongue: by immersion and with no translation. While all the languages we learn later, we learn mainly with the help of translation, in reference to our mother tongue.
Similar happens when we try to adopt religions or philosophies later on: our ideas are bound to be biased or skewed in some way. This is then sometimes called "culturally specific bias" and the like.

I see no way to get around that.

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Re: Nature of Awakening, the role of practice

Postby Alex123 » Sun May 19, 2013 3:37 pm

kirk5a wrote:
Alex123 wrote:Anyhow. In any case, the interpretation of direct experience is always through some sort of conceptual filter. Christian will analyze direct experience through their perspective, Buddhist through theirs, and atheists through theirs. It is impossible to get around it unless one is permanently in insentient state.

The Bahiya sutta is not describing "experience through a conceptual filter" or an insentient state.


If one didn't have concepts, then, for example, one couldn't distinguish between a door and a wall. One can, without prior thought, open a door and walk through rather than try to walk through a wall. So, at least some concepts, are built into pre-thinking perception. Without concepts, one would not make any sense of what is seen. One will not be able to distinguish colors, obstacles from empty space, etc.

As for more abstract theories. Don't we all interpret experience through a certain conceptual filter? Ex: A Buddhist would interpret it as anicca, dukkha, anatta, etc. Some hindu might interpret experience as some sort of manifestation of prakriti witnessed by immortal Puruṣa, etc etc.
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Re: Nature of Awakening, the role of practice

Postby Alex123 » Sun May 19, 2013 4:29 pm



It doesn't say to remove seeing or to change it. Rather, don't add additional interpretation on top of it (ex: I like/hate this color. It belong to my Atta).

Same is with heard, sensed and ... cognized. Since hindrances, thoughts, restlessness is included in cognized - one isn't supposed to change them or to add on top of them extra ideas. One should remember that it is anatta. Right?
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Re: Nature of Awakening, the role of practice

Postby IanAnd » Sun May 19, 2013 4:43 pm

Alex123 wrote:
IanAnd wrote:Someone else intoned the following, which comes closer to answering the question: "I think that the main point of meditation is to quiet the mind so that theories and views are not arising so that experience can proceed without intention."


This quieting of mind (I also like Bahia sutta), does it follow 1st, 2nd or 3rd type of mechanism outlined in 1st post? It appears to be the 3rd.

It goes beyond your conceptions about it (i.e. beyond your conceptualized mechanisms).

But, yes, if you need that crutch to hang onto as you deepen your realization, it does somewhat resemble the third. Ultimately, what it comes down to is being able to manage or control the mind through your direct knowledge of what is true. That's what realization means. (At least, that's one way of looking at it.)

Alex123 wrote:Is it possible to have "quiet" mind even during restlessness (let in cognized be the cognized)?.

Anyhow. In any case, the interpretation of direct experience is always through some sort of conceptual filter. . . . It is impossible to get around it unless one is permanently in insentient state.

It is possible to notice the mind in the midst of its restlessness and to disregard it (i.e. the restlessness) and know what is true ("see things as they actually are"). The restlessness is just evidence of the mind's conditioning. If you give it attention, then of course there will be confusion in the mind. Your job is to quell that noise of confusion with knowledge (i.e. wisdom) and discernment. The tools you have to work with are sila, samadhi, and panna. Use them wisely.
"The gift of truth exceeds all other gifts" — Dhammapada, v. 354 Craving XXIV

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Re: Nature of Awakening, the role of practice

Postby IanAnd » Sun May 19, 2013 4:48 pm

Alex123 wrote:


It doesn't say to remove seeing or to change it. Rather, don't add additional interpretation on top of it (ex: I like/hate this color. It belong to my Atta).

Same is with heard, sensed and ... cognized. Since hindrances, thoughts, restlessness is included in cognized - one isn't supposed to change them or to add on top of them extra ideas. One should remember that it is anatta. Right?

You're taking baby steps. But in the right direction. :smile:

Yes, that is correct. It is ALL anatta.
"The gift of truth exceeds all other gifts" — Dhammapada, v. 354 Craving XXIV

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Re: Nature of Awakening, the role of practice

Postby ground » Sun May 19, 2013 6:58 pm

Alex123 wrote:If one didn't have concepts, then, for example, one couldn't distinguish between a door and a wall.

The distinguished is the distinguishing.

Alex123 wrote:One can, without prior thought, open a door and walk through rather than try to walk through a wall. So, at least some concepts, are built into pre-thinking perception.

Concept may be called "thought", meaning may be called "thought" as well. No need to understand "thought" as full-fledged "thinking in terms and terminology". So "thought" is inbuilt in intention to open "a seen" which arises dependently.

Alex123 wrote: Without concepts, one would not make any sense of what is seen. One will not be able to distinguish colors, obstacles from empty space, etc.

No sense or meaning at all, yes. All arises dependent on conditioned habits. :sage:

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Re: Nature of Awakening, the role of practice

Postby kirk5a » Sun May 19, 2013 7:05 pm

binocular wrote:
kirk5a wrote:
Alex123 wrote:Anyhow. In any case, the interpretation of direct experience is always through some sort of conceptual filter. Christian will analyze direct experience through their perspective, Buddhist through theirs, and atheists through theirs. It is impossible to get around it unless one is permanently in insentient state.

The Bahiya sutta is not describing "experience through a conceptual filter" or an insentient state.

I think what Alex (and myself too) have been getting at is that an ordinary person operates with an awareness that there is a meta-level, and as such, direct perception is not possible, or at least not particularly meaningful.

Compare:

A person, whose mother tongue is German, and who reads a text in English (a language that they have learned later in school, but which they understand relatively well) is actually reading the text through the conceptual filter of German, their mother tongue.
IOW, a German cannot understand English on English terms; a German can only understand English through the conceptual filter of German.

Similarly, a person, whose native discourse (or life philosophy or religion) is not Buddhism, and who reflects on a Buddhist proposition, does so through the conceptual filter of their native, non-Buddhist discourse.
People don't come to Buddhism as tabula rasas.

Arguably, only a tabula rasa could have direct experience in the plain meaning of the term "direct experience."


I find that traditional religious exegesis is often intra-religious: suitable for people who have already converted, who are already members of said religion, who are already convinced of its truthfulness. But it is not suitable for the people outside of said religion.
Which is why preaching to non-members tends to come down to "Just shut up, don't think, don't ask any questions, and just believe and repeat what we tell you." So it is much like the way a child learns their mother tongue: by immersion and with no translation. While all the languages we learn later, we learn mainly with the help of translation, in reference to our mother tongue.
Similar happens when we try to adopt religions or philosophies later on: our ideas are bound to be biased or skewed in some way. This is then sometimes called "culturally specific bias" and the like.

I see no way to get around that.

Whatever might be true of the awareness of "an ordinary person" - the Buddhist teachings are directions on how to not be caught up in that way. However you want to put it. Clearly the teachings are not just a matter of how ordinary unawakened people are already cognizing.

As for whatever difficulties arise as a result of cultural predispositions, I don't see them as any kind of insurmountable difficulty for someone who sincerely wants to understand. After all, people in every culture have seeing, hearing, sensing and cognizing.
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230

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Re: Nature of Awakening, the role of practice

Postby kirk5a » Sun May 19, 2013 7:08 pm

Alex123 wrote:


It doesn't say to remove seeing or to change it. Rather, don't add additional interpretation on top of it (ex: I like/hate this color. It belong to my Atta).

Same is with heard, sensed and ... cognized. Since hindrances, thoughts, restlessness is included in cognized - one isn't supposed to change them or to add on top of them extra ideas. One should remember that it is anatta. Right?

The hindrances are to be abandoned and the factors of awakening are to be developed. So practice in accord with the Bahiya sutta does not contradict that.
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230

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Re: Nature of Awakening, the role of practice

Postby binocular » Sun May 19, 2013 7:18 pm

kirk5a wrote:Whatever might be true of the awareness of "an ordinary person" - the Buddhist teachings are directions on how to not be caught up in that way. However you want to put it. Clearly the teachings are not just a matter of how ordinary unawakened people are already cognizing.

As for whatever difficulties arise as a result of cultural predispositions, I don't see them as any kind of insurmountable difficulty for someone who sincerely wants to understand. After all, people in every culture have seeing, hearing, sensing and cognizing.

I'll put it this way: A person may be convinced that some experience they have is direct experience. But how can one know whether something is indeed direct experience or not?

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Re: Nature of Awakening, the role of practice

Postby kirk5a » Sun May 19, 2013 7:26 pm

binocular wrote:I'll put it this way: A person may be convinced that some experience they have is direct experience. But how can one know whether something is indeed direct experience or not?

Hmm - I suppose we could ask ourselves whether there is any passion, aversion, or delusion in relation to that experience. If so, then there is still "I-making" in the mix somewhere.
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230

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Re: Nature of Awakening, the role of practice

Postby Alex123 » Sun May 19, 2013 7:44 pm

kirk5a wrote:The hindrances are to be abandoned and the factors of awakening are to be developed. So practice in accord with the Bahiya sutta does not contradict that.


The Bahiya sutta does not say that one needs to develop or abandon something. Even in Sattipatthana sutta on 4th satipatthana it doesn't talk about doing anything toward hindrances.
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