How do you contemplate anatta?

Discussion of Satipatthana bhavanā and Vipassana bhavana.

Re: How do you contemplate anatta?

Postby Spiny Norman » Wed Jun 05, 2013 12:51 pm

daverupa wrote:I contemplate how everything is conditionally present or absent, which eliminates the possibility that my self - of any ideation - is isolated and independent.


Do you use a particular framework for noticing conditionality?
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Re: How do you contemplate anatta?

Postby pegembara » Wed Jun 05, 2013 2:52 pm

Anatta is not inconsistent with karma and will IMO. For example, people have different metabolisms, physical forms (karma). We control how much food we ingest using our hands and mouth to ingest said food (will, control over the physical) etc.

Abu


Of course there are intentions but those intentions aren't ours. "We " control what we eat because of the consequences of overeating. Even if we "choose" to overeat and suffer indigestion, we are actually still slave to our craving for taste. Free will is an illusion as long as we are still trapped in this prison called samsara. A simile would be having a gun held to our head and having to make the right choices. As long as there is dukkha (the gun), there is no freedom.

Another simile-
We are like chess pieces on a chess board. There are rules to follow on that chess board just like the movie The Matrix. It is here that conventions(law of kamma) apply. As long as we think we are that those chess pieces, those rules(conventions) apply. We have no choice but to play by those rules. We don't have to be those chess pieces. Once we realize that we are free.

Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva
when practicing deeply the Prajna Paramita
perceives that all five skandhas are empty
and is saved from all suffering and distress.


Oops -sorry for breaking the rules of this thread .... Theravada meditation.
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Re: How do you contemplate anatta?

Postby daverupa » Wed Jun 05, 2013 3:53 pm

Spiny Norman wrote:
daverupa wrote:I contemplate how everything is conditionally present or absent, which eliminates the possibility that my self - of any ideation - is isolated and independent.


Do you use a particular framework for noticing conditionality?


Satipatthana, although no one of the usual four takes precedence. It's a fluid practice.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: How do you contemplate anatta?

Postby Spiny Norman » Thu Jun 06, 2013 9:48 am

daverupa wrote:
Spiny Norman wrote:
daverupa wrote:I contemplate how everything is conditionally present or absent, which eliminates the possibility that my self - of any ideation - is isolated and independent.


Do you use a particular framework for noticing conditionality?


Satipatthana, although no one of the usual four takes precedence. It's a fluid practice.


Yes, I see. I assume we're talking both on and off the cushion here?
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Re: How do you contemplate anatta?

Postby Spiny Norman » Thu Jun 06, 2013 9:53 am

pegembara wrote:Of course there are intentions but those intentions aren't ours.


I'm still not sure what that means. If we practice mindfulness, who is being mindful? And how does one explain Right Effort if no-one is making the effort?
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Re: How do you contemplate anatta?

Postby reflection » Thu Jun 06, 2013 1:08 pm

You could say 'you' are being mindful for the sake of convention, but really nobody is being mindful. There is no core or central part which is mindful. It may seem like 'you' are watching, but the watching is a process that just happens by itself.

Right effort arises not from a controller, but from having a right idea. This idea then comes from insight or faith or intuition - all factors that are again dependent on other things. Things all arise dependent on condition, including the eightfold path itself. There is no need for free will for the path to be developed. Also there is no need for free will for there to be wholesome and unwholesome effort.

To let go of this sense of control in my experience allows the meditation to go deeper and beyond control. There it becomes clearer that it all happens by itself.

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Re: How do you contemplate anatta?

Postby kirk5a » Thu Jun 06, 2013 1:32 pm

reflection wrote:Right effort arises not from a controller, but from having a right idea.

What right idea is 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: How do you contemplate anatta?

Postby Spiny Norman » Thu Jun 06, 2013 1:40 pm

reflection wrote:Right effort arises not from a controller, but from having a right idea.


But it doesn't come across like this in the suttas:

"And what, monks, is right effort?
"There is the case where a monk generates desire, endeavors, activates persistence, upholds & exerts his intent for the sake of the non-arising of evil, unskillful qualities that have not yet arisen.
— SN 45.8

Abandon the unskillful, develop the skillful
"Develop what is skillful, monks. It is possible to develop what is skillful. If it were not possible to develop what is skillful, I would not say to you, 'Develop what is skillful.'
— AN 2.19

"One tries to abandon wrong view & to enter into right view: This is one's right effort...
— MN 117
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Re: How do you contemplate anatta?

Postby pegembara » Thu Jun 06, 2013 4:57 pm

Spiny Norman wrote:
pegembara wrote:Of course there are intentions but those intentions aren't ours.


I'm still not sure what that means. If we practice mindfulness, who is being mindful? And how does one explain Right Effort if no-one is making the effort?


Let's try this. When we are breathing, who is actually breathing. Is it the lungs, the diaphragm, the cells, the mitochondria or the oxidative process that breathes? Do we need a self to breathe? Is "someone" breathing?

If there is an itch, there is an intention to scratch followed by the action. Does it need a self to do the scratching? The intention arises because of the itch, thats all. Cause and effect.

Suffering is the cause for making the right effort to follow the N8FP. No self is required for this.

Me, you, John etc. are just conventions to use for communication. They should not be taken as true entities.

Mere suffering exists, no sufferer is found.
The deeds are, but no doer of the deeds is there,
Nirvana is, but not the man that enters it.
The path is, but no traveler on it is seen.

Vism
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Re: How do you contemplate anatta?

Postby reflection » Thu Jun 06, 2013 5:17 pm

Spiny Norman wrote:
reflection wrote:Right effort arises not from a controller, but from having a right idea.


But it doesn't come across like this in the suttas:

"And what, monks, is right effort?
"There is the case where a monk generates desire, endeavors, activates persistence, upholds & exerts his intent for the sake of the non-arising of evil, unskillful qualities that have not yet arisen.
— SN 45.8

Abandon the unskillful, develop the skillful
"Develop what is skillful, monks. It is possible to develop what is skillful. If it were not possible to develop what is skillful, I would not say to you, 'Develop what is skillful.'
— AN 2.19

"One tries to abandon wrong view & to enter into right view: This is one's right effort...
— MN 117

kirk5a wrote:
reflection wrote:Right effort arises not from a controller, but from having a right idea.

What right idea is that?


Be careful not to take conventional speech as reality. Even the Buddha had to speak in terms of an "I" and "monks" to make sense, but that doesn't mean that was real. It's a bit like we say the waves move. But in reality the water is only moving up and down and there is no such thing as a wave. So, this "monk" referred to, what is that? Is that a sort of entity? Or is it more like the conceptual wave? The latter is what the Buddha tried to get us to see. So, of course it requires our practice and development, but that practice requires no entity, soul or self to exist. So it also requires nobody in control.

I use the term idea very widely. Pegembara said in the post above that suffering is an idea that leads to practice. Another idea may be derived from the suttas; because we read the suttas, we put forth more effort. Another idea may be from our teachers, their inspiration. These are all ideas that give rise to effort. We don't freely decide to put forth effort. The reasons we put forth effort are all conditioned, just as the entire path is.
"Is the noble eightfold path fabricated or unfabricated?"

"The noble eightfold path is fabricated."
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


But finally the 'right idea' will be right view. It is only natural that with right view, there will come right effort. There is no choice here. The Buddha couldn't choose to lie, he couldn't choose to kill. Those were things he was unable to do because of completing right effort. (which I prefer to translate as right thought, but that aside)
For one of right view, bhikkhus, right intention springs up.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el377.html


imo

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Re: How do you contemplate anatta?

Postby SDC » Thu Jun 06, 2013 9:58 pm

...........
Last edited by SDC on Sun Jun 09, 2013 6:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How do you contemplate anatta?

Postby binocular » Fri Jun 07, 2013 7:01 am

pegembara wrote:Suffering is the cause for making the right effort to follow the N8FP.

If that were so, then prisons, hospitals, brothels, war zones, slaughterhouses and so on would be full of enlightened beings ...
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Re: How do you contemplate anatta?

Postby binocular » Fri Jun 07, 2013 7:08 am

Spiny Norman wrote:
pegembara wrote:Of course there are intentions but those intentions aren't ours.


I'm still not sure what that means. If we practice mindfulness, who is being mindful? And how does one explain Right Effort if no-one is making the effort?

As far as I understood, Thanissaro Bhikkhu would say that this is backwards. The consideration of kamma comes first, then comes consideration of self/not-self (given that a sense of self is something we ordinarily do, is an action).

And "mindfulness" is a tricky term. Ideally, it simply means 'to keep something in mind'. Such as "to be mindful of the breath" - 'to keep the breath in mind'. It's not about "who is being mindful."
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Re: How do you contemplate anatta?

Postby pegembara » Fri Jun 07, 2013 8:29 am

binocular wrote:
pegembara wrote:Suffering is the cause for making the right effort to follow the N8FP.

If that were so, then prisons, hospitals, brothels, war zones, slaughterhouses and so on would be full of enlightened beings ...


Suffering is also the cause of making the wrong effort! Prisons, hospitals, brothels, war zones, slaughterhouses are the proof of that.
If we have found the way to end suffering for good, we can properly claim to be fully enlightened. And I would not be surprised that ariyas can be found in those populations too.

"Monks, there are these two searches: ignoble search & noble search. And what is ignoble search? There is the case where a person, being subject himself to birth, seeks [happiness in] what is likewise subject to birth. Being subject himself to aging... illness... death... sorrow... defilement, he seeks [happiness in] what is likewise subject to illness... death... sorrow... defilement.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
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Re: How do you contemplate anatta?

Postby Spiny Norman » Fri Jun 07, 2013 1:26 pm

Thanks to everyone who contributed. I'm still not sure I get anatta, but that's OK, I'll carry on with good old anicca and see where that leads. ;)
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Re: How do you contemplate anatta?

Postby kirk5a » Fri Jun 07, 2013 1:41 pm

There are lots of things which we already regard as not self. So it is interesting to take that perspective, which we are already familiar with, and apply it to that which we do regard as self. An example of this is here:
"Suppose a person were to gather or burn or do as he likes with the grass, twigs, branches, & leaves here in Jeta's Grove. Would the thought occur to you, 'It's us that this person is gathering, burning, or doing with as he likes'?"

"No, lord. Why is that? Because those things are not our self nor do they pertain to our self."

"In the same way, monks, the eye is not yours: let go of it. Your letting go of it will be for your long-term happiness & benefit... The ear... The nose... The tongue... The body... The intellect is not yours: let go of it. Your letting go of it will be for your long-term happiness & benefit... Whatever arises in dependence on intellect-contact, experienced either as pleasure, as pain, or as neither-pleasure-nor-pain, that too is not yours: let go of it. Your letting go of it will be for your long-term happiness & benefit."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
"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: How do you contemplate anatta?

Postby Bakmoon » Fri Jun 07, 2013 3:31 pm

binocular wrote:
pegembara wrote:Suffering is the cause for making the right effort to follow the N8FP.

If that were so, then prisons, hospitals, brothels, war zones, slaughterhouses and so on would be full of enlightened beings ...


The connection between suffering and the spiritual path is one laid out in the Suttas:

SN 12.23 Upanisa Sutta wrote:The knowledge of ending in the presence of ending has its prerequisite, I tell you. It is not without a prerequisite. And what is the prerequisite for the knowledge of ending? Release, it should be said. Release has its prerequisite, I tell you. It is not without a prerequisite. And what is its prerequisite? Dispassion... Disenchantment... Knowledge & vision of things as they actually are present... Concentration... Pleasure... Serenity... Rapture... Joy... Conviction... Stress... Birth... Becoming... Clinging... Craving... Feeling... Contact... The six sense media... Name-&-form... Consciousness... Fabrications... Fabrications have their prerequisite, I tell you. They are not without a prerequisite. And what is their prerequisite? Ignorance, it should be said.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Being an expanded formulation of dependent origination, the same rules of interpretation should apply, namely that the conditions in dependent origination are to be understood as being necessary but not sufficient causes.
The non-doing of any evil,
The performance of what's skillful,
The cleansing of one's own mind:
This is the Buddhas' teaching.
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Re: How do you contemplate anatta?

Postby binocular » Fri Jun 07, 2013 4:51 pm

Bakmoon wrote:Being an expanded formulation of dependent origination, the same rules of interpretation should apply, namely that the conditions in dependent origination are to be understood as being necessary but not sufficient causes.

It seemed that Pegembara, when saying "Suffering is the cause for making the right effort to follow the N8FP" was referring to sufficient causes, given that he/she didn't specify anything further on this.
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Re: How do you contemplate anatta?

Postby BlackBird » Sat Jun 08, 2013 12:11 am

Guess I'm a little late to the party. But I do not see it as possible for someone who is not an ariyan to contemplate anatta directly. The following passage should make it abundantly clear why:

12. Some discussion will be necessary if we are to see that sankhāra, whenever it occurs, always has this meaning in one form or another. We may start with the fundamental triad:

Sabbe sankhārā aniccā;
Sabbe sankhārā dukkhā;
Sabbe dhammā anattā.

All determinations are impermanent;
All determinations are unpleasurable (suffering);
All things are not-self.

(Dhammapada xx,5-7 <Dh. 277-9>) A puthujjana accepts what appears to be his 'self' at face value. When he asks himself 'What is my self?' he seeks to identify it in some way with one thing or another, and specifically with the pañc'upādānakkhandhā or one of them (see Khandha Samy. v,5 <S.iii,46>[4]). Whatever thing (dhamma) he identifies as 'self', that thing he takes as being permanent; for if he saw it as impermanent he would not identify it as 'self' (see DHAMMA). Since, however, he does see it as permanent—more permanent, indeed, than anything else—he will think 'Other things may be impermanent, but not this thing, which is myself'. In order, then, that he shall see it as impermanent, indirect methods are necessary: he must first see that this thing is dependent upon, or determined by, some other thing, and he must then see that this other thing, this determination or sankhāra, is impermanent. When he sees that the other thing, the sankhāra on which this thing depends, is impermanent, he sees that this thing, too, must be impermanent, and he no longer regards it as 'self'. (See SANKHĀRA.) Thus, when sabbe sankhārā aniccā is seen, sabbe dhammā anattā is seen. And similarly with sabbe sankhārā dukkhā. We may therefore understand sabbe sankhārā aniccā as 'All things upon which other things (dhammā) depend—i.e. all determinations (sankhārā)—are impermanent' with a tacit corollary 'All things dependent upon other things (sankhārā)—i.e. all determined things (sankhatā dhammā)—are impermanent'. After this, sabbe dhammā anattā, 'All things are not-self', follows as a matter of course.[e]


Of course this is my heterodox view point, and it is not an orthodox theravadin way of looking at things, but I myself have found it most profitable and if it works - it works.

metta
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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: How do you contemplate anatta?

Postby SamKR » Sat Jun 08, 2013 7:46 am

Spiny Norman wrote:What method(s) do you use to develop insight into anatta? I'm particulary interested in hearing about "direct" methods, rather than indirect methods like contemplating anicca.


Contemplating like this:

(1) In the seen (heard, sensed, cognized) there is no object being seen (heard, sensed, cognized); in the seen there is merely the seen (the experience/presence of seeing).
In other words, whatever "we" see is not an object lying out there; whatever "we" see is just the seen.
Objects cannot be seen. The deeply held view that "there is really that object lying out there, and I am seeing that object" is just an imputation based on ignorance. Nothing can be seen except the seen itself.

Then,
(2) These experiences (seen, heard, sensed, cognized) are dependent upon something else; they are not independent. They are undergoing constant change. There is no core to be found in the seen heard, sensed, cognized themselves.
It does not make sense to crave or cling to any of these seen heard, sensed, and cognized. Understanding this there should be constant mindfulness to not get submerged and passioned in the themes and entanglements of seen heard, sensed, and cognized.

Then analogous to (1),
(3) In the seen (heard, sensed, cognized) there is no subject that is seeing (hearing, sensing, cognizing); in the seen there is merely the seen.
In other words, whatever is seen is not seen by anyone lying inside the body; whatever is seen is just the seen.
Subjects cannot see. The deeply held view that "I am seeing" is just an imputation based on ignorance. Nothing can see except the seeing itself.

References: Malunkyaputta Sutta, Kalakarama Sutta
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