Bhikkhu Ñanananda

Theravāda in the 21st century - modern applications of ancient wisdom
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Re: Bhikkhu Ñanananda

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Jun 14, 2013 6:14 am

Greetings,

Sylvester wrote:
retrofuturist wrote:You've clearly got a different take on some key terminology to me, so it makes sense for you to define this yourself, I think. For what it's worth, your saññā seems more similar to my nama-rupa (i.e. name and form, or as Sylvester called it elsewhere, naming and form).

But which vortex do you refer to? The point at paṭighasamphassa (bare/initial sensory contact, which afflicts even Arahants) or adhivacanasamphassa (designation contact, which Arahants continue to use as as part of naming) or the sequel paññapeti (which Arahants continue to do as part of the sphere of wisdom/paññāvacara so necessary to communicate the reality of suffering)?

Your questions always hurt my head Sylvester. :lol:

I don't think I mean any of those, because I understand phassa in accordance with Nanavira Thera's description of it. I'd source the definition for you now, but the site in question is blocked at my present location.

Given that the mutual reinforcement of the experience of nama-rupa (the naming of forms of the naming of forms of the naming of forms...) is occasionally depicted in sutta depictions of paticcasamuppada, I think that's adequate vortex enough without necessitating any kind of 1:1 mapping to any of those three low-level phenomena you mention... none of which I'm particularly familiar with.

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


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)

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Re: Bhikkhu Ñanananda

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Jun 14, 2013 7:12 am

Sylvester wrote:

But which vortex do you refer to? . . .
Good stuff. I greatly appreciate your input here.
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.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: Bhikkhu Ñanananda

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Jun 14, 2013 8:47 am

Very interesting Sylvester. Can I summarize your point as something like the following?

1. There are some passages in the suttas that seem to be very difficult to interpret.
2. Some scholars, such as Ven Nanananda, have reasoned out particular interpretations and they feel that the Theravada have erred on some key points.
3. Other scholars, while agreeing that the Commentators missed the point, would argue that the key problem is actually not understanding the Upanishadic background. When that is factored in, they become much simpler. As Sylvester explains, if you take Upanishadic references (e.g. the "All" not being the Buddha's usual "All", as Ven Thanissaro assumes, but the Upanishadic "Ground of Existence") then much of MN1 looks less mysterious.

It is fortunate that we have access to various perspectives.

:anjali:
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Re: Bhikkhu Ñanananda

Postby Spiny Norman » Fri Jun 14, 2013 9:23 am

retrofuturist wrote:
Spiny Norman wrote:I'm not sure about your definition of sanna, because I think there's a distinction between perception and apperception. As I understand it, sanna is perception while apperception is what follows - conceiving and proliferating. So perception would be "chair" while apperception would be "nice chair", "my chair" etc.

You've clearly got a different take on some key terminology to me, so it makes sense for you to define this yourself, I think. For what it's worth, your saññā seems more similar to my nama-rupa (i.e. name and form, or as Sylvester called it elsewhere, naming and form).


I think "sanna" is difficult to pin down because there's little description of it in the suttas - and it seems to be closely tied in with vedana. But on the basic point, are we in agreement that papanca follows sanna - that's how Nananda seems to describe it at the beginning of Concept and Reality.
"I ride tandem with the random, Things don't run the way I planned them, In the humdrum."
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Re: Bhikkhu Ñanananda

Postby Spiny Norman » Fri Jun 14, 2013 9:24 am

mikenz66 wrote:It is fortunate that we have access to various perspectives.


I sometimes just wish that everyone would agree on something. ;)
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Re: Bhikkhu Ñanananda

Postby Sylvester » Fri Jun 14, 2013 9:27 am

Thanks Mike. I could not have summarised it better.

I get the sense that many modern commentators do not resort to the Upanisadic background, even if it is glaringly obvious. One reason could be deference to "orthodoxy". But another might be the concern that if Buddhism becomes nothing more than reaction to Upanisadic thought, that could potentially mean that Buddhism is not a universalisable remedy to the problems of existence. To that, we have more than enough suttas which showed that the Buddha was not restricted to the problems posed by His contemporary seekers, but finding keystones to a universal problem, ie rebirth.

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Re: Bhikkhu Ñanananda

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Jun 14, 2013 9:35 am

Sylvester wrote:Thanks Mike. I could not have summarised it better.

I get the sense that many modern commentators do not resort to the Upanisadic background, even if it is glaringly obvious. One reason could be deference to "orthodoxy". But another might be the concern that if Buddhism becomes nothing more than reaction to Upanisadic thought, that could potentially mean that Buddhism is not a universalisable remedy to the problems of existence. To that, we have more than enough suttas which showed that the Buddha was not restricted to the problems posed by His contemporary seekers, but finding keystones to a universal problem, ie rebirth.
And it also could simply be a lack of knowledge of the historical context of the Buddha.
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.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: Bhikkhu Ñanananda

Postby Zenainder » Fri Jun 14, 2013 10:00 am

Considered me "attached" for the next couple of months... Lol ... thanks for sharing, I am learning an immense amount and this has been insightful in my practice.

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Re: Bhikkhu Ñanananda

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Jun 14, 2013 10:02 am

Well, I'm all for simplicity, and it is possible that the historical context may provide simpler explanations than Ven Nanananda's often rather difficult (to me) expositions. For example, Prof Gombrich and others argue that the first four links of the Dependent Origination sequence may be interpreted a parody the Rig Veda sequence http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=29&t=7464 That argument, if correct, is very helpful in clarifying the meaning of nama-rupa.

:anjali:
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Re: Bhikkhu Ñanananda

Postby Spiny Norman » Fri Jun 14, 2013 1:03 pm

Spiny Norman wrote: But on the basic point, are we in agreement that papanca follows sanna - that's how Nananda seems to describe it at the beginning of Concept and Reality.


And just to be clear, where does papanca sit within the aggregates? I assume it's in the formations ( sankhara ) aggregate?
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Re: Bhikkhu Ñanananda

Postby Spiny Norman » Fri Jun 14, 2013 1:08 pm

kirk5a wrote:"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."
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .irel.html


I'm not atall clear what mode of experience this is describing. If for example I'm experiencing in this mode, and I see a colour which I previously recognised as "blue", what am I now seeing? Do I still register "blue"?
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Re: Bhikkhu Ñanananda

Postby kirk5a » Fri Jun 14, 2013 1:37 pm

Spiny Norman wrote:
kirk5a wrote:"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."
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .irel.html


I'm not atall clear what mode of experience this is describing. If for example I'm experiencing in this mode, and I see a colour which I previously recognised as "blue", what am I now seeing? Do I still register "blue"?

I think it's a matter of clearly seeing the sensory input just as it is, and discerning that any cognizing (such as the conceptual name, re-cognition, memory, label, perception - "blue") is added on. That is separate. So there isn't an unrecognized "mixing" of the conceptualizing (cognizing) with the basic sensory stimulation. In other words, what that passage seems to suggest is that we normally do not have merely the seen in the seen. Well, we don't probably experience the heard in the seen. So that means there is the cognized, in the seen. Unrecognized. Mixed in, as it were, and forming the basis for clinging.

See, for example, Ven. Mahāsi Sayādaw's explanation:
So, if you note the moment that you see, hear, touch, or perceive, no subsequent consciousness will arise to bring about grasping. “... when you see, you just see it; when you hear, you just hear it; when you think, you just think it; and when you know, you just know it.” As this extract from the Mālukyaputta Sutta shows, the mere sight, the mere sound, the mere idea is there. Recall them and only the real nature you have understood will appear, and no grasping. The meditator who notes whatever arises as it arises, sees how everything arises and passes away, and it becomes clear how everything is impermanent, unsatisfactory, and not-self. The meditator knows this directly — not because a teacher has explained it. Only this is real knowledge.

http://www.aimwell.org/Books/Mahasi/Fun ... ntals.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: Bhikkhu Ñanananda

Postby Spiny Norman » Fri Jun 14, 2013 1:53 pm

kirk5a wrote:I think it's a matter of clearly seeing the sensory input just as it is, and discerning that any cognizing (such as the conceptual name, re-cognition, memory, label, perception - "blue") is added on. That is separate.


Yes, that makes sense - I've had occasional glimpses of this while doing kasina practice.
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Re: Bhikkhu Ñanananda

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Jun 14, 2013 8:24 pm

Thanks Kirk,

Ven Nananada's meditation instructions use the same approach, with the same aim, to see through the concept of self. See, for example http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... 64#p224927

Nanananda wrote:Now, if perception is a mirage, in order to get at this mirage nature, one has to be content with attending simply as `seeing, seeing'. One way or the other it is just a seeing or just a hearing. Thereby he stops short at the bare awareness. He stops short at the bare seeing, bare hearing, bare feeling and bare thinking. He does not grant it an object status. He does not cognize it as an object existing in the world. He does not give it a name. The purpose of this method of mental noting or attending, is the eradication of the conceit `AM', which the meditator has to accomplish so a to attain release. The conceit `AM' is `asmi-màna'.


Mahasi Sayadaw wrote:So, if you note the moment that you see, hear, touch, or perceive, no subsequent consciousness will arise to bring about grasping. “... when you see, you just see it; when you hear, you just hear it; when you think, you just think it; and when you know, you just know it.” As this extract from the Mālukyaputta Sutta shows, the mere sight, the mere sound, the mere idea is there. Recall them and only the real nature you have understood will appear, and no grasping. The meditator who notes whatever arises as it arises, sees how everything arises and passes away, and it becomes clear how everything is impermanent, unsatisfactory, and not-self. The meditator knows this directly — not because a teacher has explained it. Only this is real knowledge.
''

:anjali:
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Re: Bhikkhu Ñanananda

Postby retrofuturist » Sat Jun 15, 2013 1:22 am

Greetings,

Spiny Norman wrote:
Spiny Norman wrote: But on the basic point, are we in agreement that papanca follows sanna - that's how Nananda seems to describe it at the beginning of Concept and Reality.

And just to be clear, where does papanca sit within the aggregates? I assume it's in the formations ( sankhara ) aggregate?

I think you could make an argument for saying that in fact fits within all five (depending on whether rupa is regarded as form or materiality)... but they're certainly by no means mutually exclusive categories, the point of the classification seems to be that there's no samsaric experience outside of them. i.e. All inclusive, yet overlapping...

P.S. And again, well said above, Kirk.

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


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)

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Re: Bhikkhu Ñanananda

Postby Spiny Norman » Sat Jun 15, 2013 8:23 am

retrofuturist wrote:
Spiny Norman wrote:
Spiny Norman wrote: But on the basic point, are we in agreement that papanca follows sanna - that's how Nananda seems to describe it at the beginning of Concept and Reality.

And just to be clear, where does papanca sit within the aggregates? I assume it's in the formations ( sankhara ) aggregate?


I think you could make an argument for saying that in fact fits within all five (depending on whether rupa is regarded as form or materiality)... but they're certainly by no means mutually exclusive categories, the point of the classification seems to be that there's no samsaric experience outside of them. i.e. All inclusive, yet overlapping...


I still don't understand! Probably I need to read the book again.
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Re: Bhikkhu Ñanananda

Postby Sylvester » Mon Jun 17, 2013 8:07 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

Sylvester wrote:
retrofuturist wrote:You've clearly got a different take on some key terminology to me, so it makes sense for you to define this yourself, I think. For what it's worth, your saññā seems more similar to my nama-rupa (i.e. name and form, or as Sylvester called it elsewhere, naming and form).

But which vortex do you refer to? The point at paṭighasamphassa (bare/initial sensory contact, which afflicts even Arahants) or adhivacanasamphassa (designation contact, which Arahants continue to use as as part of naming) or the sequel paññapeti (which Arahants continue to do as part of the sphere of wisdom/paññāvacara so necessary to communicate the reality of suffering)?

Your questions always hurt my head Sylvester. :lol:

I don't think I mean any of those, because I understand phassa in accordance with Nanavira Thera's description of it. I'd source the definition for you now, but the site in question is blocked at my present location.

Given that the mutual reinforcement of the experience of nama-rupa (the naming of forms of the naming of forms of the naming of forms...) is occasionally depicted in sutta depictions of paticcasamuppada, I think that's adequate vortex enough without necessitating any kind of 1:1 mapping to any of those three low-level phenomena you mention... none of which I'm particularly familiar with.

Metta,
Retro. :)


Hi Retro

The reason why I cited those "low level phenomena" is because they play a central role in both Ven Nanavira's and Ven Nanananda's interpretation of contact/phassa and nāma-rūpa respectively. Both venerables rely on DN 15 in their exegeses based on their understanding of the functions of paṭighasamphassa and adhivacanasamphassa in relation to contact and the post awakening consciousness of the Arahant. Both rightly reject the Abhidhammic and Commentarial limitation placed on paṭighasamphassa (see Hamilton cited earlier).

However, was Ven Nanananda justified in relying on the Kalahavivada Sutta, Sn 873 (at - http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f= ... 20#p101001) to suggest that the transcendance of rūpa described therein is some "supramundane" state that defines an Arahant 24/7? (Nibbana Sermon 11 - http://www.beyondthenet.net/calm/nibbana11.htm). One could write reams of grammatical and doctrinal analyses about saññānidānā being the cause of papañcasaṅkhā. Were one to take the DN 15 analysis, yes, adhivacanasamphassa mediated through perception can lead to papañca, but it is also clear from DN 15 that the same adhivacanasamphassa can also lead away from papañca to paññāvacara (the sphere of wisdom).

Part of the huge confusion surrounding Early Buddhist causation thinking is the non-recognition that "cause" is usually understood to mean "necessary condition", instead of "sufficient condition". What reason has Ven Nanananda offered that the "hi" in Sn 873 should be read as a sufficient condition? This error is as good as saying that the feeling nidana is a sufficient cause of craving, thereby negating the promise of the suttas that sense restraint is effective.

I think another way to approach the Buddha's reply in Sn 873 above is to consider the more probable situation that He was not describing an Arahant's consciousness 24/7, but a special post-Awakening samādhi that has as its perception "Bhavanirodho nibbānaṃ, bhavanirodho nibbānaṃ" mentioned in AN 10.7. Ven Nanananda mentions this in Sermon 5. See that sutta http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html for a listing of states which are not perceived therein. This is not a 24/7 attainment, judging from Ven Sāriputta's report.

One would have thought that if papañca included conceptualisation/paññatti of "substance" and the "existence/non-existence" dichotomy, in addition to conceptualisation of "self", DN 15 would not have failed to mention it. Yet, DN 15 is not only glaring in its silence, but instead, lauds the right kind of conceptualisation. DN 15 is uncompromising in its insistence on the absolute mutual dependance of nāma and rūpa on one another to enable paññatti of the other. When either leg is missing, consciousness cannot arise.

The whole point about DN 15 damning papañca but not other forms of conceptualisation/paññatti lies in this little bit here from the section on the delineations of self. I've set out both BB's and Ven T's translations. Note the underlined words -

In what ways, Ānanda, does one describing self describe it? Describing self as having material form and as limited, one describes it thus: ‘My self has material form and is limited.’ Or describing self as having material form and as infinite, one describes it thus: ‘My self has material form and is infinite.’ Or describing self as immaterial and limited, one describes it thus: ‘My self is immaterial and limited.’ Or describing self as immaterial and infinite, one describes it thus: ‘My self is immaterial and infinite.’

“Therein, Ānanda, one who describes self as having material form and as limited either describes such a self (as existing only) in the present or he describes such a self (as existing) there in the future, or he thinks: ‘That which is not thus, I will convert towards the state of being thus.’ This being so, it can aptly be said that a settled view (of self) as having material form and as limited underlies this. [per BB]

To what extent, Ananda, does one delineate when delineating a self? Either delineating a self possessed of form and finite, one delineates that 'My self is possessed of form and finite.' Or, delineating a self possessed of form and infinite, one delineates that 'My self is possessed of form and infinite.' Or, delineating a self formless and finite, one delineates that 'My self is formless and finite.' Or, delineating a self formless and infinite, one delineates that 'My self is formless and infinite.'

"Now, the one who, when delineating a self, delineates it as possessed of form and finite, either delineates it as possessed of form and finite in the present, or of such a nature that it will [naturally] become possessed of form and finite [in the future/after death], or he believes that 'Although it is not yet that way, I will convert it into being that way.' This being the case, it is proper to say that a fixed view of a self possessed of form and finite obsesses him. [per Ven T]

Kittāvatā ca ānanda attānaṃ paññapento paññapeti: rūpiṃ vā hi ānanda parittaṃ attānaṃ paññapento paññapeti 'rūpī me paritto attāti'ti, rūpiṃ vā hi ānanda anantaṃ attānaṃ paññapento paññapeti 'rūpī me ananto attā'ti, 'arūpiṃ vā hi ānanda parittaṃ attānaṃ paññapento paññapeti 'arūpī me paritto attā'ti, arūpiṃ vā hi ānanda anantaṃ attānaṃ paññapento paññapeti 'arūpī me ananto attā'ti.

24. "Tatrānanda yo so rūpiṃ parittaṃ attānaṃ paññapento paññapeti1, etarahi vā so rūpiṃ parittaṃ attānaṃ paññapento paññapeti. Tattha bhāviṃ vā so rūpiṃ parittaṃ attānaṃ paññapento paññapeti. Atathaṃ vā pana santaṃ tathattāya upakappessāmī ti iti vā panassa hoti. Evaṃ santaṃ kho ānanda rūpiṃ parittattānudiṭṭhi anusetīti iccālaṃ vacanāya.


It's obvious what the problem is. There is nothing wrong per se with contact or perception or any of the other Aggregates. Both Arahants and worldlings make contacts, namely paṭighasamphassa and adhivacanasamphassa. The root of the problem is disclosed by the verb anuseti, which immediately should make it clear that the problem is not the contact, but the accompanying anusaya. I would be happy to see evidence to the contrary, but don't the suttas discuss diṭṭhanusaya (the latent tendency to views) in referential frames of "self"?

I'm happy to report that the Dharmaguptaka parallel to DN 15 preserved in the Chinese has the same treatment as the Pali regarding papañca, ie it limits the discussion to descriptions/delineations of "self". It brought tears of relief to discover that the Chinese parallel escaped any intrusion of the later concept of prapañca, despite being translated at a time when Mahayana was well established in China.


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