How do you contemplate anicca?

Discussion of Satipatthana bhavanā and Vipassana bhavana.

Re: How do you contemplate anicca?

Postby lyndon taylor » Mon Jun 24, 2013 8:35 pm

How does impermanence deal with things that last a long, long time, like a mountain that may sit relatively unchanged for tens of thousands of years as opposed to a piece of fruit which may start rotting in a few days, or a Buddha statue thats 1000 years old, vs a body that can barely last 100 years and is continually aging?? Or is the Buddha stating that every thing we see is impermanent because we can't take any of it with us when we die?
18 years ago I made one of the most important decisions of my life and entered a local Cambodian Buddhist Temple as a temple boy and, for only 3 weeks, an actual Therevada Buddhist monk. I am not a scholar, great meditator, or authority on Buddhism, but Buddhism is something I love from the Bottom of my heart. It has taught me sobriety, morality, peace, and very importantly that my suffering is optional, and doesn't have to run my life. I hope to give back what little I can to the Buddhist community that has so generously given me so much, sincerely former monk John
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Re: How do you contemplate anicca?

Postby Spiny Norman » Tue Jun 25, 2013 8:10 am

lyndon taylor wrote:How does impermanence deal with things that last a long, long time, like a mountain that may sit relatively unchanged for tens of thousands of years..


I sometimes do little visualisations where I accelerate time and imagine change on a geological time-scale. But obviously it's more effective to work directly with objects where transience is short-term and where you can observe it actually happening - including mind-objects!
Last edited by Spiny Norman on Tue Jun 25, 2013 8:52 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How do you contemplate anicca?

Postby Spiny Norman » Tue Jun 25, 2013 8:33 am

mikenz66 wrote: If I understand it correctly, what you are talking about appears to me to be fairly standard instructions: noticing what develops from contact. How a sound, for example, triggers feeling, perception, thinking, ...


Yes, though I'd associate that kind of forensic analysis more with the contemplation of anatta. I sometimes find that getting bogged down in this level of detail detracts from the direct experience of transience.
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Re: How do you contemplate anicca?

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Jun 25, 2013 12:07 pm

Greetings Lyndon,

lyndon taylor wrote:How does impermanence deal with things that last a long, long time, like a mountain that may sit relatively unchanged for tens of thousands of years as opposed to a piece of fruit which may start rotting in a few days, or a Buddha statue thats 1000 years old, vs a body that can barely last 100 years and is continually aging?? Or is the Buddha stating that every thing we see is impermanent because we can't take any of it with us when we die?

The Buddha says, "sabbe sankhara anicca"... all formations/fabrications/constructions are impermanent.

In the context of his teaching, sankharas apply to formations/fabrications/constructions created by the individual.

The Dhamma is about lived experience and liberation - not about geology, physics and other such sciences.

Such contemplations pertaining to fruit and mountains may provide some sense of the transient nature of all things, but it's live experience which the Buddha is addressing with his teachings and it's there within lived experience where insight can be liberating.

So it's not impermanence in and of itself that's the issue, but the impermanence of all sankhata-dhammas. (i.e. of all fabricated experience).

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)


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One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: How do you contemplate anicca?

Postby Spiny Norman » Tue Jun 25, 2013 12:33 pm

retrofuturist wrote:So it's not impermanence in and of itself that's the issue, but the impermanence of all sankhata-dhammas. (i.e. of all fabricated experience).


Yes, the focus with Theravada vipassana is on experience, but that experience doesn't occur in a vacuum. As we discussed earlier with the dog barking example, both the sound and our reaction to it are characterised by anicca.

Here is the entry for "sankhara" in the Access to Insight glossary - I'd suggest that it's the wider definition which is being referred to in "sabbe sankhara anicca", rather than the narrower meaning as one of the five khandas:

sankhāra:
Formation, compound, fashioning, fabrication — the forces and factors that fashion things (physical or mental), the process of fashioning, and the fashioned things that result. Sankhāra can refer to anything formed or fashioned by conditions, or, more specifically, (as one of the five khandhas) thought-formations within the mind.
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Re: How do you contemplate anicca?

Postby santa100 » Tue Jun 25, 2013 1:03 pm

lyndon taylor wrote:How does impermanence deal with things that last a long, long time, like a mountain that may sit relatively unchanged for tens of thousands of years as opposed to a piece of fruit which may start rotting in a few days, or a Buddha statue thats 1000 years old, vs a body that can barely last 100 years and is continually aging?? Or is the Buddha stating that every thing we see is impermanent because we can't take any of it with us when we die?


On a cosmic time scale, mountains form and disappear even quicker than a blink of an eye. This universe was born and it will die some day. And again, if we put it into the time frame of our unfathomably long samsara, it too is also just a blink of an eye. That's the nature of all conditioned phenomena, anicca, anatta, and dukkha..
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Re: How do you contemplate anicca?

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Jun 25, 2013 1:05 pm

Greetings Spiny,

Spiny Norman wrote:Yes, the focus with Theravada vipassana is on experience, but that experience doesn't occur in a vacuum.

It occurs here...

SN 35.23 wrote:"Monks, I will teach you the All. Listen & pay close attention. I will speak."

"As you say, lord," the monks responded.

The Blessed One said, "What is the All? Simply the eye & forms, ear & sounds, nose & aromas, tongue & flavors, body & tactile sensations, intellect & ideas. This, monks, is called the All. Anyone who would say, 'Repudiating this All, I will describe another,' if questioned on what exactly might be the grounds for his statement, would be unable to explain, and furthermore, would be put to grief. Why? Because it lies beyond range."

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


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Re: How do you contemplate anicca?

Postby daverupa » Tue Jun 25, 2013 1:20 pm

If sankhara-as-aggregate was the problem, then there would be no reason to distinguish sankhara-subject-to-clinging & sankhara. However, they are distinguished in that way. Therefore sankhara is not the problem in and of itself as a certain process of human becoming. The problem lies elsewhere, otherwise there would be no escape.

In terms of "sabbe sankhara anicca", I take sankhara as a composite-making sort of verb, and a built-up-ness sort of noun. The thing is that, as a matter of principle, anything which is formed up is subject to de-forming, anything built up will fall down.

Armed with this principle, one analyzes ones experience in terms of the arising and ceasing of dukkha, the arising and ceasing of asavas - not in terms of mountains.
    "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 anicca?

Postby Micheal Kush » Tue Jun 25, 2013 11:59 pm

On a cosmic time scale, mountains form and disappear even quicker than a blink of an eye. This universe was born and it will die some day. And again, if we put it into the time frame of our unfathomably long samsara, it too is also just a blink of an eye. That's the nature of all conditioned phenomena, anicca, anatta, and dukkha..



I would not deem this as necessarily correct. The Buddha was more confident in his position to talk about our expierence with physical and mental objects. For instance, lets take that mountain for example, say you were an avid climber and occassionally felt the pleasurable thrill that accompanies it. After quite sometime, you might grow restless and tired of it to the point that your feelings and mental formations change; its a constant state of change where pleasure, pain, disgust, nostalgia and a whole plethora of feelings ultimately sculpt you expierence of said object(mountain). With these aggregates constantly altering and lacking a substantial entity, this gives rise to anatta. Dukkha comes from the impermanence of all this and our ability to attach a permanent identity underlying it. I believe The Buddha was talk about the nature of expierience rather reality itself. Please feel free to correct if anything seems wrong.

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Re: How do you contemplate anicca?

Postby Ben » Wed Jun 26, 2013 3:08 am

Please return to topic.
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Re: How do you contemplate anicca?

Postby pegembara » Wed Jun 26, 2013 9:56 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Lyndon,

lyndon taylor wrote:How does impermanence deal with things that last a long, long time, like a mountain that may sit relatively unchanged for tens of thousands of years as opposed to a piece of fruit which may start rotting in a few days, or a Buddha statue thats 1000 years old, vs a body that can barely last 100 years and is continually aging?? Or is the Buddha stating that every thing we see is impermanent because we can't take any of it with us when we die?

The Buddha says, "sabbe sankhara anicca"... all formations/fabrications/constructions are impermanent.

In the context of his teaching, sankharas apply to formations/fabrications/constructions created by the individual.

The Dhamma is about lived experience and liberation - not about geology, physics and other such sciences.

Such contemplations pertaining to fruit and mountains may provide some sense of the transient nature of all things, but it's live experience which the Buddha is addressing with his teachings and it's there within lived experience where insight can be liberating.

So it's not impermanence in and of itself that's the issue, but the impermanence of all sankhata-dhammas. (i.e. of all fabricated experience).

Metta,
Retro. :)



"It would be better for the uninstructed run-of-the-mill person to hold to the body composed of the four great elements, rather than the mind, as the self. Why is that? Because this body composed of the four great elements is seen standing for a year, two years, three, four, five, ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, a hundred years or more. But what's called 'mind,' 'intellect,' or 'consciousness' by day and by night arises as one thing and ceases as another. Just as a monkey, swinging through a forest wilderness, grabs a branch. Letting go of it, it grabs another branch. Letting go of that, it grabs another one. Letting go of that, it grabs another one. In the same way, what's called 'mind,' 'intellect,' or 'consciousness' by day and by night arises as one thing and ceases as another.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
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Re: How do you contemplate anicca?

Postby Spiny Norman » Wed Jun 26, 2013 1:08 pm

retrofuturist wrote:
Spiny Norman wrote:Yes, the focus with Theravada vipassana is on experience, but that experience doesn't occur in a vacuum.


It occurs here...
SN 35.23 wrote:"Monks, I will teach you the All. Listen & pay close attention. I will speak."
"As you say, lord," the monks responded.
The Blessed One said, "What is the All? Simply the eye & forms, ear & sounds, nose & aromas, tongue & flavors, body & tactile sensations, intellect & ideas. This, monks, is called the All. Anyone who would say, 'Repudiating this All, I will describe another,' if questioned on what exactly might be the grounds for his statement, would be unable to explain, and furthermore, would be put to grief. Why? Because it lies beyond range."



But forms, aromas etc are external. And see for example SN35.4, the section headed "The external as impermanent", where is says: "Forms..sounds..odours...tastes..tactile objects..are impermanent".
And a distinction is made in the suttas between the internal and the external, for example repeatedly in the Satipatthana Sutta and in suttas decribing the elements.

But I do agree with the general observation that the Theravada approach to insight is internally focussed rather than externally focussed.
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Re: How do you contemplate anicca?

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Jun 26, 2013 11:27 pm

Greetings Spiny,

Spiny Norman wrote:But forms ... are external.

Are they? In the case of a tree 10 metres away, I don't understand how the "form" could be relating to anything other than "sight of tree"... it's certainly not a case of "contact" between the eye and the "tree (itself)" that occurs.

In another discussion recently we reached as far as we could go, due to matters of definition... and I think we're about to do the same again here.

Anyway, I hope I've answered the topic question of how I contemplate anicca, whether you found the answer useful or agreeable (or not).

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


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Re: How do you contemplate anicca?

Postby Spiny Norman » Thu Jun 27, 2013 8:33 am

retrofuturist wrote:Anyway, I hope I've answered the topic question of how I contemplate anicca, whether you found the answer useful or agreeable (or not).


Yes, I found your comments interesting and useful, particularly in considering the relationship between bare attention and insight. As with the other thread on contemplating anatta, it seems there are a variety of approaches.
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Re: How do you contemplate anicca?

Postby Spiny Norman » Thu Jun 27, 2013 8:41 am

daverupa wrote:Armed with this principle, one analyzes ones experience in terms of the arising and ceasing of dukkha, the arising and ceasing of asavas...


So your approach to contemplating anicca is to observe the rise and fall of asavas?
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Re: How do you contemplate anicca?

Postby Spiny Norman » Thu Jun 27, 2013 9:12 am

retrofuturist wrote:... it's certainly not a case of "contact" between the eye and the "tree (itself)" that occurs.


Walk over to the tree and touch it. ;)
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Re: How do you contemplate anicca?

Postby daverupa » Thu Jun 27, 2013 11:19 am

Spiny Norman wrote:
daverupa wrote:Armed with this principle, one analyzes ones experience in terms of the arising and ceasing of dukkha, the arising and ceasing of asavas...


So your approach to contemplating anicca is to observe the rise and fall of asavas?


So, the order is first an intellectual grasp of what it means for something to be impermanent. One example used in the suttas is aging; we know all humans age & can see it occur over time. Then, one looks for that in terms of appropriate attention and satipatthana, which can happen in a number of ways; the last of those is that one.
    "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 anicca?

Postby Spiny Norman » Thu Jun 27, 2013 12:06 pm

daverupa wrote:
Spiny Norman wrote:So your approach to contemplating anicca is to observe the rise and fall of asavas?


Then, one looks for that in terms of appropriate attention and satipatthana, which can happen in a number of ways; the last of those is that one.


Yes I see, though I'd associate MN9 more with insight into specific conditionality than with insight into anicca - while acknowledging these are closely related.
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Re: How do you contemplate anicca?

Postby daverupa » Thu Jun 27, 2013 1:26 pm

Spiny Norman wrote:I'd associate MN9 more with insight into specific conditionality than with insight into anicca - while acknowledging these are closely related.


One will get you the other. I'd like to hear how someone had insight into idapaccayata but not anicca. They seem somewhat inseparable. Here are the aggregates, known to be dicsussed in terms of impermanence, being discussed also in terms of their arising and ceasing.

There is also this juxtaposition of the ideas:

"Owing to the eye and forms arises eye-consciousness. The eye is impermanent, changing, 'becoming-otherwise.' Forms are impermanent, changing, 'becoming-otherwise.' Thus this dyad is fleeting and transient; impermanent, changing and 'becoming-otherwise.' That cause, that condition, that gives rise to eye-consciousness — that also is impermanent, changing, becoming-otherwise.' And how, monks, could eye consciousness, having arisen dependent on an impermanent condition, become permanent?"
    "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 anicca?

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Jun 27, 2013 11:19 pm

Greetings,

daverupa wrote:I'd like to hear how someone had insight into idapaccayata but not anicca.

So would I.

Further, I envisage there'll be little insight into idapaccayata if one's focus re: aniccata, is on mountains, fruit and such.

Pali Term: Idappaccayatā
viewtopic.php?f=23&t=6014

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


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