How Does One Know the Difference?

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How Does One Know the Difference?

Postby flyingOx » Mon Aug 03, 2009 1:32 am

How does one know the difference between the peace associated with the subtle, supersensory meditative states above the fourth jhana and the peace associated with Nibbana?

Also, how does one know when the roots of the hindrances are destroyed rather than just silenced for a very long time?
One is encouraged to seek the truth, but be warned if you ever find it, you will be treated as blasphemous.
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Re: How Does One Know the Difference?

Postby Ben » Mon Aug 03, 2009 2:20 am

Hi FlyingOx

According to the Abhidhamma, there are eight cittas, two each (phala: fruition & magga: path) cittas that arise at each ariyan attainment when the citta takes nibbana as its object. Having experienced nibbana, one 'knows'.
I apologise as I don't have more detailed information to give you at this point, perhaps later I'll be able to transcribe a paragraph or two from Bhikkhu Bodhi's A Comprehensive Manual of the Abhidhamma that I hope will go towards answering your excellent question.
Kind regards

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Re: How Does One Know the Difference?

Postby flyingOx » Mon Aug 03, 2009 2:40 am

How does one know when the roots of one's hindrances are completely gone rather than just dormant?
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Re: How Does One Know the Difference?

Postby flyingOx » Mon Aug 03, 2009 2:48 am

Ben wrote:Hi FlyingOx

According to the Abhidhamma, there are eight cittas, two each (phala: fruition & magga: path) cittas that arise at each ariyan attainment when the citta takes nibbana as its object. Having experienced nibbana, one 'knows'.
I apologise as I don't have more detailed information to give you at this point, perhaps later I'll be able to transcribe a paragraph or two from Bhikkhu Bodhi's A Comprehensive Manual of the Abhidhamma that I hope will go towards answering your excellent question.
Kind regards

Ben


Thank you for the kind regards, Ben. So basically what you are saying is that IF one has experienced nibbana, then one replaces the object of meditation with nibbana itself, and then as one goes through the various stages, one gains the extra-sensory discernment that comes with the application of nibbana as the object of meditation? Is this correct?
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Re: How Does One Know the Difference?

Postby Ben » Mon Aug 03, 2009 3:40 am

Hi FlyigOx
I apologise as it appears I didn't make myself clear.
Here are some words of Bhikkhu Bodhi in his commentry to the Abhidhammatthasangaha in CMA.
Guide to v26-28
Supramundane Consciousness (lokuttaracittani): Supramundane consciousness is consciousness that pertains to the process of transcending (uttara) the world (loka) consisting of the five aggregates of clinging. The type of consciousness leads to liberation from samsara, the cycle of birth and death, and to the attainment of Nibbana, the cessation of suffering. There are eight supramundane cittas. These pertain to the four stages of enlightenment – stream-entry, once-returning, non-returning, and Arahantship. Each stage involves two types of citta, path consciousness (phalacitta) and (maggacitta). All supramundane cittas take as object the unconditioned reality, Nibbana, but they differ as paths and fruits according to their functions. The path consciousness has the function of eradicating (or permanently attenuating)[11] defilements; the fruition consciousness has the functioning of experiencing the degree of liberation made possible by the corresponding path. The path consciousness is a kusalacitta, a wholesome state; the fruition consciousness is a vipakacitta, a resultant.
Each path consciousness arises only once, and endures for only one mind-moment; it is never repeated in the mental continuum of the person who attains it. The corresponding fruition consciousness initially arises immediately after the path moment, and endures for two or three mind-moments. Subsequently it can be repeated, and with practice can be made to endure for many mind-moments, in the supramundane absorption called fruition attainment (phalasamapatti – see below, IV, v 22; IX, v42.
The paths and fruits are attained by the method of meditation called the development of insight [i](vipassanabhavana)
. This type of meditation involves the strengthening of the faculty of wisdom (panna). By sustained attention to the changing phenomena of mind and matter, the meditator learns to discern their true characteristics of impermanence, suffering and non-self. When these insights gain full maturity, they issue in the supramundane paths and fruits.
Path consciousness of stream-entry (sotapatti-maggacitta): The entry upon the irreversible path to liberation is called stream-entry, and the citta that experiences this attainment is the path consciousness of stream-entry. The stream (sota) is the Noble Eightfold Path, with its sieght factors of right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration. As the current of the Ganges flows uninterrupted from the Himalayas to the ocean, so the supramundane Noble Eightfold Path flows uninterrupted from the arising of right view to the attainment of Nibbana.
Though the factors of the eightfold path may arise in the mundane wholesome cittas of virtuous worldlings, these factors are not fixed in their destination, since a worldling may change character and turn away from the Dhamma. But a noble disciple who has reached the experience of stream-entry, the path factors become fixed in destiny, and flow like a stream leading to Nibbana.
The path consciousness of stream-entry has the function of cutting off the first three fetters – ‘personality view’ or wrong views of self, doubt about the Triple Gem, and clinging to rites and ceremonines and the belief that they can lead to liberation. It further cuts off akk greed, hatred and delusion strong enough to lead to a sub-human rebirth. This citta also permanently eliminates five other cittas, namely, the four cittas rooted in greed associated with wrong view, and the citta rooted in delusion associated with doubt. One who has undergone the experience of stream-entry is assured of reaching final deliverance in a maximum of seven lives, and of never being reborn in any of the woeful planes of existence.
Path consciousness of once-returning (sakadagami-maggacitta): This citta is the consciousness associated with the Noble Eightfold Path that gives access to the plane of a once-returner. While it does not eradicate any fetters, this citta attenuates the grosser forms of sensual desire and ill will. The person who has reached this stage will be rebirn in this world at most one more time before attaining liberation.
Path consciousness of non-returning (anagami-maggacitta): One who attains the third path will never again be reborn in the sensuous plane. If such a person does not reach Arahantship in the same lifetime, he will be reborn in the fine-material world and there attain the goal. The path consciousness of a non-returning cuts off the fetters of sensual desire and illwill. It also permanently eliminates the two cittas rooted in hate.
Path consciousness of Arahantship (arahatta-maggacitta): An Arahant is a fully liberated person, one who has destroyed (hata) the enemy (ari) consisting of the defilements. The path consciousness of Arahantship is the citta that issues directly in the full liberation of Arahantship. This citta destroys the five subtle fetters – desire for fine-material and immaterial existence, conceit, restlessness, and ignorance. It also eliminates the remaining types of unwholesome cittas – the four rooted in greed dissociated from views and the one rooted in delusion associated with restlessness.
Fruition consciousness (phalacitta): each path consciousness ossues automatically in its respective fruition in the same cognitive series, in immediate succession to the path. Thereafter the fruition citta can arise many times when the noble disciple enters the meditative attainment of fruition. The fruition consciousness, as mentioned earlier, is classified by way of kind as a resultant (vipaka). It should be noted that there are no supramundane functional (kiriya) cittas. This is because when an Arahant enters fruition attainment, the cittas that occr in that attainment belong to the class of resultants, being fruits of the supramundane path.

-- p 66-69, A Comprensive Manual of the Abhidhamma
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Re: How Does One Know the Difference?

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Aug 03, 2009 3:44 am

Hi Ben,

Did you cut and paste that, or type it? I can read it on-line but I can't see how to cut and paste it.

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Re: How Does One Know the Difference?

Postby Ben » Mon Aug 03, 2009 3:47 am

Hi Mike
Despite feeling like crap, I transcribed it from the hardcopy!
I'm going off to observe these dukkha vedanas!
Metta

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Re: How Does One Know the Difference?

Postby Individual » Mon Aug 03, 2009 3:59 am

flyingOx wrote:How does one know the difference between the peace associated with the subtle, supersensory meditative states above the fourth jhana and the peace associated with Nibbana?

Also, how does one know when the roots of the hindrances are destroyed rather than just silenced for a very long time?

The jhanas take conditioned dhammas as objects, but the peace of nibbana is from concentration on the unconditioned.

As Ben said, one knows... With any of the jhanas, concentration is on "this or that, or this, or this" (a particular material or mental object, including very abstract mental objects), but Nibbana is unconditioned, so it is not the same as reflecting about the idea "Nibbana".
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Re: How Does One Know the Difference?

Postby flyingOx » Mon Aug 03, 2009 5:14 am

Wow, this stuff is really hard to grasp. Are you sure that it is supposed to be this difficult to understand? Thanks for the transcription, Ben. I did not mean to make you do something that would make you feel like crap. If there is an online version, perhaps just a link and a page number would do next time. Anyway, I thank you again for your effort to help explain this to me.

So if one is guaranteed to reach nibbana in seven lifetimes, then one doesn't really have to do anything, right? The purpose of meditation, then, is really just to speed the process up, correct? Even still, it looks to me like one doesn't really have to do anything except make oneself continuously concentrate and observe with mindfulness. Therefore if one is observing correctly then everything pretty much just falls into place, and one eventually just knows? That would make the complicated study of the complicated explanations seem moot, in a way, would it not?
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Re: How Does One Know the Difference?

Postby Ben » Mon Aug 03, 2009 5:45 am

Hi FlyingOx
I was feeling unwell before I did the transcription, so there's no need to apologise!
Yes, it is hard to grasp! However, as Venerable stated, it is vipassanabhavana which leads to the eradication of the defilements, so just maintain your vipassana practice! Also, I have found with increased practice I've found aspects of the Dhamma intellectually easier to understand.

As for having to do nothing after attaining stream-entry... I tend to think that as one reaches stream-entry one is naturally inclined towards practice. Not that I am anywhere close to stream entry but my own experience is that as I've matured in my practice, I'm inclined towards those things which support my practice and I naturally shun those things that are detrimental.

You might find it interesting that a teacher within the tradiiton I practice, Webu Sayadaw, knew no Pali and apparently not well versed in the Abhidhamma. Yet, his close disciples considered him to have attained Arahantship, and all on the back of just observing his breath (anapana-sati)!! Yes, knowledge of the complicated processes of mind is not necessary but many people find sutta and abhidhamma study beneficial. But each to his own, I guess.
Metta

Ben
"One cannot step twice into the same river, nor can one grasp any mortal substance in a stable condition, but it scatters and again gathers; it forms and dissolves, and approaches and departs."

- Heraclitus


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Re: How Does One Know the Difference?

Postby rowyourboat » Mon Aug 03, 2009 8:49 am

Hello Flyingox

You will know whether the roots of the hindrances are still there are not soon enough! If they are not eradicated they will pop up sooner or later in your experience. The only sure way to find out is to stop practice for a few months. I would think if they don't arise for 6 months, and you are not doing any samatha or vipassana, then it is very likely you are in the clear. You would ever really need to test something like this if you became a non-returner! As long as there are defilements arising in the lower stages there is more work to be done.

The arupa/formless jhanas have a little bit of experience left in them ie there is something to feel. Nibbana is beyond the eigth jhana- there is nothing to feel- one can only know about going into this state and coming out. The little bit that is felt earlier is subject to arising and passing away -hence unsatisfactory.

This is not to be confused with the mind of an arahanth however- which manifests as being free from defilements and delusion, but sensing phenomena as we do- without any form of mental suffering what so ever. However in deep meditative states they can access 'complete' cessation- absorption into the 'fruit' of arahanthood- 'arahath phalasamapatti'.

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Re: How Does One Know the Difference?

Postby flyingOx » Tue Aug 04, 2009 4:52 pm

So if I’m allowed to put this into my own words, what I am getting is:

Paying attention to the breath,
focused on a single point where the breath enters and exits the nose in order to get used to keeping the awareness in the constantly changing present,
bringing the attention back to the breath when wandering is recognized in order to establish and train the process of mindfulness,
because when the mind wanders, the attention is captivated by that particular stream of consciousness or emotional mode which is really just a false and meaningless experience even though it might contain seemingly interesting or some kind of important content which was really just created in order to distract the attention away from the ultimate reality of the present and thereby deceptively creating a sense of self-identity absorbed into the particular stream of consciousness or experience.

So in other words, any kind of possessive identifying state should be regularly checked so that the checking of the state, itself, becomes an automatic wake-up call to bring the attention back to the non-localized awareness.

Also, before coming back to the meditation object to make oneself feel a contented happiness so not to get bogged down with disappointment.

Anything that can be noticed through some kind of experience is not self, and when it is all said and done, there really is no self, anyway.

Does this sound correct?
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