Did the Buddha teach us to dwell only on the present?

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Re: Did the Buddha teach us to dwell only on the present?

Postby Kumara » Wed Jan 01, 2014 10:27 am

starter wrote:I've to admit that I was a bit confused about whether one should intend/plan for the future (dwell on the future) after reading the following sutta.

SAṂYUTTA NIKAYA 12
CONNECTED DISCOURSES ON CAUSATION
40. Volition (3)

At Savatth. “Bhikkhus, what one intends, and what one plans, and whatever one has a tendency towards: this becomes a basis for the maintenance of consciousness. ...

I've just looked up the Pali, and found that what's translated above as "intends", "plans", and "has a tendency towards" are ceteti, pakappeti, and anuseti respectively.

From PTS's PED / Buddhadatta:
ceteti: to think, to reflect, to be of opinion / perceives; thinks
pakappeti: - / considers; designs; arranges; thinks over.
anuseti: (1) trs. to dwell on, harp on (an idea) 2. (of the idea) to obsess, to fill the mind persistently, to lie dormant & be continually cropping up. / lies dormant

So, they don't necessarily carry the nuances of the words BBodhi used.
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Re: Did the Buddha teach us to dwell only on the present?

Postby starter » Thu Jan 02, 2014 12:21 am

Hello Kumara,

Many thanks for the very helpful information. It's very nice to have Kalyāṇa-mittatā like you in this forum.

I understand now that this sutta as well as the relevant paragraphs of MN 19 has the following meaning:

"... what one ponders, what one considers ["dreams about"], and whatever one is obsessed with: this becomes a basis for the maintenance (inclination) of consciousness ..."

All the three words used here are synonyms. The Chinese Agama equivalent SA 361 supports the above understanding.

By the way, I wish a group of advanced Kalyāṇa-mittatā (such as you) who have good understanding of the suttas and good mastery of Pali, to double check the available translations of the important suttas (especially those lacking good translations), and make some changes/corrections based upon the discussion and consensus of the group. The group can make the best possible sutta "translations", with footnotes, and put them online, so that there'll be no copy right issue, and we'll have access to even better versions of the suttas online. That will be very helpful to our practice. Of course, it'll be lots of work.

Happy New Year to you and other Kalyāṇa-mittatā! Metta to all!

Starter

PS: SA 361
如是我聞。 一時。佛住舍衛國祇樹給 孤獨園。 爾時。世尊告諸比丘。若有思量.有妄想。則有使攀緣識住。有攀緣識住故。入於名色。入名色故。則有往來。有往來 故。則有生死。有生死故。則有未來世生.老.病.死.憂.悲.惱.苦。如是純大苦聚集。若不思量.無妄想。無使無攀緣識住。無攀緣識住故。不入名色。不入名色故。則無往來。無往來故。則無生死。無生死故。於未來世生.老.病.死.憂.悲.惱.苦滅。如是純大苦聚滅。 佛說 此經已。諸比丘聞佛所說。歡喜奉行。
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Check and correct available translations

Postby Kumara » Thu Jan 02, 2014 11:21 am

starter wrote:By the way, I wish a group of advanced Kalyāṇa-mittatā (such as you) who have good understanding of the suttas and good mastery of Pali, to double check the available translations of the important suttas (especially those lacking good translations), and make some changes/corrections based upon the discussion and consensus of the group. The group can make the best possible sutta "translations", with footnotes, and put them online, so that there'll be no copy right issue, and we'll have access to even better versions of the suttas online. That will be very helpful to our practice. Of course, it'll be lots of work.

Yup, a lot. And "the best" is subjective.

BBodhi and Ajahn T do translate very well. My knowledge of Pali isn't anywhere near theirs. Nonetheless, I can spot little quirks here and there. I've seen a few examples where their translations seriously contradict each other. In these cases, usually BBodhi is right. When it comes to suttas about the practice though, Ajahn T has a clear advantage over BBodhi, and so is able to convey the Pali better.

Occasionally, we'd find "corrections" here in DW. If you feel inspired to, you can collect them and perhaps put them on a blog.
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Re: Did the Buddha teach us to dwell only in the present?

Postby seeker242 » Thu Jan 02, 2014 12:40 pm

starter wrote:
Thanks for your very helpful input. As I understand, "live only in the present" (e.g. not to plan for the future) was taught by some teachers for practicing "objective observation", "present-moment awareness", and etc.


Personally, when people interpret "live only in the present" as meaning "not to plan for the future", I think that is a misinterpretation and misunderstanding of what is meant to "live in the present". It really just means don't brood over or worry about what happened in the past or what will happen in the future.

But of course, "worrying" is quite different from "planning" and quite different from "reflecting". Worrying, by definition, is stress and anxiety, whereas simply planning and reflecting is not.

:anjali:
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Re: Did the Buddha teach us to dwell only in the present?

Postby Kumara » Fri Jan 03, 2014 3:31 am

seeker242 wrote:Personally, when people interpret "live only in the present" as meaning "not to plan for the future", I think that is a misinterpretation and misunderstanding of what is meant to "live in the present". It really just means don't brood over or worry about what happened in the past or what will happen in the future.

But of course, "worrying" is quite different from "planning" and quite different from "reflecting". Worrying, by definition, is stress and anxiety, whereas simply planning and reflecting is not.

+1

When the mind knows what's true, it sees thoughts of the past and the future (and the present) as thoughts. It doesn't see them as real. Seeing them as passing phenomena in the now, it doesn't grasp on them. In this way, longing and dejection don't arise due to recalling and planning. So, question: How do I regard thoughts of the past and the future?
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Re: Did the Buddha teach us to dwell only on the present?

Postby Mkoll » Fri Jan 03, 2014 4:47 am

Kumara wrote:When the mind knows what's true, it sees thoughts of the past and the future (and the present) as thoughts. It doesn't see them as real. Seeing them as passing phenomena in the now, it doesn't grasp on them. In this way, longing and dejection don't arise due to recalling and planning. So, question: How do I regard thoughts of the past and the future?


Dear Kumara,

I think you've got one way of regarding them: perception of impermanence.

:anjali:
Peace,
James
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Re: Did the Buddha teach us to dwell only on the present?

Postby clw_uk » Fri Jan 03, 2014 4:56 am

What is there but the present?

The past has gone and if the future exists then, its already predetermined


All we can known is in the here and now
“ Your mind is likewise blocked. But the right road awaits you still. Cast out your doubts, your fears and your desires, let go of grief and of hope as well, for where these rule , then the mind is their subject." Boetius
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Re: Did the Buddha teach us to dwell only on the present?

Postby Kumara » Thu Jan 23, 2014 10:21 am

Mkoll wrote:
Kumara wrote:When the mind knows what's true, it sees thoughts of the past and the future (and the present) as thoughts. It doesn't see them as real. Seeing them as passing phenomena in the now, it doesn't grasp on them. In this way, longing and dejection don't arise due to recalling and planning. So, question: How do I regard thoughts of the past and the future?


Dear Kumara,

I think you've got one way of regarding them: perception of impermanence.

:anjali:

We could also see them as mere thoughts, mere constructs--happening. That would cover anicca, dukkha and anatta.
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Re: Did the Buddha teach us to dwell only on the present?

Postby Kumara » Thu Jan 23, 2014 10:23 am

clw_uk wrote:What is there but the present?

The past has gone and if the future exists then, its already predetermined


All we can known is in the here and now


And the present is simply what we perceive. As Aj Sumedho said, "Now is the Knowing."
And what we know is over.
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Re: Did the Buddha teach us to dwell only on the present?

Postby clw_uk » Sun Jan 26, 2014 11:13 pm

Of course he did :) the Dhamma is present here and now, where else is it?

What else is there but the present?

memories flash in the moment, then fade

thoughts of the future are flashes in the moment that fade
“ Your mind is likewise blocked. But the right road awaits you still. Cast out your doubts, your fears and your desires, let go of grief and of hope as well, for where these rule , then the mind is their subject." Boetius
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Re: Did the Buddha teach us to dwell only on the present?

Postby clw_uk » Sun Jan 26, 2014 11:15 pm

Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing.

Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this-just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle.

Why not give it a try? Do you dare?



Just rest with how it is, right now :)


Dhamma is in your mind, not in the forest. You don’t have to go and look anywhere else. — Ajahn Chah

People want to go to nibbana but when you tell them there is nothing there, they begin to have second thoughts. — Ajahn Chah
“ Your mind is likewise blocked. But the right road awaits you still. Cast out your doubts, your fears and your desires, let go of grief and of hope as well, for where these rule , then the mind is their subject." Boetius
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Re: Did the Buddha teach us to dwell only on the present?

Postby clw_uk » Sun Jan 26, 2014 11:20 pm

"Here it is--right now. Start thinking about it and you miss it.”

"To awaken suddenly to the fact that your own Mind is the Buddha, that there is nothing to be attained or a single action to be performed - this is the Supreme Way."


Huang po
“ Your mind is likewise blocked. But the right road awaits you still. Cast out your doubts, your fears and your desires, let go of grief and of hope as well, for where these rule , then the mind is their subject." Boetius
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Re: Did the Buddha teach us to dwell only on the present?

Postby starter » Wed Jan 29, 2014 1:46 am

"To awaken suddenly to the fact that your own Mind is the Buddha, that there is nothing to be attained or a single action to be performed - this is the Supreme Way."[/quote]

Our (defiled) mind is one of the five aggregates, not the Buddha. Even a purified mind of an arahant disciple is not the Buddha.

"Our Path is straight, the path of tranquillity and pure awareness, calmed of both elation and sorrow. If your heart is like this, you can stop asking other people for guidance."

"Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing."
Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this-just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle."

If "pure awareness is defined as "calmed of both elation and sorrow" or "Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing" and "just let it all be", then to my understanding such a path is not the Buddha's path. Equanimity alone is not the end goal of the Buddha's path, although Nibbana encompasses equanimity. Only giving up clinging to love and hate is not enough. We need to uproot "ignorance-obsession with regard to a feeling of neither pleasure nor pain" (MN 148) as well, and to give rise to the true knowledge of the four noble truths in three ways and twelve folds, which is the cessation of ignorance -- Nibbana.

As I see, the above-quoted teachings are also not in accordance with the teaching of all the Buddhas, who have taught us to become virtuous, pure persons instead of just let it (including the defilements) all be.

"Cultivate the wholesome,
Abandon the unwholesome,
Purify the mind."

More relevant discussions can be seen on the following thread:

The Buddha's path to liberation (dated Dec 11, 2013)
viewtopic.php?f=13&t=8276&start=20


Metta to all!
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