Experiential Wisdom: Bhavana-maya panna

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Experiential Wisdom: Bhavana-maya panna

Postby christopher::: » Mon Aug 31, 2009 7:23 pm

The following (written by Ben's teacher SN Goenka) is a description of 3 types of wisdom as taught in Theravadin texts. I'm impressed by the clarity of this presentation. This would seem to have very important implications in terms of balancing study and practice.

Anyone have any thoughts (or experiences) they could share on the topic? Is this a gradual step-by-step process, that we go thru in somewhat journey form or might a person have different levels of wisdom in different areas of their practice, such as one person deeply understanding some aspects of the dhamma experientially, while being at an intellectual level of cinta-maya panna with others?

:anjali:


Relevance of Vedana to Bhavana-maya Panna

"The Pali term bhavana-maya panna means experiential wisdom. Bhavanabhavana is meditation through which wisdom (panna) is cultivated. In order to understand the essence of the term bhavana-maya panna and its relevance to vedana (sensation), we first need to understand the meaning of the term panna. Panna is derived from the root 'na' which means 'to know', prefixed by 'pa' meaning 'correctly'. Thus, the literal English translation of the word panna is 'to know correctly'. Commonly used equivalents are such words as 'insight', 'knowledge' or 'wisdom'. All these convey aspects of panna, but, as with all Pali terms, no translation corresponds exactly.

In the ancient texts, panna is defined more precisely as yatha-bhutam-nana-dassanamyatha-bhuta-nana-dassanam, seeing things as they are, not as they appear to be. That is, understanding the true nature of anicca (impermanence), dukkha (suffering) and anatta (essencelessness) in all things. This realisation leads to the ultimate truth of nibbana. It may also be described as pakarena janati'ti pannapakarena janati ti panna-because it is understood through different angles it is panna. The Visuddhimagga elaborates on this explaining that the characteristic of panna is to penetrate the true nature of things. Its function is to dispel the darkness of ignorance, and prevent one from becoming bewildered by its manifestation. Its immediate cause is concentration (samadhi). Hence the words 'He whose mind is concentrated knows and sees things according to reality'.

The texts mention three types of panna-suta-maya pannasuta-maya panna, cinta-maya pannacinta-maya panna and bhavana-mayapanna. Suta-mayapanna is wisdom obtained from listening to others, from being instructed by others about impermanence, suffering and essencelessness. It may also develop from reading sacred texts. This type of panna is clearly dependent on an external source. Thus, suta-mayapanna consists of learning which has been gained by listening to others (parato sutva patilabhati). Such wisdom is parokkha (inferred knowledge). This may inspire one to tread on the path of Dhamma, but in itself cannot lead to the attainment of liberation.

Cinta-maya panna is the wisdom obtained from one's own thinking, not just from hearing others (parato asutva patilabhati). It is the understanding of impermanence, suffering and essencelessness, from what one has grasped by the means of one's own intellect. It is the process of intellectually analyzing something to see whether it is logical and rational. Having gone through such a process, one can then accept a teaching intellectually. One may thereby become knowledgeable about the theory of Dhamma, and may be able to explain it to others. One may even be able to help others realize the fact of anicca, dukkha and anatta, but still one cannot obtain liberation for oneself. On the contrary, there is a danger that one may accumulate more mental defilements by developing ego since one lacks the direct experience of wisdom.

Sometimes we find in the texts a change in the order of suta-maya panna and cinta-maya panna. At times cinta-maya panna is mentioned first, followed by suta-maya panna and bhavana-maya panna. At times, suta-maya panna is followed by cinta-maya panna and bhavana-maya panna. But in both cases, bhavana-maya panna comes at the end and is of prime importance for the realisation of truth. It does not make any difference in which order we find the first two. Initially a person may listen to the Dhamma from an outside source- suta-maya panna, and then develop cinta-maya panna by rationally thinking about it, trying to understand anicca, dukkha and anatta intellectually, and thereby develop yoniso manasikara (right thinking). Or one may start with cinta-maya panna, one's own intellectual understanding, by reflecting rationally on anicca, dukkha and anatta, and then, by listening to others (suta-maya panna), one may confirm one's intellectual understanding. We should remember that whichever of the two may come first, neither of them can give liberation. Liberation results only from bhavana-maya panna.

Bhavana-maya pannabhavana-maya panna is the wisdom obtained by meditation-the wisdom that comes from the direct experience of the truth. This development of insight is also called vipassana- bhavana (Vipassana meditation). The meditator makes right effort and so realizes for himself that every thing in the world is transitory, a source of suffering, and essenceless. This insight is not the mere acceptance of what someone else has said, nor the product of deductive reasoning. It is, rather, the direct comprehension of the reality of anicca, dukkha and anatta.

To develop bhavana-maya panna, we must experience all phenomena and undestand their true nature. And this is done through experiencing vedana, (bodily sensations), because it is through these sensations that the totality of our nature manifests itself as pancakkhandha (the five aggregates)."


excerpt from Vipassana Research Institute
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
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Re: Experiential Wisdom: Bhavana-maya panna

Postby Jechbi » Mon Aug 31, 2009 9:01 pm

christopher::: wrote:... might a person have different levels of wisdom ... such as one person deeply understanding some aspects of the dhamma experientially, while being at an intellectual level of cinta-maya panna with others?

I think it's completely useless to try to compare oneself with others in terms of levels or varieties of wisdom, especially on an Internet discussion board like this. The point seems to be that reading about it, talking about it and thinking about it only go so far. To the extent that these discussions clarify understanding, great. To the extent that they muddy the waters, then that's too bad. Either way, all of us still have our own work to do. No use worrying about anyone else's bhavana-maya panna.
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But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
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Re: Experiential Wisdom: Bhavana-maya panna

Postby christopher::: » Mon Aug 31, 2009 10:02 pm

hi Jechbi, i didnt mean it as something to worry about other then for oneself, to be aware of... recognizing that one may have wisdom in some areas, yet need to focus on others. Put in a bit more practice time where we may have weakness or not yet grasp something experientially...

:smile:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
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Re: Experiential Wisdom: Bhavana-maya panna

Postby Jechbi » Mon Aug 31, 2009 11:01 pm

That makes sense. :)
Rain soddens what is kept wrapped up,
But never soddens what is open;
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Re: Experiential Wisdom: Bhavana-maya panna

Postby chicka-Dee » Tue Sep 01, 2009 1:59 am

Hi Chris,

I took a class this spring based on Phillip Moffitt's book: "Dancing With Life: Buddhist Insights for Finding Meaning and Joy in the Face of Suffering".

The book examines the 4 Noble Truths within the context of the 12 insights of the Buddha.. basically each of the Noble Truths is examined in the 3 insights, which sound very similar to the 3 types of understanding outlined above.

The first insight is an intellectual examination / understanding of the (external) teaching; the second is an ongoing examination from personal experience of what was determined in the first insight (and so a further intellectual understanding that comes internally from personal examination of one's experiences); and the third is a "knowing that you know" (the most difficult insight to attain).

Moffitt says the following about the third insight:

"You have also seen that your untrained mind with its endless stream of reactionary thoughts is unreliable. There is a reliable ground on which to stand to meet life that is your own awareness knowing itself. It is this ground of "knowing you know" that creates the steady, nonreactive state of mind that allows you to just be with life as it is.

A deep acceptance of life "just as it is" allows you to be more fully present in your life moment by moment, no matter how difficult or how sweet it is, and it empowers you to act more from your deepest values. Regardless of the circumstances of your life at any given time, your experience is richer, more alive. What's more, being with the dukkha opens you to an ever-deepening exploration of the inner life, eventually leading to what the Buddha calls "the deathless", which we will explore in the Third Noble Truth."

from page 66

I thought this would fit in nicely with the material you've presented here.

Dee :namaste:
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Re: Experiential Wisdom: Bhavana-maya panna

Postby appicchato » Tue Sep 01, 2009 2:21 am

Jechbi wrote:To the extent that these discussions clarify understanding, great. To the extent that they muddy the waters, then that's too bad. Either way, all of us still have our own work to do. No use worrying about anyone else's bhavana-maya panna.


:thumbsup:
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Re: Experiential Wisdom: Bhavana-maya panna

Postby Dmytro » Tue Sep 01, 2009 5:44 am

Hi Christopher,

Is this a gradual step-by-step process


Good training is arranged as step-by-step process. See, for example, the work of Ven. Amatha Gavesi:

http://www.lioncity.net/buddhism/index. ... opic=49356

Okkanta Samyutta:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... ml#okkanta

or the 'Wisdom' section in Vimuttimagga.

Metta, Dmytro
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Re: Experiential Wisdom: Bhavana-maya panna

Postby christopher::: » Tue Sep 01, 2009 5:50 am

Dmytro wrote:
Good training is arranged as step-by-step process. See, for example, the work of Ven. Amatha Gavesi:

http://www.lioncity.net/buddhism/index. ... opic=49356


Excellent! Thank you Dmytro.

:namaste:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
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Re: Experiential Wisdom: Bhavana-maya panna

Postby zavk » Tue Sep 01, 2009 7:33 am

Hi Chris and friends,

I'm not familiar with Moffitt's work but it does seem like he is referring to the same thing.

I too am a student of the Goenka approach to meditation. From my observation of and interaction with other Buddhists both online and offline, it does seem to me that it is as you suggest Chris, that some people 'have different levels of wisdom in different areas of their practice'.

What Goenka is emphasising here is that only bhavana-maya panna can lead to liberation. He is using the word 'bhavana' here in a very specific sense: 'development by means of mental cultivation'. He is referring specifically to formal, seated meditation.

But personally for me, I would (on the basis of my own experience and observation/interaction with both Buddhist teachers and students online and offline) think of bhavana-maya panna in a broader sense, such that it is cultivated not only in formal, seated meditation but also in the everyday actions of mind, speech and body.

I'd like to suggest that bhavana-maya panna (or what we are calling here in English as 'experiential wisdom')is cultivated during those times when, for example, we choose to respond with friendliness when the girl at the checkout greets us with a snarl rather than a smile, or when we choose to keep our cool when someone cuts into our lane on the road, or when we choose to remain gracious when locked in a heated debate on the Internet. Experiential wisdom, I would suggest, takes root in the everyday.

In offering this broader view of experiential wisdom, I am not being careless with the traditional understanding of 'bhavana'. For as my teacher Goenka would also say, right mental cultivation must be accompanied by right action, speech, and thought--or in a word, sila. The loss and gain, the pleasure and pain, of day-to-day life is the furnace where sila is forged. And moreover right conduct is guided by what we learn from others and what we come to understand through reflection and contemplation: suta-maya panna and cinta-maya panna.

I suppose what I'm trying to say (in a somewhat long-winded fashion) is that to cultivate experiential wisdom we should perhaps not see suta-maya panna, cinta-maya panna, and bhavana panna as separate but as dependently originated.

I am not a Tibetan Buddhist practitioner but I really like this quote from the Tibetan saint Dromtönpa, ''When I study I also apply contemplation and meditation. When I engage in contemplation I maintain the practices of study and meditation. And when I meditate I continue to study and contemplate.'
With metta,
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Re: Experiential Wisdom: Bhavana-maya panna

Postby christopher::: » Tue Sep 01, 2009 9:32 am

chicka-Dee wrote:
I took a class this spring based on Phillip Moffitt's book: "Dancing With Life: Buddhist Insights for Finding Meaning and Joy in the Face of Suffering"....

Moffitt says the following about the third insight:

"You have also seen that your untrained mind with its endless stream of reactionary thoughts is unreliable. There is a reliable ground on which to stand to meet life that is your own awareness knowing itself. It is this ground of "knowing you know" that creates the steady, nonreactive state of mind that allows you to just be with life as it is.

A deep acceptance of life "just as it is" allows you to be more fully present in your life moment by moment, no matter how difficult or how sweet it is, and it empowers you to act more from your deepest values. Regardless of the circumstances of your life at any given time, your experience is richer, more alive. What's more, being with the dukkha opens you to an ever-deepening exploration of the inner life, eventually leading to what the Buddha calls "the deathless", which we will explore in the Third Noble Truth."

from page 66



:thumbsup:

zavk wrote:
...personally for me, I would (on the basis of my own experience and observation/interaction with both Buddhist teachers and students online and offline) think of bhavana-maya panna in a broader sense, such that it is cultivated not only in formal, seated meditation but also in the everyday actions of mind, speech and body.

I'd like to suggest that bhavana-maya panna (or what we are calling here in English as 'experiential wisdom')is cultivated during those times when, for example, we choose to respond with friendliness when the girl at the checkout greets us with a snarl rather than a smile, or when we choose to keep our cool when someone cuts into our lane on the road, or when we choose to remain gracious when locked in a heated debate on the Internet. Experiential wisdom, I would suggest, takes root in the everyday.

In offering this broader view of experiential wisdom, I am not being careless with the traditional understanding of 'bhavana'. For as my teacher Goenka would also say, right mental cultivation must be accompanied by right action, speech, and thought--or in a word, sila. The loss and gain, the pleasure and pain, of day-to-day life is the furnace where sila is forged. And moreover right conduct is guided by what we learn from others and what we come to understand through reflection and contemplation: suta-maya panna and cinta-maya panna.

I suppose what I'm trying to say (in a somewhat long-winded fashion) is that to cultivate experiential wisdom we should perhaps not see suta-maya panna, cinta-maya panna, and bhavana panna as separate but as dependently originated...



Very sensible.

About a week ago in another discussion Tilt asked me, "why are you here?" I never responded to him, but thought about that a lot... and its been dawning recently for me that what we are talking about here is the real meat (or tofu) and potatoes of dhamma practice. It's what i need to focus on... meditating more of course, but also cultivating mindfulness, the four brahma viharas- especially upekkha (equanimity), which i've somewhat neglected in recent years...

IN the last few days i've been observing more carefully the arisings of emotion and thought within my own mind and body... Trying to take responsibility for every moment, as you say zavk, every interaction with another, online or offline, as an opportunity for practice....

Thanks for your input.

:group:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
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Re: Experiential Wisdom: Bhavana-maya panna

Postby Ben » Tue Sep 01, 2009 12:52 pm

Hi Christopher

Nice thread, mate! As I am sure you are aware, the subject of, and the acquisition of bhavana-maya-panna is something very close to my heart. So its good that perhaps the subject of experiential wisdom has come up here on DW. Though I hope we just don’t all talk about it until the cows come home.
Having said that, since you quoted me in another thread, I feel the need to clarify what inspired the genesis of this thread.
On Differences in Views, Engage or Disengage from Discussions? I responded to Craig with:
Ben wrote:
clw_uk wrote:If no one ever challanged you and you never engaged in discussion and debate, how would you test the strength or your position? How would you know that your position isnt flawed in some way?


Bhavana-maya-panna

I wanted to draw attention to what I believe is the whole point of being a practitioner. And that is practice and the liberative wisdom that arises from practice. As others have said, including the article by SN Goenka, jechbi and zavk, sutta-maya-panna and cinta-maya-panna cannot be under-estimated in their efficacy in assisting one to walk the path, but it is bhavana-maya-panna which liberates one from suffering.
I’ve also heard my teacher use the expression pariyatti (study) and patipatti (practice) should go hand-in-hand. Elsewhere, he refers to the relationship between pariyatti and patipatti as ‘the gem set in gold’. And again elsewhere, and on the frontispiece of the Pariyatti website, we have ‘Pariyatti: illuminating the seeker’s path’.
My personal opinion is that there is limited value in continually debating points of Dhamma in some of the ways it is discussed and debated here.
I think it can be valuable in refuting someone who may be mistaken, someone intentionally spreading adhamma or for the instruction and interest to those new to Buddhism. Incessant discussions as a means of ‘challenging one’s views’, as a means of developing naana or insight into the nature of nama and rupa – its a fiction. I also think that a lot of questions that become the subject of long-running threads whether its rebirth, masturbation, bhavana-maya-pannna will evaporate if one consistently walks on the path.
We are all hurtling towards our destiny and the only thing standing between us and the grave is time. I don’t want to denigrate sincere and interested exploration and discovery of the Dhamma, but don’t just stop there,
In the words of Jean Luc Picard (Star Trek: the next generation)...Engage!
Metta

Ben.
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Re: Experiential Wisdom: Bhavana-maya panna

Postby chicka-Dee » Tue Sep 01, 2009 1:19 pm

Ben wrote:In the words of Jean Luc Picard (Star Trek: the next generation)...Engage!


:clap: :bow: :thumbsup: :namaste:

christopher::: wrote:IN the last few days i've been observing more carefully the arisings of emotion and thought within my own mind and body... Trying to take responsibility for every moment, as you say zavk, every interaction with another, online or offline, as an opportunity for practice....


What I'm about to say may be :offtopic: ...but the subject of responsibility in our daily lives and practice came up in a discussion with a friend a couple of days ago. I mentioned this to my friend, and this is part of what she had to say, "I remember how excited I felt when I first heard that its actually 'response ability' which places a whole different spin on it. In being ABLE to respond, we get to pay keen attention and be receptive on all levels to whatever is before us. Its not necessarily about doing anything--tho it very well might entail doing something. And when we are truly being 'response-able' then we will know more easily how to proceed if we [can 'let go' and 'let be']". I'm still mulling this one over; just thought it was a very interesting new way to look at it!

zavk wrote:I suppose what I'm trying to say (in a somewhat long-winded fashion) is that to cultivate experiential wisdom we should perhaps not see suta-maya panna, cinta-maya panna, and bhavana panna as separate but as dependently originated.

I am not a Tibetan Buddhist practitioner but I really like this quote from the Tibetan saint Dromtönpa, ''When I study I also apply contemplation and meditation. When I engage in contemplation I maintain the practices of study and meditation. And when I meditate I continue to study and contemplate.'


:namaste:

Thanks for all the great wisdom being shared here :smile:
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Re: Experiential Wisdom: Bhavana-maya panna

Postby christopher::: » Tue Sep 01, 2009 7:52 pm

Ben wrote:
I wanted to draw attention to what I believe is the whole point of being a practitioner. And that is practice and the liberative wisdom that arises from practice. As others have said, including the article by SN Goenka, jechbi and zavk, sutta-maya-panna and cinta-maya-panna cannot be under-estimated in their efficacy in assisting one to walk the path, but it is bhavana-maya-panna which liberates one from suffering.
I’ve also heard my teacher use the expression pariyatti (study) and patipatti (practice) should go hand-in-hand. Elsewhere, he refers to the relationship between pariyatti and patipatti as ‘the gem set in gold’. And again elsewhere, and on the frontispiece of the Pariyatti website, we have ‘Pariyatti: illuminating the seeker’s path’.
My personal opinion is that there is limited value in continually debating points of Dhamma in some of the ways it is discussed and debated here.
I think it can be valuable in refuting someone who may be mistaken, someone intentionally spreading adhamma or for the instruction and interest to those new to Buddhism. Incessant discussions as a means of ‘challenging one’s views’, as a means of developing naana or insight into the nature of nama and rupa – its a fiction. I also think that a lot of questions that become the subject of long-running threads whether its rebirth, masturbation, bhavana-maya-pannna will evaporate if one consistently walks on the path.
We are all hurtling towards our destiny and the only thing standing between us and the grave is time. I don’t want to denigrate sincere and interested exploration and discovery of the Dhamma, but don’t just stop there,
In the words of Jean Luc Picard (Star Trek: the next generation)...Engage!
Metta

Ben.



((( :bow: )))
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
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