Hearing. was Re: Mahamudra in Theravada?

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Re: Hearing. was Re: Mahamudra in Theravada?

Postby Freawaru » Tue Dec 01, 2009 9:49 am

Hi Laura,

LauraJ wrote:
Freawaru wrote:I got the impression that most practitioners' priority is going to retreats and getting empowerments - not to practice themselves.


May I ask how or from whom you received this impression?


My impression was mainly based on reading the discussions at the Tibetan boards of e-sangha. I couldn't get them into agreement with what I read in books by Tibetan teachers such as Yeshe Thubten or HHDL himself. Too much personal reliance on the guru as a personality (who is - in theory - just a link to the Impersonal guru), too much reliance on secrets, too many statements like "someone without transmissions cannot understand". In my opinion the transmission is just a help, a crutch, until the practitioner can "walk" himself. For a moment one experiences how it should be, how it should feel, and this experience shows the way, now one can see by own experience what leads into the right direction and what not. The required changes can be achieved by oneself, without transmissions or empowerments.
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Re: Hearing. was Re: Mahamudra in Theravada?

Postby pt1 » Tue Dec 01, 2009 12:39 pm

Freawaru wrote:I just decided I could not accept the idea of "Hearing Dhamma" by those Theravadans at DSG and I knew the Mahayanan intepretation of "Hearing Dhamma".


Hi Freawaru, afaik, in Theravada just hearing is not a sufficient cause for liberation - something else is also required - wise consideration - see for example MN43:
"Friend, how many conditions are there for the arising of right view?"

"Friend, there are two conditions for the arising of right view: the voice of another and appropriate attention. These are the two conditions for the arising of right view."


So hearing on its own is not enough. An example often given is that of the Buddha's attendant (the one before Ananda, can't remember his name now) who could hear the Buddha speak every day for many years, but he never reached liberation and in fact left the Buddha for another sect. The reason given is his lack of wise consideration on his part. I think the same reason can be used to counter the claim that there's a need for empowerment - he was with the Buddha all the time so the Buddha could have given him empowerment any time, but without wise consideration, there was no use. Similarly for the claim that a teacher needs to be a jhana master with supernormal powers - just look at Devadatta, he was a jhana master with great supernormal powers, but that didn't help him towards liberation. In fact there are suttas where the Buddha says that he was disgusted by supernormal powers(will try to get some of these references for you tomorrow).

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Re: Hearing. was Re: Mahamudra in Theravada?

Postby Sanghamitta » Tue Dec 01, 2009 1:18 pm

There seems at first reading pt1, to be an assumption that the Buddha gave "empowerments"..but that on ocassion he held back from giving " empowerments". Perhaps you could point to a reference in the Tripitaka to this phenomenon ? Whether an act of commision or omission ?
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Re: Hearing. was Re: Mahamudra in Theravada?

Postby LauraJ » Tue Dec 01, 2009 3:47 pm

Thanks for helping me understand, Freawaru.

Best,
Laura
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Re: Hearing. was Re: Mahamudra in Theravada?

Postby pt1 » Wed Dec 02, 2009 12:00 am

Sanghamitta wrote:There seems at first reading pt1, to be an assumption that the Buddha gave "empowerments"..but that on ocassion he held back from giving " empowerments". Perhaps you could point to a reference in the Tripitaka to this phenomenon ? Whether an act of commision or omission ?

Yeah, sorry, hasty typing. There is no evidence in the canon (to my knowledge) that the Buddha gave empowerments, so the argument I was trying to make was that even if he did - the attendant could have gotten it a thousand times, and yet, it was of no use since there was no wise consideration on his part, so basically, hearing, special powers (the attendant had some of these) and empowerments if they even happened (which is what Freawaru was arguing I think) imo are not sufficient for establishing the right view and eventual liberation.

As promised, here's a bit more on:
- the Buddha's attendant Sunakkhatta
- Devadatta
- the Buddha being disgusted with supernormal powers - DN11

On the issue of empowerments (this is just my opinion) - I'd say that they can help in cleaning up the "energy body" in the same way that a doctor can help with cleaning up the physical body, but, the cleanliness of both bodies still doesn't help with insight. It can certainly help with samatha and consequent development of supernormal powers (and all bodhisattas must develop these, so I think empowerments are a legitimate practice in Mahayaha), but it is insufficient for developing right view, hence the emphasis on development of wisdom in Mahayana. In Thervada tough, it's mostly about insight/wisdom imo, so no need for empowerments, supernormal powers, and (some would even say) jhana mastery.

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Re: Hearing. was Re: Mahamudra in Theravada?

Postby Sanghamitta » Fri Dec 04, 2009 4:40 pm

pt1 What " energy body" I dont seemed to have been issued with mine, Are they supposed to come as standard ?
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Re: Hearing. was Re: Mahamudra in Theravada?

Postby pt1 » Sat Dec 05, 2009 1:01 am

Sanghamitta wrote:pt1 What " energy body" I dont seemed to have been issued with mine, Are they supposed to come as standard ?

Ahem, yes, in Theravada the "energy body" is a non-issue, but since Freawaru is practicing mostly Vajrayana (and we already had a few discussions on that topic on other forums) I thought it'd be politically correct to mention it, as it is a part of vajrayana teachings (and this is dhammic free-for-all section). In Theravada, the closest descriptions I found of energy body are the various types of winds mentioned in the Visuddhimaga and Bhesajjamanjusa. My guess is that the topic was considered part of medicine (hence the appearance in the casket of medicine) and thus not treated in the tipitaka as a dhamma topic, but by the time the teachings arrived to Tibet and China, the views changed... Anyway, if you're a Theravada practitioner, no need to worry about this, unless it comes up on its own and starts giving you problems, in what case it might be useful to study it a bit.

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Re: Hearing. was Re: Mahamudra in Theravada?

Postby Sanghamitta » Sat Dec 05, 2009 6:34 pm

Well as a Theravada practitioner I will continue to assume that that the Dreaded Goom Boo is actually unreal. Therefore I will continue to studiously avoid cures for the Dreaded Gom Boo.
:smile:

:anjali:
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Re: Hearing. was Re: Mahamudra in Theravada?

Postby Freawaru » Wed Dec 09, 2009 12:23 pm

Hi pt1

pt1 wrote:
Freawaru wrote:I just decided I could not accept the idea of "Hearing Dhamma" by those Theravadans at DSG and I knew the Mahayanan intepretation of "Hearing Dhamma".


Hi Freawaru, afaik, in Theravada just hearing is not a sufficient cause for liberation - something else is also required - wise consideration - see for example MN43:
"Friend, how many conditions are there for the arising of right view?"

"Friend, there are two conditions for the arising of right view: the voice of another and appropriate attention. These are the two conditions for the arising of right view."



This still agrees with how Mahayana sees it. For correct "hearing" states of concentration and insight are necessary on the part of the student. The level seems to depend on the specific transmission (there are various). For the base level transmission one needs to be in a state of zhine (samatha) for example. The transmission does not work without it.

So hearing on its own is not enough. An example often given is that of the Buddha's attendant (the one before Ananda, can't remember his name now) who could hear the Buddha speak every day for many years, but he never reached liberation and in fact left the Buddha for another sect. The reason given is his lack of wise consideration on his part. I think the same reason can be used to counter the claim that there's a need for empowerment - he was with the Buddha all the time so the Buddha could have given him empowerment any time, but without wise consideration, there was no use. Similarly for the claim that a teacher needs to be a jhana master with supernormal powers - just look at Devadatta, he was a jhana master with great supernormal powers, but that didn't help him towards liberation. In fact there are suttas where the Buddha says that he was disgusted by supernormal powers(will try to get some of these references for you tomorrow).


I remember. But I don't think that "disgust" means for the Buddha what it means for us. It does not mean something wrong in general but something wrong for a very specific attainment. While the jhanas and iddhis are useful for getting close to Liberation one has to let go of them again for the final step. This "letting go" is, IMO, caused by what the Buddha calls "disgust". This disgust counters clinging.

Jhana master and iddhis do not imply wisdom and I would expect that to be necessary for "wise consideration". One needs both right concentration and wisdom if I understand Theravada correctly.

Do you have another Theravadan option of what "the voice of another" means than the one the DSG proposes?
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Re: Hearing. was Re: Mahamudra in Theravada?

Postby LauraJ » Wed Dec 09, 2009 5:19 pm

Energy body?

The elements (air, water, etc) yes. But energy body? I'm not trying to be snarky, just very curious.

Thanks :)
Laura
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Re: Hearing. was Re: Mahamudra in Theravada?

Postby pt1 » Thu Dec 10, 2009 2:37 am

Hi Freawaru,

Freawaru wrote:This still agrees with how Mahayana sees it. For correct "hearing" states of concentration and insight are necessary on the part of the student. The level seems to depend on the specific transmission (there are various). For the base level transmission one needs to be in a state of zhine (samatha) for example. The transmission does not work without it.


So, then we're talking about the same thing? I mean, what you say above for Mahayana "hearing" seems pretty much identical for how it is in Theravada imo, and I believe what they'd say on DSG, though they'd probably express it in abhidhamma terminology, something like "at the moment that kusala citta arises with panna [wisdom or insight as you call it], the cetasikas of concetration and calm [what you call samatha] are also kusala and accompany the citta. And cetasikas can be of different kinds and intensities [as you also seem to be saying by various transmisions]".

Freawaru wrote:Do you have another Theravadan option of what "the voice of another" means than the one the DSG proposes?


Could you please clarify - what's the one you think DSG proposes? Afaik, in Theravada, "voice of another" can be anyone, or even the texts, that's not important, what's important is that there is wise consideration, or as you say above, insight and samatha, or in abidhamma terms, panna and samadhi, on the part of the hearer.

Best wishes
Last edited by pt1 on Thu Dec 10, 2009 2:43 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Hearing. was Re: Mahamudra in Theravada?

Postby pt1 » Thu Dec 10, 2009 2:42 am

Hi Laura,

LauraJ wrote:Energy body?
The elements (air, water, etc) yes. But energy body? I'm not trying to be snarky, just very curious.


Yep, you're absolutely right, "energy body" afaik is nothing but the four great elements, ruupas in other words.

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Re: Hearing. was Re: Mahamudra in Theravada?

Postby LauraJ » Thu Dec 10, 2009 2:48 am

pt1 wrote:Hi Laura,

LauraJ wrote:Energy body?
The elements (air, water, etc) yes. But energy body? I'm not trying to be snarky, just very curious.


Yep, you're absolutely right, "energy body" afaik is nothing but the four great elements, ruupas in other words.

Best wishes


Thanks :anjali:

Best wishes,
Laura
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Re: Hearing. was Re: Mahamudra in Theravada?

Postby Freawaru » Fri Dec 11, 2009 6:58 pm

pt1 wrote:
LauraJ wrote:Energy body?
The elements (air, water, etc) yes. But energy body? I'm not trying to be snarky, just very curious.


Hi Laura,

what we consider to be awareness of our physical body is not truely awareness of the physical body. When meditating one can see this easily. What we consider our physical body is just an image of it. This image is changeable. For example in dreams our body is not much linked to our physical one any more. We can be again in our body from childhood, or do stuff with our body we can't in wake (like flying) or even be in a completely different body than in wake (like an animal or other person or whatever). Still, all these bodies feel just like our physical body does during wake - it is because they all are, even the wake one, just images. The only difference to wake is that the image of the physical body is loosely connected to the senses.

In Mahayana they investigate the different kinds of bodies, made from different elements. A dream body is less connected to the external senses than the "physical body" (meaning the image of it). There are also several other kinds of bodies, more subtle than the dream body, investigated. Some of these bodies only seem to appear in connection with the iddhis or are very abstract like the Dharmakaya, the body of a Buddha.
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Re: Hearing. was Re: Mahamudra in Theravada?

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Dec 11, 2009 7:08 pm

Freawaru wrote:
what we consider to be awareness of our physical body is not truely awareness of the physical body. When meditating one can see this easily. What we consider our physical body is just an image of it. This image is changeable. For example in dreams our body is not much linked to our physical one any more. We can be again in our body from childhood, or do stuff with our body we can't in wake (like flying) or even be in a completely different body than in wake (like an animal or other person or whatever). Still, all these bodies feel just like our physical body does during wake - it is because they all are, even the wake one, just images. The only difference to wake is that the image of the physical body is loosely connected to the senses.

What happens in dreams is what happens in dreams, but that does not support your claim that "what we consider to be awareness of our physical body is not truely awareness of the physical body."
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Re: Hearing. was Re: Mahamudra in Theravada?

Postby Freawaru » Fri Dec 11, 2009 8:01 pm

Hi pt1,

pt1 wrote:
Freawaru wrote:This still agrees with how Mahayana sees it. For correct "hearing" states of concentration and insight are necessary on the part of the student. The level seems to depend on the specific transmission (there are various). For the base level transmission one needs to be in a state of zhine (samatha) for example. The transmission does not work without it.


So, then we're talking about the same thing?


That is what I am trying to find out.

I mean, what you say above for Mahayana "hearing" seems pretty much identical for how it is in Theravada imo, and I believe what they'd say on DSG, though they'd probably express it in abhidhamma terminology, something like "at the moment that kusala citta arises with panna [wisdom or insight as you call it], the cetasikas of concetration and calm [what you call samatha] are also kusala and accompany the citta. And cetasikas can be of different kinds and intensities [as you also seem to be saying by various transmisions]".


Yes, but in Mahayana only specific persons can give a transmission. We find this idea in other cultures as well, think of the baptism in Christianity or Reiki initiations. This is the reason for the lineages. No transmissions no lineages. In fact the whole concept of lineage is only plausible if there is something like a transmission. Something that can be lost.

Lineages cannot not start from scripture - one NEEDS an original person who discovered the energy (or recieved it himself by some enlightened being like Manjushri) and starts the lineage by transmitting the energy to someone else. This is why in lineages the persons who transmit are very important). Without the energy the scripture is still interesting and useful but does not have the same effect - at least that is the theory in Mahayana, I have not tested it.

Freawaru wrote:Do you have another Theravadan option of what "the voice of another" means than the one the DSG proposes?

Could you please clarify - what's the one you think DSG proposes?


People at DSG (not all, but many) consider Abhidhamma and the Pali suttas as formal systems. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Formal_system
Considering these scriptures in a formal way isn't, IMO, what the Buddha meant by "wise consideration". But it has many similarities. Concentrating on a formal system brings calm, just as doing Mathematical calculations or writing programs in C++ does. Also, dealing with scripture in this way one understands something - but not the Buddha's Dhamma. They define that kind of calm as samatha and the formal understanding of the Abhidhamma as "wise consideration". So for them it is "hearing Dhamma" when someone more knowledgeable of Abhidhamma in a formal way is explaining (in a formal way) the scripture and this way they think they are "considering wisely". Which would lead to "right view". Their "right view" is understanding of a fomal logic and I do not think that the Buddha's Dhamma is meant on this level. When looking at the suttas "right view" clearly is based on iddhis (like the knowledge of beings appearing and disappearing: the iddhi called divine eye). Right view is nothing one has been told by someone else. Nothing one can gain by a formalism.

IMO, they change the meanings of the terms in the suttas. Because the the result is not correct. That calm they talk about is is not samatha, playing with a formalism is not "wise consideration". And thus there must be more about "hearing Dhamma" than just having Abhidhamma read by someone else.

Afaik, in Theravada, "voice of another" can be anyone, or even the texts, that's not important, what's important is that there is wise consideration, or as you say above, insight and samatha, or in abidhamma terms, panna and samadhi, on the part of the hearer.


As far as I know "understanding of sacred scriptures" is an iddhi gained from the element fire (a so-called Kundalini accomplishment). Does not require a linage. But here, too, "hearing" or "reading" is quite different from normal hearing or reading. And it does not require someone else to speak.
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Re: Hearing. was Re: Mahamudra in Theravada?

Postby Freawaru » Fri Dec 11, 2009 8:18 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
Freawaru wrote:
what we consider to be awareness of our physical body is not truely awareness of the physical body. When meditating one can see this easily. What we consider our physical body is just an image of it. This image is changeable. For example in dreams our body is not much linked to our physical one any more. We can be again in our body from childhood, or do stuff with our body we can't in wake (like flying) or even be in a completely different body than in wake (like an animal or other person or whatever). Still, all these bodies feel just like our physical body does during wake - it is because they all are, even the wake one, just images. The only difference to wake is that the image of the physical body is loosely connected to the senses.

What happens in dreams is what happens in dreams, but that does not support your claim that "what we consider to be awareness of our physical body is not truely awareness of the physical body."


Hi tilt,

two years ago I attended the Dalai Lama event in Hamburg and one of the speakers in the framework program, Prof. Dr. Th. Metzinger, held this lecture http://www.dalailama-hamburg.de/index.php?id=70&L=1

The lecture of Thomas Metzinger will pursue the question how the sensation of I myself arises, which is the basis of all feeling and thought. How is it possible to imagine, that in an information processing system like the human brain a "phenomenal self" arises, a consciously experienced self? Metzinger will argue that there is no such thing like a substantial self but only a "transparent model of self". Then he will show that it is just as wrong to allege that the self is an illusion.


It was basically about that statement of mine and how that kind of image of the physical body arises in the mind. Our consciousness is - during normal conditions - just aware of that image, not the physical body itself. If you are interested in this topic from a theoretical point of view I suggest reading the various books of Metzinger.
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Re: Hearing. was Re: Mahamudra in Theravada?

Postby pt1 » Sat Dec 12, 2009 2:18 am

Hi Freawaru,
Freawaru wrote:Yes, but in Mahayana only specific persons can give a transmission. We find this idea in other cultures as well, think of the baptism in Christianity or Reiki initiations. This is the reason for the lineages. No transmissions no lineages. In fact the whole concept of lineage is only plausible if there is something like a transmission. Something that can be lost.

This might then be a significant difference between the Theravada and Mahayana (and other religions), i.e. in Theravada imo it's about what's the true Dhamma, not who teaches it.

Freawaru wrote:Lineages cannot not start from scripture - one NEEDS an original person who discovered the energy (or recieved it himself by some enlightened being like Manjushri) and starts the lineage by transmitting the energy to someone else. This is why in lineages the persons who transmit are very important). Without the energy the scripture is still interesting and useful but does not have the same effect - at least that is the theory in Mahayana, I have not tested it.

Again, this might be another major difference. E.g. in Mahaparinibana sutta, DN16 the Buddha says that after his death, it's the Dhamma and Vinaya he thought that we should consider as the teacher (which are in the form of texts nowadays), so no lineages and special transmissions required. That said, in Theravada, afaik, the Buddha (Sammasambuddha) is the person who rediscovers the Dhamma and is then able to teach it to others. I am not sure whether "person who rediscovers the Dhamma" is equivalent to your "person who discovered the energy". What exactly do you mean by "energy"? In Theravada, afaik, "Dhamma" can be explained in many ways, but is summed up well by the four noble truths, dependent origination, noble eight-fold path etc.

Freawaru wrote:People at DSG (not all, but many) consider Abhidhamma and the Pali suttas as formal systems. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Formal_system
Considering these scriptures in a formal way isn't, IMO, what the Buddha meant by "wise consideration". But it has many similarities. Concentrating on a formal system brings calm, just as doing Mathematical calculations or writing programs in C++ does. Also, dealing with scripture in this way one understands something - but not the Buddha's Dhamma. They define that kind of calm as samatha and the formal understanding of the Abhidhamma as "wise consideration". So for them it is "hearing Dhamma" when someone more knowledgeable of Abhidhamma in a formal way is explaining (in a formal way) the scripture and this way they think they are "considering wisely". Which would lead to "right view". Their "right view" is understanding of a fomal logic and I do not think that the Buddha's Dhamma is meant on this level. When looking at the suttas "right view" clearly is based on iddhis (like the knowledge of beings appearing and disappearing: the iddhi called divine eye). Right view is nothing one has been told by someone else. Nothing one can gain by a formalism.

IMO, they change the meanings of the terms in the suttas. Because the the result is not correct. That calm they talk about is is not samatha, playing with a formalism is not "wise consideration". And thus there must be more about "hearing Dhamma" than just having Abhidhamma read by someone else.

With respect, the things you say above are largely a misrepresentation (and sometimes a total opposite) of how these things are explained on DSG, as well as in Theravada imo. In fact, I had similar conclusions like you after spending a couple of weeks browsing through DSG (which is roughly how much time I saw you spending there), but it takes a bit more time to get to understand their terminology and approach (dry insight, which at times can be completely alien to those of us who practice "meditation"). Not sure if you're interested, but we can discuss all this a bit more in depth if you want?

Freawaru wrote:As far as I know "understanding of sacred scriptures" is an iddhi gained from the element fire (a so-called Kundalini accomplishment). Does not require a linage. But here, too, "hearing" or "reading" is quite different from normal hearing or reading. And it does not require someone else to speak.

Not sure what you're saying here?

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Re: Hearing. was Re: Mahamudra in Theravada?

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Dec 12, 2009 6:46 am

Freawaru wrote:
two years ago I attended the Dalai Lama event in Hamburg and one of the speakers in the framework program, Prof. Dr. Th. Metzinger, held this lecture http://www.dalailama-hamburg.de/index.php?id=70&L=1

The lecture of Thomas Metzinger will pursue the question how the sensation of I myself arises, which is the basis of all feeling and thought. How is it possible to imagine, that in an information processing system like the human brain a "phenomenal self" arises, a consciously experienced self? Metzinger will argue that there is no such thing like a substantial self but only a "transparent model of self". Then he will show that it is just as wrong to allege that the self is an illusion.


It was basically about that statement of mine and how that kind of image of the physical body arises in the mind. Our consciousness is - during normal conditions - just aware of that image, not the physical body itself. If you are interested in this topic from a theoretical point of view I suggest reading the various books of Metzinger.

That still does not support your claim that "what we consider to be awareness of our physical body is not truely awareness of the physical body."

You might want to consider how the khandhas actually function, which is something that is accessible via vipassana/mindfulness practice.
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.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Mahamudra in Theravada?

Postby kumarajiva » Sat Dec 12, 2009 9:18 am

pink_trike wrote:
Freawaru wrote:
Me? I got the impression that most practitioners' priority is going to retreats and getting empowerments - not to practice themselves. This has lead to a version of Guru Yoga I cannot accept.

Freawaru


People new to the Vajrayna path often grasp at empowerments, in the same way that newbies to Theravada grasp at rules, behaviors, and form. Both empowerments and rules/behaviors/form are seeds and soil for the manifestation of fruit. In both traditions "most" practitioners eventually shift their perspective organically, from the material elements to a more experiential understanding.


Actually I find that newbies to Theravada grasp at its meditation practices. They do not pay too much attention to the behaviors and forms. In fact, ethics and behaviours form the foundation of Theravada practice. Before you can discipline the mind it is good to have a go at disciplining the body.
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