Hearing. was Re: Mahamudra in Theravada?

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Re: Hearing. was Re: Mahamudra in Theravada?

Postby Freawaru » Sat Dec 12, 2009 6:08 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
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.


Hi Tilt,

I do not understand your claim. What exactly do you think I mean by that statement?
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Re: Hearing. was Re: Mahamudra in Theravada?

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Dec 12, 2009 6:39 pm

Hi pt1,
pt1 wrote: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?

I've spent a long time reading DSG, and posted a little. and my conclusion is somewhat similar to Freawaru. The Ajahn Sujin followers do not advocate "dry insight" in the sense that I understand it, e.g. as taught by the Burmese traditions such as Mahasi, and as explained in the Visuddhimagga - of course, as you know, they deny that the Suttas, Commentaries, and Visuddhimagga contains any "instructions" at all. My frustation with them is that they essentially refuse to engage on the interesting questions and retreat to the: "citta rise and fall very fast and there is no self, so there is no control and therefore meditative development is impossible" argument.

Of course, all Buddhist teachers are well aware of "lack of control". It is a key insight. It would be interesting to discuss the subtleties with them, but since they appear reject what all other Buddhist teachers teach, I don't find it easy to have much useful discussion. (A notable exception for me is a Robert K's posts - it's a pity he stopped posting here).

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Re: Hearing. was Re: Mahamudra in Theravada?

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Dec 12, 2009 6:59 pm

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

I do not understand your claim. What exactly do you think I mean by that statement?

I can't speak for Tilt, but as I understand it, the idea of vipassana is to see through the concepts. So instead of having the conceptual idea of "my foot" lifting off the ground, moving forward, and dropping, one starts to perceive the elemental qualities of motion, hardness, heat, etc... (Hmm, that's an analysis by the elements, but the same sort of thing applies to the khandas...)

As far as I understand, what Metzinger says is the same as what the Buddha taught. I.e. we are bound up in these concepts of self. That correctly identifies the problem, but not the solution.

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Re: Hearing. was Re: Mahamudra in Theravada?

Postby Freawaru » Sat Dec 12, 2009 7:25 pm

Hi pt1,

pt1 wrote: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.


This is my impression, too, and, btw, one of the things that attract me to Theravada. :D

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.


Is this really so easy? Dhamma, yes. But the Vinaya requires initiation and the presence of specific persons at this ritual, too. I am no nun so I have no idea what happens at the ritual but I know - due to the recent disagreements - that an ordained nun is required to be at the initiation ritual to fully ordain another nun. Why should this be necessary if there is not something else going on? Just because everybody but aryans clings to rites and rituals? Not enough, IMO. Theravadans also claim that the linage of nuns was broken some time back and they cannot re-establish it because no nun (meaning: a specific person) can be present. Without something like transmissions this requirement of presence of a specific person makes no sense at all. Dhamma (scripture in this case) should be sufficient.

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.


Mahayana has that, too, as far as I know. Energy is, IMO, just another term for the various combinations of the elements. In Mahayana an enlightened being like Manjushri or Tara also has a specific combination of the elements. To tune in into this combination (to get into samadhi) is kusala and speeds up the devellopment to Buddhahood. The Visuddhimagga describes a similar technique regarding the elements (kasina and nimitta meditation) that leads to the iddhis and ultimately to Liberation (Mahyana has this, too) but, ifaik, it does not describe specific combinations that are useful as objects of samadhi. The transmission is necessary to get the specific combination of the elements known to the student so he or she can practice samadhi with the object, say, Manjushri. This is one of the basic ideas in Tantra (see for example: "Introduction to Tantra" by Lama Yeshe) and called "guru yoga". Not the idolization of some living person but to attain samadhi with a Buddha. A quote taken from "Introduction to Tantra":

Lama Yeshe wrote:Look at the different ways in which people respond to the same spiritual teachings by the same teacher. One person may not even intellectually understand the concepts contained in the teaching. Another may be able to understand them but be unable to penetrate their inner meaning. And there are those who can reach beyond the mere words and concepts and experience total unification with the teacher's wisdom and compassion. These reactions are all due to the various individuals' having achieved different levels of intellectual and spiritual evolution. The more in touch they are with their own internal guru, the more profound their understanding of the teaching will be.
Practically speaking, there is only so much the relative, external guru can do for us, he or she cannot guarantee that we gain insight and realizations. But our inner guru, our own clear wisdom, can accomplish everything. The practice of guru yoga, therefore, is primarily a method for learning how to listen to this inner guru.
Ordinarily, even though we do possess this inner voice of wisdom, we do not listen to it. We do not even hear it. we are too busy listening to the garbage conversation of our gross dualistic minds.


I think this quote nicely sums up why I prefer the Mahayana interpretation of "Hearing Dhamma". First, it clearly discerns between so-called intellectual understanding of concepts and the penetration of the inner meaning of the teaching. Two interpretations of the very same suttas, two languages, two levels of understanding, Then it describes the samadhi (unification) experience with wisdom. And it describes why most people have problems with this: they simply are not able to find the object (namely wisdom). Just like nimitta meditation goes beyond concepts (elements are not concepts) so do the transmissions. And just like in the Visuddhimagga it is said that it needs a lot of practice in this life or in past lifes to acquire the very ability to be aware of the elements in Tantra it is required to be aware of the energies, Which means a lot of prepratory practice for most.

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?


I would appreciate to discuss it in depth :D

As to dry insight - the Mahasi method makes a lot of sense to me but Nina's method seems very different as it completely takes out meditation.
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Re: Hearing. was Re: Mahamudra in Theravada?

Postby pt1 » Sun Dec 13, 2009 1:35 am

Hi Mike,
mikenz66 wrote:I've spent a long time reading DSG, and posted a little. and my conclusion is somewhat similar to Freawaru. The Ajahn Sujin followers do not advocate "dry insight" in the sense that I understand it, e.g. as taught by the Burmese traditions such as Mahasi,

Yes, my understanding is that DSG "dry insight" is even "dryer" in the sense that no concentration practice is undertaken before or in parallel with insight (and insight is also not seen as an intentional practice but a moment of understanding that cannot be forced to arise, and in fact, it's the very forcing which usually prevents understanding from arising). From what I know about Mahasi methods, they still do have a facet of concentration practice in them, even though i's not stressed that much.

mikenz66 wrote:and as explained in the Visuddhimagga - of course, as you know, they deny that the Suttas, Commentaries, and Visuddhimagga contains any "instructions" at all.

Yeah, I find that very interesting. I can't say that I understand it entirely yet, but imo that kind of interpretation has some important advantages, in particular, understanding the three marks (in my case at least).

mikenz66 wrote:My frustation with them is that they essentially refuse to engage on the interesting questions and retreat to the: "citta rise and fall very fast and there is no self, so there is no control and therefore meditative development is impossible" argument.

I know what you mean. This is not an easy topic and it took me a while before it started making at least a bit of sense. Currently, my understanding is (as brief as I can put it):

1. It is not said that meditative development is impossible.
2. Samatha (jhana absorption) is possible and it would depend on one's accumuations whether it can be reached. Everyone else who doesn't have such accumulations will be likely engaging in wrong concentration when they are aiming for jhana or even think they reached it.
3. Meditative development (bhavana) does not equate to concentration practice nor even jhana absorption.
4. Bhavana can be described as samatha and vipassana, but more precisely, bhavana happens when kusala citta is accompanied with panna (as well as other kusala cetasikas). So there can be what you and me conventionally call meditation and concentration, but, defining them by cetasikas, they can be either kusala or akusala cittas (where aksuala obviously doesn't lead to liberation).
5. Whenever there is kusala citta with panna, there's automatically kusala concentration and calm (samadhi) and the stronger the panna, the stronger the insight as well as samadhi.
6. So, meditative development (bhavana) happens with development of panna,
7. Panna cannot be forced to arise (being conditioned, and thus beyond control by a self), so when someone tries to force it to arise (or force sati or concentration to be this way or that), it is evident that at that moment there is no panna that would understand these dhammas as being beyond control by a self, and thus, such forcing is necessarily a product of akusala cittas.
8. It is important to divorce the above from conventional activities and apply it to a single moment. I.e. whatever we are conventionally doing right now - meditating, reading suttas, discussing dhamma, cleaning the room, etc, each of these activities will have quadrillions of cittas, and some will be kusala, some aksuala, depending on panna.
9. going beyond single citta frame reference when considering abhidhamma is not advised because it requires operating with concepts (e.g. I'm (not) meditating - both "I" and "meditating" are concepts), and concepts are not paramattha dhammas.
10. single citta frame reference (and thus the speed you mention) is very useful for establishing the right view - understanding the three marks of dhamma(s) in the present moment.

Not sure if this help, we can discuss more if you like. Btw, I answered on DSG to one of your posts couple of days ago about multiple citta trends in abhidhamma (so not just single citta frame), not sure if you caught it. If not, let me know, and I'll chase down the post number for you.

mikenz66 wrote:Of course, all Buddhist teachers are well aware of "lack of control". It is a key insight. It would be interesting to discuss the subtleties with them, but since they appear reject what all other Buddhist teachers teach, I don't find it easy to have much useful discussion. (A notable exception for me is a Robert K's posts - it's a pity he stopped posting here).

I'd suggest talking a bit more with Sarah and Jon, they are always glad to discuss this topic. The problem is that Sarah (and Jon) is quite busy, as well as feeling the responsibility that she has to welcome each newcomer and answer almost every question posted, so it takes her a while to get to your post. I am also in a marathon thread with her on this topic, as I am in favor of jhana, so every month or so, she replies, then I reply in a month, etc. It's slow, but worthwhile. If you haven't caught that thread, let me know, and I'll chase down the link for you. Or keep at the thread you started but address your questions to her, and I'm sure she'll reply, though you'd need to be patient as she's usually on a backlog of several hundred posts.

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Re: Hearing. was Re: Mahamudra in Theravada?

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Dec 13, 2009 2:07 am

Freawaru wrote:
tilt wrote: "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.


Hi Tilt,

I do not understand your claim. What exactly do you think I mean by that statement?


Best, maybe, that you clarify what exactly you mean by "what we consider to be awareness of our physical body is not truely awareness of the physical body."

And you do not know how the khandhas actually function?
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: Hearing. was Re: Mahamudra in Theravada?

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Dec 13, 2009 2:23 am

Thanks PT,

There is some interesting stuff there, but since I obviously don't take the Sujin-follower POV very seriously (If I did I wouldn't spend an hour or so each day practising what my Mahasi-style and other teachers have taught me), and they don't appear to have much sympathy for any other point of view on practise (i.e. essentially every other teacher), I am hesitant to put a lot of effort into having discussions with them. It just leads to me feeling irritated, which I don't think is useful to me.

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Re: Hearing. was Re: Mahamudra in Theravada?

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Dec 13, 2009 2:33 am

mikenz66 wrote: (A notable exception for me is a Robert K's posts - it's a pity he stopped posting here).

Too much heterodoxy here, it would seem.
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.

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Re: Hearing. was Re: Mahamudra in Theravada?

Postby pt1 » Sun Dec 13, 2009 3:15 am

Hi MIke,

mikenz66 wrote:There is some interesting stuff there, but since I obviously don't take the Sujin-follower POV very seriously (If I did I wouldn't spend an hour or so each day practising what my Mahasi-style and other teachers have taught me), and they don't appear to have much sympathy for any other point of view on practise (i.e. essentially every other teacher), I am hesitant to put a lot of effort into having discussions with them. It just leads to me feeling irritated, which I don't think is useful to me.


Well, I also do a couple of hours of samatha a day :jedi: but that doesn't stop me talking with them. The most useful discussions there I'd say are when we forget about methods and just discuss what's in the suttas and atthakathas. And that's another thing, aside from Bhante Dhammanando, I don't know anyone else on the net who's quite so familiar with Abhidhamma, commentaries and other Pali stuff that's not in English yet, so just being able to read excerpts from these works there is great. Either way, I'm glad when I see you pop in there from time to time.

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

Postby Freawaru » Sun Dec 13, 2009 10:18 am

Hi Tilt,

tiltbillings wrote:
Best, maybe, that you clarify what exactly you mean by "what we consider to be awareness of our physical body is not truely awareness of the physical body."


Ah, okay. By "truly" I mean "directly". To see the sensory information directly and thus being able to be aware of the physical body. Without having gone through the patterns that alter those signals. I guess you would call those patterns "khandas". They construe the personality and thus how we - when in absorption with the personality - perceive our physical body. There is an awareness linked to the personality, too, one is aware of a specific part of the personality as "my hand" for example. But this "my hand" is not really the direct sensory information but a signal altered by those khandas that construe the personality. So, while in absorption in the personality we are not truly aware of the physical body via the senses but only aware of an altered version of it.

Only by detaching from the personality and entering the Impersonal one can become aware of the direct signal of the senses.

There was an interesting article regarding our personality awareness of the physical body in the german version of Scientific American recently. The human awareness of the physical body (i.e. not the Impersonal direct sensory awareness) is so shapeable that we easily integrate mechanical things into it. For example: tools. When the human uses tools, plays with a tool, the tool and it's uses are integrated into that khanda construed awareness of the physical body. This is why humans can use tools so efficiently in the first place. I can really feel this integration: whatever one takes into a hand or has linked to feet (skier, inliner, etc) and even cars, etc, after some practice they feel like parts of my physical body. The patterns/khandas that construe the personality's awareness of the physical body have changed. So this plastic image of the physical body is not just a matter of dreams but happens naturally in wake, too.

And you do not know how the khandhas actually function?


It depends. It depends on how much I am in absorption with the personality and how much knowledge from the Impersonal comes through. When there is the shift to the Impersonal accompanied by the high temporal resolution I know them and how they function but I am not permanently in this state and eventually shift back into the personality to a more or less degree and the direct knowledge of them functioning ceases accordingly. Of course, to a certain degree one can use memory of what one has seen during the Impersonal but, dunno exactly why, I never was able to bring all the memory into the personality so it is also a lot of guesswork and extrapolation and intrapolation, too.
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Re: Hearing. was Re: Mahamudra in Theravada?

Postby pt1 » Sun Dec 13, 2009 1:05 pm

Hi Freawaru,
Freawaru wrote:Is this really so easy? Dhamma, yes. But the Vinaya requires initiation and the presence of specific persons at this ritual, too. I am no nun so I have no idea what happens at the ritual but I know - due to the recent disagreements - that an ordained nun is required to be at the initiation ritual to fully ordain another nun. Why should this be necessary if there is not something else going on? Just because everybody but aryans clings to rites and rituals? Not enough, IMO. Theravadans also claim that the linage of nuns was broken some time back and they cannot re-establish it because no nun (meaning: a specific person) can be present. Without something like transmissions this requirement of presence of a specific person makes no sense at all. Dhamma (scripture in this case) should be sufficient.

Yeah, I don't know either about this, it could be about transmission as you say, but it could be just a rule to make sure ordination is done properly. Maybe someone who went through ordination can clarify here? No point for us speculating.

Freawaru wrote:Mahayana has that, too, as far as I know. Energy is, IMO, just another term for the various combinations of the elements. In Mahayana an enlightened being like Manjushri or Tara also has a specific combination of the elements. To tune in into this combination (to get into samadhi) is kusala and speeds up the devellopment to Buddhahood.

This is according to Mahayana, right? Because in Theravada afaik this is not so, i.e. samatha, iddhis and energy that you describe (which can be classed as rupas - matter, in abhidhamma) cannot speed up liberation, only insight accomplishes that.

Freawaru wrote:The Visuddhimagga describes a similar technique regarding the elements (kasina and nimitta meditation) that leads to the iddhis and ultimately to Liberation (Mahyana has this, too)
I'm not sure this is so. Afaik, there are two "techniques" regarding elements in Visuddhimagga. As an object of samatha, elements cannot lead to jhana, only access concentration, and as (all kinds of) samatha will not be the cause of liberation (only vipassana will, as mentioned). As an object of insight, elements have nothing to do with iddhis, i.e. there's only the understanding of the elements arising as ruupa(matter) and being object(s) of the touch-consciosuness which is not a ruupa but nama. Kasinas and nimitta on the other hand are classed as concepts when they are object of jhana citta, so not a dhamma.

Freawaru wrote:The transmission is necessary to get the specific combination of the elements known to the student so he or she can practice samadhi with the object, say, Manjushri.
So, according to Mahayana, elements as objects can lead to jhana?

Lama Yeshe wrote:Look at the different ways in which people respond to the same spiritual teachings by the same teacher. One person may not even intellectually understand the concepts contained in the teaching. Another may be able to understand them but be unable to penetrate their inner meaning. And there are those who can reach beyond the mere words and concepts and experience total unification with the teacher's wisdom and compassion. These reactions are all due to the various individuals' having achieved different levels of intellectual and spiritual evolution. The more in touch they are with their own internal guru, the more profound their understanding of the teaching will be.
Practically speaking, there is only so much the relative, external guru can do for us, he or she cannot guarantee that we gain insight and realizations. But our inner guru, our own clear wisdom, can accomplish everything. The practice of guru yoga, therefore, is primarily a method for learning how to listen to this inner guru.
Ordinarily, even though we do possess this inner voice of wisdom, we do not listen to it. We do not even hear it. we are too busy listening to the garbage conversation of our gross dualistic minds.


Freawaru wrote:I think this quote nicely sums up why I prefer the Mahayana interpretation of "Hearing Dhamma". First, it clearly discerns between so-called intellectual understanding of concepts and the penetration of the inner meaning of the teaching. Two interpretations of the very same suttas, two languages, two levels of understanding, Then it describes the samadhi (unification) experience with wisdom. And it describes why most people have problems with this: they simply are not able to find the object (namely wisdom).

I agree it's a nice quote. Moreover, it's very similar to how development of wisdom is described in Theravada (and this is the same thing people on DSG keep saying also!) I.e. first it's said there's the conceptual understanding (pariyatti), which comes from hearing the dhamma and considering it. As a result of this consideration comes the pracitce (patipatti) - examining in real life what was heard and considered. And finally based on this comes pativedha - true insight into the nature of reality, so not just knowledge based on concepts/study, but direct insight (i.e. wisdom).

Freawaru wrote:Just like nimitta meditation goes beyond concepts (elements are not concepts) so do the transmissions.
As mentioned, nimitta, which is the object of jhana citta, is a concept, so saying that nimitta meditation goes beyond concepts is a bit weird. Elements are not concepts, agreed, they are rupas - matter. Not sure about transmission yet - how to classify it - are you trying to say it's also rupas, or something else?

Freawaru wrote:And just like in the Visuddhimagga it is said that it needs a lot of practice in this life or in past lifes to acquire the very ability to be aware of the elements
You mean as objects of vipassana or samatha? If it's vipassna, you can do that right now, no need to wait, just touch something, and all the elements are there. For samatha, elements are not said to lead to jhana.

Freawaru wrote:in Tantra it is required to be aware of the energies, Which means a lot of prepratory practice for most.
I know on e-sangha, we talked about this as "energy", but can you please say exactly what you mean by energy here? Rupas, or something else?

Freawaru wrote:People at DSG (not all, but many) consider Abhidhamma and the Pali suttas as formal systems. Considering these scriptures in a formal way isn't, IMO, what the Buddha meant by "wise consideration".
I don't think this is accurate. Afaik, they usually say that development goes through those stages I already mentioned above - pariyatti, patipatti and pativedha. A start needs to be made, so the only place to start is pariyatti, I don't see how it can be any other way.

Freawaru wrote: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".
This seems completely opposite to what I could observe so far. I mean, as Mike mentioned, firstly DSG folks are not very keen on anything that's "formal", be it reading, studying, meditating, etc. So, it's not about the conventional activity, but about the kind of citta at the moment. Secondly, that's not how I get them describing kusala calm and concentration at all (I explained about this in the post to Mike, I hope it's clear - it's about panna being there, not the activity, nor the object of concentration, nor concentration itself, because kusala concentration is there as a byproduct when panna is there).

Freawaru wrote: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".
This is very incomplete description of how they put it. It depends on the person - if my wisdom is undeveloped, then the only level that I can understand the dhamma that I hear will be on the conceptual level - pariyatti. If my wsidom is a bit more developed I can apply what I hear in practice (patipatti), and if my wisdom is very developed, what I hear will lead to direct inisght (pativedha). But most of us are of very undeveloped wisdom, so for most of us, it'll be pariyatti most of the time.

Freawaru wrote:Which would lead to "right view".
In abhidhamma, right view corresponds to the cetasika of wisdom (panna), so again it goes back to what level my wisdom is at the moment. Hearing dhamma might lead to patipatti level, maybe even to pativedha level, but mostly pariyatti.

Freawaru wrote:Their "right view" is understanding of a formal logic
Yes, if by that you mean pariyatti, while by "formal logic" you mean what's thought in the tipitaka. But the general idea is that pariyatti will allow patipatti and pativedha to happen.

Freawaru wrote:and I do not think that the Buddha's Dhamma is meant on this level.
Okay, but what then is the goal of Buddha Dhamma if not pativedha (direct insight)?

Freawaru wrote: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).
Afaik, this conclusion is not in line with Theravada at all. I mean, I don't think there's a single reference in the tipitaka where right view is based on iddhis. Divine eye, seeing beings pass away, etc, were known before the Buddha. And in the tipitaka there are descriptions of those who had these powers but were not liberated. Even the Buddha wasn't liberated until he penetrated the 4 noble truths, D.O., etc. Divine eye happened for him before that, so a direct relationship iddhi-liberation cannot be established.

Freawaru wrote:Right view is nothing one has been told by someone else. Nothing one can gain by a formalism.

I agree in general, but not in detail - in Theravada we are all "hearers". i.e. we first need to hear dhamma from someone, and based on that (through patipatti and pativedha), liberation hopefully follows. Unless you are a silent Buddha or a Sammasambuddha - only in those (very rare) cases you do not need to hear dhamma from someone, according to Theravada that is.

Freawaru wrote: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.
Well, I don't think these conclusions reflect the true story at all, but it's up to you to determine this if it seems worthwhile.

Freawaru wrote:As to dry insight - the Mahasi method makes a lot of sense to me but Nina's method seems very different as it completely takes out meditation.
Yeah, as I mentioned to Mike, I think DSG approach is much more "dry", so it can seem very strange to those of us who are into meditation.

I tried to discuss this in depth as you asked.

Best wishes
pt1
 
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Re: Hearing. was Re: Mahamudra in Theravada?

Postby Freawaru » Mon Dec 14, 2009 1:34 pm

Hi pt1,

pt1 wrote:Yeah, I don't know either about this, it could be about transmission as you say, but it could be just a rule to make sure ordination is done properly.


I would expect fully ordained monks to be able to make sure that it is done properly. :lol:

Maybe someone who went through ordination can clarify here? No point for us speculating.


Maybe not. But I have a feeling this is one of those things they are not allowed to talk about in the presence of laymen ...

This is according to Mahayana, right? Because in Theravada afaik this is not so, i.e. samatha, iddhis and energy that you describe (which can be classed as rupas - matter, in abhidhamma) cannot speed up liberation, only insight accomplishes that.


I do not agree here. Insight is what leads to liberation but one can speed up getting the objects of insight. Take the satipatthana, when one is not experiencing, say, an unsurpassable mind it is a bit hard to "know the mind is unsurpassable", right? Analysis requires different objects:

http://www.ancient-buddhist-texts.net/T ... assana.htm

I'm not sure this is so. Afaik, there are two "techniques" regarding elements in Visuddhimagga. As an object of samatha, elements cannot lead to jhana, only access concentration, and as (all kinds of) samatha will not be the cause of liberation (only vipassana will, as mentioned). As an object of insight, elements have nothing to do with iddhis, i.e. there's only the understanding of the elements arising as ruupa(matter) and being object(s) of the touch-consciosuness which is not a ruupa but nama. Kasinas and nimitta on the other hand are classed as concepts when they are object of jhana citta, so not a dhamma.


I mean Visuddhimagga XII. How to develop the iddhis. One juggles simultanious samadhis with the kasinas and the jhanas, jumping from one combination to the next. BTW, regarding "energy body" in Mahayana, the iddhi that is able to contruct it is described in that chapter, too, called manomayā iddhi.

So, according to Mahayana, elements as objects can lead to jhana.


Not jhana. Jhanas are very specific samadhis with very specific objects (sphere of neither perception nor non-perception for example). There are a multitude of samadhis possible, every possible object (gross, subtle, very subtle) can be used for samadhi. Even the universe itself.

I don't have the Visuddhimagga in english but Visuddhimagga III defines the term "samadhi" (translated as "Sammlung" into german, i.e. collection, one-pointedness, absorption). One can be in samadhi with a kasina, too.

pt1 wrote:I agree it's a nice quote. Moreover, it's very similar to how development of wisdom is described in Theravada (and this is the same thing people on DSG keep saying also!) I.e. first it's said there's the conceptual understanding (pariyatti), which comes from hearing the dhamma and considering it. As a result of this consideration comes the pracitce (patipatti) - examining in real life what was heard and considered. And finally based on this comes pativedha - true insight into the nature of reality, so not just knowledge based on concepts/study, but direct insight (i.e. wisdom).


Yes, but I do not agree with their interpretation of how this development takes place. Conceptual understanding and discussion on this level and what you call "considering" does not in itself lead to the next step. If this was so everybody who does a lot of conceptual thinking would automatically enter it, aka all philosophers, mathematicians, people who write programs... The problem is that one has to overcome conceptual thinking to enter the next step. This means the mind has to realize that the conceptual understanding is WRONG. So if one wants to use the Abhidhamma theory as a means to make this step one has to stop thinking of Abhidhamma as if written in stone or trying to prove it right (to oneself or others). Instead, one has to set oneself the goal to prove Abhidhamma wrong. To find the limits, The moment one finds a limit, can prove Abhidhamma not being able to answer the question, the mind switches over to non-conceptual knowledge. Like when practicing those Zen koans.

I consider Abhidhamma as a problematic system for this approach for two reasons. First, it is too large. It will take a long time to find the limits all by oneself - one would need someone else to lead one to it. The other is that belief that it is about ultimate truth (non conceptual) but one can take it as normal truth (conceptual), too. Or to put it differently, when it is ultimate truth the whole approach of thinking and discussing it in the pariyatti way is wrong; when we speak about cetasikas and cittas and khandas and all the Abdhihammic terms we use the conceptual mind for practice. Same with their so-called patipatti - the idea should not be to apply the conceptual, formal, understanding of Abhidhamma gained from reading and discussing (which is wrong and needs to be overcome/transcendented) to everyday life but to prolong the already experienced and known ultimate truth into it.

So, while I agree on the text I do not agree on the interpretation.

As mentioned, nimitta, which is the object of jhana citta, is a concept, so saying that nimitta meditation goes beyond concepts is a bit weird. Elements are not concepts, agreed, they are rupas - matter. Not sure about transmission yet - how to classify it - are you trying to say it's also rupas, or something else?


As far as I know Nimittas are conceptualized images of a non-concept. Thus they provide a bridge to the realm of non-concepts. This is also the reason why they appear in different ways to different people. Some see the breath nimitta as a spider web, others as a sun or star or whatelsenot. What you really want are the non-concepts, the elements in a direct way.

You mean as objects of vipassana or samatha? If it's vipassna, you can do that right now, no need to wait, just touch something, and all the elements are there.


Sure, but not everybody is aware of them even when touching. This is why the Visuddhimagga teaches the kasinas with it's various signs and countersigns. To enable the practitioner to be aware of them in the first place.

For samatha, elements are not said to lead to jhana.


As I said other samadhis are usefull, too. To know that the earthkasina is the earthkasina is a specific insight just as seeing and knowing the specific factors that identify a specific jhana. (see again Visuddhimagga 12)

pt1 wrote:I know on e-sangha, we talked about this as "energy", but can you please say exactly what you mean by energy here? Rupas, or something else?


Frankly, I hesitate to use this terminology because I have not mastered it. What is rupa? According to Abhidhamma everything that is not nama is rupa. In DO nama/rupa is one link, and just ONE link, not everything is nama/rupa. There are also different translations (name and form, mentality and materiality). And if they are non-concepts it is even more difficult to know what they refer to.

Using the definition of the elements of the Visuddhimagga (which exist in exactly this definition in Mahayana, too) I think it is safe to say that "energies" (Mahayana) are elements and combinations of the elements (dhatu). "Space" is an element, too, in Mahayana there is for example the meditation called "dissolving the elements" and dissolving space is one of them. In the Visuddhimagga "space" is treated in the same way as earth, fire, etc.

I don't think this is accurate. Afaik, they usually say that development goes through those stages I already mentioned above - pariyatti, patipatti and pativedha. A start needs to be made, so the only place to start is pariyatti, I don't see how it can be any other way.


As I said I agree with the development but not with the interpretation of what those terms mean. When one thinks all the time during everyday life "this is rupa, this is nama" one practices on the first level of what is called "labeling" in the Mahasi style. It is not considering, nor patipatti, it is the very first step to develop the momentary concentration. And this does not require years of reading, remembering and discussing Abhidhamma theory. One can start it now.

This seems completely opposite to what I could observe so far. I mean, as Mike mentioned, firstly DSG folks are not very keen on anything that's "formal", be it reading, studying, meditating, etc.


They use a formal system as a means to practice formal thinking. You can't get more formal than that. Here is the definition of "formal system":

In formal logic, a formal system (also called a logical calculus[citation needed]) consists of a formal language and a set of inference rules, used to derive (to conclude) one expression from one or more other expressions (premises) antecedently supposed (axioms) or derived (theorems). The axioms and rules may be called a deductive apparatus. A formal system may be formulated and studied for its intrinsic properties, or it may be intended as a description (i.e. a model) of external phenomena.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Formal_system


The Abhidhamma system fulfils these requirements and is indeed used in both ways (intrinsic properties and model of phenomena).

pt1 wrote:So, it's not about the conventional activity, but about the kind of citta at the moment. Secondly, that's not how I get them describing kusala calm and concentration at all (I explained about this in the post to Mike, I hope it's clear - it's about panna being there, not the activity, nor the object of concentration, nor concentration itself, because kusala concentration is there as a byproduct when panna is there).


Sure, but panna does not arise from studying a formal system - except by proving it incomplete.

This is very incomplete description of how they put it. It depends on the person - if my wisdom is undeveloped, then the only level that I can understand the dhamma that I hear will be on the conceptual level - pariyatti. If my wsidom is a bit more developed I can apply what I hear in practice (patipatti), and if my wisdom is very developed, what I hear will lead to direct inisght (pativedha). But most of us are of very undeveloped wisdom, so for most of us, it'll be pariyatti most of the time.


The change, the shift that happens when there is panna present in contrast to when it is not, it is surprising, different, alien (for the conceptual mind). I have asked a few questions in that direction and the only answer I got was that there won't be any surprises, panna simply deepens (implying that the person who speaks already has panna that will deepen). This devellopment describes the development and learning of formal logic. Not panna. Panna is always a surprise to the conceptual mind (though of course not to itself).

Yes, if by that you mean pariyatti, while by "formal logic" you mean what's thought in the tipitaka. But the general idea is that pariyatti will allow patipatti and pativedha to happen.


To overcome something one has to see it's limits. From seeing those limits "disgust" arises. The disgust conditions the will to leave it and the faith that one can do this. As long as one clings to thought/formal logic, as long as one believes this to lead to wisdom, it won't work.

Mind you, I do not mean that developing formal logic is wrong. On the contrary. But it itself is not panna, nor leading to panna.

Okay, but what then is the goal of Buddha Dhamma if not pativedha (direct insight)?


You misunderstood me. Of course pativdha (direct insight) is the goal. Just what they call pativedha is, IMO, not pativedha.

Freawaru wrote: Afaik, this conclusion is not in line with Theravada at all. I mean, I don't think there's a single reference in the tipitaka where right view is based on iddhis. Divine eye, seeing beings pass away, etc, were known before the Buddha.


Yes. And the Buddha called this "right view" in the suttas. The view arising from insight is called "superior/supramundane right view".

And in the tipitaka there are descriptions of those who had these powers but were not liberated. Even the Buddha wasn't liberated until he penetrated the 4 noble truths, D.O., etc. Divine eye happened for him before that, so a direct relationship iddhi-liberation cannot be established.


Panna is not Liberation, either. Just a means to get there.

I tried to discuss this in depth as you asked.


Thank you very much for this discussion.
Freawaru
 
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Re: Hearing. was Re: Mahamudra in Theravada?

Postby pt1 » Tue Dec 15, 2009 3:19 am

Hi Freawaru,

Freawaru wrote:I do not agree here. Insight is what leads to liberation but one can speed up getting the objects of insight. Take the satipatthana, when one is not experiencing, say, an unsurpassable mind it is a bit hard to "know the mind is unsurpassable", right? Analysis requires different objects:

Hmm, I think this goes to how we understand insight - is it about analysing different objects (what you accuse DSG people of doing), or about understanding the presently arisen dhamma (whichever it might be) as anatta, anicca and dukkha?

Freawaru wrote:I mean Visuddhimagga XII. How to develop the iddhis. One juggles simultanious samadhis with the kasinas and the jhanas, jumping from one combination to the next.

Not sure what you mean here, will check that Vis. chapter. I mean, not sure how you can juggle kasinas and jhanas, since jhana is beased on kasina (nimitta of it), so there can't be any going between kasina and jhana, what you seem to be saying.

Freawaru wrote:Jhanas are very specific samadhis with very specific objects (sphere of neither perception nor non-perception for example). There are a multitude of samadhis possible, every possible object (gross, subtle, very subtle) can be used for samadhi. Even the universe itself.

I don't have the Visuddhimagga in english but Visuddhimagga III defines the term "samadhi" (translated as "Sammlung" into german, i.e. collection, one-pointedness, absorption). One can be in samadhi with a kasina, too.

Okay. Perhaps we should be more specific and state what kind of concentration is associated with a particular samadhi. Jhana would be (according to Vis) associated with absorption concentration. Kasina as object would lead to absorption, elements would not - only access. Afaik, iddhis would require mastery of 4th jhana (with all previous jhanas already mastered).

Freawaru wrote:Yes, but I do not agree with their interpretation of how this development takes place. Conceptual understanding and discussion on this level and what you call "considering" does not in itself lead to the next step. If this was so everybody who does a lot of conceptual thinking would automatically enter it, aka all philosophers, mathematicians, people who write programs...

Oversimplification. Pariyatti doesn't mean conceptualizing about whatever topic, but about correct (conceptual) understanding of dhamma - i.e. anatta, DO, 4 noble truths, etc - way that leads to liberation. It is this kind of conceptual understanding that makes the correct practice possible. If one doesn't conceptually understand dhamma correctly in the beginning, one will end up practicing something else which doesn't lead to liberation, even though s/he might call it "buddhism".

Freawaru wrote:The problem is that one has to overcome conceptual thinking to enter the next step. This means the mind has to realize that the conceptual understanding is WRONG.

Saying that it is wrong seems a bit counterproductive. Conceptual understanding is just the first step. The next step is verifying in practice what you heard. I mean we can hear (or read) what others tell us only through concepts, so without them, there'd be no possibility of teaching, so practice wouldn't be possible.

Freawaru wrote: So if one wants to use the Abhidhamma theory as a means to make this step one has to stop thinking of Abhidhamma as if written in stone or trying to prove it right (to oneself or others).
You might be completely missing the purpose of abhidhamma - it is not a theory but a description of how things really are. In other words, someone whose insight has been developed to the maximum (sammasambuddha) would see everything exactly as it is described in the abhidhamma. So, it's not something that needs to be studied and theorised/conceptualised about - it is something that helps you do precisely what you are trying to tell me - it helps to go beyond the conventional conceptual desginations/view of the world and see it in ultimate terms (with wisdom).

The problem though is that none of us have a lot of wisdom, so the only way to describe to us how this ultimate "world" looks like is by explaining us the concepts which are still aimed at helping us get to the ultimate - direct insight. So, instead of telling us smth like "The universe was created by X god." - abhidhammma tells us something like - "Universe" is a concept which is not a dhamma (ultimate reality), it is an aramanna (object) of the present akusala citta which is a dhamma, that has arisen with the following cetasiaks which are also dhammas, and it was conditioned by such and such conditions... So it is precisely trying to shift the perspective from conventional/conceptual, towards the ultimate. But it can only do that by using words (concepts) - that's just how things are.

Freawaru wrote:Instead, one has to set oneself the goal to prove Abhidhamma wrong. To find the limits, The moment one finds a limit, can prove Abhidhamma not being able to answer the question, the mind switches over to non-conceptual knowledge. Like when practicing those Zen koans.
Up to you how you do it, but the above seems like an extremely long way - i.e. first you'd need to become a sammasambuddha to really find its limits with direct insight, otherwise you'd be just speculating/conceptualising about its limits.

Freawaru wrote:I consider Abhidhamma as a problematic system for this approach for two reasons. First, it is too large. It will take a long time to find the limits all by oneself - one would need someone else to lead one to it.
You don't need to learn the whole thing, just so much as is necessary to point you to direct insight. Some need a lot of explaining, some only a little. Depends on your wisdom how much you need.

Freawaru wrote:The other is that belief that it is about ultimate truth (non conceptual) but one can take it as normal truth (conceptual), too. Or to put it differently, when it is ultimate truth the whole approach of thinking and discussing it in the pariyatti way is wrong; when we speak about cetasikas and cittas and khandas and all the Abdhihammic terms we use the conceptual mind for practice.

Well, again, this is not a problem of abhidhamma, but of our limited wisdom. So one first needs correct conceptual understanding in order to practice in a right way - way that leads to liberation. Otherwise, with wrong understanding, one might end up practicing in a wrong way that won't lead to liberation. Wrong view is the biggest obstacle of all to liberation.

Freawaru wrote:Same with their so-called patipatti - the idea should not be to apply the conceptual, formal, understanding of Abhidhamma gained from reading and discussing (which is wrong and needs to be overcome/transcendented) to everyday life but to prolong the already experienced and known ultimate truth into it.

Well, folks on DSG keep repeating that abhidhamma is not about theorising and conceptualising but about direct insight in real life. I.e. it's not about thinking - "oh I see a visual rupa, and it is the object of visual consciousness, and that consciousness is associated with such and such cetasikas." No, it's about direct insight into the above process which happens in a nanosecond. I think we talked about this on e-sangha once - these are the stages of insight, and direct insight would differ in description depending on what insight stage it happened.

Freawaru wrote:As far as I know Nimittas are conceptualized images of a non-concept. Thus they provide a bridge to the realm of non-concepts. This is also the reason why they appear in different ways to different people. Some see the breath nimitta as a spider web, others as a sun or star or whatelsenot. What you really want are the non-concepts, the elements in a direct way.

Okay, so let's use theravada terminology. Nimitta is a concept. Non-concept is a dhamma (ultimate reality). I agree that concepts are images of dhammas. But it's not that simple imo. It's not like each dhamma has a certain conceptual image, but more like that a concept which is presently the object of citta is a temporary illusion of how things (all dhammas present at that moment) really are. "Nimitta" can have various uses, but when talked about in terms of jhana, it is still a concept. And a very steady one at that - i.e. jhana (absorption) happens because one and the same nimitta remains the object of citta(s) for a long time. This is very different from vipassana where the object of citta is constantly changing very fast. If you want direct insight into elements (dhammas - the 4 elements) then you'd need to be at least at the first stage of insight where you are able to discern between a sense door process which might have a certain element as the object (suchs as hardness, heat, etc), and the mind-door process which comes immediately after it, as all the consequent mind-door processes that follow already start operating with concepts (and all this is well before the first conceptual thought arises like "I sense hardness", which will also consist of many, many mind-door processes in succession that have concepts as the objects).

Freawaru wrote:Sure, but not everybody is aware of them even when touching. This is why the Visuddhimagga teaches the kasinas with it's various signs and countersigns. To enable the practitioner to be aware of them in the first place.

Again, not sure what you are saying here. Kasinas are used as objects of samatha. Samatha operates with concepts. Kasinas through practice become nimittas - signs and countersigns. These are all concepts (not dhammas-ultimate realities). Only vipassana operates with dhammas - ultimate realities (like rupas - elements), and you don't need to master samatha to have vipassana.

Freawaru wrote:As I said other samadhis are usefull, too. To know that the earthkasina is the earthkasina is a specific insight just as seeing and knowing the specific factors that identify a specific jhana. (see again Visuddhimagga 12)

Earth-kasina in jhana is a concept. Thus, I don't think it can be an object of insight as it isn't real. But the mental factors which accompany the citta while the concept is the object, are real and they can be object of inisght (outside of absorption). Will check Vis XII to make sure.

Freawaru wrote:
pt1 wrote:I know on e-sangha, we talked about this as "energy", but can you please say exactly what you mean by energy here? Rupas, or something else?


Frankly, I hesitate to use this terminology because I have not mastered it. What is rupa? According to Abhidhamma everything that is not nama is rupa. In DO nama/rupa is one link, and just ONE link, not everything is nama/rupa. There are also different translations (name and form, mentality and materiality). And if they are non-concepts it is even more difficult to know what they refer to.

Hm, well in abhidhamma there are only 4 ultimate realities - rupa, citta, cetasika and nibbana, so it would have to be one of those 4.

Freawaru wrote:Using the definition of the elements of the Visuddhimagga (which exist in exactly this definition in Mahayana, too) I think it is safe to say that "energies" (Mahayana) are elements and combinations of the elements (dhatu). "Space" is an element, too, in Mahayana there is for example the meditation called "dissolving the elements" and dissolving space is one of them. In the Visuddhimagga "space" is treated in the same way as earth, fire, etc.

Yeah. We'd need to be careful here as dhatu can have many meanings - so in this context we'd need to choose out of the above 4 ultimate realities. Considering that in abhidhimma the 4 elements (earth, fire, water, wind) are rupa, and so is space, then I guess we can classify it as rupa?

Freawaru wrote:
I don't think this is accurate. Afaik, they usually say that development goes through those stages I already mentioned above - pariyatti, patipatti and pativedha. A start needs to be made, so the only place to start is pariyatti, I don't see how it can be any other way.


As I said I agree with the development but not with the interpretation of what those terms mean. When one thinks all the time during everyday life "this is rupa, this is nama" one practices on the first level of what is called "labeling" in the Mahasi style. It is not considering, nor patipatti, it is the very first step to develop the momentary concentration. And this does not require years of reading, remembering and discussing Abhidhamma theory. One can start it now.
Agreed, so perhaps you've misunderstood DSG folks, as they are very much in support of direct insight, not thinking about it.

Freawaru wrote:They use a formal system as a means to practice formal thinking. You can't get more formal than that. Here is the definition of "formal system":

Again, I'm not sure why you insist on this formal thing. As mentioned, the goal of abhidhamma (and DSG) is not to become a great thinker nor to practice thinking, but to point to direct insight. Just like when asking for directions to a place you ask because you want to be able to recognise the directions in real life and get to real-life place (like "go to the corner of that building then turn left and go straight to the post office"), in the same way abdhihamma describes what things you'll see when you get to direct insight that will lead to liberation so that you can be sure you're on the right way. That's the purpose of it.

Freawaru wrote:
pt1 wrote:So, it's not about the conventional activity, but about the kind of citta at the moment. Secondly, that's not how I get them describing kusala calm and concentration at all (I explained about this in the post to Mike, I hope it's clear - it's about panna being there, not the activity, nor the object of concentration, nor concentration itself, because kusala concentration is there as a byproduct when panna is there).


Sure, but panna does not arise from studying a formal system - except by proving it incomplete.

Again. Panna is right view. The most basic level of right view is conceptual and the deeper ones can't happen without it. If the conceptual one is not in place, then there must be wrong view and wrong practice. I'm not sure what's your problem with it - I mean, it seems impossible to expect that someone can skip the basic level and go straight to the advanced one.

Freawaru wrote:The change, the shift that happens when there is panna present in contrast to when it is not, it is surprising, different, alien (for the conceptual mind).

"Surprising, different, alien" are all concepts that different people associate with different realities.

Freawaru wrote:I have asked a few questions in that direction and the only answer I got was that there won't be any surprises, panna simply deepens (implying that the person who speaks already has panna that will deepen).

With respect, when I compare your posts on DSG to other people's posts, they are very different in that you use very different terminology (very new-age/vajrayana) and when you do use thervada terminology -it's influenced by Buddhadassa Bhikkhu's teachings, which aren't exactly classical theravada. So, for those guys on DSG it's like an unknown language because they have been using very strict abhidhamma terminology for decades. Hence, I suggested to you in one of the posts (not sure if you caught it) to try and express your experieneces in terminology they can understand, otherwise there will be misunderstandings, as is evident from this thread as well.

Freawaru wrote:This devellopment describes the development and learning of formal logic. Not panna. Panna is always a surprise to the conceptual mind (though of course not to itself).

Not sure what you are saying here. Panna is a mental factor just like igonrance is. Surprise is a concept, I'd say, that's not a dhamma. Might have dhammas that make it possible for citta to think there's a surprise, but it is still not a dhamma itself.

Freawaru wrote:To overcome something one has to see it's limits. From seeing those limits "disgust" arises. The disgust conditions the will to leave it and the faith that one can do this. As long as one clings to thought/formal logic, as long as one believes this to lead to wisdom, it won't work.

Mind you, I do not mean that developing formal logic is wrong. On the contrary. But it itself is not panna, nor leading to panna.
...
You misunderstood me. Of course pativdha (direct insight) is the goal. Just what they call pativedha is, IMO, not pativedha.

I think I addressed all this already, i.e. I'd say you are misinterpreting what DSG people are saying.

Freawaru wrote:
Afaik, this conclusion is not in line with Theravada at all. I mean, I don't think there's a single reference in the tipitaka where right view is based on iddhis. Divine eye, seeing beings pass away, etc, were known before the Buddha.


Yes. And the Buddha called this "right view" in the suttas. The view arising from insight is called "superior/supramundane right view".

Hmm, I honestly don't think I saw something like that - could you please provide a reference that says that iddhi = right view?

Freawaru wrote:Panna is not Liberation, either. Just a means to get there.

Agreed in that panna is also conditioned dhamma that cannot be forced to be this or that way.

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

Postby PeterB » Tue Dec 15, 2009 9:46 am

If there was ever any point to this thread I have no idea what it is now.
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Re: Hearing. was Re: Mahamudra in Theravada?

Postby Freawaru » Tue Dec 15, 2009 12:33 pm

Hi pt1,

Not much time right now so I will address your other points later.

Again. Panna is right view. The most basic level of right view is conceptual and the deeper ones can't happen without it. If the conceptual one is not in place, then there must be wrong view and wrong practice. I'm not sure what's your problem with it - I mean, it seems impossible to expect that someone can skip the basic level and go straight to the advanced one.


You are right - and wrong. What I mean is that I understand the terms differently. If I knew Abhidhamma terminology perfectly, people at DSG would probably agree with what I write and still they won't understand what I write. Because I use the terms differently.

An example: you say "The most basic level of right view is conceptual and the deeper ones can't happen without it." and I agree to this statement as such. But I have the impression that you mean it differently than I understand it.

I will describe how I understand this statement. Why I agree to it. For this I have to describe insight.

When one looks at the mind, sees into it rather than just being it, one sees thoughts. Usually, they are in a language. "Babble" some call it. One sentence arises and finishes and then another sentence. Sometimes they are related, one leading to the next (like when composing a speech) and at other times they are unrelated (I will buy fish for dinner... what is that driver doing there?... Hey, that guy over there looks like xy... the music in the radio is lousy I will change the channel next red lights...). One can observe the mind on this level easily, it does not require much concentration. But how to switch to the conceptual level? Concepts arise much faster than language, we know what we want to say before saying it, before thinking it in a language. So now concentration is required so that one can discern the concepts. Again, this is not difficult to reach. One needs to keep the thoughts from actually arising in a language. (I suggest not to practice this while driving a car until some experience in safer situations). Whenever a thought arises "I will buy fish for dinner" stop the thought before it ends. The moment you become aware of it ("I will buy - stop") Pay attention to the fact that you still know the end of the sentence even though it never ended. You know the concepts of the thought - even without the language. The concepts arise faster than the language level so when you can pay attention to those languageless thoughts the temporal resolution of discernment is already higher than before. Not Abhidhammic level, yet, but higher than normal. When comparing to the external world (like checking with the seconds of a clock) you will see that the seconds take longer than normal (as if everything is in slow motion). Of course, they do not really - it is that your discernment has increased in speed. This level is what I would call "most basic level of insight is conceptual". Because to go to the non-conceptual one has to increase the speed of discernment yet again. And that would be the next step for approaching the Abhidhammic level of insight where you can see and know cittas and cetasikas and all that. You really don't need to know they are called cittas and cetasikas and nama and rupa in Pali; they won't appear in a language or concept when you reach the Abhidhammic level of insight anyway.

When one can practice insight in the way described in safe situations one can easily do the same during every day situations. Like driving the car. Or talking to someone. Or reading messages at an internet forum. Pay attention to how the words you read are turned into concepts and how those concepts arise in your mind, now! Not afterwards. Now. This practice is, IMO, called "right practice", patipatti. The next step.

So for me, too, the conceptual level of insight is the basic level. This I call "analysis". To analyse the concepts when they arise and fall while they arise and fall in the mind. Analysis is done during vipassana, not afterwards. It is not a an analysis based on formal logic.

As you may have recognized at no point in the description of vipassana practice samatha was required. No jhana, not even access concentration. At no point does one need to concentrate on an object for a prolonged time. No stable object or kasina or nimitta. No absorption. This is how I understand the term "dry insight"; vipassana without samatha. Concentration (aka temporal resolution) increases by paying attention to faster and faster arising concepts, not by the usual concentration on more and more subtle objects as in the jhana ladder.
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Re: Hearing. was Re: Mahamudra in Theravada?

Postby LauraJ » Tue Dec 15, 2009 4:45 pm

PeterB wrote:If there was ever any point to this thread I have no idea what it is now.


I thought it was just me :thinking:
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Re: Hearing. was Re: Mahamudra in Theravada?

Postby pt1 » Wed Dec 16, 2009 1:39 am

Hi Freawaru,

Freawaru wrote:Not much time right now so I will address your other points later.

No worries, there's no rush, go as slow as you like.

Freawaru wrote:When one looks at the mind, sees into it rather than just being it, one sees thoughts. Usually, they are in a language. "Babble" some call it. One sentence arises and finishes and then another sentence. Sometimes they are related, one leading to the next (like when composing a speech) and at other times they are unrelated (I will buy fish for dinner... what is that driver doing there?... Hey, that guy over there looks like xy... the music in the radio is lousy I will change the channel next red lights...). One can observe the mind on this level easily, it does not require much concentration. But how to switch to the conceptual level? Concepts arise much faster than language, we know what we want to say before saying it, before thinking it in a language. So now concentration is required so that one can discern the concepts. Again, this is not difficult to reach. One needs to keep the thoughts from actually arising in a language. (I suggest not to practice this while driving a car until some experience in safer situations). Whenever a thought arises "I will buy fish for dinner" stop the thought before it ends. The moment you become aware of it ("I will buy - stop") Pay attention to the fact that you still know the end of the sentence even though it never ended. You know the concepts of the thought - even without the language. The concepts arise faster than the language level so when you can pay attention to those languageless thoughts the temporal resolution of discernment is already higher than before. Not Abhidhammic level, yet, but higher than normal. When comparing to the external world (like checking with the seconds of a clock) you will see that the seconds take longer than normal (as if everything is in slow motion). Of course, they do not really - it is that your discernment has increased in speed. This level is what I would call "most basic level of insight is conceptual". Because to go to the non-conceptual one has to increase the speed of discernment yet again. And that would be the next step for approaching the Abhidhammic level of insight where you can see and know cittas and cetasikas and all that. You really don't need to know they are called cittas and cetasikas and nama and rupa in Pali; they won't appear in a language or concept when you reach the Abhidhammic level of insight anyway.

When one can practice insight in the way described in safe situations one can easily do the same during every day situations. Like driving the car. Or talking to someone. Or reading messages at an internet forum. Pay attention to how the words you read are turned into concepts and how those concepts arise in your mind, now! Not afterwards. Now. This practice is, IMO, called "right practice", patipatti. The next step.


Thanks for describing your understanding of the terms. I see several problems with the above description, based on how I currently understand theravada (which might not be entirely correct either, of course). Firstly, insight has to do with ultimate realities (dhammas), not concepts. So, if you call being aware of the above "languageless thoughts" as insight (or conceptual insight or whatever), then you might not have a correct conceptual understanding of dhamma, and so the practice (patipatti) you are doing might end up being wrong practice (of course, I might be just misunderstanding what you are trying to say again, or my practice might be wrong, etc, etc).

Anyway, my understanding is like this - the first stage of (direct) insight is called nama-rupa stage - meaning you are able to detect how a sense-door process turns into a mind-door process and know the difference between them clearly. So here you see ultimate realities, processes of cittas, though not yet clearly individual cittas, cetasikas, etc. Everything that might be called "insight" before that stage is necessarily just thinking and operating with concepts (even if it is without words).

So what would be the difference between such thinking (mistaken for some sort of insight and practice) and the correct conceptual understanding of dhamma? Correct understanding is supposed to direct me as soon as possible towards direct insight rather than allowing mistaken views to arise about my practice (e.g. "aha, so I can see how thought arise, and therefore that's is insight, or conceptual analysis or whatever") which often ends up in wrong practice.

Now, I don't really know, perhaps you can directly see different mind-door processes that create a single verbal thought, and I just can't understand what you are explaining. But it is also possible that you are mistaking a concept for dhammas and think that there is insight happening, and this is a common mistake to make (what I know from experience). So, since I'm in the same boat and have the same problem, it seems important to keep investigating what's meant by "insight", "dhammas", etc in the tipitaka, to make sure I'm on the right track (i.e. that I'm undertaking a practice which is in line with the dhamma and leads to liberation). Thanks for the discussion so far.

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

Postby pt1 » Wed Dec 16, 2009 1:44 am

Hi Laura and Peter,

LauraJ wrote:
PeterB wrote:If there was ever any point to this thread I have no idea what it is now.


I thought it was just me :thinking:


Yeah, sorry, it's just Freawaru and me rehashing some of our old discussion from e-sangha and dsg. I was hoping that would be ok since Freawaru is the OP. If you'd like to take the discussion is some other direction, please do and don't mind my posts.

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

Postby PeterB » Wed Dec 16, 2009 9:25 am

As far as I am concerned a discussion about Mahamudra in the Theravada is about as useful as a discussion about horsefeathers.
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Re: Hearing. was Re: Mahamudra in Theravada?

Postby Freawaru » Mon Dec 21, 2009 9:06 pm

LauraJ wrote:
PeterB wrote:If there was ever any point to this thread I have no idea what it is now.


I thought it was just me :thinking:


Hi,

yes, sorry. We have come quite a bit from the question "what is hearing?". The problem is that all those Pali terms can be translated, defined and interpreted in several different ways so by trying to pin one down (say, hearing Dhamma) one might be required to define others (such as "insight") first.

Still, it IS a very relevant topic and discussion to me and I am glad pt1 seems to feel the same.
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