Insight knowledge is non-conceptual knowledge. Right?

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Insight knowledge is non-conceptual knowledge. Right?

Postby smokey » Sun Dec 13, 2009 7:24 pm

As I came to understand a long time ago that insight knowledge or ultimate truth is a non-conceptual knowledge. I have not gained any insight knowledge so far but I presume that my previous statement is correct. Right?
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Re: Insight knowledge is non-conceptual knowledge. Right?

Postby IanAnd » Mon Dec 14, 2009 6:12 am

What do you mean by "non-conceptual knowledge"?

All knowledge is conceptual, yes? Otherwise, how else would you know it?

Insight knowledge is experiential in that like banging one's finger with a hammer, one knows from experience that one has just banged one's finger. In other words, there is no question about it. It is directly experienced truth.

Insight knowledge of the working of the five aggregates is directly experienced "knowingness" which validates, for the one who perceives it, the Buddha's description of the five aggregates (or whatever other conceptual framework is revealed by Buddhadhamma).
"The gift of truth exceeds all other gifts" — Dhammapada, v. 354 Craving XXIV
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Re: Insight knowledge is non-conceptual knowledge. Right?

Postby Paññāsikhara » Mon Dec 14, 2009 7:06 am

smokey wrote:As I came to understand a long time ago that insight knowledge or ultimate truth is a non-conceptual knowledge. I have not gained any insight knowledge so far but I presume that my previous statement is correct. Right?


The question of whether insight knowledge is conceptual or non-conceptual, is one of the big questions of Buddhism, quite frankly. You'll find both opinions, and both with a lot of textual and other support to back up their statements. I wouldn't be too quick to settle on it either way.
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Re: Insight knowledge is non-conceptual knowledge. Right?

Postby catmoon » Mon Dec 14, 2009 9:08 am

You might also want to to look at what you mean by "conceptual". For instance, just because a thought is nonverbal doesn't necessarily mean it is nonconceptual.
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Re: Insight knowledge is non-conceptual knowledge. Right?

Postby pink_trike » Tue Dec 15, 2009 1:54 am

Paññāsikhara wrote:
smokey wrote:As I came to understand a long time ago that insight knowledge or ultimate truth is a non-conceptual knowledge. I have not gained any insight knowledge so far but I presume that my previous statement is correct. Right?


The question of whether insight knowledge is conceptual or non-conceptual, is one of the big questions of Buddhism, quite frankly. You'll find both opinions, and both with a lot of textual and other support to back up their statements. I wouldn't be too quick to settle on it either way.

Could you summarize both opinions for us? Is "both non-conceptual and conceptual" supported also?
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

---

Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.
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Re: Insight knowledge is non-conceptual knowledge. Right?

Postby Paññāsikhara » Tue Dec 15, 2009 2:27 am

pink_trike wrote:
Paññāsikhara wrote:
smokey wrote:As I came to understand a long time ago that insight knowledge or ultimate truth is a non-conceptual knowledge. I have not gained any insight knowledge so far but I presume that my previous statement is correct. Right?


The question of whether insight knowledge is conceptual or non-conceptual, is one of the big questions of Buddhism, quite frankly. You'll find both opinions, and both with a lot of textual and other support to back up their statements. I wouldn't be too quick to settle on it either way.

Could you summarize both opinions for us? Is "both non-conceptual and conceptual" supported also?


1. One is that panna is always required for release, and that this panna is based on sanna, hence is conceptual. It says that panna, thus sanna too, is not possible from the formless meditations.

2. The other is that release is possible through depth of samadhi, going through the formless meditations, and then into the cessation of perception and sensation. Obviously, in this latter state, there is no perception.

Both arguments trace back to the early suttas. In particular, arguments from SN, Susima and Kosambi (Musila and Narada), both suttas are in the same samyutta, the nidana-samyutta.

de la Vallee Poussin, Schmithausen, Gombrich, Yinshun, bhikkhu Bodhi, and a host of other top scholars have all thrown in their ideas on this. Still, none is particularly convincing. Whatever option one takes, almost requires that one must reject some other text(s).
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Re: Insight knowledge is non-conceptual knowledge. Right?

Postby zavk » Tue Dec 15, 2009 3:04 am

Paññāsikhara wrote:
The question of whether insight knowledge is conceptual or non-conceptual, is one of the big questions of Buddhism, quite frankly. You'll find both opinions, and both with a lot of textual and other support to back up their statements. I wouldn't be too quick to settle on it either way.


Thanks for your clarification above, Venerable.

For me, this big question--this element of undecidability--is the great mystery that enables the path! I'm happy for it to remain unsettled, unanswered.
With metta,
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Re: Insight knowledge is non-conceptual knowledge. Right?

Postby catmoon » Tue Dec 15, 2009 6:27 am

You got me thinking about thought. It comes in flavors.

There is verbal thought, formed of words.

There is visual thought. For instance, I can visualize geometric forms moving and changing shape.

There is auditory thought. I can recall Beethoven's Fifth and even create variations on it.

The other senses I'm not so clear on, but I can recall touch and taste sensations with some accuracy.


I wonder if there are more types of thought. Is an emotion a thought?
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Re: Insight knowledge is non-conceptual knowledge. Right?

Postby Paññāsikhara » Tue Dec 15, 2009 6:37 am

catmoon wrote:You got me thinking about thought. It comes in flavors.

There is verbal thought, formed of words.

There is visual thought. For instance, I can visualize geometric forms moving and changing shape.

There is auditory thought. I can recall Beethoven's Fifth and even create variations on it.

The other senses I'm not so clear on, but I can recall touch and taste sensations with some accuracy.


I wonder if there are more types of thought. Is an emotion a thought?


I buddhist terms, one would first have to clearly state which English terms one is equating with which Pali / Sanskrit terms, before attempting to answer such a question. Otherwise, a whole lot of confusion would set in.
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Re: Insight knowledge is non-conceptual knowledge. Right?

Postby pt1 » Tue Dec 15, 2009 7:14 am

Paññāsikhara wrote:2. The other is that release is possible through depth of samadhi, going through the formless meditations, and then into the cessation of perception and sensation. Obviously, in this latter state, there is no perception.

Hi Venerable,

Could you please say a bit more about the sources that the second position is based on? My understanding so far was that cessation can happen only for anagamis and arahats, which would (I guess) mean they have already tasted nibbana before that through development of panna as sotapanna and sakadagami. So cessation couldn't have happened without prior development of panna well into the noble levels. Thanks.

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Re: Insight knowledge is non-conceptual knowledge. Right?

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Dec 15, 2009 7:21 am

Hi PT,

Yes, I believe that is the commentarial view. However, I guess it would be possible to read MN111 in the way Paññāsikhara describes.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
"Furthermore, with the complete transcending of the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception, Sariputta entered & remained in the cessation of feeling & perception. Seeing with discernment, his fermentations were totally ended. He emerged mindfully from that attainment. On emerging mindfully from that attainment, he regarded the past qualities that had ceased & changed: 'So this is how these qualities, not having been, come into play. Having been, they vanish.' He remained unattracted & unrepelled with regard to those qualities, independent, detached, released, dissociated, with an awareness rid of barriers. He discerned that 'There is no further escape,' and pursuing it there really wasn't for him.

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Re: Insight knowledge is non-conceptual knowledge. Right?

Postby pt1 » Tue Dec 15, 2009 8:27 am

mikenz66 wrote:Hi PT,

Yes, I believe that is the commentarial view. However, I guess it would be possible to read MN111 in the way Paññāsikhara describes.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
"Furthermore, with the complete transcending of the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception, Sariputta entered & remained in the cessation of feeling & perception. Seeing with discernment, his fermentations were totally ended. He emerged mindfully from that attainment. On emerging mindfully from that attainment, he regarded the past qualities that had ceased & changed: 'So this is how these qualities, not having been, come into play. Having been, they vanish.' He remained unattracted & unrepelled with regard to those qualities, independent, detached, released, dissociated, with an awareness rid of barriers. He discerned that 'There is no further escape,' and pursuing it there really wasn't for him.

Mike

Thanks Mike. Agreed. Though as we've seen from other discussions, MN 111 can be read in many ways, so it seems this is again one of those issues where one has to decide whether to go with the old or new commentators :cry:

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Re: Insight knowledge is non-conceptual knowledge. Right?

Postby Paññāsikhara » Tue Dec 15, 2009 12:35 pm

Here is one source,
http://books.google.com.hk/books?id=aIO ... q=&f=false

try IV Retracing an ancient debate, p. 96. Then flip down to page 110, ref. to de la Vallee Poussin's article, parts of which are appended at the end.

And this is only sourcing the Pali sources. If one really wants to delve into it, there are more. Gombrich botches his read of the Chinese version of Susima sutta.

There is also coverage in Schmithausen, L. (1981): “On Some Aspects of Descriptions or Theories of ‘Liberating Insight’ and ‘Enlightenment’ in Early Buddhism”, pp. 199-250, in Studein zum Jainismus und Buddhismus, Bruhn, K & Wezler, A, eds, Franz Steiner Verlag: Wiesbaden.
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Re: Insight knowledge is non-conceptual knowledge. Right?

Postby seanpdx » Tue Dec 15, 2009 7:38 pm

Just to add some suggestions for extra reading material, along with Gombrich's "How Buddhism Began" (2nd ed):

Gombrich, "What the Buddha Thought"
Gombrich, "Theravada Buddhism", 2nd ed
Wynne, "The Origin of Buddhist Meditation"
Bronkhorst, "The Two Traditions of Meditation in Ancient India"

And... I'm probably forgetting a couple. Schmithausen/1981, which Pannasikhara mentioned, would definitely be a good read.
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Re: Insight knowledge is non-conceptual knowledge. Right?

Postby dhamma follower » Mon Dec 21, 2009 9:18 am

smokey wrote:As I came to understand a long time ago that insight knowledge or ultimate truth is a non-conceptual knowledge. I have not gained any insight knowledge so far but I presume that my previous statement is correct. Right?


In my understanding, proper insight happens before it turns into concepts. In the process of understanding, there's first a moment of direct knowing - this happens without thoughts, in a cristal clear flashlike mind moment, then it is followed by verbal process. Actually, this is happening all the time, but with ordinary level of awareness, we can not clearly see the moment of direct knowing. When mindfulness becomes sharper (and lobha, dosa moha reduced), the whole process can be witnessed with clarity. So, i would divide insight knowledge into two parts: one non conceptual, which is direct knowing -insight, followed by part 2 which is conceptual- knowledge, with thoughts and concepts as we know them.
The stronger the insight is, the more the non-conceptual part is clear, and the greater the effect it has on our way of understanding reality and subsequent changes in mind states and behaviours.

I don't know if the above is backed up by any canonical texts, but has been confirmed by teacher U Tejaniya in Shwe OO Min center, Burma.

Hope it helps,
D.F.
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Re: Insight knowledge is non-conceptual knowledge. Right?

Postby smokey » Mon Dec 28, 2009 11:48 pm

dhamma follower wrote:
smokey wrote:As I came to understand a long time ago that insight knowledge or ultimate truth is a non-conceptual knowledge. I have not gained any insight knowledge so far but I presume that my previous statement is correct. Right?


In my understanding, proper insight happens before it turns into concepts. In the process of understanding, there's first a moment of direct knowing - this happens without thoughts, in a cristal clear flashlike mind moment, then it is followed by verbal process. Actually, this is happening all the time, but with ordinary level of awareness, we can not clearly see the moment of direct knowing. When mindfulness becomes sharper (and lobha, dosa moha reduced), the whole process can be witnessed with clarity. So, i would divide insight knowledge into two parts: one non conceptual, which is direct knowing -insight, followed by part 2 which is conceptual- knowledge, with thoughts and concepts as we know them.
The stronger the insight is, the more the non-conceptual part is clear, and the greater the effect it has on our way of understanding reality and subsequent changes in mind states and behaviours.

I don't know if the above is backed up by any canonical texts, but has been confirmed by teacher U Tejaniya in Shwe OO Min center, Burma.

Hope it helps,
D.F.


Dhamma Follower, thank you, this explanation certainly helped.
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