Conceptual and Non-Conceptual

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.
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Re: Conceptual and Non-Conceptual

Postby Jechbi » Thu Dec 24, 2009 7:51 am


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Re: Conceptual and Non-Conceptual

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Re: Conceptual and Non-Conceptual

Postby Jechbi » Thu Dec 24, 2009 4:00 pm


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Re: Conceptual and Non-Conceptual

Postby pt1 » Sat Dec 26, 2009 12:47 am

Hi Mike and all,

In delineating between what’s a concept and what’s not, I find it useful to consider how the process of cognition develops according to abhidhamma - the roles that concepts and dhammas paly in cognition. I’ll try to summarise the cognition sequence in an example of cognising a visual object:

0. Bhanvaga cittas.

1. A sense-door (eye-door) process of cittas, which lasts for 17 cittas – the object of cittas during the sense-door process is a visual object (rupa), which is a dhamma, not a concept.

2. Bhavanga cittas

3. First mind-door process, consisting of 10 cittas, which have as the object the visual rupa that has just fallen away when the sense-door process of cittas ended. Afaik, this visual rupa that has just fallen away, but is now the object of cittas in the mind-door process, is still considered to be a dhamma, not a concept (in abhidhamma it’s termed something like “not so classifiable object”).

4. Bhavanga cittas.

5. Several mind-door processes in succession, each having a different concept as the object of cittas:
- the first has the color of the visual rupa as the object of cittas in that mind-door process,
- the second has the shape of the visual rupa as the object,
- the third has the name of the visual rupa as the object, etc.
(This sequence of “color-shape-name…” differs slightly according to different teachers in the order of steps and the number of mind-door processes involved.) Each of those mind-door processes is followed by bhavanga cittas before another mind-door process begins.

6. Many consecutive mind-door processes involved in actual thinking about that object, all having a different concept as the object of cittas.

So, my understanding is that in abhidhamma, a concept (pannatti) is the object of citta from step 5 onwards, so only steps 1 and 3 would have a dhamma as the objects of citta. Afaik, most of the time, one is not aware of anything that happens before step 6, while the first stage of insight happens when there’s awareness of steps 1 and 3 and the difference between them (nama rupa pariccheda nana).

Best wishes

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Re: Conceptual and Non-Conceptual

Postby dhamma follower » Sat Dec 26, 2009 6:34 am


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Re: Conceptual and Non-Conceptual

Postby pt1 » Sat Dec 26, 2009 11:31 am


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Re: Conceptual and Non-Conceptual

Postby rowyourboat » Sun Dec 27, 2009 10:06 pm

Hi Pt1

Nama and rupa by definition are non-conceptual. These refer to the specific components of each
rupa= patavi/earth, tejo/fire, vayo/wind, apo/liquid elements and those things made up of them (sense organs for example)
nama= phasssa/contact, vedana/feeling, sanna/labelling, sankhara/mental fabrications

The next stage of insight is paccaya pariggaha nana- the insight into causes of effects. This cause and effect linkage is linked to just those 'ultimately real' components. phassa giving rise to vedana for example.

On another point right view arises from hearing and contemplating (parato goso; yonisomanasikaro) and is therefore conceptual. The experience maybe non-conceptual (hence cannot be commmunicated) but the right view which arises from it is conceptual.

with metta
With Metta

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Re: Conceptual and Non-Conceptual

Postby pt1 » Mon Dec 28, 2009 12:24 am


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Re: Conceptual and Non-Conceptual

Postby rowyourboat » Tue Dec 29, 2009 11:16 pm

Hi Pt1

Just to be clear I am representing a synthesis of sutta, commentary (as far as the visuddhimagga goes) and experience in my replies, and not the abhidhamma (because it doesn't sit well with the other 3 in my experience)

Being able to discern gross mental events and physical events is something most people can do. It is not something which requires citta visuddhi, the preceeding step. A mind free from hindrances is required to see paramatta dhammas. If paramatta dhammas are not seen in the first two insight knowledges there is no place further down then where causality will be discerned. To discern the paticcasamuppada for example paramatta dhammas will need to be seen (phassa --> vedana)

relative speeds
Eg: sound+ear gives rise to ear consciousness; these three gives rise phassa/contact and so on. To say that this means the mind door processes are faster is not meaningful at the level of experience- all nama or rupa events seem to happen at the same speed. It does however mean that more mental events follow fewer material events- or that the world is mostly mind produced. A speed cannot be determined by it. Then again the Buddha does speak of the mind changing faster than the body in the suttas. This can be understood at a mundane level where things are seen to change quicker and last less longer. Actual numbers (ie speeds) were never mentioned in the suttas and are not conducive to those who wish to experience the teachings for oneself.

See below: the Buddha guides a monk to insight. Note that he is using the five aggregates- elements of ultimate reality, nama and rupa. I believe this type of conversation reflects a summary of what the monk has already experienced through vipassana, needing that final summary and 'push' to form all the links clearly in his mind, leading to insight.

"What do you think, monks — Is form constant or inconstant?"

"And is that which is inconstant easeful or stressful?"

"Stressful, lord."

"And is it fitting to regard what is inconstant, stressful, subject to change as: 'This is mine. This is my self. This is what I am'?"

"No, lord."

"...Is feeling constant or inconstant?"

"Inconstant, lord."...

"...Is perception constant or inconstant?"

"Inconstant, lord."...

"...Are fabrications constant or inconstant?"

"Inconstant, lord."...

"What do you think, monks — Is consciousness constant or inconstant?"

"Inconstant, lord."

"Thus, monks, any form whatsoever that is past, future, or present; internal or external; blatant or subtle; common or sublime; far or near: every form is to be seen as it actually is with right discernment as: 'This is not mine. This is not my self. This is not what I am.'

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

--when he says ANY form, he is confirming the third insight knowledge sammassana nana - that ALL things follow in this pattern.



Right view
"Friend, how many conditions are there for the arising of right view?"

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

"And assisted by how many factors does right view have awareness-release as its fruit & reward, and discernment-release as its fruit & reward?"

"Assisted by five factors, right view has awareness-release as its fruit & reward, and discernment-release as its fruit & reward. There is the case where right view is assisted by virtue, assisted by learning, assisted by discussion, assisted by tranquility, assisted by insight. Assisted by these five factors, right view has awareness-release as its fruit & reward, and discernment-release as its fruit & reward."
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Right speech, right action, & right livelihood come under the aggregate of virtue. Right effort, right mindfulness, & right concentration come under the aggregate of concentration. Right view & right resolve come under the aggregate of discernment."
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
--As can be seen right view does come under panna, but is at a more verbal level. I would hesitate to call it superficial as there is supramundane right view as well- the view of the stream entrants and those higher in the path.

with metta
With Metta

Karuna
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& Upekkha

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Re: Conceptual and Non-Conceptual

Postby pt1 » Wed Dec 30, 2009 1:40 am

Hi RYB, thanks for explaining your understanding of this.

Best wishes

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Re: Conceptual and Non-Conceptual

Postby rowyourboat » Sat Jan 02, 2010 10:02 am

Hi,

I felt it was important to add this as well (this is an understanding based only on suttas and experience, subtracting the visuddhimagga input):

Association with people of integrity is a factor for stream-entry.
Listening to the true Dhamma is a factor for stream-entry.
Appropriate attention is a factor for stream-entry. (yonisomanasikara)
Practice in accordance with the Dhamma is a factor for stream-entry.
— SN 55.5

Now appropriate attention is conceptual. If you consider the contemplations below such as 'arrow','cancer' we can see that these are conceptual and not arising due to mindfulness leading to insight. ie there are no such spontaneously arisen insights.

"A virtuous monk, Kotthita my friend, should attend in an appropriate way to the five clinging-aggregates as inconstant, stressful, a disease, a cancer, an arrow, painful, an affliction, alien, a dissolution, an emptiness, not-self. Which five? Form as a clinging-aggregate, feeling... perception... fabrications... consciousness as a clinging-aggregate. A virtuous monk should attend in an appropriate way to these five clinging-aggregates as inconstant, stressful, a disease, a cancer, an arrow, painful, an affliction, alien, a dissolution, an emptiness, not-self. For it is possible that a virtuous monk, attending in an appropriate way to these five clinging-aggregates as inconstant... not-self, would realize the fruit of stream-entry."

I have found that some people need this step before starting mindfulness practices as per the previous sutta in my post above. Otherwise what they are being mindful of doesnt seem to make much sense to them. (This is not to deny that some people maybe able to do only the mindfulness practice or even only the contemplation practice and reach the fruit of stream entry depending on the prior development of their faculties).

See below where the Buddha asks the monk to develop right view before doing mindfulness practice. Appropriate attention leads to Right view.

Uttiya, you should purify what is most
basic with regard to skillful mental qualities. And what is the basis
of skillful mental qualities? Well-purified virtue & views made
straight. Then, when your virtue is well-purified and your views made
straight, in dependence on virtue, established in virtue, you should
develop the four frames of reference... Then, when in dependence on
virtue, relying on virtue, you develop the four frames of reference,
you will go beyond the realm of Death.
— SN 47.16

"Bikkhus, these four establishments of mindfulness, when developed and cultivated, lead to utter revulsion (nibbida), to dispassion (viraga), to cessation (nirodha) , to peace, to direct knowledge, to enlightenment, to Nibbana.
Mahavagga, satipatthana samyutta, SN

In Accordance with the dhamma
At Savatti. “ Bhikkhus, when a bhikkhu us practicing in accordance with the dhamma, this is what accords with the dhamma: he should dwell engrossed with revulsion towards form, feeling, perception, volitional formations, and consciousness. One who dwells engrossed with revulsion towards form, feeling, perception, volitional formations, and consciousness, fully understands form, feeling, perception, volitional formations, and consciousness. One who fully understands form, feeling, perception, volitional formations, and consciousness is freed from form…consciousness. He is freed from birth, aging and death; freed from sorrow, lamentation, pain, displeasure,, and despair; freed from suffering, I say.”
-39(7) In Accordance with the dhamma, Khandavagga, Khandasamyutta, SN
With Metta

Karuna
Mudita
& Upekkha

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Re: Conceptual and Non-Conceptual

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Jan 02, 2010 10:19 am

Thanks RYB. That is very helpful input.

Metta
Mike

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Re: Conceptual and Non-Conceptual

Postby 5heaps » Sat Jan 02, 2010 7:01 pm

The followers of reason within Sautrantika say that only the first moment of contact between a mental consciousness and an object is nonconceptual. This is because the object that makes contact with the physical sense consciousness only carries through to the first moment of a mental consciousness freshly (ie. newly).

After the first moment the mind mixes with a category and the cognition becomes conceptual. This would be the difference between the color and shape of a chair appearing to you and 'chair' appearing to you.. 'chair' is the category (metaphysical entity) imputed through which you know you are looking at a specific chair in front of you.

The followers of scripture within Sautrantika assert the same as Vaibhashika, namely that in that first moment of a fresh mental consciousness, there is no creation of a mental representation of the outer object, but rather, the eye sense power and the eye sense consciousness know the object directly. This has massive implications about what is asserted that the mental consciousness is doing when it cognizes and knows. One of the most amazing distinctions between the schools is that Vaibhashika says categories are produced, momentary things, whereas Sautrantika (following reason) onward say that categories are unproduced, unchanging things. Also, asserting that space is substantial (ie. able to perform a function) whereas others say is not. All agree that it is a negation phenomena.
A Japanese man has been arrested on suspicion of writing a computer virus that destroys and replaces files on a victim PC with manga images of squid, octopuses and sea urchins. Masato Nakatsuji, 27, of Izumisano, Osaka Prefecture, was quoted as telling police: "I wanted to see how much my computer programming skills had improved since the last time I was arrested."

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Re: Conceptual and Non-Conceptual

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Jan 02, 2010 7:40 pm


5heaps
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Re: Conceptual and Non-Conceptual

Postby 5heaps » Sun Jan 03, 2010 2:16 am

A Japanese man has been arrested on suspicion of writing a computer virus that destroys and replaces files on a victim PC with manga images of squid, octopuses and sea urchins. Masato Nakatsuji, 27, of Izumisano, Osaka Prefecture, was quoted as telling police: "I wanted to see how much my computer programming skills had improved since the last time I was arrested."

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Re: Conceptual and Non-Conceptual

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Jan 03, 2010 2:27 am

Hi 5Heaps,

Sorry, I'm not well enough versed in Abhidhamma and Sautrantika to disentangle such details.

Metta
Mike

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Re: Conceptual and Non-Conceptual

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Jan 03, 2010 3:35 am


rowyourboat
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Re: Conceptual and Non-Conceptual

Postby rowyourboat » Mon Jan 04, 2010 10:43 pm

while it is generally true that vipassana is non conceptual,the point of vipassana is to give rise to insight and subsequently letting go. However there are some people who may be able to attain (read letting go) high stages just by listening to conceptual dhamma talks. So if there is a method to reach a further stage of progress but fall into the same common pathway at the end, then it is also a valid method be it conceptual.
With Metta

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Re: Conceptual and Non-Conceptual

Postby Freawaru » Tue Jan 05, 2010 9:50 am


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Re: Conceptual and Non-Conceptual

Postby Freawaru » Tue Jan 05, 2010 10:04 am



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