Anatta as the basis for insight - What object? What benefit?

On the cultivation of insight/wisdom
vinasp
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Re: Anatta as the basis for insight - What object? What benefit?

Postby vinasp » Mon Feb 15, 2010 1:05 am

Hi Retro,

Here's how I see things:
1. The 'Three Characteristics' are a later teaching - not found in the nikayas.
2. They seem to be a mis-interpretation of certain nikaya passages.
3. Nowhere does the Buddha instruct anyone to 'see no - self '.

4. The Buddha teaches that certain things should be 'regarded' as not-self. The term 'regarded' is used in connection with views and means 'thinking' or 'understanding'. One already has a self - a mentally constructed self. This has been built-up over many years by regarding certain things as 'my self'. It is these things which should now be regarded as not-self, in order to de-construct this 'self'.

So not-self is something you train yourself to think, and apply to all those things which you previously regarded as my self. It removes the mentally constructed self.

So not-self is something you think, not something you should see.

Best wishes, Vincent.

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Re: Anatta as the basis for insight - What object? What benefit?

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Feb 15, 2010 2:39 am


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Re: Anatta as the basis for insight - What object? What benefit?

Postby vinasp » Mon Feb 15, 2010 8:41 pm

Hi Tiltbillings,

Vincent: Here's how I see things: 1. The 'Three Characteristics' are a later teaching - not found in the nikayas.
Tilt: Found in the Nikayas: [ quotes various passages]

My reply: Points 1, 2 and 3 were merely opinions to stimulate discussion. My main argument was point 4.
I was not claiming that there are no passages which speak about 'impermanance', 'suffering' and ' not-self'. Indeed they are frequently found. What I meant was:
a) They are not called 'the three marks' in the five nikayas.
b) If 'the three marks' is just a later name for such passages, then I have no objection.
c) If there is some later doctrine associated with the three marks, then it could differ from what is said in the nikayas [ I do not know if there is such a doctrine].

Dhammapada 277, 278 and 279.
This is a book in verse, and the language is not precise. The Buddha was not a philosopher - he was not making propositional statements about reality. He was teaching, and his teachings are 'strategic'. These verses show how an unenlightened person should view things in order to become enlightened. It is not how they will see things after they are enlightened. I submit that 'wisdom' is the same as 'right view' and that 'seeing with wisdom' is equivalent to the 'regarding' of one who has right view.

It is impossible, O monks, and it cannot be that a person possessed of right view should regard any formation as permanent." But it is possible for an uninstructed worldling to regard a formation as permanent. (I, xv, 1-3) 37-8 Numerical Discourses of the Buddha Nynaponika and Bodhi.

Wordlings by definition regard formations as permanent. Why does the 'person possessed of right view' not regard formations as permanent? Because he has been training himself to regard formations as impermanent. That is part of the cultivation or development of right view. Regarding formations as permanent is wrong view.
What is meant by a 'person possessed of right view'? Obviously not an enlightened person because for him there are no formations. So how could he regard them as permanent or impermanent?

Anguttara Nikaya III 134 (i 286) - Again, this is not to be read as a description of some objective reality. It is how one should train oneself to view things.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Vincent: 2. They seem to be a mis-interpretation of certain nikaya passages.
Tilt : So you claim, but so you do not show us.

I submit that the passages under examination are being mis-interpreted if anyone thinks that 'no-self' is something that you need to 'see'. By 'see' I mean seeing what is actually there. A 'view' is a 'way of seeing' which projects conceptual content onto what is really there. It is something you 'add', something which you construct - not what is already there. One develops right view to counter or neutralise wrong view. One removes the view of self by developing the not-self view. At enlightenment both views disappear.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Vincent : 3. Nowhere does the Buddha instruct anyone to 'see no - self '.

Tilt : The Buddha clearly talks about the perception of anatta.

"... the perception of impermanence should be cultivated ..." [/b] Ud 37 (4.1)

So should the perception of 'suffering' and the perception of 'not-self'. They all reinforce each other. But 'perception' is not 'seeing what is really there'. It is conceptual projection again. Wholesome perception is developed to counter unwholesome perception.

Tilt : The perception of anatta is not an intellectual/conceptual process.

My reply: We seem to disagree on this point. My opinion is that the term 'sanna' is not used in a consistent way in the five nikayas - so discussion would be difficult.

For me, the central question here is : What, exactly, is meant by 'regarding' ?

Best wishes, Vincent.

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Re: Anatta as the basis for insight - What object? What benefit?

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Feb 15, 2010 10:30 pm


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Re: Anatta as the basis for insight - What object? What benefit?

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Feb 15, 2010 10:52 pm

"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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Re: Anatta as the basis for insight - What object? What benefit?

Postby rowyourboat » Mon Feb 15, 2010 11:32 pm

Anatta is not an object of insight. Phenomena are objects of insight (meditation) ie vipassana. Anatta is an insight which arises as a consequence of this practice.

The purpose? Apart from what has been mentioned here- it allows the deepest letting go. There will be no deeper progress into deeper levels of insight knoweldge without seeing anatta at the sammasana nana level. There cannot be breaking through into the unconditioned (at stream entry) without being able to let go of the aggregates with this realization.

It also allows for later dealing with defilements- as when defilements are clung to as me or mine it becomes difficult to wipe them out. Finally it allows for letting go of conceit and all suffering.

It must be noted that practically seeing anatta comes in a flash (or whimper) initially, later there is work to be done to remove the remaining 'scent' of atta from the aggregates. This gives a clue as to why anatta sanna is intentionally developed (Girimananda sutta).

with metta
With Metta

Karuna
Mudita
& Upekkha

vinasp
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Re: Anatta as the basis for insight - What object? What benefit?

Postby vinasp » Tue Feb 16, 2010 3:34 am

Hi everyone,

Excellent contributions from all. Some of what I said must be incomplete:

"Why does the 'person possessed of right view' not regard formations as permanent? Because he has been training himself to regard formations as impermanent."

Developing a 'view of impermanence' will weaken and reduce an existing 'view of permanence', but there is more to it than that. Understanding dependent origination reveals that the mentally constructed self (sakkaya) is dependently arisen and will
therefore cease completely if ignorance is destroyed by insight. This understanding is itself an insight into the impermanence of sakkaya.

In DN 14. 2. 21 the bodhisatta Vipassi thinks "I have found the insight way to enlightenment, namely: ... " [D.O. formula follows]

But perhaps I should not be discussing this in the 'meditation' section ?

Best wishes, Vincent.

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Re: Anatta as the basis for insight - What object? What benefit?

Postby Freawaru » Tue Feb 16, 2010 10:16 am


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Re: Anatta as the basis for insight - What object? What benefit?

Postby seanpdx » Tue Feb 16, 2010 5:24 pm


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Re: Anatta as the basis for insight - What object? What benefit?

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Feb 16, 2010 6:23 pm


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Re: Anatta as the basis for insight - What object? What benefit?

Postby Kenshou » Tue Feb 16, 2010 7:45 pm


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Re: Anatta as the basis for insight - What object? What benefit?

Postby Freawaru » Tue Feb 16, 2010 8:38 pm


vinasp
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Re: Anatta as the basis for insight - What object? What benefit?

Postby vinasp » Tue Feb 16, 2010 9:41 pm

Hi everyone,

I have changed my mind. I now see things in a different way as a result of a passage which Tiltbillings drew to my attention:

" the perception of impermanence should be cultivated for the removal of the conceit 'I am.' For when one perceives impermanence, Meghiya, the perception of not-self is established. When one perceives not-self one reaches the removal of the conceit 'I am,' which is called Nibbana here and now."[/b] Ud 37 (4.1)

I think that this is an early passage and is using 'perception' in a general sense which means 'seeing - in the sense of understanding'. In this passage 'perception' is clearly a good thing which can lead to enlightenment (in contrast to many later discourses). So, replacing 'perception' with 'understanding' results in the following:

"For when one understands impermanence, the understanding of not-self is established."

If impermanent means: dependently arisen, subject to destruction, vanishing - then since the formations are still present for one who is not yet enlightened, understanding impermanence can only mean understanding that the formations can
vanish. But the mentally constructed 'self' (sakkaya) is included in those formations. So, understanding impermanence results in understanding that there can be no-self.

Words like 'perception' and 'seeing' suggest knowledge of what is already present. But if 'understanding' is meant, then it can include what is possible.

If 'perceiving' impermanence means understanding that formations can vanish, then 'perceiving' no-self means understanding that 'the self' can vanish.

Best wishes, Vincent.

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Re: Anatta as the basis for insight - What object? What benefit?

Postby Freawaru » Wed Feb 17, 2010 9:31 am


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Re: Anatta as the basis for insight - What object? What benefit?

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Feb 17, 2010 9:38 am

"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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Re: Anatta as the basis for insight - What object? What benefit?

Postby seanpdx » Wed Feb 17, 2010 5:37 pm


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Re: Anatta as the basis for insight - What object? What benefit?

Postby seanpdx » Wed Feb 17, 2010 5:45 pm


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Re: Anatta as the basis for insight - What object? What benefit?

Postby meindzai » Wed Feb 17, 2010 7:00 pm


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Re: Anatta as the basis for insight - What object? What benefit?

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Feb 17, 2010 7:59 pm


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Re: Anatta as the basis for insight - What object? What benefit?

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