Sabbe sankhara dukkha - how to observe this Dhamma?

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

Re: Sabbe sankhara dukkha - how to observe this Dhamma?

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Apr 30, 2010 2:35 pm

Virgo wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
Virgo wrote:
Hi David. I believe I've explained this already. A rock is a concept. Concepts are never the object of satipatthana, only paramattha dhammas are.
Actually, dhammas are not the object of awareness, either. Dhammas are how we can talk about our experience after the fact, which means that "dhamma" is a conceptual structure used for talking about a type of meditative experience.

Actually every citta has an object, wether paramattha or conceptual.

That you disagree with Abhidhamma is your own perogative;
I disagree with your interpretation of the Abhidhamma, and you have not shown anything here that would compel anyone to understand the Abhidhamma Pitaka texts as the form of static Platonism you and NVG have suggested it is. Also, you are not the arbiter of the correct interpretation of what the Abhidhamma Pitaka teaches. You are offering an opinion here, just am I.

citta doesn't have an object"
I never said that, but I would never agree with your grossly static interpretation of that.

Being that you are a moderator you should show due respect to the traditional way of the school of the board you moderate, even if you disagree with the idea and choose to put forth your disagreements.
Being a moderator has nothing to do with any opinion I voice as a participant of any thread. Also, I have seen no evidence from you that the Sujin interpretation is in line with traditional Theravadin understanding of the Abhidhamma.
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: Sabbe sankhara dukkha - how to observe this Dhamma?

Postby Virgo » Fri Apr 30, 2010 2:49 pm

tiltbillings wrote:I disagree with your interpretation of the Abhidhamma,

My understanding of dhamma is much more traditional than you think. Sujin's is as well.

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Re: Sabbe sankhara dukkha - how to observe this Dhamma?

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Apr 30, 2010 2:57 pm

Virgo wrote:Exactly! That is why it is the opinion of various abhidhammikas that these modern "vipassana systems" actually miss the mark.
Not at all. They are very much on target, recognoizing the utility of concepts without getting lost in conceptual forest that turns the Abhidhamma into a static form of Platonism, as you and NVG have espoused.

It is for those very reasons. Satipatthana does not occur on concepts. When you notice that you have a feeling, or a sensation, and you try to "see" it, know it, you've missed the mark.
You do not have a clue as to what you are talking about it. There is no need to 'try to "see" it, know it." The labelling of the Mahasi Sayadaw style is a tool to have develop constancy of mind, concentration and mindfulness/awareness, and in that it is very effective; however, it is something that is dropped. One simply attends to the rises and fall of experience without comment. No need to try to see or know anything. Experience cannot be seen as it is, without comment (comment: the coloring of experience via concepts), without the cultivation of concentration and awareness/mindfulness, which the Mahasi Sayadaw and U Ba Khin methods are very good at cultivating.

On the other hand, wisdom on the coneptual level can build up and become firm in the citta (see the link I gave before to Natrual Decisive Support Condition, one of the Conditions explaioned in the Patthana).
That is a very limited practice, all to easy to fool one's self. There is no seeing directly the very rise and fall of our very subtle experience with such a practice. All to easy, using concepts, to fall into coloring everything by conceptual expectations rather than seeing by direct experience.

That conceptual wisdom can be firm such that panna can arise along with paramattha dhammas and be on the level to know it as the dhamma is congnized by nama. That is satipatthana.
There is nothing here but conceptual structure built upon conceptual structures - trying to think your way out of samsara.

If wisdom is developed, you don't have to study. All you have to do is hear some dhamma, or understand it, or emerge from jhana and review the mental factors. If you don't have wisdom, understanding of anatta has to become firm.
But I wonder why, then, we have from you and NVG an interpretation of the Buddha's teachings that makes it look like Platonism.
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: Sabbe sankhara dukkha - how to observe this Dhamma?

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Apr 30, 2010 2:58 pm

Virgo wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:I disagree with your interpretation of the Abhidhamma,

My understanding of dhamma is much more traditional than you think. Sujin's is as well.
Not that you have shown.
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: Sabbe sankhara dukkha - how to observe this Dhamma?

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Apr 30, 2010 3:32 pm

Plato's Cave

The objects that we see, according to Plato, are not real, but literally mimic the real Forms. In the allegory of the cave expressed in Republic, the things we ordinarily perceive in the world are characterized as shadows of the real things, which we do not perceive directly. That which the observer understands when he views the world mimics the archetypes of the many types and properties (that is, of universals) of things we see all around us. - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theory_of_Forms


Buddhist Platonism:
Concepts don't have any characteristics. Take the concept of "the world". Yours and my concept are different, very different. They are "shadows" of realities according to the Dispeller of Delusion. viewtopic.php?f=17&t=4210&p=62888&sid=f1a5434a784ca553c2c5f33fe236ab2c#p62888


Nina Van Gorkom states:

"The “Abhidhammattha Sangaha��? a compendium of the Abhidhamma composed
in India at a later time, states that concepts are only shadows of
realities. When we watch T.V., we see projected images of people and
we know that through the eyesense only visible object is seen, no
people. Also when we look at the persons we meet, only colour is
experienced through the eyesense. In the ultimate sense there are no
people. Although they seem very real they are only shadows of what is
really there.
The truth is different from what we always assumed.
What we take for a person are only nåmas and rúpas that arise and
fall away. So long as we have not realized the momentary arising and
falling away of nåma and rúpa we continue to believe in a lasting self."

She is an authority on Abhidhamma. So that should be sufficient.

viewtopic.php?f=17&t=4210&p=62932&sid=f1a5434a784ca553c2c5f33fe236ab2c#p62932


"Concepts don't have any characteristics," says Kevin, but if that were true concepts would have no meaning or function. A concept is a cognitive unit of meaning— an abstract idea or a mental symbol sometimes defined as a "unit of knowledge," built from other units which act as a concept's characteristics. A concept is typically associated with a corresponding representation in a language or symbology such as a single meaning of a term. - http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/s ... clnk&gl=us

"She is an authority on Abhidhamma. So that should be sufficient," says Kevin, but such an appeal to authority is not a valid argument.
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: Sabbe sankhara dukkha - how to observe this Dhamma?

Postby acinteyyo » Fri Apr 30, 2010 5:39 pm

Tilt and Virgo let me give you some advice: restrain yourselves.
You sound like this:
SN56.9 wrote:"Monks, do not wage wordy warfare, saying: 'You don't understand this Dhamma and discipline, I understand this Dhamma and discipline'; 'How could you understand it? You have fallen into wrong practices: I have the right practice'; 'You have said afterwards what you should have said first, and you have said first what you should have said afterwards';1 'What I say is consistent, what you say isn't'; 'What you have thought out for so long is entirely reversed'; 'Your statement is refuted'; 'You are talking rubbish!'; 'You are in the wrong'; 'Get out of that if you can!'

"Why should you not do this? Such talk, monks, is not related to the goal, it is not fundamental to the holy life, does not conduce to disenchantment, dispassion, cessation, tranquillity, higher knowledge, enlightenment or to Nibbana. When you have discussions, monks, you should discuss Suffering, the Arising of Suffering, its Cessation, and the Path that leads to its Cessation. Why is that? Because such talk is related to the goal... it conduces to disenchantment... to Nibbana. This is the task you must accomplish."

Tilt you said:
tiltbillings wrote:Experience cannot be seen as it is, without comment (comment: the coloring of experience via concepts), without the cultivation of concentration and awareness/mindfulness, which the Mahasi Sayadaw and U Ba Khin methods are very good at cultivating.

Do I understand you correctly, you mean experience cannot be seen as it is without comment? Or do you mean experience cannot be seen as it is without comment, as long as mindfulness ist not cultivated?

best wishes, acinteyyo
Pubbe cāhaṃ bhikkhave, etarahi ca dukkhañceva paññāpemi, dukkhassa ca nirodhaṃ. (M.22)
Both formerly, monks, and now, it is just suffering that I make known and the ending of suffering.
Pathabyā ekarajjena, saggassa gamanena vā sabbalokādhipaccena, sotāpattiphalaṃ varaṃ. (Dhp 178)
Sole dominion over the earth, going to heaven or lordship over all worlds: the fruit of stream-entry excels them.

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Re: Sabbe sankhara dukkha - how to observe this Dhamma?

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Apr 30, 2010 7:15 pm

acinteyyo wrote:Tilt you said:
tiltbillings wrote:Experience cannot be seen as it is, without comment (comment: the coloring of experience via concepts), without the cultivation of concentration and awareness/mindfulness, which the Mahasi Sayadaw and U Ba Khin methods are very good at cultivating.

Do I understand you correctly, you mean experience cannot be seen as it is without comment? Or do you mean experience cannot be seen as it is without comment, as long as mindfulness ist not cultivated?

best wishes, acinteyyo


Goodness, let me try again:

Experience to be seen as it is, free of comment, requires the cultivation of concentration and awareness/mindfulness, which the Mahasi Sayadaw and U Ba Khin methods are very good at cultivating. Clearer, i hope.
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: Sabbe sankhara dukkha - how to observe this Dhamma?

Postby acinteyyo » Fri Apr 30, 2010 8:53 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
acinteyyo wrote:Tilt you said:
tiltbillings wrote:Experience cannot be seen as it is, without comment (comment: the coloring of experience via concepts), without the cultivation of concentration and awareness/mindfulness, which the Mahasi Sayadaw and U Ba Khin methods are very good at cultivating.

Do I understand you correctly, you mean experience cannot be seen as it is without comment? Or do you mean experience cannot be seen as it is without comment, as long as mindfulness ist not cultivated?

best wishes, acinteyyo


Goodness, let me try again:

Experience to be seen as it is, free of comment, requires the cultivation of concentration and awareness/mindfulness, which the Mahasi Sayadaw and U Ba Khin methods are very good at cultivating. Clearer, i hope.

perfectly thank you. I thought you meant it like that. sometimes it's difficult for me to understand the longer an english sentence is going to be. I never really had doubts about what you said.
Pubbe cāhaṃ bhikkhave, etarahi ca dukkhañceva paññāpemi, dukkhassa ca nirodhaṃ. (M.22)
Both formerly, monks, and now, it is just suffering that I make known and the ending of suffering.
Pathabyā ekarajjena, saggassa gamanena vā sabbalokādhipaccena, sotāpattiphalaṃ varaṃ. (Dhp 178)
Sole dominion over the earth, going to heaven or lordship over all worlds: the fruit of stream-entry excels them.

:anjali:
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Re: Sabbe sankhara dukkha - how to observe this Dhamma?

Postby Kim OHara » Fri Apr 30, 2010 10:37 pm

acinteyyo wrote:
retrofuturist wrote:... I do know, however, is that [Pali] doesn't always follow the grammatical structure of English. I remember when I was learning Italian in school, I found it interesting that the noun came before the descriptive word. It would be "chair yellow" rather than "yellow chair", and I've found that Pali can work like this at times. If it is working like Italian in this instance (which I suspect it is) dukkha is a description or quality of sankhara. So just like we don't need to say "chair are yellow" or "chair is yellow" and so on in order to attribute yellowness to it, there doesn't need to be an extra word wedged inbetween sankhara and dukkha in order for it to mean "all formations are suffering". That's probably as far as I can go in answering your question with my limited knowledge.
Metta,
Retro. :)

As far as I can tell, I think it's quite similar to what retro said.
It is a predicative construction consisting of two nouns and a verb.
Like "sabbe purise samane honti" meaning "All men are ascetics", but "honti" is not needed to say the same thing.
"sabbe purise samane" is enough also meaning "All men are ascetics". In the same way "sabbe sankhara dukkha (honti)" means "all formations are suffering".

Thanks, Retro, Acinteyyo.
So 'honti' in this case is the verb?
And it's missing from "sabbe sankhara dukkha"?
Is the implied verb in such constructions always "is" (or "are")?
:coffee:
Kim

Edit: corrected typo.
Last edited by Kim OHara on Sat May 01, 2010 6:31 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Sabbe sankhara dukkha - how to observe this Dhamma?

Postby pt1 » Sat May 01, 2010 2:48 am

Hi tilt,
Sorry for the delay, addressing the rest of your post here:
tiltbillings wrote:A feeling - a vedanā - is experienced during a meditation session. If I label it it during that session, that is using a concept, and that labelling happens after the time of experiencing it. While the time between the initial experience of the vedanā and the labelling might be some very small fraction of a second, it still happens after the fact of the intial experience and the labelling still involves using a concept. The labelling is not the direct experience. Direct experience is not conceptual, does not involve to use of language.

Okay, so my interest is only in the first (bolded) sentence above, because I agree with the rest (that conceptual process that follows a direct experience is not really insight). With that in mind, I wonder how is there understanding that it's feeling that is experienced - so not perception, not hardness, not nostalgia, not..., but feeling? My understanding is that this is only because dhammas actually arise and fall, and that arising and falling of a dhamma is in fact equivalent to, or is manifested as, the individual charcteristics, general characteristics and conditioned nature. E.g. in terms of feeling - it is understood that feeling arose and fell precisely because individual characteristics of feeling are different than individual characteristics of perception for example, i.e. feeling feels, perception perceives.

If on the other hand it is said that dhammas don't really arise and fall, nor become objects of awareness, then I wonder how can feeling be any different from concepts, i.e. what is it that arises and falls and has the general characteristics and conditioned nature? E.g. how does one know for example that s/he's actually experiencing a feeling and its general characteristic of anatta and not just thinking about it all (what would make such insight not really insight as defined in the beginning)?

tiltbillings wrote:During the duration of the vedanā, if we are attending without comment, with a clear, concentrated mindful mindful mind (itself a process), is any instance of that vedanā exactly the same as any other? Not likely, for the obvious reasons it cannot be. While the general characteristics of the conditions that gives what can be called a vedanā can be seen to persist for a period, but there is nothing about any of this, as experienced, that is staic or individual.

Well, okay to the first part, but the last sentence then exhibits the same problem I'm wondering about - what is that has general characteristics? My contention is that what is experienced is actually a dhamma in the sense that individual characteristic for what we call vedana is actually understood at the same time as its general characteristic (like anicca for example). So we can call vedana any way we want later on, but it's experienced (so not imagined, labelled or thought about) and that's thanks to experiencing the individual characteristics of feeling.
tiltbillings wrote:The use of concepts/laguage, which is static and individual, can help us look at what we experience, but the mistake is the assumption of the nature of the concepts - static and individual - into the actual experience, especially when it is done not as a meditative, concntrated mindfulness practice, but as an intellectual, conceptual process.

I agree, but I have a feeling here (apologies if I misunderstood) that you are equating dhammas to concepts. So while I agree that mistaking conceptual process for insight is essentially fatal, I think insight has to do with actually experiencing dhammas - in the sense of their individual and general characteristics and conditioned nature, e.g. experiencing feeling and understanding at the same time that it is feeling (so not perception, not concept, not mindfulness, but feeling) and that it is anatta and conditioned.

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Re: Sabbe sankhara dukkha - how to observe this Dhamma?

Postby tiltbillings » Sat May 01, 2010 6:51 am

pt1 wrote:I agree, but I have a feeling here (apologies if I misunderstood) that you are equating dhammas to concepts.
I think this is the crux of the issue. Calling what we experience via a concentrated mindful mind dhammas is using a conceptual structure after the fact of the experience. When we are talking about dhammas, are we talking about actual, existing momentary and discrete units of experience? I do not think so.

It is a problem with language that no matter how hard we try not to, we tend to end up making whatever it is we are talking about solid and individual. I think the Pali Abhidhamma seems to have tried to resist this, even into the later commentaries, and it probably did better than some other Abhidharma systems, but there is an obvious reification going on in some of the more modern abhidhamma discussions that really does not seem warranted from the earlier Abhidhamma, particularly the Abhidhamma Pitaka, nor from the suttas.

If dhammas are “ultimate things,” what kind of "ultimate things" are they? Piatigorsky, in his essay on the Theravadin Abhidhamma Pitaka texts (THE BUDDHIST PHILOSOPHY OF THOUGHT 1984, 181) points out dhammas are not substances; they are not individual 'things' in and of themselves. He states:

“We simply cannot say that 'a dharma is... (a predicate follows)', because a dharma, in fact, 'is' no thing, yet [it is] a term denoting (not being) a certain relation or type of relation to thought, consciousness or mind. That is, dharma is not a concept in the accepted terminological sense of the latter, but a purely relational notion.”

Nyanaponika in ABHIDHAMMA STUDIES @ page 41 BPS; page 42 Wisdom wrote:By arranging the mental factors in relational groups a subordinate synthetical element has been introduced into the mainly analytical Dhammasangani. By so doing, the danger inherent in purely analytical methods is avoided. This danger consists in erroneously taking for genuine separate entities the “parts” resulting from analysis, instead of restricting their use to sound practical method with the purpose of classifying and dissolving composite events wrongly conceived as unities. Up to the present time it has been a regular occurrence in the history of physics, metaphysics, and psychology that when the “whole” has been successfully dissolved by analysis, the resultant “parts” themselves come in turn to be regarded as little “wholes.”

Dhammas in the Theravada Abhidhamma Pitaka are "ultimate things" only as a way of talking about aspects of the relational flow of experience, but not in terms of describing discrete realities. In other words, dhammas are not actual momentary and individual units of experience.
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: Sabbe sankhara dukkha - how to observe this Dhamma?

Postby acinteyyo » Sat May 01, 2010 7:28 am

Kim O'Hara wrote:Thanks, Retro, Acinteyyo.
So 'honti' in this case is the verb?
And it's missing from "sabbe sankhara dukkha"?
Is the implied verb in such constructions always "is" (or "are")?
:coffee:
Kim

Hm.. I think so, but I'm not a 100% sure. The book I'm using for learning pali says that "hoti" (to be) usually isn't necessary in such a construction. But any other word would be needed to express a different meaning than "is" or "are".
So I tend to say, yes the implied verb in such a construction is always "is" (or "are").
Maybe there's somebody whose pali is better, than mine.
best wishes, acinteyyo
Pubbe cāhaṃ bhikkhave, etarahi ca dukkhañceva paññāpemi, dukkhassa ca nirodhaṃ. (M.22)
Both formerly, monks, and now, it is just suffering that I make known and the ending of suffering.
Pathabyā ekarajjena, saggassa gamanena vā sabbalokādhipaccena, sotāpattiphalaṃ varaṃ. (Dhp 178)
Sole dominion over the earth, going to heaven or lordship over all worlds: the fruit of stream-entry excels them.

:anjali:
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Re: Sabbe sankhara dukkha - how to observe this Dhamma?

Postby pt1 » Wed May 05, 2010 3:52 am

Hi tilt,
tiltbillings wrote:
pt1 wrote:I agree, but I have a feeling here (apologies if I misunderstood) that you are equating dhammas to concepts.
I think this is the crux of the issue. Calling what we experience via a concentrated mindful mind dhammas is using a conceptual structure after the fact of the experience. When we are talking about dhammas, are we talking about actual, existing momentary and discrete units of experience? I do not think so.

It is a problem with language that no matter how hard we try not to, we tend to end up making whatever it is we are talking about solid and individual. I think the Pali Abhidhamma seems to have tried to resist this, even into the later commentaries, and it probably did better than some other Abhidharma systems, but there is an obvious reification going on in some of the more modern abhidhamma discussions that really does not seem warranted from the earlier Abhidhamma, particularly the Abhidhamma Pitaka, nor from the suttas.

If dhammas are “ultimate things,” what kind of "ultimate things" are they?
...
Dhammas in the Theravada Abhidhamma Pitaka are "ultimate things" only as a way of talking about aspects of the relational flow of experience, but not in terms of describing discrete realities. In other words, dhammas are not actual momentary and individual units of experience.

Thanks very much for your reply and quotes. I thought about this for a bit, and I agree about the difficulties of language in relating an experience of insight, as well as about the range of modern views on what exactly is a dhamma.

While I lean towards considering dhammas as much more discrete real-life things than you do, one thing I am still wondering about is whether our actual experiences of insight are actually as different as our approaches to describing it? E.g. returning to your previous example of experiencing a feeling and realizing that it is anatta, I'd say our experiences there would be identical (provided of course it's insight proper and not various conceptual processes mistaken for it).

Of course, I might then describe that experience as - "well, feeling is an individual characteristic, anatta is a general characteristic, so by definition that was an experience of a dhamma". (The definition being the commentarial point that dhamma is equivalent to its characteristics). Of course, you might describe it differently as "While the general characteristics of the conditions that gives what can be called a vedanā can be seen to persist for a period, but there is nothing about any of this, as experienced, that is staic or individual."

Still, I take it the above two would be descriptions of the same experience, since we have both seen the anatta nature of feeling. Of course, we might then argue about what's the more appropriate description of that experience, so I might say - Hey, wait a minute, so are you saying that vedana as a dhamma doesn't actually arise and fall? So does nothing then arises and falls? Are you advocating nihilism?, etc. And to that you might say that I'm reifying dhammas as little bits of existing things that pop in and out of existence, etc. But still, all of that would be more of an argument about appropriate descriptions of an experience of insight rather than an argument about an experience of insight itself, right? I mean, it's not like one has experienced feeling as anatta, while the other one has experienced feeling as divine providence. So I'd say there's agreement at lest on the experience level. Would you dis/agree?

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Re: Sabbe sankhara dukkha - how to observe this Dhamma?

Postby retrofuturist » Wed May 05, 2010 4:02 am

Greetings pt1,

Whilst I know your question was addressed to Tilt, I hope you don't me interjecting by saying that I think you're onto something there. It's the various modern definitions of 'dhamma' that obscure the basic agreement.

However, if someone really was "reifying dhammas as little bits of existing things that pop in and out of existence", their experience of a dhamma could be nothing other than conceptual and speculative given the supposed billion cittas per flash of lightning. Seeing that many rises and falls of individual cittas is, dare I say it, impossible and unnecessary.

Incidently, when trying to find that lightning quote, I stumbled across this old topic that may be of interest to you, which you may have since forgotten about...

Provenance of the notion of momentariness in the Theravada
viewtopic.php?f=13&t=3838

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Sabbe sankhara dukkha - how to observe this Dhamma?

Postby tiltbillings » Wed May 05, 2010 5:21 am

pt1 wrote: So I'd say there's agreement at lest on the experience level. Would you dis/agree?
When you just sit, mindfully "seeing," without comment, and with a concentrated mind, the flow of one's experience where are the dhammas?
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: Sabbe sankhara dukkha - how to observe this Dhamma?

Postby pt1 » Wed May 05, 2010 11:51 am

Hi retro and tilt,

retrofuturist wrote:It's the various modern definitions of 'dhamma' that obscure the basic agreement.

Yes, I think that's a possibility in many cases when we loose sight of discussing experiences and drift away into upholding opinions/positions.

retrofuturist wrote:However, if someone really was "reifying dhammas as little bits of existing things that pop in and out of existence", their experience of a dhamma could be nothing other than conceptual and speculative given the supposed billion cittas per flash of lightning. Seeing that many rises and falls of individual cittas is, dare I say it, impossible and unnecessary.

Yes, it's possible that things are as you say. At the moment, I can't really tell one way or another about the speed from experience. More below.

retrofuturist wrote:Incidently, when trying to find that lightning quote, I stumbled across this old topic that may be of interest to you, which you may have since forgotten about... Provenance of the notion of momentariness in the Theravada

Sure I remember it, a heated thread that split from another even more heated thread :) Regarding the speed and discrete moments of experience, I think I mentioned this already - sometimes it happens to me that the flow of experience in fact looks like a sequence of very fast pulses, or discrete instances. E.g. an arising of a certain sensation is seen as a very long sequence of very fast distinct pulses. I have no idea what is this, most probably just a meditation artefact. Of course, initially I thought "Hey, maybe these are individual cittas!" but that's not very likely - I mean the speed I experience now is not greater than maximum a hundred pulses per second, and that's pretty far away from a billion cittas per a flash of lightning.

But that's also why I'm not ready to dismiss the billion cittas thing. I mean, if I can experience near hundred pulses per second with my infant-level insight, then I wonder what would be the case for an arahat. So, at the moment I can't really comment with certainty on speed. Though, of course, it might be that seeing things at such high speeds is not necessary in the first place, i.e. it might be just one of those abilities that might develop with meditation, but are not crucial for liberation, just like the mundane abhinas which aren't necessary and which people who don't have them are more likely to dismiss as impossible, etc.

tiltbillings wrote:When you just sit, mindfully "seeing," without comment, and with a concentrated mind, the flow of one's experience where are the dhammas?
Usually, what I take for the flow of experience is just me imagining (without realising it of course) that I'm seeing the flow with mindfulness and awareness, but sometimes on rare occasions, usually in just a flash (more rarely in the form of a sequence of flashes/pulses), there happens an understanding that whatever arose (like a sensation of hardness) was a conditioned occurrence independent of my input so to speak (what I believe is in fact an experience of seeing anatta), and then this would be followed by a conceptual process making sense of what just happened.

That flash of experiencing a sensation and seeing anatta nature of it, that's what I'd call a dhamma with individual and general characteristics. Of course, objectively, it cannot be said that it arose alone, or independent of other dhammas in what you'd call the flow of experience, but that's what was cognised at the time when an instance of insight occurred, and that's why I tend to consider that a "dhamma", as an experiential equivalent of understanding the individual and general characteristic of an experienced instance, is the closest possible description of a moment of insight. But I don't think it really matter how we call it, as long as it truly happens and it's not just imagining that it happened.

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Re: Sabbe sankhara dukkha - how to observe this Dhamma?

Postby mikenz66 » Wed May 05, 2010 10:43 pm

Hi PT,
pt1 wrote:Regarding the speed and discrete moments of experience, I think I mentioned this already - sometimes it happens to me that the flow of experience in fact looks like a sequence of very fast pulses, or discrete instances. E.g. an arising of a certain sensation is seen as a very long sequence of very fast distinct pulses. I have no idea what is this, most probably just a meditation artefact.

As far as I can tell, it's a normal experience that my teachers have encouraged me to observe. It's in the manuals, such as Mahasi Sayadaw's books...

Mike
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Re: Sabbe sankhara dukkha - how to observe this Dhamma?

Postby pt1 » Thu May 06, 2010 2:28 am

Hi Mike,
mikenz66 wrote:
pt1 wrote:Regarding the speed and discrete moments of experience, I think I mentioned this already - sometimes it happens to me that the flow of experience in fact looks like a sequence of very fast pulses, or discrete instances. E.g. an arising of a certain sensation is seen as a very long sequence of very fast distinct pulses. I have no idea what is this, most probably just a meditation artefact.

As far as I can tell, it's a normal experience that my teachers have encouraged me to observe. It's in the manuals, such as Mahasi Sayadaw's books...

Thanks Mike, it's good to hear that.

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Re: Sabbe sankhara dukkha - how to observe this Dhamma?

Postby retrofuturist » Thu May 06, 2010 3:20 am

Greetings pt1,

Just a thought for consideration...

In the Buddha's teachings, events are usually depicted in relation to other events, rather than as against a notion of time. Time is merely a conceptual corrolary of aniccata (impermanence) - in other words, the reality of change is observed experientially and we use this abstract notion of 'time' as a measuring stick for change. Time is therefore a concept, not a reality... should you wish to revert to Abhidhamma-speak.

Therefore, if you attempt to 'timebox' dhammas (which you consider to be ultimate and real) into time (which is a conceptual notion only), can these timeboxed dhammas truly be called 'real'? If you are truly observing "the flow of experience in fact looks like a sequence of very fast pulses, or discrete instances", are these observed relative to time, or relative to the previous dhamma? Which is the correct way of seeing? Does reality care about time? Do dhammas adhere to our conceptual notions of time?

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Sabbe sankhara dukkha - how to observe this Dhamma?

Postby mikenz66 » Thu May 06, 2010 3:30 am

Hi Retro,
retrofuturist wrote:If you are truly observing "the flow of experience in fact looks like a sequence of very fast pulses, or discrete instances", are these observed relative to time, or relative to the previous dhamma? Which is the correct way of seeing? Does reality care about time? Do dhammas adhere to our conceptual notions of time?

I don't understand what relevance these rather abstract questions about how time works have to the observation of actual experiences...

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