Vipassana - Insight Knowledge

Discussion of Satipatthana bhavanā and Vipassana bhavana.

Re: Vipassana - Insight Knowledge

Postby fijiNut » Wed Oct 27, 2010 10:26 pm

rowyourboat wrote:Hi Ben

I was referring to the use of the term Bhanga in a way not denoting but causing confusion with the commentarial bhanga nana. Hence the pseudo-gold analogy, if that is the case, could be quite dangerous.

with metta

Hi RYB,
I agree with Tilt, I would definitely appreciate a discussion on the term bhanga across different 'vipassana' lineages;
The point is not to be confrontational but to be discussed with mutual respect and compassion to help straighten views, so the earlier this is done, the more beneficial it is for everyone's practice.
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Re: Vipassana - Insight Knowledge

Postby christopher::: » Wed Oct 27, 2010 11:47 pm

Jack wrote:
smokey wrote:I have a question. Does anyone on this forum have any insight knowledge gained with vipassana? I know that the first insight knowledge is discrimination of mind and body, has anyone gained that knowledge? Please do state and describe your insight knowledge.

With Metta - smokey

================
I am able to discriminate between body and mind. At times I get glimpses of anatta. I don't know what else to add.

I disagree with the idea that we shouldn't talk about the progress of our attainments. Otherwise people are left with the impression that nobody gains by Buddhist practice. I remember one of the first dhamma talks I heard. The monk talked about his sole objective was to reach enlightenment. Someone in the audience then asked if he was enlightened. He said no. Nobody left that talk with any indication that this monk gained anything by his years of practice and life of austerity.


I think there's a big difference between describing insights gained from practice and making claims about attainments. In my view the best teachers (and dharma friends) are those who lucidly describe their insights into the mind in such a way that those of us who haven't yet come to those insights gain a better sense of what to "look for" ... kind of like a guide on a mountain path who points out the various insects, birds and plants that surround hikers.

If your mountain guide is bragging about his Ph.D. in botany and the books he's written his instruction is pretty much useless, but if he keeps your attention focused on the path and its surroundings his words can be very very helpful.

Few of us here have a comparable Ph.D. in the dharma, but if you've been practicing for many years, even decades, chances are you've gained some hard-won insights into the workings of your own mind that could be helpful to others.

:group:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
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Re: Vipassana - Insight Knowledge

Postby Sanghamitta » Thu Oct 28, 2010 8:02 am

In a nutshell one of the problems is not simply describing first hand knowledge of the fruits of practice, as Christopher says above. We wouldnt after all go a physician who refused to talk about his qualifications.
The problem arises when westerners in particular get their heads into the whole "ariya" concept.
To a degree which is marked and partially unconscious we have been conditioned to strive to become top banana. This can set up a whole counterdrag to Dhamma practice.
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

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Re: Vipassana - Insight Knowledge

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Oct 28, 2010 9:10 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
rowyourboat wrote:Hi Ben

I was referring to the use of the term Bhanga in a way not denoting but causing confusion with the commentarial bhanga nana. Hence the pseudo-gold analogy, if that is the case, could be quite dangerous.

with metta
And for those of use who are not familiar with these term and issues, please be kind enough to explain them.
rowyourboat, would you be kind enough to respond to this.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
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Re: Vipassana - Insight Knowledge

Postby rowyourboat » Sat Oct 30, 2010 9:31 am

Well Tilt, Fijinut, others,

It is basically that Bhanga nana, is a specific insight knowledge that arises after a set and distinct sequential series of developments occur in the mind. This is like saying you got to have enough strength to run 30 meters before you can run 50, 80 or 100. The strength to run, progressively longer distances develop progressively. To say that you will run 100meters before you can do 30 or 50 is not meaningful.

There is a set of 'purifications'/visuddhi (developments of the mind) one must go through to develop bhanga nana.

They are
Sila visuddhi- development of good basic morality/precepts- ie 5 precepts
citta visuddhi- development of samadhi to a hindrance free level or 1st jhana.
ditti visuddhi- seeing everything naturally in terms of nama and rupa (mental and material contribution in every act of perception). Nama-rupa paricceda nana (delineation of mental and material components of perception) arises at this level.
kankhavitarana visuddhi- the development of 'overcoming doubt'. This occurs with seeing how nama and rupa are causally related and arise in a causally related manner. The further development at this stage is seeing anicca, dukkha and anatta by seeing those very same effects as impermanent, therefore unsatisfactory, and due to all these reasosn nonself. ie- doubt about it overcome
Paccaya-pariggaha nana- insight knowledge of understanding causality arises in this stage
sammassana nana- insight knoweldge of seeing all things (perceived in the immediate environment and not- through inference) as anicca, dukkha, anatta arises at this stage

udaya-vyaya nana- insight knoweldge of arising and passing away (immature stage)- along with the pitfalls of the vipassana sub-defilements

maggamagganana dassana visuddhi- where one develops the mature knoweldge of arising and passing away and understands where the true path lies

patipadanana dassana visuddhi- further development of the true path. This is where bhanga nana arises.

Now these are natural, set developments of the mind as much as the second jhana follows the first. You cannot devise short cuts to it as that would be impossible.


I will write more later.

with metta

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Re: Vipassana - Insight Knowledge

Postby Phra Chuntawongso » Sat Oct 30, 2010 11:06 am

Bhanga nana-To see cessation of rupa and nama through observation of rising and falling.Gaining knowledge that arising and ceasing are not stable or continuous-there is nothing to hold on to.
Is rising/falling always there?
Do your hands feel light or heavy?
Do your hands feel so light they're not even there?
Do parts of your body disappear?

Maybe this helps.I hope so.I am not sure if this is the same description as Bhanga as described by Sri Goenka,as that practice of vipassana is not the one that I practice(Mahasi)and will leave it up to others who know this technique to say.
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Re: Vipassana - Insight Knowledge

Postby Ben » Sat Oct 30, 2010 1:25 pm

Hi Bhante,
Its very similar - almost identical.
kind regards

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Re: Vipassana - Insight Knowledge

Postby Phra Chuntawongso » Sat Oct 30, 2010 1:29 pm

Ben wrote:Hi Bhante,
Its very similar - almost identical.
kind regards

Ben

Hi Ben.I figured it probably was,just didn't want to comment on something I wasn't sure about. :smile:
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Re: Vipassana - Insight Knowledge

Postby rowyourboat » Sun Oct 31, 2010 8:30 am

Now the visuddhi- Purifications are meant as sequential developments of the mind. An important aspect of them is that you cannot get to the following one before completing the previous one. This is nicely depicted by the 'relay of chariots' simile from where this process is mentioned. That is, a person must catch one chariot and using that chariot, get to the next one. Using a series of chariots in this way, this person completes the journey. It wont be possible to get to a chariot which is further away, without using the chariot which is designated for a particular leg of the journey.

'The relay of chariots'

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

So the person must be keeping at least the 5 precepts to a quite good degree ('not splattered, not torn', etc)

Then this person must have consitantly good samadhi which is free from hindrances most of the time, if not the first jhana. In fact I have never seen anyone complete the vipassana nanas without completing the first jhana. This maybe to do with characteristics of the individual which give rise to both (viriya, right view, saddha etc).

There will be no bhanga nana without having these first.

with metta

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Re: Vipassana - Insight Knowledge

Postby Ben » Sun Oct 31, 2010 8:36 am

Hi RYB,
rowyourboat wrote:There will be no bhanga nana without having these first.

Umm...
According to who?

Could you please say a little more with regards to the provenance of the view that bhanga-nana is dependent on attainment of the visuddhis?
Thanks

Ben
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Re: Vipassana - Insight Knowledge

Postby rowyourboat » Sun Oct 31, 2010 8:54 pm

Ben wrote:Hi RYB,
rowyourboat wrote:There will be no bhanga nana without having these first.

Umm...
According to who?

Could you please say a little more with regards to the provenance of the view that bhanga-nana is dependent on attainment of the visuddhis?
Thanks

Ben


Oh.. did you think this was my personal opinion? :jumping:

Enjoy:

http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/bm7insight.pdf

:smile:

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Re: Vipassana - Insight Knowledge

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Oct 31, 2010 8:55 pm

It would be interesting to hear from someone who had extensively practised in Goeka-ji retreats and also Mahasi-style retreats whether Goenka is really addressing the same thing.

Certainly the sequence described in the Visuddhimagga, and summarised by Mahasi Sayadaw http://aimwell.org/Books/Mahasi/Progress/progress.html has
5. Knowledge of Dissolution (bhanga-ñāna) http://aimwell.org/Books/Mahasi/Progres ... issolution
as following on from other stages, in particular Knowledge of Arising and Passing Away (udayabbaya-ñāna)

The question in all of this (which I have no idea of the answer) is how linear it is. Sayadaw U Pandita characterises this progress as "Vipassana Jhanas" http://homepage.ntlworld.com/pesala/Pan ... hanas.html
Talks by teachers such as:
Joseph Goldstein http://www.dharmaseed.org/teacher/96/?q ... ana+jhanas
Steve Armstrong http://www.dharmaseed.org/teacher/170/? ... ana+jhanas
seem to describe these as things one can cycle up and down through, not necessarily a linear progression.

My impression (and minor experience) is that the Mahasi-style instruction does tend to give a reasonably linear progression (though one definitely tends to "fall back" at the end of a retreat) that seems fairly in line with the observations in the Commentaries of how the progression happens. Perhaps other techniques lead to a slightly different progression.

Certainly I had that "body disappearing" thing on my only Goenka retreat three years ago (and it was quite disconcerting at the time ---not just some little hint, it really felt gone...). With the Mahasi technique that I normally use I haven't got quite that effect. I do, however, get what I sometimes describe as "objects breaking up as if under a flickering fluorescent lamp" effect instead... I put these differences down to the way one is taught to pay attention under the two systems.

As you can see from the non-technical language, I'm not an expert at either of these systems. I would be interested to learn more without the discussion descenting into negativity about either practise.

:anjali:
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Re: Vipassana - Insight Knowledge

Postby Phra Chuntawongso » Sun Oct 31, 2010 11:41 pm

mikenz66 wrote:It would be interesting to hear from someone who had extensively practised in Goeka-ji retreats and also Mahasi-style retreats whether Goenka is really addressing the same thing.

Certainly the sequence described in the Visuddhimagga, and summarised by Mahasi Sayadaw http://aimwell.org/Books/Mahasi/Progress/progress.html has
5. Knowledge of Dissolution (bhanga-ñāna) http://aimwell.org/Books/Mahasi/Progres ... issolution
as following on from other stages, in particular Knowledge of Arising and Passing Away (udayabbaya-ñāna)

The question in all of this (which I have no idea of the answer) is how linear it is. Sayadaw U Pandita characterises this progress as "Vipassana Jhanas" http://homepage.ntlworld.com/pesala/Pan ... hanas.html
Talks by teachers such as:
Joseph Goldstein http://www.dharmaseed.org/teacher/96/?q ... ana+jhanas
Steve Armstrong http://www.dharmaseed.org/teacher/170/? ... ana+jhanas
seem to describe these as things one can cycle up and down through, not necessarily a linear progression.

My impression (and minor experience) is that the Mahasi-style instruction does tend to give a reasonably linear progression (though one definitely tends to "fall back" at the end of a retreat) that seems fairly in line with the observations in the Commentaries of how the progression happens. Perhaps other techniques lead to a slightly different progression.

Certainly I had that "body disappearing" thing on my only Goenka retreat three years ago (and it was quite disconcerting at the time ---not just some little hint, it really felt gone...). With the Mahasi technique that I normally use I haven't got quite that effect. I do, however, get what I sometimes describe as "objects breaking up as if under a flickering fluorescent lamp" effect instead... I put these differences down to the way one is taught to pay attention under the two systems.

As you can see from the non-technical language, I'm not an expert at either of these systems. I would be interested to learn more without the discussion descenting into negativity about either practise.

:anjali:
Mike

Hi Mike.In the Mahasi Lineage it is certainly seen as being linear.One nana following on from the next as our awareness increases from course to more subtle awareness.I personally have felt my body disappearing ,at other times I have become so light,both in walking and sitting meditation that it has felt like I am levitating(I haven't been)I do know the experience you describe in regards to the flickering neon light.I get that fairly often.Not sure what to call it,but I guess it does show that this thing we call my body is not as solid as we might think.
Again I cannot answer in regards to the Goenka method and will leave that up to the people who have practical experience with those retreats.
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Re: Vipassana - Insight Knowledge

Postby Ben » Mon Nov 01, 2010 4:38 am

Hi Matheesha,

rowyourboat wrote:Oh.. did you think this was my personal opinion? :jumping:


No, I was pretty confident that if it wasn't Vism, then it was an interpretation based on the Vism. While I am familiar with many parts of that text, the section on the visuddhis is not a part that I am overly familiar with. My interest is whether the visuddhis condition the nanas. Thanks for the link, I'll postpone downloading the document until after my internet speed resumes.

Hi Mike and
Nanadhaja wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:It would be interesting to hear from someone who had extensively practised in Goeka-ji retreats and also Mahasi-style retreats whether Goenka is really addressing the same thing...
...Again I cannot answer in regards to the Goenka method and will leave that up to the people who have practical experience with those retreats.

During the ten-day course, Goenkaji does talk a little bit about bhanga-nana and the way its presented is a progression. The words he uses when contextualizing bhanga-nana:
There may be different points from which to begin the practice, but no matter what the starting point, a meditator must pass through certain stations, certain experiences on the path to the final goal. These experiences, essential to the practice of Vipassana, are described in the sentences repeated at the conclusion of each section. The first such station is that in which one experiences arising (samudaya) and passing away (vaya) separately. At this stage the meditator is aware of consolidated, integrated reality in the form of gross sensations within the body. One is aware of a sensation, perhaps a pain, arising. It seems to stay for some time and ultimately it passes away. Going further beyond this station,one penetrates to the stage of samudaya-vaya, in which one experiences arising and passing away simultaneously, without any interval between them. The gross, consolidated sensations have dissolved into subtle vibrations, arising and falling with great rapidity, and the solidity of the mental-physical structure disappears. Solidified, intensified emotion and solidified, intensified sensation both dissolve into nothing but vibration. This is the stage of bhaªga—dissolution—in which one experiences the ultimate truth of mind and matter: constantly arising and passing away, without any solidity. This bhaªga is a very important station on the path, because only when one experiences the dissolution of the mental-physical structure does attachment to it go away.
-- Discourse Summaries

He mentions bhanga-nana a couple of other places during the ten-day course discourses and instructions but framed as a warning that the seemingly pleasant experience can be a trap.
My memory of the 20-day discourses is a bit faint as i was exhausted by that time of the evening but I don't have strong recollections of him giving more detail of bhanga-nana. And we don't have a transcript of the long courses that has been made available to students which I could check.
I hope that helps.
kind regards

Ben
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Re: Vipassana - Insight Knowledge

Postby Phra Chuntawongso » Mon Nov 01, 2010 5:58 am

Hi Ben.I'm guessing that there are more similarities than there are differences in the 2 methods being discussed.
Same goal.
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Re: Vipassana - Insight Knowledge

Postby Ben » Mon Nov 01, 2010 6:31 am

Hi Bhante,

Nanadhaja wrote:Hi Ben.I'm guessing that there are more similarities than there are differences in the 2 methods being discussed.
Same goal.


Yes. I actually think, apart from some details regarding the primary object of meditation, the two are very similar. I think the similarity comes from the shared heritage of Ledi Sayadaw being either a principal teacher (Goenka "tradition") or major influence (Mahasi Sayadaw).
Kind regards

Ben
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Re: Vipassana - Insight Knowledge

Postby rowyourboat » Mon Nov 01, 2010 8:17 am

The chosen method to develop 'vipassana' does matter quite a lot. The Ledi sayadaw and Mahasi sayadaw lineages are quite distinct - over several generations. It is well known that even within the same monastary two meditation instructors can vary quite distinctly. Being in the same country doesn't guarantee anything.

Vipassana develops in a certain way as outlined by the visuddhis (different insight knowledge occurr within the visuddhis, including bhanga nana). There is no other way for it to develop. If it does not develop along these lines, then for all purposes what it does is purify the mind, ie - it is samatha.

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Re: Vipassana - Insight Knowledge

Postby Ben » Mon Nov 01, 2010 8:33 am

Hi Matheesha,

rowyourboat wrote:The chosen method to develop 'vipassana' does matter quite a lot.
No doubt.
rowyourboat wrote:The Ledi sayadaw and Mahasi sayadaw lineages are quite distinct - over several generations. It is well known that even within the same monastary two meditation instructors can vary quite distinctly.
I maintain what I said earlier.

rowyourboat wrote: Being in the same country doesn't guarantee anything.
Where did I say that I did?

rowyourboat wrote:Vipassana develops in a certain way as outlined by the visuddhis (different insight knowledge occurr within the visuddhis, including bhanga nana). There is no other way for it to develop. If it does not develop along these lines, then for all purposes what it does is purify the mind, ie - it is samatha.
Could you kindly expand upon this?
Thanks
with metta

Ben
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Re: Vipassana - Insight Knowledge

Postby rowyourboat » Tue Nov 02, 2010 5:41 pm

Hi Ben

I will attempt to explain this in a bit more detail. But you really need to download that booklet from my link, as the Venrable does a much better job than I can. Hope your internet speed is back up again. It is valuable reading IMO.

The path to magga-phala ie the first glimpse of nibbana can be viewed as a series of purifications of the mind. That is each preceeding purifcation of the mind opens the door to subsequent ones. This happens in a sequential manner. Starting with Sila, leading to samadhi, then leading to panna.

Now the sequential development of panna is most commonly mentioned in the suttas as anicca, nibbida, viraga, nirodha etc. However there is another much more detailed description of the development of panna via the visuddhis or purifications of the mind. This is particularly relevant for dhamma teachers, those who give instructions (kamatahan) for vipassana meditators, and also to some degree those practitioners who have apparently completed a cycle of vipassana and reached stream entry. The latter can decide for themselves whether they understand the descriptions of the developmental process described well by the likes of Mahasi sayadaw and Ven Matara Nanarama. This allows a certain degree of verification of the process that they have undergone. The meditation instructors have a much greater responsibility in understanding this process at depth and develop sets of questions, and observations of the yogi to determine where they are in the process of unfolding panna/nanas and to acquire the skills required to guide them safely in vipassana.

It takes a certain degree of intelligence to slice through ignorance/avijja (which is what vipassana does) and to bring the process to a completion. It takes even a greater degree of intelligence to determine where another is in this process of unfolding and to guide them. The commentaries are the major literary source of information on the subject, but the more real life evidence is when the nanas start manifesting in yogis who do the practice masterfully. It becomes clearly visible that the descriptions of this unfolding is real and correct.

I have already described the sila-visuddhi and citta-visuddhi (morality and 'concentration') aspects of it.

The next visuddhi is ditti-visuddhi 'purifcation of view'. The major ignorance that is irradiated is the idea that we exist in a 'solid' environment ('gana sanna'). This gets fractured into the understanding that the environment that we live in is created by millions of snap shots from the sense bases, happening so fast as to create a reality. The next step of that is coming to understand that while there is a contribution from the environment (rupa arising) to what we experience a major portion of it is created within our heads (nama arising). This is known as 'nama-rupa paricceda nana'- the nana (dont know why I have become averse to using the term 'insight') of delineating mental and material components of perception. Using the mindful the yogi begins to see this separated out in his act of noting/observing. This requires a great deal of purified samadhi to slow down this process. The Buddha mentions that where there is samadhi there is panna. This is a clear example of that.

I will write more. We can discuss these as we go along if you like.

with metta

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Re: Vipassana - Insight Knowledge

Postby Ben » Tue Nov 02, 2010 7:18 pm

Thanks Matheesha
I'm now at my work location where I[ll be for the next 48 hours and I'll download the booklet today.
So far, I haven't seen anything in what you have written that is in conflict with anything SN Goenka teaches. Perhaps there is something in the booklet.
kind regards

Ben
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