What and how much?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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tiltbillings
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What and how much?

Post by tiltbillings »

What do we need to know and how much do we need to know in order to practice the Dhamma?

Of course, one can list the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path, which are obvious, but to what level of detail do we need to know these things? And how sophisticated must our knowledge of what we must know be? If our knowledge lacks a certain degree of sophistication, we are not going to get awakened?




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>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

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bodom
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Re: What and how much?

Post by bodom »

A passage I reflect on often:
"Here, Sakka, a monk has heard that nothing is worth adhering to. When a monk has heard that nothing is worth adhering to, he directly knows everything; having directly known everything, he fully understands everything; having fully understood everything, whatever feeling he feels, whether pleasant or painful or neither-painful-nor-pleasant, he abides contemplating impermanence in those feelings, contemplating fading away, contemplating cessation, contemplating relinquishment.  Contemplating thus, he is not agitated. When he is not agitated, he personally attains Nibbana. - MN 37


I like to keep my study and practice simple.

:anjali:
This is our foundation: to have sati, recollection, and sampajañña, self-awareness, whether standing, walking, sitting, or reclining. Whatever arises, just leave it be, don’t cling to it. Whether it’s like or dislike, happiness or suffering, doubt or certainty... Don’t try to label everything, just know it. See that all the things that arise in the mind are simply sensations. They are transient. They arise, exist and cease. That’s all there is to them, they have no self or being, they are neither ‘us’ nor ‘them’. None of them are worthy of clinging to.

- Ajahn Chah
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Re: What and how much?

Post by DNS »

Bahiya Sutta

Simple is good. But there are also different temperaments and some prefer the more complex. The Buddha taught different methods for different temperaments.
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Re: What and how much?

Post by David2 »

It is possible that people never heard of the Dhamma, but practiced according to it and got enlightened.
In this case, no intellectual knowledge would be necessary.

On the other hand, it gets easier to make progress if one knows some things.
I guess the most important thing to know is how to practice properly.
Then it is beneficial if one knows why one practices. (Not to get sense pleasures, but to develop equanimity and to come out of suffering in this way.)

More detail in intellectual knowledge is good to develop more faith in the path, and a better intellectual understanding.
But I don't think it is very helpful to know the most sophisticated aspects of the path.
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tiltbillings
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Re: What and how much?

Post by tiltbillings »

As far as keeping it simple, what is interesting, however, is that it may require a fair degree of sophistication to keep it simple.
On the other hand, it gets easier to make progress if one knows some things.
I guess the most important thing to know is how to practice properly.
Agreed, how much is needed to know and what?
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723
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Ben
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Re: What and how much?

Post by Ben »

Hi Tilt,

It was said of Webu Sayadaw by his students that he knew very little Pali, did not have a sophisticated knowledge of the teachings but practiced anapana-sati for many years until his purported liberation. His discourses are simple, down to earth and focus on the fundamentals of practice: sila, samadhi, panna and dana.
I think pariyatti and patipatti need to be balanced and match each other. Pariyatti can be very beneficial but it can also become a substitute for actually walking on the path just as a lack of knowledge can become a hindrance.
kind regards,

Ben
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Re: What and how much?

Post by Fede »

tiltbillings wrote:What do we need to know and how much do we need to know in order to practice the Dhamma?

Of course, one can list the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path, which are obvious, but to what level of detail do we need to know these things?
To the extent that DOING them becomes second nature.....
And how sophisticated must our knowledge of what we must know be? If our knowledge lacks a certain degree of sophistication, we are not going to get awakened?
I don't think there is anything 'sophisticated' about the Dhamma.
It's down-to-earth, rubber-meets-the-road knowledge, and while sophistication is all very well, it doesn't fetch water or chop wood.
It's real bucket and axe stuff, and means nothing unless we actually chop and fetch.
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Simplify: 17 into 1 WILL go: Mindfulness!

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Translation: Just to stir things up seemed a good reward in itself. ;)

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Re: What and how much?

Post by Sam Vara »

What do we need to know and how much do we need to know in order to practice the Dhamma?

Of course, one can list the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path, which are obvious, but to what level of detail do we need to know these things? And how sophisticated must our knowledge of what we must know be? If our knowledge lacks a certain degree of sophistication, we are not going to get awakened?
It depends on what you mean by "practice the Dhamma". I would suggest that we need to know very little indeed to merely make progress in the direction indicated by the Buddha. We would need to know more in order for others to believe that we are practising, but this amount and level of sophistication would vary according to cultural conditions at the time. As for whether we can get awakened with a given level of sophistication, I don't think that we can answer this before the awakening takes place. From a position of ignorance, there would be no way of knowing whether the extra effort should be put into acquiring the extra sophistication, or whether we are better off cultivating some other factor.

As a general faith-based rule, I can generally feel whether I am getting imbalanced due to chasing knowledge. It seems best to try to stay on an even keel and let the process guide one.
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Re: What and how much?

Post by befriend »

do you think to practice the path effectively you only need to know how to practice charity, renunciation, ethics, and meditation?
Take care of mindfulness and mindfulness will take care of you.
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Re: What and how much?

Post by retrofuturist »

Greetings Tilt,

I feel the following sutta is directly relevant to your line of enquiry.

MN 141: Saccavibhanga Sutta
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Often when quoting suttas, I'm inclined to just paste in the relevant extracts, but I think the entire sutta is relevant in the case.

When reading it, in light of your line of enquiry, I would recommend taking account of:

1. The delineation of the "declaring, teaching, describing, setting forth, revealing, explaining, and making plain the four noble truths in detail" role of Sariputta as a teacher, versus that of Maha-Moggalana as one regarded as being proficient in the jhanas. As Thanissaro notes via his footnote, "The Buddha declared Sariputta to be foremost among his disciples in terms of discernment; Moggallana, foremost in terms of psychic powers. It might seem strange, then, that Sariputta takes on what seems to be a lower job, but as many Buddhist teachers have commented, it is much harder to train an ordinary person to enter the stream than it is to train a stream-winner to reach the highest goal."

2. Sariputta's training syllabus, taking particular note that "Birth is stressful, aging is stressful, death is stressful; sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair are stressful; not getting what is wanted is stressful." is equated with "the five clinging-aggregates are stressful." Thus, the stressful things listed, are aspects of the five aggregates (as compared to a practitioner/puggala possessing five aggregates, to whom these events of birth, aging, death, etc. occur) and being thus, they themselves are subject to the three characteristics (of which, interestingly, anicca and anatta make no explicit appearance in the sutta).

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

"Why now do you assume 'a being'? Mara, have you grasped a view?" (SN 5.10)

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Re: What and how much?

Post by Cittasanto »

tiltbillings wrote:As far as keeping it simple, what is interesting, however, is that it may require a fair degree of sophistication to keep it simple.
reminds me of the signature 17 into 1 =
I think you will know the signature if I have it wrong.
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He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.
John Stuart Mill
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Re: What and how much?

Post by Cittasanto »

bodom wrote:


I like to keep my study and practice simple.

:anjali:[/quote]

I am different in that I like to complicate the knowledge and simplify it down into practice. works on occasion at least
Blog, Suttas, Aj Chah, Facebook.

He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.
John Stuart Mill
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Re: What and how much?

Post by retrofuturist »

Greetings Cittasanto,
Cittasanto wrote:I am different in that I like to complicate the knowledge and simplify it down into practice. works on occasion at least
Are you able to give an example of this, as I'm having a bit of trouble picturing exactly what it entails.

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

"Why now do you assume 'a being'? Mara, have you grasped a view?" (SN 5.10)

"Overcome the liar by truth." (Dhp 223)
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Re: What and how much?

Post by retrofuturist »

Greetings befriend,
befriend wrote:do you think to practice the path effectively you only need to know how to practice charity, renunciation, ethics, and meditation?
These things (without qualification as to exactly what they mean) are not exclusive to the Dhamma.

It is the Four Noble Truths, inclusive of the Noble Eightfold Path which is necessary, and what differentiates the Buddha's Dhamma from the religious teachings of others. The Buddha could not envisage a path to enlightenment devoid of the Noble Eightfold Path.

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

"Why now do you assume 'a being'? Mara, have you grasped a view?" (SN 5.10)

"Overcome the liar by truth." (Dhp 223)
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Re: What and how much?

Post by chownah »

Of course, one can list the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path, which are obvious, but to what level of detail do we need to know these things?

I'm not sure of the scope of inquiry intended for what is NEEDED to be known. The most inclusive scope would mention that one must know how to maintain one's health in that one might die too soon even if all else was proceeding correctly......at the other end of the spectrum one could say that we don't need to "know" anything in that it is widely held that discursive thought must be abandoned to enter into nibhanna. I'll try to find the middle ground between these two and pick a small part of the sutta which retrofuturist linked to:

""And what is right view? Knowledge with reference to stress, knowledge with reference to the origination of stress, knowledge with reference to the cessation of stress, knowledge with reference to the way of practice leading to the cessation of stress: This is called right view.....
"
If what we need to KNOW is the correct KNOWledge then it seems that Saraputta's definition of right view tells us what we need to know....I guess.....it really depends on the intended scope of "what do we need to know"....
Also, I guess if one wants to widen the scope then one should probably show how what must additionally be known supports what Saraputta has mentioned.....I guess......


chownah
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