Most effective method of study?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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ihrjordan
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Re: Most effective method of study?

Post by ihrjordan »

Obo. Thanks for the reply, do you recommend taking notes or would it be better to not take notes and just try to understand the full meanings of the suttas provided? If you do recommend taking notes, what notes should I focus on? like how do I know if it's copying this or that passage down?
obo
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Re: Most effective method of study?

Post by obo »

Hello ihr,

You are talking to a person who compulsively took notes for years. I had such brilliant insights that it was a crime for me not to write them down for the benefit of the world. One or two were cleverly worded enough to have stuck in my mind.

I would definitely recommend not taking notes. Note taking is a way of allowing yourself to forget. It's an expression of lack of confidence in your ability to remember. It actually weakens your memory. It's a distraction and interruption of your thinking. It involves a whole series of activities that waste energy, and sets the basis for another series of wasted time when later one reviews a thousand notes to find one thing one has forgotten only to find it was a commonplace.

You will find that when you have forgotten something you believe was important to your comprehension, if you sit down with the initial intent to remember and focus on the breathing to the exclusion of everything else, especially the anxiety to remember, the thing you wanted to remember will come to mind ... if not immediately, a short time later.

Which technique would you say was the more efficient?

Conversely forcing yourself to remember strengthens your memory. The mind is like a muscle and must be worked to gain strength. Again, the frustration at momentarily forgetting some exciting insight caught during meditation or contemplation can be used as a good motivator for not forgetting.

There are many understandings of the use of the Satipatthana sutta, but the practice I believe it is fundamentally intended to promote is the setting up (organization) of memory, especially the point of origin of things, the way things are maintained, and the way they come to an end. Writing down an insight into this process will destroy that insight and put a stop to the flow of your mind that would have followed.

It is very important for deep insight that one remain as still as possible. You want to be able to see that even the slightest activity is proceeding from desire. You need to be still enough to see that even thinking is a willful distraction. You need to see that even enjoying sight (any sense experience) is a willful distraction. You need to see that even enjoying is a willful distraction. In contexts like that note-taking is actually gross activity. Indulgence in sense pleasure. The very thing you are trying to escape. By doing it you have prevented yourself from seeing that fact.

My initial recommendation to you was to develop insight into the profound nature of a small set of suttas. Another way of saying that would be to say that one should 'see' the meaning with your mind's eye. Insight is a flighty thing. In this system it is, when it is profitable, the seeing into one's mistaken view of things. In that way it is not a thing gained, it is a thing lost. The insight itself will disappear and what will remain is a clearer view of everything. To write down your insights would then be a matter of hanging on to your blindness.

Think about it this way: When you die and they cart off the body and Yama asks you if you have been a good boy, will you be able to haul out your notes to check and see? Or would it be better to have your knowledge ready at hand in your mind?

To paraphrase the Master: Put away wiggling that pencil! There are those who can see the meaning. Do not subject yourself to embarrassment hereafter.
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ihrjordan
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Re: Most effective method of study?

Post by ihrjordan »

So would you advise not taking notes on anything I read? Even just highlighting key points, or is this just referring to sutta study? How about when studying books like the Visuddhimagga?
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andyebarnes67
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Re: Most effective method of study?

Post by andyebarnes67 »

ihrjordan wrote:So would you advise not taking notes on anything I read? Even just highlighting key points, or is this just referring to sutta study? How about when studying books like the Visuddhimagga?
I also have a copy of the Visuddhimagga and I do read from it from time to time. But here is the thing. Do you take notes on how to make and benefit from an earth kasina, or do you go and make an earth kasina and use it? do you want to learn the path, or do want to experience the path, be the path?
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obo
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Re: Most effective method of study?

Post by obo »

Hello ihr,

I would advise not taking notes on anything you read.
I would also advise not reading the vissudhimagga or any other secondary works on the Dhamma. The Buddha states again and again that the way he has taught dhamma is well done. If you want to study what this man taught you need to trust his word about the way he taught it.
Then I would also advise not taking anyone's advise but listening only to the voice of your own experience: Are good states increasing and bad states decreasing? Or are bad states increasing and good states decreasing following this advice.
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ihrjordan
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Re: Most effective method of study?

Post by ihrjordan »

I also have a copy of the Visuddhimagga and I do read from it from time to time. But here is the thing. Do you take notes on how to make and benefit from an earth kasina, or do you go and make an earth kasina and use it? do you want to learn the path, or do want to experience the path, be the path?
Regarding Kasinas neither, but no I'm not going to take notes, when I did do it I found it to be tedious and I kept asking myself "Why am I doing this?" I just thought maybe that's how all scholars do it, because my intention is to practice and know most, if not all the Dhamma to teach to others. I want to live by the Dhamma and I figured it helps to have a deeper understanding.
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ihrjordan
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Re: Most effective method of study?

Post by ihrjordan »

obo wrote:I would also advise not reading the vissudhimagga or any other secondary works on the Dhamma.
Not even contemporary works from monks and so on? I usually read my suttas from the books done by Bhikkhu Bodhi and find it really helpful to read his notes and the commentaries on how such and such situation came to be. Or who this person is and what does this mean or what was meant by it. I feel like that would severely limit my knowledge if I were to cut out everything but primary Dhamma sources...or no?
SarathW
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Re: Most effective method of study?

Post by SarathW »

Hi Obo

A)I would advise not taking notes on anything you read.
B)Listening to the voice of your own experience:

==========
I do not agree with A.
I agree with B
:)
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”
obo
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Re: Most effective method of study?

Post by obo »

Hello again ihr,

I would draw the line at where any source, from footnotes to overt commentary, touches on interpretation of Dhamma. Back-stories are harmless but also not really necessary to comprehension of the Dhamma. That's what you need to master first. There will come a point when you have seen into the Dhamma enough to be able to recognize Dhamma from not-Dhamma. Then you are immune from the influence of commentators. Essentially: When you see that like the ocean always and throughout tastes of salt, the Dhamma always and throughout tastes of freedom, you are at that point. If the word is 'equanimity' and it is supposed to be ultimate freedom, and you can see that 'equanimity' is a condition found in existing beings and you can see that being an existing being is not being ultimately free then you can also see that 'equanimity' is not the right word.


SarathW: Of course there are contexts. I am speaking here concerning someone who is intent on the goal. That person should not be reading anything other than the suttas. At least until the Dhamma is mastered. If Dhamma study is just one of many studies in one's life there may be cases where taking notes is valuable. I can think of cookbooks where writing out a recipe would be helpful. But take a look at that: isn't that a technique for allowing one to forget what one has read? In university study in the US taking notes is also necessary because the system is set up not to instill learning and enhanced memory but to please transient professors. Why waste time memorizing something that will be useless before one even graduates. I am sure there are other examples.
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VinceField
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Re: Most effective method of study?

Post by VinceField »

When it comes to note taking, I generally highlight the ideas that I believe to be worthy of taking a second look or particularly insightful and important. If I am well familiar with the concept then highlighting or note taking is probably unnecessary, but otherwise it is useful and doesn't consume much extra time. You can't be expected to remember every concept in an entire book, so marking the useful parts makes reviewing the material convenient and efficient.
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ihrjordan
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Re: Most effective method of study?

Post by ihrjordan »

obo wrote:Hello again ihr,

I would draw the line at where any source, from footnotes to overt commentary, touches on interpretation of Dhamma.
So would this also include readings from other schools of Buddhism? If not what do you consider Dhamma? Just the 4 Nikayas? The 5 Nikayas? The 5 Nikayas, the Vinaya and Abhidhamma? Should Dhamma talks be allowable or should I, (If I can) try to solve my own problems via personal inquiry alone?
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ihrjordan
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Re: Most effective method of study?

Post by ihrjordan »

@VinceField does the name Ebrithl mean anything to you?
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VinceField
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Re: Most effective method of study?

Post by VinceField »

ihrjordan wrote:@VinceField does the name Ebrithl mean anything to you?
No. Google didn't help much either.
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ihrjordan
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Re: Most effective method of study?

Post by ihrjordan »

Nvm, sorry I'm in an online meditation group and I seen a meditator with the same picture as you have :shrug: anyways... :focus:
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Mkoll
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Re: Most effective method of study?

Post by Mkoll »

ihrjordan wrote:Nvm, sorry I'm in an online meditation group and I seen a meditator with the same picture as you have :shrug: anyways... :focus:
Apparently, it's a popular avatar: someone at Dharma Wheel uses it too.

:focus:
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Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
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