Jhana

The cultivation of calm or tranquility and the development of concentration
Pulsar
Posts: 1464
Joined: Tue Feb 05, 2019 6:52 pm

Re: Jhana

Post by Pulsar »

A sutta, with two striking similes! MN 146 Nandakovada.
According to the Pali version, the sutta was a teaching to the nuns by the V. Nandaka. According to the Samyukta-āgama discourse and the (Mūla-)Sarvāstivāda Vinaya, the Buddha taught the similes to the nuns. Once the nuns had left, the Buddha told the monks that he was getting too old to keep on giving talks and asked them to give instructions to the nuns in his stead. This gives us some clues as to when Gotami became an arahant.
Two similes that deserve top billing, if the canonical similes were to be ranked for their noteworthiness, or the impressiveness in their ability to lead to the ending of pain.  According to the Pali version, sutta gives credit to Nandaka for this teaching. Yet when Nandaka begins the sutta, by saying the teaching is in the form of questions and answers, it raises some suspicion. To begin to question, one needs prior info.
In the agama versions, Nandaka was recruited merely to elaborate on Buddha's teaching. Why do compilers take liberties to change the narrative? details details, one must pay attention to details and explore further, and not trust one source completely. 
Yet some Pali commentaries got it right, which means, some in the Pali tradition had access to the correct version, but perhaps not the most powerful (content of the sutta?).
Samyukta-āgama and the (Mūla-)Sarvāstivāda Vinaya, versions, appear closer to the truth.
It is a very powerful teaching, and that power could have only come from a SammaSambuddha, just as in Madhupindika MN 18, Buddha was the originator of the sutta. MahaKaccana was recruited to explain the sutta.
In the great simile, the Arahant is compared to a skilled butcher,
  •  an arahant butchering a cow?
Buddha being Buddha, fetches his similes from the most unlikely sources.
It is a different kind of butchering, however.
  • Butchering of the fetters
or butchering our bondage to samsara. The process of meditation that works towards this enterprise ??
It is not a case of butchering the  eye, ear, nose, etc. not about butchering sounds, odours, tastes etc, neither about blocking them.
Butchering is applied to what connects the sense organ to the object, that fetter or bondage. It is not a case of not hearing sounds, but shutting off the delight or anguish, at such contact.
The teaching is about doing away with the bond that is created between object and sense organ.The ear is connected to the sound via delight. The connection via the auditory nerve is a worldly matter.
In the case of a cow, its outer hide is connected to its inner mass of flesh via tendons, sinews and ligaments.
  • Buddha's advice to Mahapajapathi Gotami, is to develop noble wisdom, like a skillful butcher might sharpen his knife.
But the Arahant uses that knife to cut off the fetters (thing that connects the sense organ to object).
There are some other noteworthy differences between the Pali version and the companion agama versions. I will save them for later.
The simile of the butchered cow, is worth meditating over, over  an entire lifetime. Of all the teachings that Buddha offered with his awesome compassion, if only we can get this one right, the one that he gave his mother, the end of pain is guaranteed. 
My thoughts on a Monday Morning.
With love  :candle:
Pulsar
Posts: 1464
Joined: Tue Feb 05, 2019 6:52 pm

Re: Jhana

Post by Pulsar »

A tree and its shadow!
In agama versions of MN 146, (continuing the previous comment), when Nandaka is asked to
elaborate on Buddha's teaching, he directly approaches the
not-self characteristic of all aspects of experience, without resorting to anicca, as in the Pali version. The Nature of feeling experienced, based on the 6 senses is similar to the
nature of light of a lamp which depends on oil, wick and flame.
Each feeling arises in dependence upon its corresponding conditions, eye+object+eye consciousness;
  • consciousness originates as the work of a seamstress, Buddha teaches in the Parayanavagga.
If there is no fuel in a lamp, will there be a flame? In the Arahant there is no fuel for craving. Will he experience that feeling then? Does the Arahant burn with feeling??
  • The simile of the Tree and its shadow, is introduced in this sutta
The tree is elaborated elsewhere in the canon, in teachings of Paticca samuppada.
A fascinating simile! Why does it fascinate? Was Buddha trying to communicate something about the notion of self, ineffable?? ephemeral???
The Nandakovāda sutta and its Chinese parallels agree that the Buddha compared the attainment reached by the nuns to the full moon.
According to Samyukta-āgama discourse and the (Mūla-)Sarvāstivāda Vinaya, all of the nuns had reached the final goal. That the nuns had all reached full liberation also receives support from several Pāli commentaries. Yet the Pali version included in the Sutta pitaka, fails to give this credit to the nuns. In this version, only some nuns become Arahants. Why did the other nuns fail? 
In the Pali commentary that VBB refers to, some nuns wished only to become stream enterers.
  • If you wish to believe this, be my guest!
This discrepancy shows us clearly that some commentaries are flawed, and in this case the Pali version of the sutta, too is flawed.
The content of this sutta is worth visiting repeatedly, each time one sees it in a new light. Every bit of light helps in the path towards ending of pain. 
Why do we hurt? It is because the self we think is stable, breaks up every second.
Subsequently, when we are not mindful, we waste our time trying to put together a self
that never says put.
With love  :candle:
Pulsar
Posts: 1464
Joined: Tue Feb 05, 2019 6:52 pm

Re: Jhana

Post by Pulsar »

How the Buddha thought, how the Buddha taught,
and how the Buddha helped us establish our minds, in order to diminish suffering.
Buddha did not think like the Pali compilers of MN 10/DN 22 did. These compilers took some content from Buddha's teachings and mixed and matched it with their innovations.
Ekayana in 7 days? Seriously???
These suttas are more like smoke and mirrors.
One who is sincere about Buddha, or sincere about meeting the Buddha has to figure out the workings of Dependent Origination firstly. This is what Buddha was about,
  • how suffering was created.
He did not stop there, he showed us how to block suffering from arising.
It differentiated Buddha from other teachers of the day. DO is a precise sequence by which suffering arises, and the way to overcome that arising, is outlined in the 8-fold path. 
Keeping the comment minimal, and to the point.
With DO I will restrict the comment to links that can be seen right now.  Dhamma is immediate.
  • We can taste it right now
i leave aside physical birth and physical death. This is not a denial of either.
As for DN 15 The Pali compilers botched it. To understand DO, Snp 4.11 is a great place to start. There are no misconceptions there.
I've written about it in great detail in the past on this thread.
Next best would be the following suttas from Samyutta Nikaya.
Avoid DN 15 at all costs. In Nidanasamyuatta pay attention to SN 12.10, section on Cessation does a fabulous job.
SN 12. 11 brilliantly shows us how we keep on feeding our consciousness, each time we make a contact through six points.
In SN 12. 12 Moliyaphagguna, Buddha rejects the question "Who consumes" 
SN 12.15 Kaccanagotta: Avoid the extremes.
SN 12.17 To the naked ascetic Kassapa Buddha says
"Without veering towards either of the extremes Tathagata teaches Dhamma by the middle. With ignorance as condition we have volitional formations,
with volitional formations as condition we have consciousness.
Our actions are determined by an incessantly arising ignorance, leading to incessantly arising consciousness, that thirsts for more.
This activity reinforces whatever underlying tendency we suffer from.
  • With the arising of consciousness arises the whole mass of suffering.
In SN 47. 42 is a teaching that tells us how to get rid of consciousness/suffering or how to get rid of arising aggregates.
It is only by the cessation of aggregation that we cease to suffer.
Buddha did not think, or teach entirely like the Compilers of The Great Discourse on origination did. 
The suttas quoted from Nidanasamyutta, are more a concise reflection of Buddha's teaching.  These provide us with the necessary tools to work with. A friend wrote on DW
"As such, if all sankharas are based on delusion, then paṭiccasamuppāda itself would be based on delusion"
This is true. Paticca samuppada is not the highest truth. Highest truth or reality would be Nibbana. But how could Buddha teach people immersed in delusion/limited truths, to reach the highest truth, without using instances from the world they are immersed in? A world of limited truths, is all we know.
Thoughts on a clear Wednesday morning!
With love  :candle:
Pulsar
Posts: 1464
Joined: Tue Feb 05, 2019 6:52 pm

Re: Jhana

Post by Pulsar »

One in the place of the three. 
There is this one (Madhyama Agama 15) sutta, in place of three of the Anguttara, AN 10. 217, AN 10.218 and AN 2.219. It speaks of Kamma and Brahma Vihara. When does brahma vihara become immeasurable? the jhana that leads to realization of Anatta. If one were to engage in distressing speech or unsettling speech (bad kamma), can jhana help? jhana is part of the 8-fold path. AN attempt at a summary of MA 15.
"If one does karma for a reason, I say that he will receive his retribution, either in this world or in the next; if he does not do karma for a reason, I say that he need not receive retribution. The body has three karmas, and the mouth has four karmas, and the mind has three karmas. These three are not good and have bitter consequences"
"What are the three karmas of the body?"
The first is killing, it is an evil to shed blood, to desire to hurt, and to bear no compassion.
The intention of stealing things owned by others, is unwholesome.
The third evil is sexual indiscretion carried out with those who are protected by guardians.
Brings Hiri ottappa sutta to my mind.
"What are the four karmas of the mouth?"
if one, within his family, or in his other interactions, lies about what he does not know, (the fabricated lie), or he knows, yet says he does not know, (he does not admit truth), it is a delusion.
Speaks of what he does not hear. Speaks harsh words, unpleasant to the ears, he is disliked by all.
Or he distresses others, and makes them unsettled, that is delusion.
Fourthly, he speaks out of time, untruthfully, meaninglessly, unlawfully, and without rest, and he sighs at things that do not stop.
All this is contrary to the good teaching, and is said to be the reason for the four karmas of the mouth.
"What are the three karmas of the mind"
The first is covetousness. (When I see other people's possessions and other living things, I always look for them and want them to be mine.) 
The second is cynicism, the thought of hatred and cynicism: "He should be killed, tied, taken away, spared, and expelled from all sentient beings.
He desires to cause them to suffer infinitely. 
The third is evil vision, which is perverse, such as there is no personal responsibility, no ethical responsibility. Self-knowledge, self-awareness, and self-recognition, are denied. It is said that these three karmas done with intention, bear bitter fruit" 

Bad Kamma is likened to a creepy creature in AN 10.216.
"The holy disciples of the Tathagata give up the bad karma of the body, mouth, and mind
and practice the good karma of the body, mouth, and mind.
The good disciple achieves purity of body, purity of mouth, and mind.
He is free from rage and criticism, is free from lethargy, is free from self indulgence, is free from doubt and slowness, is right-minded and wise, is free from foolishness, has a mind of compassion, and is a tour of fulfillment (a field of merit in pali suttas).
  • If in youth one were to develop the liberation of mind, by loving kindness, karuna, mudita, upeksha? would he resort to a  bad deed?
If a man or woman is at home,  he or she should always practice compassionate liberation, immeasurable liberation!
The bhikkhu should think:
If a person who practices compassion, joy, mind, and surrender,
who is free of knots and grievances,
who is undistracted and undiscriminating, who is very broad and very great, and who has unlimited good practices, who is able to travel through all the worlds,
he cannot be polluted, any more.
"Therefore, men and women, whether at home or anywhere else, one should always be diligent in the practice of renunciation and liberation". 
The bhikkhu should think: "I have been a loose person and have done bad deeds. Anyone who does acts of renunciation and liberation with infinite good practice will attain anatta"
Thus said the Buddha.
And when the bhikkhus heard what the Buddha had said, they joyfully followed it.
These suttas are unique, in the way they warn about kamma, and subsequently point the way to jhana practice via immeasurable Brahma Viharas.
Develop the mind of renunciation gradually, on a daily basis.
SN 47.42 "Origination" provides the preparatory stage for Right Jhana, It teaches the renunciation of rupa, vedana, sanna and mind's objects.
A saying attributed to Buddha in one of the earliest commentaries?
Beings do not engage in the 4 Establishments of Mindfulness, due to their greed.
Greed for what? greed for rupa, vedana, sanna, and mind's objects.
We indulge in our feelings, give priority to our feelings, our views etc. that create bondage.
It takes infinite diligence, to dwell without mental proliferation.
The worldling is in the habit of consuming/feeding constantly, is excited by new food, a novel taste, a novel touch!
A variety of sensory strands bring new food via eye, ear, tongue etc, ie the five touch points.
Resist the irresistible. 
With love   :candle:
Pulsar
Posts: 1464
Joined: Tue Feb 05, 2019 6:52 pm

Re: Jhana

Post by Pulsar »

Householder! There are murderers in your house.They are your fondest companions, the forms, sounds, tactillity, cognition! (often presented as seen, heard, sensed, cognized).  
Consciousness is a magician.
Rubbing two sticks together (sense organ and sense object) creates a variety of tricks.  
A magician's whim is this consciousness, SN 22.95 Lump of foam,
also SN 12.64 Painter, SN 22.100.
Rupa aggregate, is a fabrication of the mind, derived from the 4 great elements. 
Worlding has a hard time with the subtlety of the Dhamma MN 26.
Avoiding Rupa? SN 46.42 outlines the scheme, but it cannot be grasped without a sound understanding of DO. Few are those who understand. Form is not the only murderer.
Feeling, perception, volition, and vinnana too exhibt the same skill. What do you do with murderers?
  • Kill them before they kill you.
The narrative regarding the servant in SN 22.85, holds an important message. 
A killer enters the household in the guise of a servant, promising to serve.
His goal is to kill the good master, in a moment when he loses serenity and insight due to forgetfulness.
Aggregates have a way of creeping in stealthily when unwatched. Unwholesome kamma is creepy AN 10.216, creeps in when unwatched.
Pali commentary's take on the "snake" metaphor? slithering away??? Should it not be slithering in????
Key to liberation is the elimination of defilements. AN 10.217 is helpful, but not everything in this sutta is true. A Jain belief has crept into the sutta. 
The take home? 
Be without anger and hostility,
dispel drowsiness, eliminate restlessness and arrogance,
abandon doubt and go beyond
conceit.
 Jhana begins once the murderers have been vanquished,
not until then.
  • Jhana is an emergence from the sense sphere lock up, or the release from imprisoning aggregates.
Kill conditioned form, kill conditioned feeling,  kill conditioned volitional formations, kill conditioned consciousness, SN 22.85, writes.
Be meticulous and ruthless with that killing!!! 
"A Householder" holds on to the house of rupa, house of vedana, house of sanna, and house of sankhara, SN 22. 3, entangles with the aggregates.
That results in the thoughts
"These aggregates are mine"?, "they are my self"?,
carnage sets in when aggregates are allowed entry.
The current comment is inspired by DooDoot. 
He would scatter suttas like seeds on DW. Birds would fly in and peck at those seeds, and do as they pleased. Such is SN 22. 85.
Following suttas are worthy of note.
  • On what has come to be "Questions of Ajitha" SN 12.31, explains aggregates as "what has come to be"
  • SN 12.37  "Not yours" explains "aggregates are not ours"
  • SN 22. 3 quotes from Atthakavagga, antiquity of Atthakavagga!
It is older than Samyutta Nikaya.
Having left home to roam without abode,
In the village the sage is intimate with none;
Rid of sensual pleasures, without
expectations, He would not engage people in dispute
The gatha describes jhana perfectly? Having got rid of the murderers?? means having
got rid of their "abodes", the murderers are made homeless.
Sutta on "origination" SN 47.42, holds instructions on "exiting the sense sphere realm" and "entering the non-sensory realm of 4 jhanas"
Jhana is the stabilizer of gained freedom.
Dearest Doo Doot, thanks for SN 22.85. It reminds me of the  terrors that go within "The Houses of murderers". I miss you.
With love  :candle:
Post Reply