Pitch-black emptiness and Mahasi Sayadaw technique

On the cultivation of insight/wisdom
Theravadidiliana
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Re: Pitch-black emptiness and Mahasi Sayadaw technique

Post by Theravadidiliana »

"The experience of unconsciousness" is far more easily induced by anesthesia, first of all. But that aside, I would ask those advocating this "event" as constituting "the actual experience of nibbana" as to what the value is in this. So there's a momentary, impermanent, "non-experience." How has one's mind changed for the better through this event?

Not saying that this "pitch-backness" is nibbana, but from what nibs said in this thread what he calls some sort of cessation of the senses was followed by some pretty big changes. Hard to tell what it means though.

http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... bs#p122709" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Be happy,

Theravadidiliana
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Re: Pitch-black emptiness and Mahasi Sayadaw technique

Post by starter »

kirk5a wrote:
parth wrote: the actual experience
Which is described as such:
They may just be theoretical constructs to explain the sudden manifestation of the next stage, knowledge of path and result (maggaphala-nana). In practice, what happens is that the meditator is practicing, every aspect of his meditation is subtle, clear and bright, and then suddenly there is a sense of falling-into (knowledge of insight leading to emergence) and then the lights go out. There is a momentary sense of nothingness, and then the lights come on. If the meditator checks the watch, he realises some time has passed - depending on the strength of his concentration, this could be anything from a few minutes to a few days and he has "awoken" suddenly into a situation in which the practice is continuing, but the experience is much less subtle than before. The meditator is now in the knowledge of arising and passing away (udayabbaya-nana).

16) Knowledge of review - paccavekkhana-nana

What happened? Has he fallen asleep? No, because of the suddenness and clarity of the beginning and end of the experience of unconsciousness, and because there has been absolutely no physical movement. What the meditator has experienced is the total cessation of the mind-body process.
http://www.buddhanet.net/knowledg.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

"The experience of unconsciousness" is far more easily induced by anesthesia, first of all. But that aside, I would ask those advocating this "event" as constituting "the actual experience of nibbana" as to what the value is in this. So there's a momentary, impermanent, "non-experience." How has one's mind changed for the better through this event?
Hi Kirk,

Thanks for your info.

""The experience of unconsciousness" is far more easily induced by anesthesia"

-- Come on, no anesthesia necessary! Do we experience it everyday when we fall asleep or doze off? Actually we could really make some sense out of such experience, by realizing all our experiences are actually only depending upon our consciousness, our perception and our feeling ... I wonder why one has to reach the stage of cessation of perception and feeling in order to comprehend this point ...

Metta to all,

Starter

PS: It might not be a bad idea to induce "The experience of unconsciousness" by anesthesia, then one would truly understand that his consciousness is actually dependent upon the proper function of his nerves ...
Last edited by starter on Mon Apr 18, 2011 2:15 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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retrofuturist
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Re: Pitch-black emptiness and Mahasi Sayadaw technique

Post by retrofuturist »

Greetings RYB,
rowyourboat wrote:The bits in red are the elements pertaining to the removal of defilements. The bits in green are the elements pertaining to the cessation of experience. Now the only way to reconcile these two strands of quotes from the suttas is to put them together, as seems to have happened in the paticca-nirodha sequence above.
Nice to see paticca-nirodha sequence mentioned, except that your colour coded interpretation changes the explicitly stated sequencing of the cessation to suit your argument about what cessation actually is.

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)

"It is natural that one who knows and sees things as they really are is disenchanted and dispassionate." (AN 10.2)

"Overcome the liar by truth." (Dhp 223)
Nyana
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Re: Pitch-black emptiness and Mahasi Sayadaw technique

Post by Nyana »

kirk5a wrote:
What happened? Has he fallen asleep? No, because of the suddenness and clarity of the beginning and end of the experience of unconsciousness, and because there has been absolutely no physical movement. What the meditator has experienced is the total cessation of the mind-body process.
http://www.buddhanet.net/knowledg.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
This was written by Patrick Kearney who considered himself fit to criticize Jack Kornfield's A Path with Heart. I'm guessing that Kearney thinks that this "blackout emptiness" he's peddling is :quote: "dhamma."

All the best,

Geoff
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Re: Pitch-black emptiness and Mahasi Sayadaw technique

Post by kirk5a »

Ajahn Maha Boowa on the "stump-like samadhi" - further information of possible relevance to this thread.
This [right samadhi] is not the same as that type of samadhi where, once the heart has converged, one loses track of day and night, not knowing if one is alive — and it's as if one is dead. It is only after the heart has emerged that one starts to wonder about what had happened: "Was it that the heart converged? Wherever did my mind go?". This is 'stump-like samadhi' because it resembles a stump without any consciousness. Try to avoid and quit this type of samadhi, and if you've already fallen for it then you must immediately extricate yourself.

This stump-like samadhi is certainly found among those of us who practice. The remedy is to hold back and break the habitual way the heart tends to converge. If one indulges it then it will always stick with that propensity, so you will have to compel it to break away and 'take a tour' of the body. Mindfulness needs to be firmly in control, traveling up and around and down and around, over and over again until wisdom, Path and Fruit are realized.

The kind of samadhi that is right samadhi is that which has mindfulness attending to the state of calm, when the heart has converged into samadhi. After the heart has emerged again (out of samadhi), the various natural conditions[33] found within the body and mind should be investigated with wisdom. Therefore, with the right occasion and appropriate conditions start up the investigation. Samadhi and wisdom are dhammas that should always interrelate and collaborate. Don't allow your samadhi development to drift without giving it the necessary attention.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai ... astbr.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
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Re: Pitch-black emptiness and Mahasi Sayadaw technique

Post by kirk5a »

More reference material I found, this by Ajahn Lee.
Another instance of Wrong Concentration is when — after you've begun practicing to the point where you've attained threshold (upacara) concentration — you then stare down on the present, focusing, say, on the properties of breath, fire or earth, forbidding the mind to think; staring down, getting into a trance until the property becomes more and more refined, the mind becomes more and more refined; using force to suppress the mind until awareness becomes so dim that you lose mindfulness and alertness and all sense of the body and mind: Everything is absolutely snuffed out and still, with no self-awareness. This is called the plane of non-perception (asaññi-bhava), where you have no perception of anything at all. Your awareness isn't well-rounded, your mindfulness lacks circumspection, and as a result discernment has no chance to arise. This is called Wrong Concentration, Wrong Release, a mental blank — no awareness of past, present or future.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai ... peace.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

This clearly has to be distinguished from the following:
"There is the case, Ananda, where the monk would be percipient in this way: 'This is peace, this is exquisite — the resolution of all fabrications; the relinquishment of all acquisitions; the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding.' It's in this way that a monk could have an attainment of concentration such that he would neither be percipient of earth with regard to earth, nor of water with regard to water, nor of fire... wind... the dimension of the infinitude of space... the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness... the dimension of nothingness... the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception... this world... nor of the next world with regard to the next world, and yet he would still be percipient."
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Percipient of what?
Sariputta:"'The cessation of becoming — Unbinding — the cessation of becoming — Unbinding': One perception arose in me, friend Ananda, as another perception ceased. Just as in a blazing woodchip fire, one flame arises as another flame ceases, even so, 'The cessation of becoming — Unbinding — the cessation of becoming — Unbinding': One perception arose in me as another one ceased. I was percipient at that time of 'The cessation of becoming — Unbinding.'"
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Now what I find pretty interesting is "and yet he would still be percipient" (saññī) whereas the "wrong concentration" described above is said to be "asaññi" = not percipient? So that would seem to be a key to distinguish these states.

Doing some dictionary research:

Asaññin (adj.) [a + saññin] unconscious D i.54 (˚gabbhā, cp. DA i.163); iii.111, 140, 263; It 87; Sn 874.

Saññin (adj.) [fr. saññā] (f. saññinī) conscious, being aware of ( -- ˚), perceiving, having perception

"Saññā (f.) [fr. saŋ+jñā] (pl. saññāyo and saññā -- e. g. M i.108) 1. sense, consciousness, perception, being the third khandha Vin i.13; M i.300; S iii.3 sq.; Dhs 40, 58, 61, 113; VbhA 42. -- 2. sense, perception, discernment, recognition, assimilation of sensations, awareness M i.293; A iii.443 (nibbāna˚)

http://dsal.uchicago.edu/dictionaries/pali/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

And DN 1 Brahmajāla Sutta describes "Doctrines of Percipient Immortality (Saññīvāda)" and "Doctrines of Non-percipient Immortality (Asaññīvāda)"

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .bodh.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
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Re: Pitch-black emptiness and Mahasi Sayadaw technique

Post by Nyana »

kirk5a wrote:Now what I find pretty interesting is "and yet he would still be percipient" (saññī) whereas the "wrong concentration" described above is said to be "asaññi" = not percipient? So that would seem to be a key to distinguish these states.
Yes, non-percipient attainments (asaññasamāpatti) are wrong samādhis entered by worldlings, either intentionally, due to misunderstanding the dhamma, or unintentionally. It's a mistake to equate this type of non-percipient state with the noble paths and fruitions. Moreover, if one were to die while experiencing this non-percipient attainment the only possible result of this would be rebirth as non-percipient being (asaññasatta) without any functional mind or mental faculties. This is considered to be an inappropriate and inopportune plane (akkhaṇa bhūmi), because there is no possibility of practicing dhamma either within the non-perceptive absorption or as a non-percipient being reborn in such a realm. Both as a practice and a saṃsāric realm it arrests any possibility for mental development (bhāvanā).

The Pāḷi Tipiṭaka explicitly states -- in both the Suttapiṭaka and Abhidhammapiṭaka -- that the noble path and fruition cognitions must include perception (saññā). Therefore this notion of the noble paths and fruitions being devoid of perception is not the Pāḷi dhamma. It is the path of a deficient vehicle (hīnayāna) which should be avoided.

All the best,

Geoff
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Re: Pitch-black emptiness and Mahasi Sayadaw technique

Post by Gena1480 »

there is two types of cessation
one is cessation of feeling and perception(meditation attainment)
and the other one cessation of delusion and ignorance (understanding of four noble truth)
can someone help with a sutta taking about non perception being
as far as i know there is only 4 immaterial state described by the Buddha.
if you guys discribing cessation of feeling and percetion as non perception being, that is incorrect
there is no base for cessation of feeling and percetion.
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Re: Pitch-black emptiness and Mahasi Sayadaw technique

Post by Nyana »

Gena1480 wrote:can someone help with a sutta taking about non perception being
This subject is mentioned in the Brahmajāla Sutta. See Ven. Bodhi's translation of The Brahmajāla Sutta and its Commentaries.
Gena1480 wrote:as far as i know there is only 4 immaterial state described by the Buddha.
if you guys discribing cessation of feeling and percetion as non perception being, that is incorrect
No, that isn't what is being described. A non-perceptive attainment (asaññasamāpatti) and a non-percipient being (asaññasatta) are not the same as any of the four formless attainments nor the cessation of perception and feeling.
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Re: Pitch-black emptiness and Mahasi Sayadaw technique

Post by Gena1480 »

Nana you are right
thank you for the link
it is very good read
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Re: Pitch-black emptiness and Mahasi Sayadaw technique

Post by Modus.Ponens »

Hello

I just read through the first three pages of this topic, so I apologise if this was asked before.

Reading "The Progress of Insight", by Mahasi Sayadaw, it says:


13. Knowledge of Adaptation

Here the knowledge by way of noticing that occurs last in the series constituting insight leading to emergence, is called “knowledge of adaptation.”

This is the end of the purification by knowledge and vision of the course of practice.

14. Maturity Knowledge

Immediately afterwards, a type of knowledge manifests itself that, as it were, falls for the first time into Nibbāna, which is void of formations (conditioned phenomena) since it is the cessation of them. This knowledge is called “maturity knowledge.”⁴²

VII. Purification by Knowledge and Vision

15. Path Knowledge

It is followed immediately by knowledge that abides in that same Nibbāna, which is void of formations since it is the cessation of them. This is called “path knowledge.” It is also called “purification by knowledge and vision.”

16. Fruition Knowledge

That again is immediately followed by knowledge that belongs to the final stage and continues in the course of its predecessor. It abides in that same Nibbāna, which is void of formations since it is the cessation of them. This is called “fruition knowledge.”

17. Knowledge of Reviewing

The duration of that threefold knowledge of maturity, path, and fruition is, however, not long. It is very short, and lasts for just an instant, like the duration of a single thought of noticing. Subsequently there arises “knowledge of reviewing.” Through that knowledge of reviewing the meditator discerns that the insight leading to emergence came along with the very rapid function of noticing, and that immediately after the last phase of noticing, the path consciousness entered into the cessation (of formations). This is “knowledge reviewing the path.”



It is also known that after the attainment of the "9th jhana" (cessation of perception and feeling) the mind inclines to nibbana. From the Kamabhu Sutta:


Citta asked him a further question: "When a monk has emerged from the cessation of perception & feeling, how many contacts make contact?"

"When a monk has emerged from the cessation of perception & feeling, three contacts make contact: contact with emptiness, contact with the signless, & contact with the undirected.[3]"

"Very good, venerable sir." And, delighting in and approving of Ven. Kamabhu's answer, Citta asked him a further question: "When a monk has emerged from the cessation of perception & feeling, to what does his mind lean, to what does it tend, to what does it incline?"

"When a monk has emerged from the cessation of perception & feeling, his mind leans to seclusion, tends to seclusion, inclines to seclusion."[4]

"Very good, venerable sir." And, delighting in and approving of Ven. Kamabhu's answer, Citta asked him a further question: "How many mental qualities are of great help in the attainment of the cessation of perception & feeling?"

"Actually, householder, you have asked last what should have been asked first. Nevertheless, I will answer you. Two qualities are of great help in the attainment of the cessation of perception & feeling: tranquillity & insight."

[Footnote] 3. Emptiness, the signless, & the undirected are names for a state of concentration that lies on the threshold of Unbinding. They differ only in how they are approached. According to the commentary, they color one's first apprehension of Unbinding: a meditator who has been focusing on the theme of inconstancy will first apprehend Unbinding as signless; one who has been focusing on the theme of stress will first apprehend it as undirected; one who has been focusing on the theme of not-self will first apprehend it as emptiness.

[Footnote] 4. According to the commentary, "seclusion" here stands for Unbinding. On emerging from the cessation of perception & feeling, and having had contact with emptiness/the signless/the undirected, the mind inclines naturally to a direct experience of Unbinding.



Now my question is: if, after emerging from the "9th jhana" , the mind inclines to nibbana, why is it that the process described by some people as "pitch black emptiness", or cessation of consciousness, cannot be interpreted in the same way? Meaning, why is it that after the cessation of consciousness/pitch black emptiness the mind wouldn't incline to nibbana?

This would make sense to me. I try not to have a dogmatic approach to things, as doing so we focus on details of exposition rather than the meaning of what is being said. We've all had teachers in school who knew the subject but weren't good at explaining it. That doesn't necessarily mean that what those teachers were saying is wrong. It would probably just be a somewhat clumsy/old fashioned way of puting things. Plus, there is more than one perspective on things. As mentioned above, a stream winner who enters the stream through the signless will have an experience of nibbana coloured by the signlessness, for example.

Sources: The first quote is from "The Progress of Insight", by Mahasi Sayadaw, on ven. Pesala's site, http://www.aimwell.org/progress.html#15.PathKnowledge
; The second quote is from Access to Insight, http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Metta
"He turns his mind away from those phenomena and, having done so, inclines his mind to the property of deathlessness: 'This is peace, this is exquisite — the resolution of all fabrications; the relinquishment of all acquisitions; the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding.' " - Jhana Sutta
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