Is Critical Thinking Active Vipassana?

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robertk
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Re: Is Critical Thinking Active Vipassana?

Postby robertk » Sat Mar 02, 2013 6:25 pm

[
danieLion wrote:I said I mostly agree with Thanissaro. One of my goals in participating in this thread is explore just how valid dichotomizing vipassana as a technique verus a quality of mind . robertk (and another Abhidhamma fanatic I know personally) got me thinking about this. Unless I've misunderstood robertk, Abhidhamma is "active vipassana." But again, I'm exploring these things as a critical thinker--that is, not rushing to judgments and keeping an open mind when I encounter new information--
[/quote]

dear daniel
you might be interested in this auote from sitagu sayawdaw.
http://www.abhidhamma.org/sitagu%20sayadaw.htm

Since Vipassana meditation takes the Abhidhamma as its sole object of contemplation, Vipassana and Abhidhamma cannot be separated. And while it may not be said that one can practice Vipassana only after one has mastered the Abhidhamma, Vipassana meditation and the study of Abhidhamma remain one and the same thing. Because mind, mental factors and matter are forever bound up with this fathom-long body, the study and learning of this subject, and the concentrated observation of the nature of mind, mental factors and matter are tasks which cannot be distinguished
.

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Re: Is Critical Thinking Active Vipassana?

Postby danieLion » Sat Mar 02, 2013 6:41 pm

Mr Man wrote:Hopefully we are all exploring together.

Absolutely!
This Tejaniya quote from Dharma Everywhere is to the point.
WHAT IS A GOOD TIME FOR MEDITATION?

Many yogis have this idea that their meditation begins when they hear the bell. That’s not so! The bell is there only to remind you. The right time to practice is from the time you wake up in the morning to the time you go to bed at night. When you wake up in the morning, check yourself. Is the mind clear? Does it feel refreshed? Is it still sleepy? You wake up but you want to continue sleeping. Is that difficult to know? Can you know all these? You just have to ask yourself.

You are practicing to know the mind and body. Let whatever happens, happen; it is not important. The mind’s work is to know and to acknowledge, which can happen in any posture or activity. Sitting on the cushion does not necessarily mean you are practicing. Some yogis sit and fall asleep while others sit and daydream away! Is this considered meditation (my italics, bolds)? (pp. 27-28)

And does not the Satipatthana Sutta teach the same thing?
danieLion wrote:As far as what the OP should or should not be, I'll leave that to Cittasanto, as he started this thread.

Mr Man wrote:That was not intended to be taken literally but more as to add to the exploration or to change the perspective slightly.
Gotchya. Thanks. Maybe a new OP?

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Re: Is Critical Thinking Active Vipassana?

Postby danieLion » Sat Mar 02, 2013 6:42 pm

Thanks Robert. :thinking: :reading:

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Re: Is Critical Thinking Active Vipassana?

Postby danieLion » Sat Mar 02, 2013 8:08 pm

More from Tejaniya's Dhamma Everywhere
WAITING AND WATCHING WITH INTEllIGENCE

In this practice, we don’t focus, control,exert, restrict or interfere. These actions are motivated by defilements like craving, aversion, or delusion.

We have very often used a lot of wrong effort to get what we wanted or tended to exert a lot of energy to get rid of something. We’ve also done things blindly when we weren’t sure what to do.

With this practice, you just wait and watch with intelligence. What can you know naturally while you are sitting? You are not focusing or looking at any
special object. You are aware and now you observe yourself:
-Are you aware that you are seated?
-What is happening in your body?
-What can you know naturally?

Expanding abdomen, contracting abdomen, heat, sounds...
-Are you aware of your palms touching?
-Aren’t your arms tired?

How much effort do you need to know seeing, hearing, heat, cold, touching,or tiredness? Do you need to focus to know any of these? Is that tiring or
difficult? See how easy observing is? Would it be tiring to practice like this the whole day?

Ask yourself if you are aware and then begin the sitting or walking meditation. It is the nature of the mind to naturally take up the object it wants and will know as much as it is able to know. Keep checking when you are sitting, walking, eating, or doing daily activities. The mind can know what it wants,
can’t it? This “knowing naturally” is easier on you. Trying to find the object you want requires energy (my bolds).

AWARENESS ALONE IS NOT ENOUGH

So far, we’ve talked about awareness and waiting and watching with intelligence.

Remember that awareness alone is not enough! There has to be wisdom present in the awareness.

Where is that wisdom going to come from? There are three kinds of wisdom: Sutamayā paññā, cintāmayā paññā, and bhāvanāmayā paññā. Sutamayā paññā is information you get from reading, from listening to Dhamma discourses, or from discussions with teachers. Cintāmayā paññā is intelligence or knowledge acquired through thinking, reasoning, or intellectual analysis. Bhāvanāmayā paññā is insight or wisdom gained through direct experience. In short, we refer to them as information, intelligence, and insight. In this book, we may refer to any of these as “wisdom,” or be more specific at times by using the words information, intelligence, or insight.

Are you able to work on a certain subject matter if you don’t know anything about it? You can perform only with right information. So how do you get right practice? Before you begin to practice, you need to have some accurate and complete information so that when you are practicing, wisdom in the form of information and intelligence are present with the awareness. You need right information and right attitude as wisdom for right practice. The
Buddha called it mindfulness and clear comprehension (sati-sampajañña).

By having the right information on meditation, you won’t run into problems using the wrong information. This information comes from listening to get
Dhamma knowledge, asking for clarification, and having Dhamma discussions. I will give you information, and as yogis, you use this information and yourown intelligence when you are practicing. You apply these two kinds of wisdom (information and intelligence) to the practice of meditation. Insight wisdom arises when the right kinds of conditions come together (Tenaniya's italics, bolds, my underlines).

THINKING WHILE PRACTICING

So, should you think or not think while practicing? You should be watchful ofthe kinds of thoughts that will increase craving, aversion, or delusion. When people say there shouldn’t be thinking, they are referring to defilement-motivated thinking. Of course you can’t help thoughts that just arise naturally but you don’t help these defilement-motivated thoughts to grow even more.

You don’t stop all sorts of thinking! You should think about the Dhamma you have heard, information you’ve read here, and reflect on the work
you are doing and consider how you are practicing. This kind of thinking will help wisdom grow.

This information I’m giving you now will be working in the mind when you are practicing and you use the theory along with your own intelligence to work skillfully with the situation at hand. Utilizing the good qualities of the mind (i.e. sati, viriya, paññā) and applying intelligence is the work of mindfulness meditation (my bolds).
(Pp. 28-31)

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Re: Is Critical Thinking Active Vipassana?

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Mar 02, 2013 9:55 pm

danieLion wrote:
tiltbillings wrote: I have specifically dealt with the depth and irrationalitty of the greed, hate and delusion we are faced with in my dialogue with Nana.
On that we are going to seriously disagree. What you have described does not seem to me to come anywhere close to touching the evolutionary roots of the problem described by the Buddha. My opinion, but I really do not have a burning urge to dig into this. So, for me, we can just let it go at that.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: Is Critical Thinking Active Vipassana?

Postby danieLion » Sat Mar 02, 2013 10:06 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
danieLion wrote:
tiltbillings wrote: I have specifically dealt with the depth and irrationalitty of the greed, hate and delusion we are faced with in my dialogue with Nana.
On that we are going to seriously disagree. What you have described does not seem to me to come anywhere close to touching the evolutionary roots of the problem described by the Buddha. My opinion, but I really do not have a burning urge to dig into this. So, for me, we can just let it go at that.

Okay.

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Re: Is Critical Thinking Active Vipassana?

Postby danieLion » Sat Mar 02, 2013 10:24 pm

Setting aside the question of what active vipassana is for the moment (and also setting aside the technique v. mental quality question), I will share my understanding of what vipassana is. I don't think it's terribly complicated or controversial and I don't think it diverges from traditional the Theravadin understanding. After that, I will cite passages from Buddhist texts and authors that parallel passages from the works of Albert Ellis and David D. Burns to demonstrate how REBT and CBT overlap considerably with vipassana.

Vipassana has two functions. The first is to understand reality in terms of the tilakkhana and the second is to eliminate kilesa.

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Re: Is Critical Thinking Active Vipassana?

Postby danieLion » Sat Mar 02, 2013 11:26 pm

Regarding Buddha's anatta doctrine and REBT.

From Bhikkhu Nanananda's Concept and Reality in Early Buddhist Thought, we find these comments on papanca and anatta.

The label 'I' thus superimposed on the complex contingent process, serves as a convenient fiction of thought or a short-hand device, and is in fact one of the shortest words in many a language. But paradoxically enough, it is the outcome of 'papañca'—rather a disconcerting predicament. The paradox is resolved by the fact that the ego notion is an extension in thought not faithful to facts, being a mental aberration of the worldling. Here we see a curious distinction between the relative meanings attached to 'papañca' when it is used with reference to the verbal and the mental realms respectively. Such short-hand devices as technical terms or codewords in a language help us to avoid 'verbal-papañca', but inasmuch as they are evolved through a complex process of thought activity they may be said to presuppose a good deal of 'mental-papañca' (pp. 10-11).


Compare this to comments Albert Ellis makes in his essay, REBT Diminishes Much of the Human Ego.

Much of what we call the human "ego" is vague and indeterminate and, when conceived of and given a global rating, interferes with the survival of happiness. Certain aspects of ego seem to be vital and lead to beneficial results; for people do exist, or have aliveness, for a number of years, and they have self consciousness, or awareness of their existence. In this sense, the have uniquness, ongoingness, and ego. What people call their "self" or "totality" or "personality," on the other hand, has a vague, almost indefinable quality. People may well have "good" or "bad" traits--characteristics that help or hinder them in thier goals of survival or happiness--but they really have no self that is good or bad.

To increase their health and happiness, REBT recommends that people had better resist the tendency to rate their self or essence and had better stick to rating their deeds [karma], traits, acts [karma], characteristics, and performances (The Road to Tolerance: The Philosophy of Ratioanal Emotive Behavior Therapy. Prometheus: 2004; p. 229).


Now, compare this to Thanissaro's statements:

Nibbana, of course, is independent and unconditioned; but the act of awakening to nibbana depends on a path of practice that has to be willed. It happens only if you choose to give rise to its causes. This, as the Buddha noted, involves determining to do four things: not to neglect discernment, to preserve truth, to develop relinquishment, and to train for peace.

To stick with these four determinations, the mind has to make some assumptions about itself: its power to do the necessary work and to receive the anticipated benefits. But one of the central features of the Buddha's strategy as a teacher was that even though his primary focus was on the mind, he nowhere defined what the mind is. As he said, if you define yourself, you limit yourself. So instead he focused his assumptions on what the mind can do....

The Buddha never advocated attributing an innate nature of any kind to the mind — good, bad, or Buddha. The idea of innate natures slipped into the Buddhist tradition in later centuries, when the principle of freedom was forgotten. Past bad kamma was seen as so totally deterministic that there seemed no way around it unless you assumed either an innate Buddha in the mind that could overpower it, or an external Buddha who would save you from it. But when you understand the principle of freedom — that past kamma doesn't totally shape the present, and that present kamma can always be free to choose the skillful alternative — you realize that the idea of innate natures is unnecessary: excess baggage on the path....

So instead of making assumptions about innate natures or inevitable outcomes, the Buddha advised exploring the possibility of freedom as it's immediately present each time you make a choice. Freedom is not a nature, and you don't find it by looking for your hidden innate nature. You find freedom by looking at where it's constantly showing itself: in the fact that your present intentions are not totally conditioned by the past. You catch your first glimmer of it as a range of possibilities from which you can choose and as your ability to act more skillfully — causing more pleasure and less pain — than you ordinarily might. Your sense of this freedom grows as you explore and exercise it, each time you choose the most skillful course of action heading in the direction of discernment, truthfulness, relinquishment, and peace. The choice to keep making skillful choices may require assumptions, but to keep the mind focused on the issue of fabrication the Buddha saw that these assumptions are best kept to a bare minimum: that the mind wants happiness, that it can choose courses of actions that promote happiness or thwart it, that it can change its ways, and that it can train itself to achieve the ultimate happiness where all fabrications fall away.
Freedom From Buddha Nature


And:
In following this program, the notion of agent and victim is avoided, as is self-reflexive thinking in general. There is simply the analysis of cause-effect processes. One is still making use of dualities — distinguishing between unskillful and skillful (and affliction/lack of affliction, the results of unskillful and skillful qualities) — but the distinction is between processes, not things. Thus one's analysis avoids the type of thinking that, according to DN 21, depends on the perceptions and categories of papañca, and in this way the vicious cycle by which thinking and papañca keep feeding each other is cut.
Madhupindika Sutta: Translator's Introduction

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Re: Is Critical Thinking Active Vipassana?

Postby danieLion » Sun Mar 03, 2013 12:03 am

Regarding the kilesas and REBT, specifically dosa and moha, and mana.

In his book, Anger: How to Live With and Without it, Albert Ellis says,

Trrough our understanding of secondary gains, we realize that every action [karma] has it intention [cetana]. Each action you carry through or that it occurs to you to carry through, has at its base a specific aim or goal.... For instance, we have put forth the theory that anger facilitates some secondary gain in that it relieves you from the feelings resulting from resulting from action from interaction against a difficult situation.... We make the distinction here between the intention of an action or feeling as opposed to the actual consequence of holding that feeling.... Anger stems from your irratioanal and illogical belief that a person's action eqauals the same thing as the person himself [Cf. the kilesas mana or conceit and dosa or delusion]. Just as your evaluation of the person turns, thereby, one-sided and negative [via papanca], so does your response to that person.... Your irrational premise thus results in alienation of a full person who will most probably in turn respond in a defensive manner in order to protect his or her own integrity and self image. So long as you maintain this alienating atmosphere, no good proability for openess of all points of view [critical thinking] exists, and your anger will importantly inhibit a speedy and effective resolution to a problem (Citadel: 1997. Pp. 26-27).


Compare this to the Sallatha Sutta: The Dart (Nyanaponika Thera's translation).


"An untaught worldling, O monks, experiences pleasant feelings, he experiences painful feelings and he experiences neutral feelings. A well-taught noble disciple likewise experiences pleasant, painful and neutral feelings. Now what is the distinction, the diversity, the difference that exists herein between a well-taught noble disciple and an untaught worldling?

"When an untaught worldling is touched by a painful (bodily) feeling, he worries and grieves, he laments, beats his breast, weeps and is distraught. He thus experiences two kinds of feelings, a bodily and a mental feeling. It is as if a man were pierced by a dart and, following the first piercing, he is hit by a second dart. So that person will experience feelings caused by two darts. It is similar with an untaught worldling: when touched by a painful (bodily) feeling, he worries and grieves, he laments, beats his breast, weeps and is distraught. So he experiences two kinds of feeling: a bodily and a mental feeling.

"Having been touched by that painful feeling, he resists (and resents) it. Then in him who so resists (and resents) that painful feeling, an underlying tendency of resistance against that painful feeling comes to underlie (his mind). Under the impact of that painful feeling he then proceeds to enjoy sensual happiness. And why does he do so? An untaught worldling, O monks, does not know of any other escape from painful feelings except the enjoyment of sensual happiness. Then in him who enjoys sensual happiness, an underlying tendency to lust for pleasant feelings comes to underlie (his mind). He does not know, according to facts, the arising and ending of these feelings, nor the gratification, the danger and the escape, connected with these feelings. In him who lacks that knowledge, an underlying tendency to ignorance as to neutral feelings comes to underlie (his mind). When he experiences a pleasant feeling, a painful feeling or a neutral feeling, he feels it as one fettered by it. Such a one, O monks, is called an untaught worldling who is fettered by birth, by old age, by death, by sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief and despair. He is fettered by suffering, this I declare.

"But in the case of a well-taught noble disciple, O monks, when he is touched by a painful feeling, he will not worry nor grieve and lament, he will not beat his breast and weep, nor will he be distraught. It is one kind of feeling he experiences, a bodily one, but not a mental feeling. It is as if a man were pierced by a dart, but was not hit by a second dart following the first one. So this person experiences feelings caused by a single dart only. It is similar with a well-taught noble disciple: when touched by a painful feeling, he will no worry nor grieve and lament, he will not beat his breast and weep, nor will he be distraught. He experiences one single feeling, a bodily one.

"Having been touched by that painful feeling, he does not resist (and resent) it. Hence, in him no underlying tendency of resistance against that painful feeling comes to underlie (his mind). Under the impact of that painful feeling he does not proceed to enjoy sensual happiness. And why not? As a well-taught noble disciple he knows of an escape from painful feelings other than by enjoying sensual happiness. Then in him who does not proceed to enjoy sensual happiness, no underlying tendency to lust for pleasant feelings comes to underlie (his mind). He knows, according to facts, the arising and ending of those feelings, and the gratification, the danger and the escape connected with these feelings. In him who knows thus, no underlying tendency to ignorance as to neutral feelings comes to underlie (his mind). When he experiences a pleasant feeling, a painful feeling or a neutral feeling, he feels it as one who is not fettered by it. Such a one, O monks, is called a well-taught noble disciple who is not fettered by birth, by old age, by death, by sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief and despair. He is not fettered to suffering, this I declare.

"This, O monks, is the distinction, the diversity, the difference that exists between a well-taught noble disciple and an untaught worldling."

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Re: Is Critical Thinking Active Vipassana?

Postby danieLion » Sun Mar 03, 2013 12:30 am

On pages 42-43 of Ellis' Anger: How to Live With and Without It, we see a parallel to the tanha and jati-paccaya jaramaranam links of the paticca-samuppada. He writes:

Irrational Idea No. 3j: "Since I maanaged to come into this world and still remain alive, my life must continue forever or just as long as I want it to continue. I find it completely unfair and horrible to think about the possiblity of dying and of no longer having any existence [bhava-tanha or craving for existence]. I also find it horrible to think about the death of those whom I love. Death, except for my enemies, must not exist [kama-tanha or sensual craving and jati-paccaya jaramaranam or rebirth conditioned through old age and death (sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief and despair from which arises the whole mass of suffering again in the future.].

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Re: Is Critical Thinking Active Vipassana?

Postby kirk5a » Sun Mar 03, 2013 3:24 am

danieLion wrote:You claim it is plain from the reading material (I presume you mean the citations I made) that REBT and CBT as papanca reducers or eradicators is "thin."

Are you claiming that undertaking Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a path to stream-entry?
"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: Is Critical Thinking Active Vipassana?

Postby danieLion » Sun Mar 03, 2013 3:51 am

From Bhikkhu Nanananda's Concept and Reality in Early Buddhist Thought:
The vicious proliferating tendency of the worldling's consciousness weaves for him a labyrinthine network of concepts connecting the three periods of time through processes of recognition, retrospection and speculation. The tangled maze with its apparent objectivity entices the worldling and ultimately obsesses and overwhelms him. The Buddha has compared the aggregate of consciousness to a conjuror's trick or an illusion (mâyâ) (p. 6).
Or, in the words of CBT, cognitive distortions.

The CBT expert David D. Burns' passages from his book Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy (Harper: 2009) passages that parallel the Buddha's teachings on dukkha, annata (not-self), dosa (hate/anger), vinnana (consciousness), sanna (perception), vedana (feeling) papanca, maya (illusion), moha (delusion), avijja (ignorance), vipassana, manasikara (attention) and sati sampjanna (clear seeing) (my bolds, his italics, except the Pali, which are mine).

Your emotions result entirely from the way you look at things. It is an obvious neurological fact that before you can experience any event, you must process it with your mind and give it meaning. You must understand what is happening to you before you can experience it.

If your understanding of what is happening to you is accurate [sati sampajanna], your emotions will be normal. If your perception is twisted [moha/avijja] and distorted in some way, your emotional response will be abnormal. Depression [a form of dukkha] falls into this category. It always results from mental "static"--distortions...[moha, avijja, maya]. Nearly every depressed person seems convinced beyond all rhyme or reason that he or she is the special one [atta] who really is beyond hope. This delusion is reflects the kind of mental processes [sanna, vedana, papanca] that is at the very core of your illness [dukkha].... When you are depressed, you possess the remarkable ability to believe, and to get the people around you to believe, things which have no basis in reality. As a therapist, it is my my job to penerate you illusion [maya], to teach you how to look behind the mirrors so you can see how you've been fooling yourself [moha]. (pp. 29-32).


You rarely need your anger in order to be human. It is not true that you will be and unfeeling robot without it. In fact, when you rid yourself of that sour irritiability, you will feel greater zest, joy, peace, and productivity. You will experience liberation and enlightenment (p. 197).


To the extent that a person's emotional upset is cause by his distorted thoughts [moha], then you can say he is responsible for his suffering (p. 201).

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Re: Is Critical Thinking Active Vipassana?

Postby danieLion » Sun Mar 03, 2013 3:57 am

kirk5a wrote:
danieLion wrote:You claim it is plain from the reading material (I presume you mean the citations I made) that REBT and CBT as papanca reducers or eradicators is "thin."

Are you claiming that undertaking Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a path to stream-entry?
Not necessarily, but I am claiming it can be used as a tool by some individuals at some times to fabricate part of a path to stream-entry. Are you denying that REBT and CBT can never be used for such a purpose by some people at some times? In other words, are you making a mutual exclusivity claim or false dichotomy claim between path fabrication and REBT and CBT tools?

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Re: Is Critical Thinking Active Vipassana?

Postby kirk5a » Sun Mar 03, 2013 4:54 am

danieLion wrote:Not necessarily, but I am claiming it can be used as a tool by some individuals at some times to fabricate part of a path to stream-entry. Are you denying that REBT and CBT can never be used for such a purpose by some people at some times? In other words, are you making a mutual exclusivity claim or false dichotomy claim between path fabrication and REBT and CBT tools?

Unless someone directly, specifically, and creditably credits the REBT or CBT process with the attainment of stream entry, it remains speculation as to whether these tools actually can form a part of the path to stream entry. Is there someone out there who actually makes that claim? Or are they not rather better understood in terms of their recognized goals, rather than giving too much significance to textual similarities here and there?
Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), previously called rational therapy and rational emotive therapy, is a comprehensive, active-directive, philosophically and empirically based psychotherapy which focuses on resolving emotional and behavioral problems and disturbances and enabling people to lead happier and more fulfilling lives.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rational_e ... or_therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a psychotherapeutic approach that addresses dysfunctional emotions, maladaptive behaviors and cognitive processes and contents through a number of goal-oriented, explicit systematic procedures.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_ ... al_therapy
Bhikkhu Bodhi has some astute things to say about differing goals:
Bhikkhu Bodhi wrote:Today the practice of insight meditation has gained global popularity, yet in achieving this success it has undergone a subtle metamorphosis. Rather than being taught as an integral part of the Buddhist path, it is now often presented as a secular discipline whose fruits pertain more to life within the world than to supramundane release. Many meditators testify to the tangible benefits they have gained from the practice of insight meditation, benefits that range from enhanced job performance and better relationships to deeper calm, more compassion, and greater awareness. However, while such benefits may certainly be worthwhile in their own right, taken by themselves they are not the final goal that the Buddha himself holds up as the end point of his training. That goal, in the terminology of the texts, is the attainment of Nibbana, the destruction of all defilements here and now and deliverance from the beginningless round of rebirths.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... ay_45.html
"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: Is Critical Thinking Active Vipassana?

Postby danieLion » Sun Mar 03, 2013 5:09 am

Clarification on what Albert Ellis means by rational, and why it is not to be conflated or confused with mere philosophically critical methodology or traditional philosophical rationalism (a la Descartes, Leibniz, Spinoza, et al), and most importantly why it is not papanca.

From Albert Ellis' A Guide to Rational Living:
Human reason...includes health emotionality, good habits, and an exciting existence. Rational living is not an end in itself. Life is rational when you use your head to experience happier, more fulfilling days and years. To be rational, you act (and feel) more joyously.

Rationality, as we use the term, shies away from perfectionism or absolutism [another reason why it's a from of critical thinking]. Although we consider ourselves pretty rational, we are not dedicated rationalists. Rationalism holds that reason or intellect, rather than the senses, is the true source of all knowledge. This we do not believe. Like most modern scientists , we see knowledge as greatly influenced by human perceiving [sanna)] and thinking [vitakka]. But we also see it dependent on sensing [vinnana], feeling [vedana, etc...], and acting [karma].

Rational thinking [is] the kind of thought that most likely will result [vipaka] in the preservation of your life and limb, will produce a minimum of inner conflict and turmoil, and, if you act on it, will prevent you from experiencing undesirable conflict with other people.

If you follow this kind of rational thinking, you will not respond mechanically or overintellectualy. Various people mean various things by rational. We mean: sensible, efficient, unself-defeating. And we include human emotion, sensitivity, creativity, and art as quite rational pursuits--as long as you do not take them to such extremes as to sabotage your living and other forms of enjoying.

Is rationalizing rational? By no means! Rationalizing means inventing seemingly rational or plausible explanations of your acts, beliefs, or desires, usually without your awareness that these explanations do not hold water. Rationalizing or excusing your behavior, therefore, amounts to the opposite of thinking rationally about it.

Similarly, although to intellectualize, in a philosophical sense, means to reason or think, in a psychological sense it means to overemphasize intellectual pursuits...and to downplay emotional areas.... To intellectualize also means to think about your emotional problems so compulsively as to deny [moha] and to avoid [dosa] them rather solve them.

Although, therefore, REBT strongly favors a highly reasoned approach to human life [like the Buddha], it does not favor rationalizing or intellectualizing [like the Buddha]. To reason your way our your own emotional upsets [dukkha] is to be sane and sensible. But to rationalize and intellectualize about your self-defeating behavior helps you perpetuate it [papanca]. They are not our thing. If some people accuse us of advocating rationalized and intellectualized "solutions" to human ills [dukkha], that is their problem (Melvin, Powers, Wilshire: 1997. Pp. 84-86)!


On how REBT and CBT are forms of critical thinking see:

-Complement to a theory of the cognitive distortions
-Critical Thinking and Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy
-Rational Emotive Education Past, Present, And Future

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Re: Is Critical Thinking Active Vipassana?

Postby Cittasanto » Sun Mar 03, 2013 10:24 am

Mr Man wrote:
Cittasanto wrote:Are you looking for clarity for the purpose of discourse in this thread or to discus what vipassana is?


Given the title of the thread I would think that it would be esential to have an understanding of what vipassana is and what it isn't. What if the whole discussion was based on a incorrect understanding of a key term?

If we take the definition of vipassana from kirk5a above " "vipassana" is the seeing connected with the "supramundane." and critical thinking as " "analyzing and evaluating thinking with a view to improoving it" I'm struggling to see how the two could be confused.

well there are many ways in which to understand terms, and one of the reasons I chose the Open Dhamma area was to allow for many understandings of what vipassana is and how that could manifest in an active way. and why I provided two possible understandings of what Vipassana is from what I understand to be a common nowadays if not scripturally accurate. I do not feel Vipassana need to be pinned down into one definition so long as it can be active, used in daily life and not solely on the cushion.
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Re: Is Critical Thinking Active Vipassana?

Postby Cittasanto » Sun Mar 03, 2013 10:31 am

kirk5a wrote:
Cittasanto wrote:please read the post right above the initial reply to you!

What post are you referring to?

viewtopic.php?f=16&t=16350&start=40#p233079
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."

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Re: Is Critical Thinking Active Vipassana?

Postby danieLion » Sun Mar 03, 2013 6:04 pm

kirk5a wrote:
danieLion wrote:Not necessarily, but I am claiming it can be used as a tool by some individuals at some times to fabricate part of a path to stream-entry. Are you denying that REBT and CBT can never be used for such a purpose by some people at some times? In other words, are you making a mutual exclusivity claim or false dichotomy claim between path fabrication and REBT and CBT tools?

Unless someone directly, specifically, and creditably credits the REBT or CBT process with the attainment of stream entry, it remains speculation as to whether these tools actually can form a part of the path to stream entry. Is there someone out there who actually makes that claim? Or are they not rather better understood in terms of their recognized goals, rather than giving too much significance to textual similarities here and there?

What do you mean by "someone out there"? Are you committing the fallacy of argument to tradition and/or argument to authority? I'm someone "out there" with academic credentials and an experienced Buddhist who's made direct, specific, credible claims with minimal speculation about the substantial relationship between critical thinking/REBT/CBT and The Path. Cittasanto's someone "out there" that's made similar direct, specific, and credible claims with minimal specualtion about the substantial relationship between critical thinking/REBT/CBT and The Path. And yes, there are many Buddhists "out there" with credibility who have made similar claims. Would you like me to inform you of them, also? I could do it lickity split with one hand tied behind my back.
kirk5a wrote:
Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), previously called rational therapy and rational emotive therapy, is a comprehensive, active-directive, philosophically and empirically based psychotherapy which focuses on resolving emotional and behavioral problems and disturbances and enabling people to lead happier and more fulfilling lives.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rational_e ... or_therapy

This does not contradict what I've said but rather supports it.
kirk5a wrote:
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a psychotherapeutic approach that addresses dysfunctional emotions, maladaptive behaviors and cognitive processes and contents through a number of goal-oriented, explicit systematic procedures.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_ ... al_therapy

This also does not contradict what I've said and also supports it.
kirk5a wrote:Bhikkhu Bodhi has some astute things to say about differing goals:
Bhikkhu Bodhi wrote:Today the practice of insight meditation has gained global popularity, yet in achieving this success it has undergone a subtle metamorphosis. Rather than being taught as an integral part of the Buddhist path, it is now often presented as a secular discipline whose fruits pertain more to life within the world than to supramundane release. Many meditators testify to the tangible benefits they have gained from the practice of insight meditation, benefits that range from enhanced job performance and better relationships to deeper calm, more compassion, and greater awareness. However, while such benefits may certainly be worthwhile in their own right, taken by themselves they are not the final goal that the Buddha himself holds up as the end point of his training. That goal, in the terminology of the texts, is the attainment of Nibbana, the destruction of all defilements here and now and deliverance from the beginningless round of rebirths.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... ay_45.html

I'm familiar with Bhikkhu Bodhi's views on this. I've all ready voiced similar concerns (above) about popular Buddhism and western psychotherapeutic co-optation, e.g., therapists who bill themselves as "mindfulness based" but aren't even Buddhists. Furthermore, it's my understanding--and I hope he'll correct me if I'm wrong--that the owner of Dhammawheel is a himself a "secular" Buddhist and is interested in exploring what this means for modern Buddhists. I'm of the opinion that the secular/non-secular dichotomy is basically hot air, but time will tell if I'm accurate on that score or not. The Bhikkhu Bodhi article you cited is illustrates this. First of all, he uses the term "insight mediation" without reference to the related debate about whether or not vipassana is a technique, state of mind or both. Secondly, he invokes the notion of "original" Buddhism without clarifying it's distinction from early Buddhism. Has he went back in time and observed the Buddha and all the "original" Buddhists to come to some special knowledge about this? And where, exactly does "original" Buddhism end and "non-original" Buddhism begin? And by using the term "original" he is implying, whether intentionally or not I don't know, that there was uniform agreement back then as to what Buddhist practice is and isn't. We do not see the Buddha in the suttas drawing such strict lines in the sand.
Furthermore, he also says things in the article like:
Given the skeptical climate of our age, it is quite appropriate that newcomers to Dhamma be invited to explore for themselves the potential inherent in the practice. Perhaps the last thing they need is to have the full agenda of Buddhist doctrine thrust upon them from the start.... The canonical texts do not seem to envisage the possibility that a person lacking faith in the tenets specific to the Dhamma could take up the practice of insight meditation and reap positive results. Yet today such a phenomenon has become extremely widespread. It is quite common now for meditators to make their first contact with the Dhamma through intensive insight meditation, and then to use this experience as a touchstone for assessing their relationship to the teaching....

The fact that insight meditation can be seriously practiced even outside the domain of Buddhist faith raises an interesting question never explicitly posed by the canon and commentaries. If insight meditation can be pursued solely for its immediately visible benefits, then what role does faith play in the development of the path? Certainly, faith as a full acceptance of Buddhist doctrine is not a necessary condition for Buddhist practice. As we have seen, those who do not follow the Dhamma as a path to spiritual deliverance might still accept the Buddhist ethical precepts and practice meditation as a way to inner peace.

Faith must therefore play a different role than that of a simple spur to action, but the exact nature of this role remains problematic. Perhaps the solution will emerge if we ask what faith actually means in the context of Buddhist practice. It should be clear at once that faith cannot be adequately explained simply as reverence for the Buddha, or as some alloy of devotion, admiration, and gratitude. For while these qualities often exist alongside faith, they may all be present even when faith is absent.

He's mincing words here (which he can be very good at, considering his Western Philosopical-Secular-Speculative background). If someone's taking up "insight mediation" that implies some degree of faith. He seems to be suggesting that Buddhist faith is some kind of club or that you have to have a special kind of faith to do "authentic" or "original" insight meditation.

It gets worse:
It is this decision that separates those who take up the practice of insight meditation as a purely naturalistic discipline from those who practice it within the framework of the Buddhist faith. The former, by suspending any judgment about the picture of the human condition imparted by the Buddha, limit the fruit of the practice to those that are compatible with a secular, naturalistic worldview. The latter, by accepting the Buddha's own disclosure of the human condition, gain access to the goal that the Buddha himself holds up as the final aim of the practice.

The second pillar that supports the practice of insight meditation is the cognitive counterpart of faith, namely, right view (samma ditthi). Though the word "view" might suggest that the practitioner actually sees the principles considered to be right, at the outset of the training this is seldom the case. For all but a few exceptionally gifted disciples, right view initially means right belief, the acceptance of principles and doctrines out of confidence in the Buddha's enlightenment. Though Buddhist modernists sometimes claim that the Buddha said that one should believe only what one can verify for oneself, no such statement is found in the Pali canon. What the Buddha does say is that one should not accept his teachings blindly but should inquire into their meaning and attempt to realize their truth for oneself.

Contrary to Buddhist modernism, there are many principles taught by the Buddha as essential to right understanding that we cannot, in our present state, see for ourselves. These are by no means negligible, for they define the framework of the Buddha's entire program of deliverance. Not only do they depict the deeper dimensions of the suffering from which we need release, but they point in the direction where true liberation lies and prescribe the steps that lead to realization of the goal (my bolds).


First, he is not at all clear what he means by "naturalistic." The bolded sentence is a view held not only by the likes of K.N Jayatilleke, Thanissaro but even his good friend Analayo who's scholarship has went far beyond the standard reference to the Kalama Sutta as a verificationist text and shown from several other suttas that the Buddha strongly encouraged a verificationist, or "charter of free inquiry" approach in his words, to Buddhist faith. I've documented this here.

Second, he is not at all clear what he means by "Buddhist modernism." As a Buddhist living in modern times, he himself is a product of modernism and "Buddhist modernism."

It gets even more convoluted when he brings up the mundane/supramundnae distinction.

These principles include the tenets of both "mundane" and "transcendent" right view. Mundane right view is the type of correct understanding that leads to a fortunate destination within the round of rebirths. It involves an acceptance of the principles of kamma and its fruit; of the distinction between meritorious and evil actions; and of the vast expanse and multiple domains of samsara within which rebirth may occur. Transcendent right view is the view leading to liberation from samsara in its entirety. It entails understanding the Four Noble Truths in their deeper ramifications, as offering not merely a diagnosis of psychological distress but a description of samsaric bondage and a program for final release. It is the transcendent right view that comes at the head of the Noble Eightfold Path and steers the other seven factors toward the cessation of suffering.


Which view is Bhikkhu Bodhi speaking from? Is he speaking as a puthujjana? If so, how can we trust he understands Buddhist doctrine enough to be credible? And has he come to these conclusions completely divorced from his modernistic background? If so, he's reasoning in circles; if not, is he suggesting we beleive him because he has special knoweldge? Even if he's a stream-enterer, he's still speaking from a mundane perspective--assuming the line between mundane and supramundane is drawn between non-returner and arahant--and so his views are still defiled.

These are not minor problems. They go the to the heart of challenges facing not only people interested in Buddhism but those who call themselves Buddhists. For those interested in Buddhism, it can discourage them; for those who call themselves Buddhists, it can ber very confusing. Is this what we would expect from a teacher (the Buddha) who taught seeng things as they really are? I don't think the Buddha is the problem, here, though. He himself expressed concerns about how to articulate his message and constantly refined his methods throughout his life, and even left his bhikkhus scratching their heads over which of rules of the vinaya were the minor ones and which ones were the majore ones. Perhaps his admonitions near the end of his life that we ought to be our own refuges is an expression of his own critical thinking about these issues? And they fly in the face of the view that Buddhist faith and verification are mutually exclusive.

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Re: Is Critical Thinking Active Vipassana?

Postby kirk5a » Mon Mar 04, 2013 12:13 am

danieLion wrote:What do you mean by "someone out there"? Are you committing the fallacy of argument to tradition and/or argument to authority? I'm someone "out there" with academic credentials and an experienced Buddhist who's made direct, specific, credible claims with minimal speculation about the substantial relationship between critical thinking/REBT/CBT and The Path. Cittasanto's someone "out there" that's made similar direct, specific, and credible claims with minimal specualtion about the substantial relationship between critical thinking/REBT/CBT and The Path. And yes, there are many Buddhists "out there" with credibility who have made similar claims. Would you like me to inform you of them, also? I could do it lickity split with one hand tied behind my back.

I meant a specific case of someone attaining stream-entry, and directly crediting one of these psychotherapies for reaching the first level of awakening. Do you know of such a case?
"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: Is Critical Thinking Active Vipassana?

Postby danieLion » Mon Mar 04, 2013 2:54 am

kirk5a wrote:
danieLion wrote:What do you mean by "someone out there"? Are you committing the fallacy of argument to tradition and/or argument to authority? I'm someone "out there" with academic credentials and an experienced Buddhist who's made direct, specific, credible claims with minimal speculation about the substantial relationship between critical thinking/REBT/CBT and The Path. Cittasanto's someone "out there" that's made similar direct, specific, and credible claims with minimal specualtion about the substantial relationship between critical thinking/REBT/CBT and The Path. And yes, there are many Buddhists "out there" with credibility who have made similar claims. Would you like me to inform you of them, also? I could do it lickity split with one hand tied behind my back.

I meant a specific case of someone attaining stream-entry, and directly crediting one of these psychotherapies for reaching the first level of awakening. Do you know of such a case?

Oh...well...that's a lot different than what I initially thought. I don't know of a case like that, but then again, this is the only place I currently intentionally interact with other Buddhists and when I was involved in groups around here it didn't come up that I recall. My first meditation teacher here was therapist, but I don't recall her specifically talking about it. She used a lot of REBT and CBT terminology, but I never asked her if she was a stream-enterer or not. Plus, I'm under the impression genuine stream-enterers aren't generally into announcing the fact, so I don't know how one would determine that.

I don't know if the Dhammawheel Founding Member Venerable Dhammanando is a stream-enterer (but I wouldn't doubt it), but I do know he has implicitly approved of REBT as a good fit with Buddhism in this post and in this one. Come to think of it, that whole topic, Practitioners view of psychotherapy, is relevant to this one.

IMHO, it would be very helpful of Venerable Dhammanando to weigh in here, but I also understand he is an elusive figure and often dwells in the wilds, so I'm not holding my breathe.


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