Samatha v. vipassana?

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Re: Samatha v. vipassana?

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Jun 21, 2010 8:08 am

Hi Tilt,
tiltbillings wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:Just to be clear, no one has said that concepts could not be objects of citta. In jhana the objects are generally concepts. I said that they could not be objects that arouse vipassana.
Is the experience of a concept the experience of a dhamma?

Not a paramattha dhamma, as far as I understand it. The Abhidhamma analysis of concepts (at least at the commentarial level) is on page 325 of A Comprehensive Manual of Abhidhamma.
VIII 29
Therein, the material phenomena are just the aggregate of matter. Conciousness and mental factors, which comprise the four immaterial aggregates, and nibbana, are the five kinds that are immaterial. The are also called "name".

What remains are concepts, which are twofold: concept as that which is made known [i.e. a meaning], and concept as that which makes known [i.e. names something].


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Re: Samatha v. vipassana?

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Jun 21, 2010 9:32 am

mikenz66 wrote:Not a paramattha dhamma,
As a dhamma, its nature is?
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.

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Re: Samatha v. vipassana?

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Jun 21, 2010 9:51 am

Hi Tilt,
tiltbillings wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:Not a paramattha dhamma,
As a dhamma, its nature is?

Sorry, I'm getting to the limit of my knowledge here. Perhaps you could tell us?

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Re: Samatha v. vipassana?

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Jun 21, 2010 9:51 am

Greetings Mike,

mikenz66 wrote:I think that you are mixing things up here. Being "the root of all things" does not make views aggregates, it makes them a condition.

What can I say... I'm surprised you even conceive of some element or property of conditioned experience which falls outside of the loka of the five aggregates. Views are sankharas and can be the object of (mind) consciousness. Even Bhikkhu Bodhi says...

Bhikkhu Bodhi wrote:These five aggregates exhaust our psychophysical existence. Any event, any occurrence, any element in the mind-body process can be put into one of these five aggregates. There is nothing in this whole experiential process that lies outside them.

Source: http://www.beyondthenet.net/dhamma/fiveAggregates.htm

The Buddha's explanation is as follows...

SN 22.48: Khandha Sutta
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

At Savatthi. There the Blessed One said, "Monks, I will teach you the five aggregates & the five clinging-aggregates. Listen & pay close attention. I will speak."

"As you say, lord," the monks responded.

The Blessed One said, "Now what, monks, are the five aggregates?

"Whatever form is past, future, or present; internal or external; blatant or subtle; common or sublime; far or near: that is called the aggregate of form.

"Whatever feeling is past, future, or present; internal or external; blatant or subtle; common or sublime; far or near: that is called the aggregate of feeling.

"Whatever perception is past, future, or present; internal or external; blatant or subtle; common or sublime; far or near: that is called the aggregate of perception.

"Whatever (mental) fabrications are past, future, or present; internal or external; blatant or subtle; common or sublime; far or near: those are called the aggregate of fabrications.

"Whatever consciousness is past, future, or present; internal or external; blatant or subtle; common or sublime; far or near: that is called the aggregate of consciousness.

"These are called the five aggregates.

"And what are the five clinging-aggregates?

"Whatever form — past, future, or present; internal or external; blatant or subtle; common or sublime; far or near — is clingable, offers sustenance, and is accompanied with mental fermentation: that is called form as a clinging-aggregate.

"Whatever feeling — past, future, or present; internal or external; blatant or subtle; common or sublime; far or near — is clingable, offers sustenance, and is accompanied with mental fermentation: that is called feeling as a clinging-aggregate.

"Whatever perception — past, future, or present; internal or external; blatant or subtle; common or sublime; far or near — is clingable, offers sustenance, and is accompanied with mental fermentation: that is called perception as a clinging-aggregate.

"Whatever (mental) fabrications — past, future, or present; internal or external; blatant or subtle; common or sublime; far or near — are clingable, offer sustenance, and are accompanied with mental fermentation: those are called fabrications as a clinging-aggregate.

"Whatever consciousness — past, future, or present; internal or external; blatant or subtle; common or sublime; far or near — is clingable, offers sustenance, and is accompanied with mental fermentation: that is called consciousness as a clinging-aggregate.

"These are called the five clinging-aggregates."

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Samatha v. vipassana?

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Jun 21, 2010 10:11 am

Hi Retro,

I don't know what else to say. Did you read the quote from CMA? If you don't like the Abhidhamma-based description, that's fine. Just ignore it.

However, It seems to me that you are thinking of aggregates as little building blocks. And also the result of putting the blocks together. I don't think either of those is correct, most especially the second. However, I'm at the limit of my knowledge here, so don't look to me to clarify it.

http://what-buddha-said.net/library/Bud ... tm#khandha
Some writers on Buddhism who have not understood that the five khandha are just classificatory groupings, have conceived them as compact entities 'heaps', 'bundles', while actually, as stated above, the groups never exist as such, i.e. they never occur in a simultaneous totality of all their constituents. Also those single constituents of a group which are present in any given body-and-mind process, are of an evanescent nature, and so also their varying combinations. Feeling, perception and mental constructions are only different aspects and functions of a single unit of consciousness. They are to consciousness what redness, softness, sweetness, etc. are to an apple and have as little separate existence as those qualities.


Here is a question for you: Is "body" or "woman" an aggregate? Clearly I understand the answer to be "no".

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Re: Samatha v. vipassana?

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Jun 21, 2010 10:29 am

Greetings Mike,

mikenz66 wrote:I don't know what else to say. Did you read the quote from CMA? If you don't like the Abhidhamma-based description, that's fine. Just ignore it.

Yes. Was that from the commentary or Bhikkhu Bodhi?

mikenz66 wrote:However, It seems to me that you are thinking of aggregates as little building blocks. And also the result of putting the blocks together.

No... my understanding is more like what you quote from Buddhist Dictionary.

mikenz66 wrote:Here is a question for you: Is "body" or "woman" an aggregate? Clearly I understand the answer to be "no".

Body is a concept, and "concept of body" is experienced as (mind) consciousness, perception etc.

Body as a concept, points to, and is a label for a particular physical configuration... the physicality it points to is part of the material aggregate, that is experienced as hardness, motion, cohesion and heat. The configuration of "body" (as distinct to say the same material put through a blender) is perceived, i.e. experienced as perception of "body". Conceiving from earth, conceiving within earth, conceiving apart from earth etc. with relation to the body are formations.

I doubt you intended that last paragraph, so feel free to disregard that if it doesn't relate specifically to your question.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Samatha v. vipassana?

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Jun 21, 2010 11:04 am

Hi Retro,
retrofuturist wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:I don't know what else to say. Did you read the quote from CMA? If you don't like the Abhidhamma-based description, that's fine. Just ignore it.

Yes. Was that from the commentary or Bhikkhu Bodhi?

It's the words of Acariya Anuruddha.

retrofuturist wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:However, It seems to me that you are thinking of aggregates as little building blocks. And also the result of putting the blocks together.

No... my understanding is more like what you quote from Buddhist Dictionary.

mikenz66 wrote:Here is a question for you: Is "body" or "woman" an aggregate? Clearly I understand the answer to be "no".

Body is a concept, and "concept of body" is experienced as (mind) consciousness, perception etc.

So it's not an aggregate?
retrofuturist wrote:Body as a concept, points to, and is a label for a particular physical configuration... the physicality it points to is part of the material aggregate, that is experienced as hardness, motion, cohesion and heat. The configuration of "body" (as distinct to say the same material put through a blender) is perceived, i.e. experienced as perception of "body". Conceiving from earth, conceiving within earth, conceiving apart from earth etc. with relation to the body are formations.

So, is body an aggregate?

retrofuturist wrote:I doubt you intended that last paragraph, so feel free to disregard that if it doesn't relate specifically to your question.

I don't know what you mean. I most certainly meant to ask the question: "Is body an aggregate?"

Which you don't seem to have answered. Though, since you've said "points to" I think it falls in the "concept as that which makes known". In CMA VIII-31 it would, perhaps, be a "direct concept of the unreal". Bhikkhu Bodhi's commentary states:
A (direct) concept of the unreal: "Land" and "mountain" etc, are not ultimate realities but conventional entities established conceptually through mental construction. Though these concepts are based on ultimate entities, the meanings they convey are not things that are themselves ultimate entities since they do not correspond to things that exist by means of their own intrinsic nature (sabhavato).


So, I understand the answer to be "no", based on my reading of Theravada literature, such as CMA. But, of course, I could be wrong, which is why it's interesting to discuss it.

As I have said, I think the key point is what is conducive to good practise. This is, after all, a thread in the Meditation section. This classification system forms the basis of the practice instructions I follow (and other instructions that I am aware of that I don't specifically follow) and certainly makes sense in that context.

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Re: Samatha v. vipassana?

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Jun 21, 2010 11:18 am

Greetings Mike,

A (direct) concept of the unreal: "Land" and "mountain" etc, are not ultimate realities but conventional entities established conceptually through mental construction. Though these concepts are based on ultimate entities, the meanings they convey are not things that are themselves ultimate entities since they do not correspond to things that exist by means of their own intrinsic nature (sabhavato).


I agree with the above... but because there is no inherent "mountain-ness" in that which we call a mountain, this does not mean "concept of mountain" is unknown to us and that we cannot experience the concept itself. You can talk to me about a mountain, and I can know what you mean, even if I'm not seeing or touching the mountain in question. That knowing of what you're talking about, is part of the realm of my experience (loka).

There are no unicorns, but you can still conceive of a unicorn. You know it doesn't even point to anything real, but you can still conceive it. Therefore, the concept of unicorn, when brought to your attention, becomes part of your loka of experience, even if only as an object of (mind) consciousness.

To use a more traditional Buddhist example, there is no atman, but you can still conceive of a Self existing in relation to the five aggregates. Self is a concept (thus, an object of mind consciousness), it is a false perception, and it is possible to create formations in relation to it, including views about what happens to it at death. These views are inherently erroneous because they infer the existence of something that does not exist.

Death. That's another one that exists as a concept (mind consciousness), exists as a perception, but doesn't point to a "thing" called death.

Or to quote Bhikkhu Ñanananda, as I've done in my signature...."All concepts of 'going', 'coming', 'being born', 'growing old' and 'dying' are to be found in the prolific. They simply do not exist in the nonprolific."

Same with all concepts of 'unicorn', 'body', 'woman', 'atman', 'mountain' etc.

The prolific is formations, and formations are all conditioned by ignorance.

Even 'dhammas' (things) are like this too. Experiencing a 'dhamma' is putting brackets around an aspect of that which is experienced, isolating the part from the whole of experience. That 'bracketing' of dhammas, is an activity of the prolific. All dhammas except nibbana (which is devoid of prolific bracketing) are known in commentarial terms as sankhata-dhamma (i.e. formed dhammas). Part of the forming is this prolific bracketing, and as you know, formations are conditioned by ignorance. Placing any importance on the bracketing is ignorant. That is the essence of the Buddha's instructions to Bahiya... advice for him to stop bracketing "things".

Ud 1.10: Bahiya Sutta wrote:"Then, Bahiya, you should train yourself thus: In reference to the seen, there will be only the seen. In reference to the heard, only the heard. In reference to the sensed, only the sensed. In reference to the cognized, only the cognized. That is how you should train yourself. When for you there will be only the seen in reference to the seen, only the heard in reference to the heard, only the sensed in reference to the sensed, only the cognized in reference to the cognized, then, Bahiya, there is no you in terms of that. When there is no you in terms of that, there is no you there. When there is no you there, you are neither here nor yonder nor between the two. This, just this, is the end of stress."

As the Buddha says, once we stop proliferating over the top of what is experienced, you'll find there is no "you". Finding and knowing there is no "you" (i.e. no atman) is the cessation of suffering. Ending proliferation, means ending the repeated becoming (punabhava) of "you".

I apologise I cannot speak fluent Abhidhamma, otherwise it would probably be easier for us to communicate on such matters. In the meantime, I can merely offer you sutta terminology, relevant sutta extracts and my best efforts to translate that into an answer to your questions.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Samatha v. vipassana?

Postby pt1 » Mon Jun 21, 2010 1:14 pm

retrofuturist wrote:
pt1 wrote:Afaik, concepts or aspects of concepts are not said to fall under any aggregates or outside them because they are said to be illusory.

All aggregates (aspects of experience) are equally illusory.
This, I was told, is more in line with a Mahayana teaching or even a Hindu Maya thing possibly. E.g. I think Dexing was recently saying pretty much the same thing in viewtopic.php?f=16&t=1979 - that both concepts and aggregates are illusory. From what I gathered, that's a view which is not particularly representative of neither Mahayana nor Theravada. In the suttas on the other hand, it's usually said that aggregates are anatta, anicca and dukkha (in particular in reference to their arising and ceasing). To me that doesn't equate aggregates to illusions, but rather says that aggregates can be experienced to arise and cease through insight, and at that instance they're understood as anatta, anicca and dukkha.

In terms of concepts on the other hand, the explanation which makes sense to me is that during an instance of insight concept are understood as illusory - in that they are seen not to arise and cease at all. Dhammas involved in thinking (citta, sanna, etc) do arise and cease though, hence the illusion that concepts (riding on the back of these dhammas so to speak) arise and cease as well. Either way, concepts are not an easy subject, and I don't think I quite understand the subject either.

retrofuturist wrote:By putting concepts outside of this range you are "'Repudiating this All, I will describe another", like the SN 35.23: Sabba Sutta I quoted above.

As I said before, concepts are said to be an illusion, hence they don't exist, hence what you're saying above is a bit of a strawman. I mean, if they're not real, then they can't be said to be either inside or outside the range, can they? So there was nothing to "repudiate" in the first place, I guess.

That said, it is interesting that ACMA for example says (from memory) that a mind-door cittas can have 6 sorts of an object: gross and subtle rupa, citta, cetasika, nibbana (all dhammas so far) and a concept(!). However, this still doesn't get us close to the actual issue of this thread (more below):

retrofuturist wrote:How could verbal communication between people, on any subject let alone the Dhamma, take place in the absence of an (approximately) shared set of concepts within each other's loka of experience?

Well, I agree, and I don't think anyone said concepts (or more precisely sanna) do not play a part in the process of cognition, or talking and listening for that matter. The main issue/question of this thread imo is quite different:
In the instance when insight happens - what is the object of citta - is it a dhamma or a concept? I think that's as precise as it can be put.

Afaik, the abhidhamma/commentaries position would be that even though concepts can be an object of citta, they cannot be the object during an instance of insight - this is because they don't have the individual and general characteristics. And insight is said to depend on understanding these very characteristics (e.g. like when it's said in the suttas - rupa is anicca, rupa is dukkha, rupa is anatta - this would indicate an instance of insight), so by that logic concepts cannot be the object of citta during insight.

From what I can tell from the suttas - the object mentioned most often is usually also some sort of dhamma, not a concept. E.g. it's a visible form (a rupa, so not a "blue lamp" which is a conglomeration of many concepts), sound (a rupa, so not a "sound of a guitar"), etc. It gets interesting when we get to the "intellect and ideas" (more below).

retrofuturist wrote:
pt1 wrote:I too failed to see how it [Dhammavuddho Thero's answer] was related exactly?

Mike asked about stream-entry through use of concepts. The Discourses are communicated to people via concepts. Contemplation of the Discourses leads to stream-entry. Hearers of the Dhamma are known as Savakas (hearers).

I don't disagree with what you say above, but the quotes didn't address the issue whether the object of citta at the time of stream-entry (or close to it) was a concept or a dhamma. E.g. perhaps a certain bhikkhu was listening and pondering a discourse thanks to concepts and that pondering (dhammas, not concepts) conditioned the arising of insight during which a certain arising dhamma was understood as anatta, anicca or dukkha, so that's what conditioned stream-entry.

retrofuturist wrote:
pt1 wrote:Perhaps you can explain how you understand Simsapa sutta to relate to your POV? Imo, at the moment is seems to speak more in support of what Mike was saying.

The Buddha did not differentiate between "pannatti" or "paramattha". Even though he knew things that went beyond the scope of what he taught, he taught only that which was connected to the cessation of suffering. Its omission from the Suttas draws questions as to whether the split is genuinely conducive to the cessation of suffering. Of course, if you took the Abhidhamma Pitaka to be the actual explicit teaching of the Buddha (rather than a later systemisation of it) then this argument would hold no sway.

Again, I don't particularly disagree with what you say above, but even if we look at the suttas only (first four nikayas only, for your convenience) still the Buddha is usually speaking of dhammas when discussing insight/wisdom. Or would you disagree?

Anyway, I think it might be interesting to explore the question that Mike raised:
Yes, but one can translate it either as "mind objects" or "ideas". Are the "mind-objects" really "ideas" or are "ideas" built out of more basic stuff.

And then you touched on the same issue with the sabba sutta:
The Blessed One said, "What is the All? Simply the eye & forms, ear & sounds, nose & aromas, tongue & flavors, body & tactile sensations, intellect & ideas.

I mean, in the above sutta, I would say all terms refer specifically to dhammas. However, it's discutible what's meant by "intellect and ideas". Perhaps you could explore the issue from the sutta side, and I'll look a bit into abhi and comm, and then we could see if there's any discrepancy?

I mean, the definition you quoted doesn't really resolve the matter (for me at least) because, firstly
retrofuturist wrote:Bhikkhu Bodhi's note "...MṬ explains to be craving, conceit, and views (which are the underlying springs of “conceiving”), and these in turn are underlaid by ignorance...

craving, conceit, views, ignorance - these are all considered dhammas, so your conclusion:
retrofuturist wrote:So not only are concepts (like views, and "I") part of the aggregates, they're the very foundation of conceiving. They are the root of all things!

doesn't really stand, especially if you remember our recent discussion on the same topic - you seem to equate concepts with views, while for someone with abhi/comm background, wrong view is also a dhamma (ditthi) regardless of what concept it attaches to so to speak (thanks to clinging), so ditthi is not a concept in the first place.

So, as mentioned, perhaps we could explore this further in terms of what's meant by "intellect and ideas" in the Sabba sutta and similar suttas?

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Re: Samatha v. vipassana?

Postby pt1 » Mon Jun 21, 2010 1:29 pm

retrofuturist wrote:
retrofuturist wrote:Is the Sujinite method of demonizing pannatti the best way to understand the characteristics of the entire loka of experience?

pt1 wrote:Aside from not being very nice, this is also a strawman. Besides, I'm pretty sure Mike is a Mahasi Sayadaw school student.

I didn't say Mike held that view.

Yes, I got that bit, strawman referred to "Sujinite method" as if that exists at all, as well as that it's about "demonizing pannatti".
retrofuturist wrote:but having been exposed to the views of people at Dhamma Study Group, you both know what kind of activity I'm talking about.
Er, no, I don't know really what you're talking about, I've been reading there more or less regularly for about two years, haven't seen anyone demonizing panatti, just trying to explain among other things that pannatti doesn't equal insight, as far as I get it.

retrofuturist wrote:Thankfully, it seems to only be followers of Sujin Boriharnwanaket who come out with this kind of logic, and not Sujin Boriharnwanaket herself. (from pages 20-21 of resource Cooran linked to above...)

Q: How can we do away with concepts?

S.: That is not possible. However, one should understand
correctly that, when one knows that there are beings,
people, or things, there are at such moments mind-door
process cittas which have a concept as object.

Yes, concept as object... just yet another object which is anicca, anatta and dukkha.

As probably evident from my previous post, such conclusion is incorrect - i.e. concepts are said not to have characteristics, even though they can be said to be an object of citta (as per ACMA I mentioned before).

retrofuturist wrote:In fact, it's probably one of the more important ones (rather than one to be shunted aside) since this is where the false perception of self hides. As conceptualisation underlies craving, conceit, and views it is indeed "the root of all things".
Well, again, imo, it's the craving, conceit, views and ignorance (all dhammas) that are the "root", not the concepts they seem to attach to.

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Re: Samatha v. vipassana?

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Jun 21, 2010 2:47 pm

mikenz66 wrote:Hi Tilt,
tiltbillings wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:Not a paramattha dhamma,
As a dhamma, its nature is?

Sorry, I'm getting to the limit of my knowledge here. Perhaps you could tell us?
Anicca, dukkha, anatta that araises and falls conditioned and conditioning.
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.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Samatha v. vipassana?

Postby Nyana » Mon Jun 21, 2010 8:42 pm

pt1 wrote:
retrofuturist wrote:
pt1 wrote:Afaik, concepts or aspects of concepts are not said to fall under any aggregates or outside them because they are said to be illusory.

All aggregates (aspects of experience) are equally illusory.
This, I was told, is more in line with a Mahayana teaching or even a Hindu Maya thing possibly. E.g. I think Dexing was recently saying pretty much the same thing in viewtopic.php?f=16&t=1979 - that both concepts and aggregates are illusory. From what I gathered, that's a view which is not particularly representative of neither Mahayana nor Theravada. In the suttas on the other hand, it's usually said that aggregates are anatta, anicca and dukkha (in particular in reference to their arising and ceasing). To me that doesn't equate aggregates to illusions, but rather says that aggregates can be experienced to arise and cease through insight, and at that instance they're understood as anatta, anicca and dukkha.

In Seeing Through: A Guide to Insight Meditation, Ven. Ñāṇananda explains the development of vipassanā without any reliance on the awkward two truths theory:

    At the preliminary stage, one avoids the usual mode of attention in the world such as 'woman', 'woman', 'man', 'man' in the case of a visual object, thus dispensing with those details which lead to various unskillful states of mind and attends to those visual objects in such a way as not to encourage those unskillful mental states. So one is content with attending to those visual or auditory objects as 'form' or 'sound'.

    However as one proceeds in Insight Meditation, one comes to reflect that in this mode of attention, there is present a certain illusion - a wrong notion one has been cherishing throughout 'saṁsāra'. That is, the concept of two ends and a middle. When one notes a visual object as 'a form' and an auditory object as 'a sound', there is a kind of bifurcation between the eye and form, the ear and the sound. So thereby one is perpetuating the illusion, the wrong notion, of two ends. Whenever there are the two ends, there is also the middle. In short, this way of mental noting leaves room for a subject-object relationship. There is the meditator on one side, whoever it may be, and there is the object that comes to his mind; and he attends to it as an object, even though he may not go into its details. Now the meditator has to break through this barrier as well. He has to break this bondage. Why?

    In the case of 'saññā' or perception, there are the six kinds of percepts - rūpa saññā, sadda saññā, gandha saññā, rasa saññā, phoṭṭhabba saññā, dhamma saññā (i.e., the percepts of form, sound, smell, taste, touch and idea). These are the six objects of the senses. The Buddha has compared the aggregate of perception to a mirage. Now if perception is mirage, what is 'rūpa saññā' or a visual percept? That also must be a mirage. What about 'sadda saññā'? What about the auditory percept or what strikes the ear? That too must be a mirage. Though it is not something that one sees with the eye, it has the nature of a mirage.

    To take as real what is of a mirage-nature, is a delusion. It is something that leads to a delusion. It is an illusion that leads to a delusion. In order to understand deeply this mirage-nature in sensory perception, there is a need for a more refined way of mental attending. So the meditator, instead of attending to these objects as 'form', 'form' or 'sound', 'sound', moves a step further and notes them as 'seeing' or 'hearing'. Now he attends to these sense-percepts even more briefly, not allowing the mind to go far - as 'seeing- seeing ', 'hearing- hearing', 'feeling-feeling','thinking-thinking'.

    In short, the attempt here, is to escape the net of 'saññā' or perception and to limit oneself to the bare awareness. To stop short just at the bare awareness. This is an attempt to escape the net of language, the net of logic and also to be free from the duality of two ends which involves a middle. Everywhere one is confronted with a subject-object relationship. There is one who grasps and something to be grasped. There is a seer and an object seen. But this way of attending leaves room for delusion.

    Now, if perception is a mirage, in order to get at this mirage nature, one has to be content with attending simply as 'seeing, seeing'. One way or the other it is just a seeing or just a hearing. Thereby he stops short at the bare awareness. He stops short at the bare seeing, bare hearing, bare feeling and bare thinking. He does not grant it an object status. He does not cognize it as an object existing in the world. He does not give it a name. The purpose of this method of mental noting or attending, is the eradication of the conceit 'AM', which the meditator has to accomplish so a to attain release. The conceit 'AM' is 'asmi-māna'.

And later in the same teaching:

    All the delusion in the world is traceable to the illusion that is in perception - 'saññā'. It is because of 'saññā' or perception that knots and grips occur, so much so that one who is free from 'saññā' is free from knots and grips also. That is why it is said in the Māgandiya Sutta of the Sutta Nipata.

    'Saññāvirattassa na santi ganthā
    Paññāvimuttassa na santi mohā'

    'To one detached from perception there are no knots and to one released through wisdom there are no delusions.'

    So the purpose of this training in insight is that release from perception. Until full detachment with regard to perception sets in, knotting will go on. A sort of disgust or disenchantment has to occur for detachment to set in. With the gradual refinement of the mode of mental noting, one is able to eliminate these knots brought about by perception.

It seems possible that some of the abhidhammika proponents of the two truth theory may forget to take into account that the entire forward-order sequence of DO is a process of deluded cognition. The whole game needs to be shut down. In practice, analyzing deluded cognition in terms of real/unreal just prolongs the game.

All the best,

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Re: Samatha v. vipassana?

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Jun 21, 2010 10:31 pm

Hi Geoff,

Thanks for the nice description from Ven Ñāṇananda.

However, I'm a little confused by your statement:
Ñāṇa wrote:In Seeing Through: A Guide to Insight Meditation, Ven. Ñāṇananda explains the development of vipassanā without any reliance on the awkward two truths theory:


When Ven Ñāṇananda states:
To take as real what is of a mirage-nature, is a delusion. It is something that leads to a delusion. It is an illusion that leads to a delusion. In order to understand deeply this mirage-nature in sensory perception, there is a need for a more refined way of mental attending. So the meditator, instead of attending to these objects as 'form', 'form' or 'sound', 'sound', moves a step further and notes them as 'seeing' or 'hearing'. Now he attends to these sense-percepts even more briefly, not allowing the mind to go far - as 'seeing- seeing ', 'hearing- hearing', 'feeling-feeling','thinking-thinking'.

He seems to be doing some sort of classification. And his instructions (at least on the strength of my brief examination of his instructions) seem to be consistent with teachers such as Mahasi Sayadaw and his students.

Are you saying that Ven Ñāṇananda has come to the same conclusion of how to approach vipassana as the teachers who base their teachings on the Abhidhamma and Commentarial analyses, but does not use those particular analyses? If one starts from the (in my view very reasonable) assumption that Venerables Mahasi and Ñāṇananda (and others) are excellent teachers who have explored the path experientially, it would not be surprising that they would agree on what is necessary for the development of vipassana.

Best Wishes,
Mike
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Re: Samatha v. vipassana?

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Jun 21, 2010 10:44 pm

Greetings pt1,

pt1 wrote:Afaik, concepts or aspects of concepts are not said to fall under any aggregates or outside them because they are said to be illusory.

retrofuturist wrote:All aggregates (aspects of experience) are equally illusory.

pt1 wrote:This, I was told, is more in line with a Mahayana teaching or even a Hindu Maya thing possibly.

It was only intended to the extent as defined in the above quotation from Bhikkhu Nanananda posted by Ñāṇa, and in the classic...

SN 22.95: Phena Sutta
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

On one occasion the Blessed One was staying among the Ayojjhans on the banks of the Ganges River. There he addressed the monks: "Monks, suppose that a large glob of foam were floating down this Ganges River, and a man with good eyesight were to see it, observe it, & appropriately examine it. To him — seeing it, observing it, & appropriately examining it — it would appear empty, void, without substance: for what substance would there be in a glob of foam? In the same way, a monk sees, observes, & appropriately examines any form that is past, future, or present; internal or external; blatant or subtle; common or sublime; far or near. To him — seeing it, observing it, & appropriately examining it — it would appear empty, void, without substance: for what substance would there be in form?

"Now suppose that in the autumn — when it's raining in fat, heavy drops — a water bubble were to appear & disappear on the water, and a man with good eyesight were to see it, observe it, & appropriately examine it. To him — seeing it, observing it, & appropriately examining it — it would appear empty, void, without substance: for what substance would there be in a water bubble? In the same way, a monk sees, observes, & appropriately examines any feeling that is past, future, or present; internal or external; blatant or subtle; common or sublime; far or near. To him — seeing it, observing it, & appropriately examining it — it would appear empty, void, without substance: for what substance would there be in feeling?

"Now suppose that in the last month of the hot season a mirage were shimmering, and a man with good eyesight were to see it, observe it, & appropriately examine it. To him — seeing it, observing it, & appropriately examining it — it would appear empty, void, without substance: for what substance would there be in a mirage? In the same way, a monk sees, observes, & appropriately examines any perception that is past, future, or present; internal or external; blatant or subtle; common or sublime; far or near. To him — seeing it, observing it, & appropriately examining it — it would appear empty, void, without substance: for what substance would there be in perception?

"Now suppose that a man desiring heartwood, in quest of heartwood, seeking heartwood, were to go into a forest carrying a sharp ax. There he would see a large banana tree: straight, young, of enormous height. He would cut it at the root and, having cut it at the root, would chop off the top. Having chopped off the top, he would peel away the outer skin. Peeling away the outer skin, he wouldn't even find sapwood, to say nothing of heartwood. Then a man with good eyesight would see it, observe it, & appropriately examine it. To him — seeing it, observing it, & appropriately examining it — it would appear empty, void, without substance: for what substance would there be in a banana tree? In the same way, a monk sees, observes, & appropriately examines any fabrications that are past, future, or present; internal or external; blatant or subtle; common or sublime; far or near. To him — seeing them, observing them, & appropriately examining them — they would appear empty, void, without substance: for what substance would there be in fabrications?

"Now suppose that a magician or magician's apprentice were to display a magic trick at a major intersection, and a man with good eyesight were to see it, observe it, & appropriately examine it. To him — seeing it, observing it, & appropriately examining it — it would appear empty, void, without substance: for what substance would there be in a magic trick? In the same way, a monk sees, observes, & appropriately examines any consciousness that is past, future, or present; internal or external; blatant or subtle; common or sublime; far or near. To him — seeing it, observing it, & appropriately examining it — it would appear empty, void, without substance: for what substance would there be in consciousness?

"Seeing thus, the well-instructed disciple of the noble ones grows disenchanted with form, disenchanted with feeling, disenchanted with perception, disenchanted with fabrications, disenchanted with consciousness. Disenchanted, he grows dispassionate. Through dispassion, he's released. With release there's the knowledge, 'Released.' He discerns that 'Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for this world.'"

That is what the Blessed One said. Having said that, the One Well-Gone, the Teacher, said further:

Form is like a glob of foam;
feeling, a bubble;
perception, a mirage;
fabrications, a banana tree;
consciousness, a magic trick —
this has been taught
by the Kinsman of the Sun.
However you observe them,
appropriately examine them,
they're empty, void
to whoever sees them
appropriately.

Beginning with the body
as taught by the One
with profound discernment:
when abandoned by three things
— life, warmth, & consciousness —
form is rejected, cast aside.
When bereft of these
it lies thrown away,
senseless,
a meal for others.
That's the way it goes:
it's a magic trick,
an idiot's babbling.
It's said to be
a murderer.
No substance here
is found.

Thus a monk, persistence aroused,
should view the aggregates
by day & by night,
mindful,
alert;
should discard all fetters;
should make himself
his own refuge;
should live as if
his head were on fire —
in hopes of the state
with no falling away.

Everything doesn't exist is as false as everything exists.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Samatha v. vipassana?

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Jun 21, 2010 10:53 pm

Hi Tilt,
mikenz66 wrote:Not a paramattha dhamma,

tiltbillings wrote:As a dhamma, its nature is?

mikenz66 wrote:Sorry, I'm getting to the limit of my knowledge here. Perhaps you could tell us?

tiltbillings wrote:Anicca, dukkha, anatta that araises and falls conditioned and conditioning.

I may still be confused, but as I understand the various statements that I have quoted (from teachers and commentaries), it is either not easy or not possible to clearly see those characteristics in a concept, so concepts are not suitable objects for vipassana.

The relevance of such considerations to this thread is nicely illustrated by the instructions from Ven Ñāṇananda on how to develop vipassana that Geoff kindly quoted above.

Mike
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Re: Samatha v. vipassana?

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Jun 21, 2010 11:01 pm

mikenz66 wrote:I may still be confused, but as I understand the various statements that I have quoted (from teachers and commentaries), it is either not easy or not possible to clearly see those characteristics in a concept, so concepts are not suitable objects for vipassana.
Maybe not; however, when they arise during one sitting practice, what do you do with them? Pay attention.
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.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Samatha v. vipassana?

Postby cooran » Mon Jun 21, 2010 11:09 pm

Hello all,

Ñāṇa mentioned: the awkward two truths theory

For information:

Potthapada Sutta: Dutta 9 Digha Nikaya p. 169

But, Citta, these are merely names, expressions, turns of speech, designations in common use in the world, which the Tathagata uses without misapprehending them. [note Note 224 ]

Note 224 : An important reference to the two truths referred to in DA as 'conventional speech' (sammuti-kathaa).
See Introduction, p. 3f. It is important to be aware of the level of truth at which any statements are made.
In MA (ad MN5: Anangana Sutta), the following verse is quoted (source unknown):

Two truths the Buddha, best of all who speak,
declared:
Conventional and ultimate - no third can be
Terms agreed are true by usage of the world;
Words of ultimate significance are true
In terms of dhammas. Thus the Lord, a Teacher,
he
Who's skilled in this world's speech, can use it, and not lie.


with metta
Chris
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---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---
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Re: Samatha v. vipassana?

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Jun 21, 2010 11:30 pm

Greetings Mike,

mikenz66 wrote:I may still be confused, but as I understand the various statements that I have quoted (from teachers and commentaries), it is either not easy or not possible to clearly see those characteristics in a concept, so concepts are not suitable objects for vipassana.

What instructions have you received on how to respond to mental phenomenon during vipassana? I'm speaking generally here... including perceptions, concepts, thoughts, aversion, metta etc.

As I understand it from what I have read in suttas and in meditation books that I have deemed sufficiently compatible with the sutta, the anicca, anatta and dukkha aspects of these mental things are to be observed. They arise and pass away. The detailed classifications of these things are of distant secondary importance compared to the primary fact that they arise and pass away, and are subject to dukkha in the presence of craving. It's insight into this particular reality that we're trying to achieve, and I find that classificatory schemes tend to over-complicate, rather than draw simple clear awareness to the reality of anicca, anatta and dukkha. To this extent, I regard the classificatory schemes designed by the Buddha himself as sufficient, as his primary classifications (five aggregates, six sense bases, twelve nidanas) are geared specifically at de-constructing the perception of self, within the loka of experience.

MN 121 is interesting in this context... http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Cula-suññata Sutta wrote:[Ananda] "On one occasion, when the Blessed One was staying among the Sakyans in a Sakyan town named Nagaraka, there — face-to-face with the Blessed One — I heard this, face-to-face I learned this: 'I now remain fully in a dwelling of emptiness.' Did I hear that correctly, learn it correctly, attend to it correctly, remember it correctly?"

[The Buddha:] "Yes, Ananda, you heard that correctly, learned it correctly, attended to it correctly, remembered it correctly. Now, as well as before, I remain fully in a dwelling of emptiness. Just as this palace of Migara's mother is empty of elephants, cattle, & mares, empty of gold & silver, empty of assemblies of women & men, and there is only this non-emptiness — the singleness based on the community of monks; even so, Ananda, a monk — not attending to the perception of village, not attending to the perception of human being — attends to the singleness based on the perception of wilderness. His mind takes pleasure, finds satisfaction, settles, & indulges in its perception of wilderness.

"He discerns that 'Whatever disturbances that would exist based on the perception of village are not present. Whatever disturbances that would exist based on the perception of human being are not present. There is only this modicum of disturbance: the singleness based on the perception of wilderness.' He discerns that 'This mode of perception is empty of the perception of village. This mode of perception is empty of the perception of human being. There is only this non-emptiness: the singleness based on the perception of wilderness.' Thus he regards it as empty of whatever is not there. Whatever remains, he discerns as present: 'There is this.' And so this, his entry into emptiness, accords with actuality, is undistorted in meaning, & pure.

The Buddha then goes through more refined levels of consciousness, through to...

"Further, Ananda, the monk — not attending to the perception of the dimension of nothingness, not attending to the perception of the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception — attends to the singleness based on the theme-less concentration of awareness. His mind takes pleasure, finds satisfaction, settles, & indulges in its theme-less concentration of awareness.

"He discerns that 'This theme-less concentration of awareness is fabricated & mentally fashioned.' And he discerns that 'Whatever is fabricated & mentally fashioned is inconstant & subject to cessation.' For him — thus knowing, thus seeing — the mind is released from the effluent of sensuality, the effluent of becoming, the effluent of ignorance.

Now, yes... at the end of the sequence we are talking about very refined states of consciousness, which go far beyond anything I've achieved, but the point is that from the start through to the end, transcending all perceptions is better than transcending subtle perceptions, which in turn is better than transcending regular perceptions. The scope of that which is "fabricated & mentally fashioned" in this case is just that, the scope of that which is "fabricated & mentally fashioned". The further one can experience this, the further one will understand this. It's not necessary to go all the way to the most refined levels of consciousness (as there are arahants who did not go this far) but it's necessary to go far enough to see the pattern, become disenchanted with the five aggregates so that they can be laid down. Proceeding further with this practice of transcending increasingly refined perceptions (or nama generally) cannot be done when the perceptions are 'bracketed', objectified, and given a conceptual overlay and regarded as a 'thing' (dhamma). That is not laying down the burden.

That is how I endeavour to gain insight into mental phenomena. I think it is important because if I think about where my false perception of "self" lies, it lies somewhere within the realm of nama - i.e. vedana, sanna, cetana, phassa and manasikara (feelings, perceptions, intentions, contact, attention). Therefore, this is what I want to investigate and grow dispassionate towards. Precisely where that sits in relation to samatha and vipassana I don't know... it sounds more like Right Effort, Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration to me (which I'm perfectly comfortable with, of course).

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Samatha v. vipassana?

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Jun 22, 2010 12:33 am

Hi Retro,
retrofuturist wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:I may still be confused, but as I understand the various statements that I have quoted (from teachers and commentaries), it is either not easy or not possible to clearly see those characteristics in a concept, so concepts are not suitable objects for vipassana.

What instructions have you received on how to respond to mental phenomenon during vipassana? I'm speaking generally here... including perceptions, concepts, thoughts, aversion, metta etc.

Similar instructions to what Geoff quoted above from Ven. Ñāṇananda.

I am not a teacher, and I have no desire to write a book on meditation techniques. The approach I use is taught by various teachers in the links I gave here: viewtopic.php?f=17&t=341#p6695
If you find those resources useful, fine. If not, fine.

Here is one particular instruction on dealing with thoughts:
U Pandita: In This Very Life
http://homepage.ntlworld.com/pesala/Pan ... structions
In making the verbal label, there is no need for complex language. One simple word is best. For the eye, ear, and tongue doors we simply say, “Seeing, seeing... Hearing, hearing... Tasting, tasting.” For sensations in the body we may choose a slightly more descriptive term like warmth, pressure, hardness, or motion. Mental objects appear to present a bewildering diversity, but actually they fall into just a few clear categories such as thinking, imagining, remembering, planning, and visualizing. But remember that in using the labeling technique, your goal is not to gain verbal skills. Labeling technique helps us to perceive clearly the actual qualities of our experience, without getting immersed in the content. It develops mental power and focus. In meditation we seek a deep, clear, precise awareness of the mind and body. This direct awareness shows us the truth about our lives, the actual nature of mental and physical processes
.

I don't think that's so different to what you said here:
retrofuturist wrote:As I understand it from what I have read in suttas and in meditation books that I have deemed sufficiently compatible with the sutta, the anicca, anatta and dukkha aspects of these mental things are to be observed. They arise and pass away.

As you say, it is possible to overcomplicate things:
retrofuturist wrote:The detailed classifications of these things are of distant secondary importance compared to the primary fact that they arise and pass away, and are subject to dukkha in the presence of craving. It's insight into this particular reality that we're trying to achieve, and I find that classificatory schemes tend to over-complicate, rather than draw simple clear awareness to the reality of anicca, anatta and dukkha. To this extent, I regard the classificatory schemes designed by the Buddha himself as sufficient, as his primary classifications (five aggregates, six sense bases, twelve nidanas) are geared specifically at de-constructing the perception of self, within the loka of experience.

Sure, but I'm not sure which particular "detailed classifications" you are talking about. U Pandita and others are just talking about observing what arises and not getting lost in content. As far as I understand it, getting lost in content is not usually particularly helpful, and it isn't vipassana.

Mike
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Re: Samatha v. vipassana?

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Jun 22, 2010 12:41 am

Greetings Mike,

mikenz66 wrote:Similar instructions to what Geoff quoted above from Ven. Ñāṇananda.

Thanks.

mikenz66 wrote:Sure, but I'm not sure which particular "detailed classifications" you are talking about.

To me it's those schemes and details which were not actually spoken by the Buddha, yet appear nonetheless in the Abhidhamma Pitaka and post-canonical Pali works... though I understand others will have their own criteria for what points to the essential, versus that which points away from the essential. I follow the criteria outlined in the Sutta Pitaka.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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