SN 22.95: Phena Sutta — Foam

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Re: SN 22.95: Phena Sutta — Foam

Postby Nyana » Thu Jan 20, 2011 5:14 am

alan wrote:Sure, that's a nice way to put it, but I'm still left slightly unsatisfied.
Reality is a relative notion? Seems to contradict suttas that proclaim the Dhamma as timeless.

The dhamma is indeed timeless. There's no contradiction whatsoever. Let's take a look at what Ven. Ñāṇananda has to say about "reality." In The Magic of the Mind he offers the following insight:

    The question of 'seeing what-is-shown', brings us to the relationship between sign and significance. Sense-perception at all levels relies largely on signs. This statement might even appear as a truism since the Pāli word saññā denotes perception as well as 'sign', 'symbol', 'mark' or 'token.' It is due to the processes of grasping and recognition implicit in sense-perception that the sign has come to play such an important part in it. Grasping -- be it physical or mental -- can at best be merely a symbolical affair. The actual point of contact is superficial and localized, but it somehow props up the conceit of grasping. Recognition too, is possible only within arbitrarily circumscribed limits. The law of impermanence is persistently undermining it, but still a conceit of recognition is maintained by progressively ignoring the fact of change....

    Furthermore, as the Suttas often make it clear, all percepts as such are to be regarded as mere signs (saññā, nimitta). Hence while the worldling says that he perceives 'things' with the help of signs, the Tathāgata says that all we perceive are mere signs. Sights, sounds, smells, tastes, touches and ideas are, all of them, signs which consciousness pursues. But still the question may be asked: "What do these signs signify?" "Things, of course" -- the Tathāgata would reply. 'Things', however, are not those that the worldling has in mind when he seeks an answer to this question. Lust, hatred and delusion are the 'things' which, according to the teaching of the Tathāgata, are signified by all sense-percepts. "Lust, friend, is a something; hatred is a something; delusion is a something." (M I 298, Mahāvedalla S.) "Lust, friends, is something significative, hatred is something significative, delusion is something significative" (ibid).

And then the part which deserves repeated consideration:

    It is a fact often overlooked by the metaphysician that the reality attributed to sense-data is necessarily connected with their evocative power, that is, their ability to produce effects. The reality of a thing is usually registered in terms of its impact on the experiential side. This is the acid-test which an object is required to undergo to prove its existence in the Court of Reality. In the reference to materiality as 'manifestative and offering resistance' (D III 217, Sangiti S.) the validity of this test seems to have been hinted at. Now, the 'objects' of sense which we grasp and recognize as existing out-there, derive their object-status from their impact or evocative power. Their ability to produce effects in the form of sense-reaction is generally taken to be the criterion of their reality. Sense-objects are therefore signs which have become significant in themselves owing to our ignorance that their significance depends on the psychological mainsprings of lust, hatred and delusion. This, in other words, is a result of reasoning from the wrong end (ayoniso manasikāra) which leads both the philosopher and the scientist alike into a topsy-turvydom of endless theorising.

What most worldlings unquestioningly take to be "real," due to ascribing significance to the contents of deluded cognition, is nothing more than deluded cognition. Learners and arahants have understood deluded cognition to be false and have abandoned it (or are in the process of abandoning it in the case of learners). In this way they develop a "measureless mind." Seeing through the limitations of signs and symbols and language, they realize that there is no need -- and no possible way -- of trying to pin down this measureless freedom of absence by using signs and language. There is no point in attempting to construct and systematize a valid "reality." They've done what was needed to be done. The teachings they offer diagnose the problems of deluded cognition and point out the ways to unravel and eventually abandon passion, aggression, and delusion. And this path is as relevant today as it was 2500 years ago. It's quite amazing -- awe inspiring.

All the best,

Geoff
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Re: SN 22.95: Phena Sutta — Foam

Postby kirk5a » Thu Jan 20, 2011 5:36 am

Ñāṇa wrote:What most worldlings unquestioningly take to be "real," due to ascribing significance to the contents of deluded cognition, is nothing more than deluded cognition.

I take X-Rays to be real. Are they nothing more than deluded cognition? They photographed my teeth today. What about oxygen? I take that to be real too. I'm not breathing deluded cognition in and out of my alveoli.
"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: SN 22.95: Phena Sutta — Foam

Postby Nyana » Thu Jan 20, 2011 5:40 am

kirk5a wrote:I take X-Rays to be real. Are they nothing more than deluded cognition? They photographed my teeth today. What about oxygen? I take that to be real too. I'm not breathing deluded cognition in and out of my alveoli.

"I" and "my"....

Ven. Ñāṇananda, Seeing Through: A Guide to Insight Meditation:

    Ānāpānasati : 'āna' means breathing in; 'apāna' means breathing out. Breathing in and breathing out. This is what we do everyday. We breath in and out. Between these two there is something rather imperceptible, something that is overlooked. But that is the very thing which perpetuates saṁsāra. Why do we breath in? We breathe in to maintain this existence. That is to maintain craving and ignorance -- to perpetuate this saṁsāra. We breathe in to preserve this body from destruction and death. There is grasping or 'upādāna' as an imperceptible gasping for breath. In short there is both 'gasping' as well as grasping. Beneath it lies craving and ignorance. There is supposed to be an 'I' behind this breathing -- a breather....

    It is after holding on to the breath that one sets about doing the work one has to do. Within this very grasping lies the ego -- 'my ability', 'my strength', 'I can do' and all that sort of thing.

    So, one takes in a breath and holds on to it, but he has to let go of it as well. This letting go happens out of sheer necessity -- per force. To let go of the breath that way, we call 'breathing out'. We breathe-in with some special purpose in mind -- to preserve our life. If it is possible to hold on to the breath for ever, for this purpose, so much the better, but we can't. Since we cannot do it, we have to let go of the breath after a while, whether we like it or not.

    So then here too we seem to have a case of 'adāna' and 'patinissaga' -- a taking up and a letting-go, at least on the face of it. There is a stage in 'ānāpānasati' at which this insight emerges. If we analyze the last four of the 16 steps in ānāpānasati meditation taught by the Buddha, we can understand to some extent the way of emergence of this insight.


All the best,

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Re: SN 22.95: Phena Sutta — Foam

Postby kirk5a » Thu Jan 20, 2011 5:49 am

Ñāṇa wrote:
kirk5a wrote:I take X-Rays to be real. Are they nothing more than deluded cognition? They photographed my teeth today. What about oxygen? I take that to be real too. I'm not breathing deluded cognition in and out of my alveoli.

"I" and "my"....

All the best,

Geoff

X-Rays have nothing whatsoever to do with whether there is clinging to "I" and "my" present or not. The body will die from an over exposure without the slightest clinging present. In fact, there could be no awareness the exposure was even occurring.
"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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Who am I?

Postby pegembara » Thu Jan 20, 2011 5:57 am

And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.
And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon's mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper'd pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

All the world's a stage (from As You Like It )

William Shakespeare
And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech.
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Re: SN 22.95: Phena Sutta — Foam

Postby Nyana » Thu Jan 20, 2011 6:41 am

kirk5a wrote:X-Rays have nothing whatsoever to do with whether there is clinging to "I" and "my" present or not.

From the perspective of practicing dhamma, functional things can be functional things without any need for metaphysical assumptions or ontological theories, all of which are endlessly debatable and are "a result of reasoning from the wrong end." As Ven. Ñāṇananda has quite clearly and insightfully indicated:

    Sense-objects are therefore signs which have become significant in themselves owing to our ignorance that their significance depends on the psychological mainsprings of lust, hatred and delusion. This, in other words, is a result of reasoning from the wrong end (ayoniso manasikāra) which leads both the philosopher and the scientist alike into a topsy-turvydom of endless theorising.

All the best,

Geoff
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Re: SN 22.95: Phena Sutta — Foam

Postby kirk5a » Thu Jan 20, 2011 7:04 am

Ñāṇa wrote:
kirk5a wrote:X-Rays have nothing whatsoever to do with whether there is clinging to "I" and "my" present or not.

From the perspective of practicing dhamma, functional things can be functional things without any need for metaphysical assumptions or ontological theories

Ok then there is no need for the ontological theory that everything taken to be real is nothing more than deluded conception.
"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: SN 22.95: Phena Sutta — Foam

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Jan 20, 2011 7:07 am

Greetings Kirk,

SN 12.15: Kaccayanagotta Sutta
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Dwelling at Savatthi... Then Ven. Kaccayana Gotta approached the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down, sat to one side. As he was sitting there he said to the Blessed One: "Lord, 'Right view, right view,' it is said. To what extent is there right view?"

"By & large, Kaccayana, this world is supported by (takes as its object) a polarity, that of existence & non-existence. But when one sees the origination of the world as it actually is with right discernment, 'non-existence' with reference to the world does not occur to one. When one sees the cessation of the world as it actually is with right discernment, 'existence' with reference to the world does not occur to one.

"By & large, Kaccayana, this world is in bondage to attachments, clingings (sustenances), & biases. But one such as this does not get involved with or cling to these attachments, clingings, fixations of awareness, biases, or obsessions; nor is he resolved on 'my self.' He has no uncertainty or doubt that just stress, when arising, is arising; stress, when passing away, is passing away. In this, his knowledge is independent of others. It's to this extent, Kaccayana, that there is right view.

"'Everything exists': That is one extreme. 'Everything doesn't exist': That is a second extreme. Avoiding these two extremes, the Tathagata teaches the Dhamma via the middle: From ignorance as a requisite condition come fabrications.
From fabrications as a requisite condition comes consciousness. From consciousness as a requisite condition comes name-&-form. From name-&-form as a requisite condition come the six sense media. From the six sense media as a requisite condition comes contact. From contact as a requisite condition comes feeling. From feeling as a requisite condition comes craving. From craving as a requisite condition comes clinging/sustenance. From clinging/sustenance as a requisite condition comes becoming. From becoming as a requisite condition comes birth. From birth as a requisite condition, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair come into play. Such is the origination of this entire mass of stress & suffering.

"Now from the remainderless fading & cessation of that very ignorance comes the cessation of fabrications. From the cessation of fabrications comes the cessation of consciousness. From the cessation of consciousness comes the cessation of name-&-form. From the cessation of name-&-form comes the cessation of the six sense media. From the cessation of the six sense media comes the cessation of contact. From the cessation of contact comes the cessation of feeling. From the cessation of feeling comes the cessation of craving. From the cessation of craving comes the cessation of clinging/sustenance. From the cessation of clinging/sustenance comes the cessation of becoming. From the cessation of becoming comes the cessation of birth. From the cessation of birth, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair all cease. Such is the cessation of this entire mass of stress & suffering."

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: SN 22.95: Phena Sutta — Foam

Postby Nyana » Thu Jan 20, 2011 7:09 am

kirk5a wrote:Ok then there is no need for the ontological theory that everything taken to be real is nothing more than deluded conception.

The statement was in reference to phenomenological experience, not ontological theories.

All the best,

Geoff
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Re: SN 22.95: Phena Sutta — Foam

Postby kirk5a » Thu Jan 20, 2011 7:41 am

Ñāṇa wrote:
kirk5a wrote:Ok then there is no need for the ontological theory that everything taken to be real is nothing more than deluded conception.

The statement was in reference to phenomenological experience, not ontological theories.

All the best,

Geoff

Alright then, the beating of my heart. That's a phenomenological experience. Is that nothing more than deluded conception?
"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: SN 22.95: Phena Sutta — Foam

Postby Nyana » Thu Jan 20, 2011 8:03 am

kirk5a wrote:Alright then, the beating of my heart. That's a phenomenological experience. Is that nothing more than deluded conception?

The beating of your heart is just the beating of your heart. How you relate to your body is what is important. This can be done either with appropriate attention (yoniso manasikāra) or inappropriate attention (ayoniso manasikāra). Appropriate attention, conjoined with mindfulness, full awareness, concentration, and discernment attends to unsatisfactoriness, the origin of unsatisfactoriness, the cessation of unsatisfactoriness, and the way leading to the cessation of unsatisfactoriness (dukkha, dukkhasamudaya, dukkhanirodha, and dukkhanirodhagāminīpaṭipadā). Using this framework one comprehends arising, passing away, allure, drawbacks, and escape with regard to all phenomena experienced. Or one can pursue frameworks of inappropriate attention. Some of the unskillful types of inappropriate attention have already been indicated.

All the best,

Geoff
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Re: SN 22.95: Phena Sutta — Foam

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Jan 20, 2011 8:41 am

Greetings,

kirk5a wrote:Alright then, the beating of my heart. That's a phenomenological experience. Is that nothing more than deluded conception?

Just to add to what Geoff said, and certainly not to pick on you... I want to analyse this bolded section vis-a-vis the instructions of the Phena Sutta.

If one were to "appropriately examine" and "view the aggregates", this would phenomenologically be experienced within the feeling aggregate - rise, change, and cessation would be observed at the frequency of the heart-beat.

If one were to "inappropriately examine" it they might regard it as "the beating of my heart". This inappropriate attention caused the implicit validation of two unstated ontological cognitions - namely the existence of "me" and "heart". It goes further and establishes a subject-object relationship between these two, and assigns the activity of "beating" to "my heart". All this cognitive distortion is the result of not adhering to the instructions of the Phena Sutta (regarding how to view and regard that which is experienced), the Kaccayanagotta Sutta in terms of positing the extreme ontological view of "existence" and the Bahiya Sutta, not yet quoted in this topic which states... http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Ud 1.10 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."

If the experience is cognized as "the beating of my heart", the Bahiya Sutta suggests we would at least recover to the extent of identifying "In reference to the cognized, only the cognized." Thereby, not conflating the cognized with the phenomenological experience of vedana.

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: SN 22.95: Phena Sutta — Foam

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Jan 20, 2011 9:34 am

Hi Retro,
retrofuturist wrote:All this cognitive distortion is the result of not adhering to the instructions of the Phena Sutta (regarding how to view and regard that which is experienced), the Kaccayanagotta Sutta in terms of positing the extreme ontological view of "existence"...

But don't forget the other extreme view "nothing exists", which, as Kirk points out, is just as much an ontology (a negative one). In my view these suttas (and what I get from Ven Nananada's analyses) suggest that what we perceive is deceptive, but it's not just an invention of our mind. Just as the magic show or the mirage are deceptive but not imaginary.

:anjali:
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Re: SN 22.95: Phena Sutta — Foam

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Jan 20, 2011 9:36 am

Greetings,

mikenz66 wrote:But don't forget the other extreme view "nothing exists", which, as Kirk points out, is just as much an ontology (a negative one).

But Mike, where has anyone said otherwise?

Such a view would be equally beyond the range of loka as the other extreme speculative view that 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: SN 22.95: Phena Sutta — Foam

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Jan 20, 2011 9:53 am

Hi Retro,
retrofuturist wrote:But Mike, where has anyone said otherwise?

Not explicitly, but by omitting the "nothing exists, that is another extreme" part of the Kaccayanagotta Sutta you seemed to imply that avoiding the extreme that "everything exists" is more important.

:anjali:
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Re: SN 22.95: Phena Sutta — Foam

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Jan 20, 2011 10:01 am

Greetings Mike,

No, not at all... it's just that "non-existence" wasn't an ontological statement implicit in the cognition "the beating of my heart", whereas "existence" was.

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: SN 22.95: Phena Sutta — Foam

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Jan 20, 2011 10:10 am

retrofuturist wrote:No, not at all... it's just that "non-existence" wasn't an ontological statement implicit in the cognition "the beating of my heart", whereas "existence" was.

Yes, but your argument seemed to me to veer towards the extreme view that there is no objective reality.

:anjali:
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Re: SN 22.95: Phena Sutta — Foam

Postby Nyana » Thu Jan 20, 2011 10:10 am

mikenz66 wrote:Not explicitly, but by omitting the "nothing exists, that is another extreme" part of the Kaccayanagotta Sutta you seemed to imply that avoiding the extreme that "everything exists" is more important.

In terms of relative importance, it's more important to avoid the extreme of "nothing exists" because nihilism can result in not considering the long term consequences of one's actions, which opens the door to the lower realms.

All the best,

Geoff
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Re: SN 22.95: Phena Sutta — Foam

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Jan 20, 2011 10:51 am

Greetings,

mikenz66 wrote:Yes, but your argument seemed to me to veer towards the extreme view that there is no objective reality.

No, that's the view of some Mahayanists, but certainly not my view, nor the view of the suttas we've been discussing... but you can see from this kind of discussion why the Buddha was sometimes falsely accused of being an annihilationist by those who didn't understand the nuances of his "middle way" position.

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: SN 22.95: Phena Sutta — Foam

Postby Nyana » Thu Jan 20, 2011 10:53 am

mikenz66 wrote:Yes, but your argument seemed to me to veer towards the extreme view that there is no objective reality.

Attempting to establish an "objective reality" is, at best, an unnecessary and superfluous line of investigation, and at worst, the extreme of "everything exists," which is an assumption dependent upon deluded cognitions. AN 4.24 Kāḷakārāma Sutta:

    Thus, monks, a Tathāgata does not imagine a visible thing as apart from seeing, he does not imagine an unseen, he does not imagine a thing worth seeing, he does not imagine a seer. He does not imagine an audible thing as apart from hearing, he does not imagine an unheard, he does not imagine a thing worth hearing, he does not imagine a hearer. He does not imagine a thing to be sensed as apart from sensation, he does not imagine an unsensed, he does not imagine a thing worth sensing, he does not imagine one who senses. He does not imagine a cognizable thing as apart from cognition, he does not imagine an uncognized, he does not imagine a thing worth cognizing, he does not imagine one who cognizes.

    Thus, monks, the Tathāgata, being such in regard to all phenomena, seen, heard, sensed and cognized, is such. Moreover than he who is such there is none other higher or more excellent, I declare.

    Whatever is seen, heard, sensed,
    Or clung to and esteemed as truth by other folk,
    Midst those who are entrenched in their own views,
    Being such, I hold none as true or false.
    This barb I beheld well in advance,
    Whereon mankind is hooked, impaled,
    I know, I see, 'tis verily so,
    No such clinging for the Tathāgatas.

There is no need and no value in constructing an "objective reality" or proving "valid cognitions." The practitioner simply needs to set aside such speculations and return to the practice of the four applications of mindfulness.

All the best,

Geoff
Last edited by Nyana on Thu Jan 20, 2011 11:25 am, edited 1 time in total.
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