Goenka on elimination of sankharas

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Re: Goenka on elimination of sankharas

Postby SamKR » Thu Feb 06, 2014 6:06 am

pilgrim wrote:Suttametta and SamKR. I think you both are discussing the prevention of arising of sankharas thorugh the reduction of Avijja. I'm not interested in that as it is clear enough that with the reduction of Avijja, there is less craving and aversion and hence sankharas will not be as deep as before.

I'm interested in the idea of past sankharas being eliminated through mindfulness. Ben, I'd appreciate if you could point me to the appropriate suttas.

Here we have very different understandings. Do you think mindfulness is not directly connected to reduction of both avijja and sankhara? What is the purpose of mindfulness and sampajanna if not reducing avijja and sankhara? They are all related and dependent on each other.

Actually during mindfulness what happens is: due to sampajanna (ie, due to no avijja) new sankharas are not created, while "old" sankharas are decayed during equanimous observation (ie, due to no craving). Thus both process must happen together: new are not created (no avijja --> no sankhara), and old is used up during arising of consciousness and feeling (sankhara --> vinnana --> vedana) - and thus leading to elimination of sankhara gradually.

And, for this no other sutta is needed as a support except suttas on dependent origination and Mahasatipatthana sutta.
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Re: Goenka on elimination of sankharas

Postby pilgrim » Thu Feb 06, 2014 6:58 am

SamKR wrote:Thus both process must happen together: new are not created (no avijja --> no sankhara), and old is used up during arising of consciousness and feeling (sankhara --> vinnana --> vedana) - and thus leading to elimination of sankhara gradually.

And, for this no other sutta is needed as a support except suttas on dependent origination and Mahasatipatthana sutta.

Could you give me the exact quote where old sankharas is extinguished through pls? My understanding of the Paticca samuppada does not support this. With destruction of avijja, no new sankharas are created. But where does it say old sankharas are eliminated? Note that Moggalana and Angulimala continued to suffer the effects of past kamma even after they were arahants and had destroyed Avijja. So I'm interested to read up on an explicit teaching that past sankharas can be eliminated in this way.
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Re: Goenka on elimination of sankharas

Postby SamKR » Thu Feb 06, 2014 7:10 am

pilgrim wrote:Could you give me the exact quote where old sankharas is extinguished through pls? My understanding of the Paticca samuppada does not support this.

My understanding of Paticcasamuppada supports this. In suttas on dependent origination the buddha says:
from the remainderless fading & cessation of that very ignorance comes the cessation of fabrications.

Cessation means non-rearising. It is elimination of re-generation.

pilgrim wrote:With destruction of avijja, no new sankharas are created. But where does it say old sankharas are eliminated? Note that Moggalana and Angulimala continued to suffer the effects of past kamma even after they were arahants and had destroyed Avijja. So I'm interested to read up on an explicit teaching that past sankharas can be eliminated in this way.

Oh ok, I now see what you are trying to say. Old sankharas are eliminated only by being "used up". And I think Goenkaji does not say old sankharas are eliminated (or destoryed) without being used up (that is without sankhara --> vinnana). When Goenkaji says destruction of old sankhara he means non-regeneration of new sankharas becasue of old sankharas - that is destroying the whirlpool. Please see my previous post about using up of old sankhara and non-generation of new sankhara during mindfulness. However, with development in the Dhamma and meditation the effect of same sankhara could be much lesser. What I believe from reading suttas is that Arahants do fully eliminate generation of new sankhara, however there may still be little past kamma to be used up until they leave the body.
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Re: Goenka on elimination of sankharas

Postby Mkoll » Thu Feb 06, 2014 7:56 am

SamKR wrote:Actually during mindfulness what happens is: due to sampajanna (ie, due to no avijja) new sankharas are not created, while "old" sankharas are decayed during equanimous observation (ie, due to no craving).

I'm curious as to where you get the idea that with sampajanna there is no avijja.

When one is touched by a neither-pleasant-nor-painful feeling, if one understands as it actually is the origination, the disappearance, the gratification, the danger, and the escape in regard to that feeling, then the underlying tendency to ignorance does not lie within one.

-MN 148


So only if one truly understands that (i.e. they're an arahant), there is no ignorance within one. Otherwise, there is ignorance and thus sankharas and all the rest. Sampajanna is not that according to its own definition.

SamKR wrote:And I think Goenkaji does not say old sankharas are eliminated (or destoryed) without being used up

From the first post in this thread and what I've emphasized from it below, that sounds to me like what he's saying. But I'd need an actual quote from the man himself about this subject to say anything better.

pilgrim wrote:By observing them with perfect equanimity, these sankharas then evaporate. In this way we eliminate past sankharas, and consequently avoid the bad experience of our past bad kamma ripening.
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Re: Goenka on elimination of sankharas

Postby pilgrim » Thu Feb 06, 2014 8:30 am

From the discourse summaries:

"Any moment in which one does not generate a new sankhara one of the old ones will arise on the surface of the mind, and along with it a sensation will start within the body. If one remains equanimous, it passes away and another old reaction arises in Its place. One continues to remain equanimous to physical sensations and the old sankhara continue to arise and pass away, one after another. If out of ignorance one reacts to sensations, then one multiplies the sankhara multiplies one's misery. But if one develops wisdom and does not react to sensations, then one after another the sankhara are eradicated, misery is eradicated.
The entire path is a way to come out of misery. By practicing, you will find that you stop tying new knots, and that the old ones are automatically untied. Gradually you will progress towards a stage in which all sankhara leading to new birth, and therefore to new suffering, have been eradicated: the stage of total liberation, full enlightenment."
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Re: Goenka on elimination of sankharas

Postby gavesako » Thu Feb 06, 2014 9:44 am

It is true that in some cases, it is enough to observe the sensations with dispassion and equanimity, which will lead the mind to freedom from attachment. But the forest Ajahns often point out that more than that is needed, for example that one really has to take up the body contemplation (32 parts, asubha, 4 elements) as a way of developing insight, otherwise one will not progress further:

A level of knowledge called "knowing and seeing things as they actually are (yatha-bhuta-ñana-dassana)," where things are understood in terms of a fivefold perspective: their arising, their passing away, their drawbacks, their allure, and the escape from them — the escape, here, lying in dispassion. Some commentators have suggested that, in practice, this fivefold perspective can be gained simply by focusing on the arising and passing away of these aggregates in the present moment; if one's focus is relentless enough, it will lead naturally to a knowledge of drawbacks, allure, and escape, sufficient for total release. The texts, however, don't support this reading, and practical experience would seem to back them up. As MN 101 points out, individual meditators will discover that, in some cases, they can develop dispassion for a particular cause of stress simply by watching it with equanimity; but in other cases, they will need to make a conscious exertion to develop the dispassion that will provide an escape. The discourse is vague — perhaps deliberately so — as to which approach will work where. This is something each meditator must test for him or herself in practice.

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Re: Goenka on elimination of sankharas

Postby SarathW » Thu Feb 06, 2014 10:58 am

Please listen to the attached video. First 20 minutes from U Ba Khin confirming the OP question.
Then next 45 minutes by Goenka some questions and answers. Very interesting.
Goenka hit the nail in the last 10 minutes of the video by clearing all the doubts about the matter brought up in this OP.
I will let you find out it.

:stirthepot:



Sayagyi U Ba Khin "the essentials of buddha dhamma in meditative practice" .

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=msXjXiAOuWE
:)
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Re: Goenka on elimination of sankharas

Postby Babadhari » Thu Feb 06, 2014 11:41 am

pilgrim wrote:
SamKR wrote:Thus both process must happen together: new are not created (no avijja --> no sankhara), and old is used up during arising of consciousness and feeling (sankhara --> vinnana --> vedana) - and thus leading to elimination of sankhara gradually.

And, for this no other sutta is needed as a support except suttas on dependent origination and Mahasatipatthana sutta.

Could you give me the exact quote where old sankharas is extinguished through pls? My understanding of the Paticca samuppada does not support this. With destruction of avijja, no new sankharas are created. But where does it say old sankharas are eliminated? Note that Moggalana and Angulimala continued to suffer the effects of past kamma even after they were arahants and had destroyed Avijja. So I'm interested to read up on an explicit teaching that past sankharas can be eliminated in this way.



Brahmajala Sutta
Bhikkhus! Since the Tathagata rightly knows the arising of feeling (vedana) and
its cause, the cessation of feeling and its cause, its pleasantness, its faults, and
freedom from attachment to it, he becomes liberated without any clinging, (i. e..
he realizes Nibbana
Aflame with the fire of passion, the fire of aversion, the fire of delusion.
Aflame, with birth, aging & death, with sorrows, lamentations, pains, distresses, & despairs ......

Seeing thus, the disciple of the Noble One grows disenchanted. SN 35.28
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Re: Goenka on elimination of sankharas

Postby SamKR » Thu Feb 06, 2014 1:10 pm

Mkoll wrote:
When one is touched by a neither-pleasant-nor-painful feeling, if one understands as it actually is the origination, the disappearance, the gratification, the danger, and the escape in regard to that feeling, then the underlying tendency to ignorance does not lie within one.

-MN 148


So only if one truly understands that (i.e. they're an arahant), there is no ignorance within one. Otherwise, there is ignorance and thus sankharas and all the rest. Sampajanna is not that according to its own definition.

I don't disagree. But our understanding of Sampajanna could be different. What I actually meant for the practicing medidators is lesser avijja.

Mkoll wrote:
SamKR wrote:And I think Goenkaji does not say old sankharas are eliminated (or destoryed) without being used up

From the first post in this thread and what I've emphasized from it below, that sounds to me like what he's saying. But I'd need an actual quote from the man himself about this subject to say anything better.

pilgrim wrote:By observing them with perfect equanimity, these sankharas then evaporate. In this way we eliminate past sankharas, and consequently avoid the bad experience of our past bad kamma ripening.

I initially said yes to the OP's question because I did not understand the real question pilgrim was asking. The question could be interpreted in two senses. If understood in the sense what pilgrim meant, then my answer would be no to the question of OP.
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Re: Goenka on elimination of sankharas

Postby Babadhari » Thu Feb 06, 2014 1:40 pm

as 'sankhara rise to the surface' the meditator should remain equanimous, neither reacting with desire or aversion as the sensation is felt, on the understanding that the sensation is impermanent, anicca,

the Noble Eightfold Path must be followed for this process to work according to both Goenka and his instructor who whas U Ba Khin.

the rising of sankhara can not be isolated in itself from the rest of the teaching.

i do not practice this technique any longer because of deficiencies in my Sila, but it is a good technique for understanding impermanence
Aflame with the fire of passion, the fire of aversion, the fire of delusion.
Aflame, with birth, aging & death, with sorrows, lamentations, pains, distresses, & despairs ......

Seeing thus, the disciple of the Noble One grows disenchanted. SN 35.28
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Re: Goenka on elimination of sankharas

Postby SamKR » Thu Feb 06, 2014 1:43 pm

pilgrim wrote:From the discourse summaries:

"Any moment in which one does not generate a new sankhara one of the old ones will arise on the surface of the mind, and along with it a sensation will start within the body. If one remains equanimous, it passes away and another old reaction arises in Its place. One continues to remain equanimous to physical sensations and the old sankhara continue to arise and pass away, one after another. If out of ignorance one reacts to sensations, then one multiplies the sankhara multiplies one's misery. But if one develops wisdom and does not react to sensations, then one after another the sankhara are eradicated, misery is eradicated.
The entire path is a way to come out of misery. By practicing, you will find that you stop tying new knots, and that the old ones are automatically untied. Gradually you will progress towards a stage in which all sankhara leading to new birth, and therefore to new suffering, have been eradicated: the stage of total liberation, full enlightenment."

I don't see any problem here, if understood what he actually means. I understand from his other discourses in hindi that by "sankhara are eradicated" he means the process of whirlpool of sankhara is eradicated. It's not that by just observing the sensations the sankhara are destroyed directly. As I already said in my previous post it is by not generating newer ones and letting manifest old ones through sensations (with equanimity) that sankharas are gradually eradicated.
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Re: Goenka on elimination of sankharas

Postby suttametta » Thu Feb 06, 2014 9:06 pm

pilgrim wrote:Suttametta and SamKR. I think you both are discussing the prevention of arising of sankharas thorugh the reduction of Avijja. I'm not interested in that as it is clear enough that with the reduction of Avijja, there is less craving and aversion and hence sankharas will not be as deep as before.

I'm interested in the idea of past sankharas being eliminated through mindfulness. Ben, I'd appreciate if you could point me to the appropriate suttas.


Let's clarify the issue. I know about the 12-links, and that vijja destroys sankharas and that vedanā are part of the twelve links too. What is asked if there is a method in the sutras that talks about scanning the body from head to toe and from toe to head, bringing those to the "surface," i.e., the Goenka approach. I am saying, no. That's no in the sutras. If you think it is, then the onus is on the proponent to provide the rebuttal from the sutras. If that were presented, I would stand corrected. I would not continue to hold on to my opinion that, no, the Goenka approach is not mentioned int he sutras. This, as I see it, is how reasoned and open minded debate should happen on a public forum. Just saying, "your wrong," with nothing more, is not a reasoned response. Being protective, dismissive and flippant is not very helpful, IMHO.
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Re: Goenka on elimination of sankharas

Postby Mkoll » Thu Feb 06, 2014 9:30 pm

suttametta wrote:
pilgrim wrote:Suttametta and SamKR. I think you both are discussing the prevention of arising of sankharas thorugh the reduction of Avijja. I'm not interested in that as it is clear enough that with the reduction of Avijja, there is less craving and aversion and hence sankharas will not be as deep as before.

I'm interested in the idea of past sankharas being eliminated through mindfulness. Ben, I'd appreciate if you could point me to the appropriate suttas.


Let's clarify the issue. I know about the 12-links, and that vijja destroys sankharas and that vedanā are part of the twelve links too. What is asked if there is a method in the sutras that talks about scanning the body from head to toe and from toe to head, bringing those to the "surface," i.e., the Goenka approach. I am saying, no. That's no in the sutras. If you think it is, then the onus is on the proponent to provide the rebuttal from the sutras. If that were presented, I would stand corrected. I would not continue to hold on to my opinion that, no, the Goenka approach is not mentioned int he sutras. This, as I see it, is how reasoned and open minded debate should happen on a public forum. Just saying, "your wrong," with nothing more, is not a reasoned response. Being protective, dismissive and flippant is not very helpful, IMHO.


You have a good point here. I think you're referring to what's called "the burden of proof" in that it is up to the one making a claim to provide evidence for it.

When debating any issue, there is an implicit burden of proof on the person asserting a claim. The fallacy of an argument from ignorance occurs if, when a claim is challenged, the burden of proof is shifted to be on the challenger.

-wikipedia page: "philosophic burden of proof"


Regardless, just because Mr. Goenka's method is not mentioned in the suttas doesn't mean that it is not a worthwhile practice in accordance with the Dhamma. From my limited knowledge, I think it is a worthwhile practice in and of itself. But I would be meticulous about the philosophical ideas surrounding it, for example the subject of this thread. Comparing them with what the suttas say is how one finds out their differences and similarities.
Peace,
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Re: Goenka on elimination of sankharas

Postby Ben » Thu Feb 06, 2014 9:45 pm

suttametta wrote:Let's clarify the issue.


Yes, let's do clarify the issue.
The OP asked for support within the Nikayas that sankharas are eliminated NOT whether the technique SNGoenka advocates is mentioned in the suttas. THAT is a separate question.


This, as I see it, is how reasoned and open minded debate should happen on a public forum. Just saying, "your wrong," with nothing more, is not a reasoned response. Being protective, dismissive and flippant is not very helpful, IMHO.


As you have...

suttametta wrote:
pilgrim wrote:If I have understood correctly Goenka teaches that during the body sweeping process, old stocks of past sankharas are brought to the surface as vedana (sensations). By observing them with perfect equanimity, these sankharas then evaporate. In this way we eliminate past sankharas, and consequently avoid the bad experience of our past bad kamma ripening. Is this teaching supported by the suttas?


no.
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Re: Goenka on elimination of sankharas

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Feb 06, 2014 10:00 pm

Ben wrote:
suttametta wrote:Let's clarify the issue.


Yes, let's do clarify the issue.
The OP asked for support within the Nikayas that sankharas are eliminated NOT whether the technique SNGoenka advocates is mentioned in the suttas. THAT is a separate question.

I would also add that Theravada is a much larger body of knowledge than "what is mentioned in the suttas".

Furthermore, the suttas contain almost no details on "technique". They don't mention, for example, where one should pay attention to the breath when doing anapanasati. One could, therefore, apply the argument "not mentioned in the suttas" to "refute" essentially any statement on technique by any modern teacher.

To me it is "consistency with the suttas", not "mention" that is the key issue.

:anjali:
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Re: Goenka on elimination of sankharas

Postby culaavuso » Thu Feb 06, 2014 10:36 pm

mikenz66 wrote:To me it is "consistency with the suttas", not "mention" that is the key issue.


This is consistent with the suttas and the vinaya, both of which directly mention standards to determine consistency of things not explicitly covered.

AN 8.53
AN 8.53: Gotami Sutta wrote:"Gotami, the qualities of which you may know, 'These qualities lead to passion, not to dispassion; to being fettered, not to being unfettered; to accumulating, not to shedding; to self-aggrandizement, not to modesty; to discontent, not to contentment; to entanglement, not to seclusion; to laziness, not to aroused persistence; to being burdensome, not to being unburdensome': You may categorically hold, 'This is not the Dhamma, this is not the Vinaya, this is not the Teacher's instruction.'

"As for the qualities of which you may know, 'These qualities lead to dispassion, not to passion; to being unfettered, not to being fettered; to shedding, not to accumulating; to modesty, not to self-aggrandizement; to contentment, not to discontent; to seclusion, not to entanglement; to aroused persistence, not to laziness; to being unburdensome, not to being burdensome': You may categorically hold, 'This is the Dhamma, this is the Vinaya, this is the Teacher's instruction.'"


Mv 6.40.1
Mv 6.40.1: Vinaya-samukkamsa wrote:"Bhikkhus, whatever I have not objected to, saying, 'This is not allowable,' if it fits in with what is not allowable, if it goes against what is allowable, this is not allowable for you.

"Whatever I have not objected to, saying, 'This is not allowable,' if it fits in with what is allowable, if it goes against what is not allowable, this is allowable for you.

"And whatever I have not permitted, saying, 'This is allowable,' if it fits in with what is not allowable, if it goes against what is allowable, this is not allowable for you.

"And whatever I have not permitted, saying, 'This is allowable,' if it fits in with what is allowable, if it goes against what is not allowable, this is allowable for you."
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Re: Goenka on elimination of sankharas

Postby SarathW » Thu Feb 06, 2014 11:36 pm

Thanks Culaavuso
In other words, Buddha ask us to use common sense.
:)
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Re: Goenka on elimination of sankharas

Postby suttametta » Fri Feb 07, 2014 12:05 am

mikenz66 wrote:
Ben wrote:
suttametta wrote:Let's clarify the issue.


Yes, let's do clarify the issue.
The OP asked for support within the Nikayas that sankharas are eliminated NOT whether the technique SNGoenka advocates is mentioned in the suttas. THAT is a separate question.

I would also add that Theravada is a much larger body of knowledge than "what is mentioned in the suttas".

Furthermore, the suttas contain almost no details on "technique". They don't mention, for example, where one should pay attention to the breath when doing anapanasati. One could, therefore, apply the argument "not mentioned in the suttas" to "refute" essentially any statement on technique by any modern teacher.

To me it is "consistency with the suttas", not "mention" that is the key issue.

:anjali:
Mike


Yes it does. Parimukham. Mukha is face. Pari is in front. I'm sorry we can't get along. I don't agree with many things. I respect your opinions. I suppose, because this is a Theravada site, it is nt appropriate to challenge the Theravada vision of dharma. I revere the suttas. The other stuff, not so much.
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Re: Goenka on elimination of sankharas

Postby suttametta » Fri Feb 07, 2014 12:06 am

Ben wrote:
suttametta wrote:Let's clarify the issue.


Yes, let's do clarify the issue.
The OP asked for support within the Nikayas that sankharas are eliminated NOT whether the technique SNGoenka advocates is mentioned in the suttas. THAT is a separate question.


This, as I see it, is how reasoned and open minded debate should happen on a public forum. Just saying, "your wrong," with nothing more, is not a reasoned response. Being protective, dismissive and flippant is not very helpful, IMHO.


As you have...

suttametta wrote:
pilgrim wrote:If I have understood correctly Goenka teaches that during the body sweeping process, old stocks of past sankharas are brought to the surface as vedana (sensations). By observing them with perfect equanimity, these sankharas then evaporate. In this way we eliminate past sankharas, and consequently avoid the bad experience of our past bad kamma ripening. Is this teaching supported by the suttas?


no.


I don't agree with your assessment of the question. I will defer to you, senior.
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Re: Goenka on elimination of sankharas

Postby pilgrim » Fri Feb 07, 2014 12:31 am

I thought I was clear enough but I apologise if my question was worded too ambiguously. Let me try again. Let's leave Goenka out of this now.

Is there any sutta reference that clearly states that PAST, EXISTING sankharas can be eliminated through mindfulness of sensations?
If so, why did the arahants still have to suffer for their past kamma?
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