Not-Thinking as a practice

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Not-Thinking as a practice

Postby Alex123 » Sun Jan 06, 2013 7:58 pm

Hello all,

I was thinking about different suttas such as MN1, Bahiya sutta, SN35.248, MN44 and others.

What if a person practices not thinking? It seems to me that wrong views, intellectual doubts, conceivings are made up of abstract thoughts or thoughts about event that has occurred. Without thinking "I am this... My true Self is that... I love this, I hate this..." at that moment of not thinking could there be views about the Self? Without thinking, at that moment, can there be wrong theories?

English word "sweet" and actual experience of sugar on the tongue are different, and experience doesn't require the thought. There is no false experience. There are only false theories and interpretations of experience. Things are not as they seem, yet they aren't otherwise either.

Thoughts are at least one level removed from experience, and at worst totally unrelated, false and misleading. And when people argue, they argue over their thoughts and thought patterns.

Even thoughts, no matter how correct and well reasoned, about what is seen, heard, etc, add a layer of interpretation so that experience is no longer "direct". Angry thoughts add anger, while lustful thoughts add more lust.

The Blessed One said: "There is the case, monks, where an uninstructed run-of-the-mill person — who has no regard for noble ones, is not well-versed or disciplined in their Dhamma; who has no regard for men of integrity, is not well-versed or disciplined in their Dhamma — perceives earth as earth. Perceiving earth as earth, he conceives [things] about earth, he conceives [things] in earth, he conceives [things] coming out of earth, he conceives earth as 'mine,' he delights in earth. Why is that? Because he has not comprehended it, I tell you. [alex: same with other items]

"A monk who is a trainee — yearning for the unexcelled relief from bondage, his aspirations as yet unfulfilled — directly knows earth as earth. Directly knowing earth as earth, let him not conceive things about earth, let him not conceive things in earth, let him not conceive things coming out of earth, let him not conceive earth as 'mine,' let him not delight in earth. Why is that? So that he may comprehend it, I tell you.

"A monk who is a Worthy One, devoid of mental fermentations — who has attained completion, finished the task, laid down the burden, attained the true goal, destroyed the fetters of becoming, and is released through right knowledge — directly knows earth as earth. Directly knowing earth as earth, he does not conceive things about earth, does not conceive things in earth, does not conceive things coming out of earth, does not conceive earth as 'mine,' does not delight in earth. Why is that? Because he has comprehended it, I tell you.
MN1


Experience is always direct. Thoughts about it, are at best one level removed from actual experience.

Måra. In conceiving, one is bound by Måra; by not conceiving, one is freed from the Evil One. “Bhikkhus, ‘I am’ is a conceiving; ‘I am this’ is a conceiving; ‘I shall be’ is a conceiving; ‘I shall not be’ is a conceiving; ‘I shall be material’ is a conceiving; ‘I shall be immaterial’ is a conceiving; ‘I shall be percipient’ is a conceiving; ‘I shall be non-percipient’ is a conceiving; ‘I shall be neither percipient nor non-percipient’ is a conceiving. Conceiving is a disease, conceiving is a tumour, conceiving is a dart. Therefore, bhikkhus, you should train yourselves thus: ‘We will dwell with a non-conceiving mind.’ - SN35.248 (11)


"But, lady, how does self-identification come about?"

"There is the case, friend Visakha, where an uninstructed, run-of-the-mill person — who has no regard for noble ones, is not well-versed or disciplined in their Dhamma; who has no regard for men of integrity, is not well-versed or disciplined in their Dhamma — assumes form (the body) to be the self, or the self as possessing form, or form as in the self, or the self as in form.
.......
"But, lady, how does self-identification not come about?"

"There is the case where a well-instructed disciple of the noble ones — who has regard for noble ones, is well-versed & disciplined in their Dhamma; who has regard for men of integrity, is well-versed & disciplined in their Dhamma — does not assume form to be the self, or the self as possessing form, or form as in the self, or the self as in form. (same with other 4 aggregates) MN44


It seems that direct practice of MN1, SN35.248 and MN44 could directly be done by avoiding to think in such Self referential terms. Same with items in MN#1

Any comments?

With best wishes,
Alex
I was not; I was; I am not; I do not care."
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Re: Not-Thinking as a practice

Postby twelph » Sun Jan 06, 2013 9:29 pm

The quotes you have provided that mention not thinking seem to be describing the mental qualities of an enlightened being. Should you jump directly into mimicking these qualities in your daily life? There seems to be some debate about that. As far as I can see, the Buddha does not expound a practice for this unless you believe that the Abhidharma is canonical. I will be the first to admit that I have a limited and possibly biased view of the Abhidharma, so someone please feel free to correct me.

Edit: Thinking about it a little more, while the Abhidharma seems to have a systematic description of the mental qualities of an enlightened being, I'm not too sure if contains a practice that would allow you to practice daily in this fashion. Samatha creates these conditions, but I'm not so sure about bringing these qualities into your every day life and walking around not labeling your experiences unless you have reached the final goal.
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Re: Not-Thinking as a practice

Postby Alex123 » Sun Jan 06, 2013 9:49 pm

twelph wrote:The quotes you have provided that mention not thinking seem to be describing the mental qualities of an enlightened being. Should you jump directly into mimicking these qualities in your daily life? .


Don't 5 precepts mimic Arahant's physical behaviour?

When one does deep meditation isn't one practicing not having greed, anger, and (especially in vipassana) delusion ? Rather than trying to avoid akusala actions while sitting on a cushion, why not try to avoid as much akusala as possible in ALL conscious activities?

Can there be Self or wrong views when one is not thinking any thoughts? Whats the most direct and quickest way not to have wrong thoughts? Practice not thinking them.
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Re: Not-Thinking as a practice

Postby twelph » Sun Jan 06, 2013 10:07 pm

Alex123 wrote:
twelph wrote:The quotes you have provided that mention not thinking seem to be describing the mental qualities of an enlightened being. Should you jump directly into mimicking these qualities in your daily life? .


Don't 5 precepts mimic Arahant's physical behaviour?

When one does deep meditation isn't one practicing not having greed, anger, and (especially in vipassana) delusion ? Rather than trying to avoid akusala actions while sitting on a cushion, why not try to avoid as much akusala as possible in ALL conscious activities?

Can there be Self or wrong views when one is not thinking any thoughts?


If you are blocking out thinking completely, how are you gaining insight? During this quest to block out thoughts, what will you be doing with the thoughts that do happen to get through your guard, ignore them? Being able to distinguish between wholesome and unwholesome thoughts is a major part of Buddhist meditation. If you do not allow yourself to distinguish between them, which requires a thought process, then I think you may be missing an important aspect of the teaching.
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Re: Not-Thinking as a practice

Postby Alex123 » Sun Jan 06, 2013 10:33 pm

twelph wrote:If you are blocking out thinking completely, how are you gaining insight?


Do you know teachings about anicca, dukkha, anatta? If these are found in ALL dhammas then one doesn't need to deliberately go looking or thinking about this triple characteristic. Every arisen and ceased dhamma has them.

twelph wrote:During this quest to block out thoughts, what will you be doing with the thoughts that do happen to get through your guard, ignore them?


Don't react to akusala thoughts with aversion, etc. Don't add additional akusala.

If a thought arises and ceases, then it is nature. After all, it is the nature of mind to think and remember past things. If it ceases without a trace, then it isn't bad.
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Re: Not-Thinking as a practice

Postby Dhammanando » Sun Jan 06, 2013 10:52 pm

In MN 1 it is for the sekha alone, i.e. the stream-entrant, once-returner and non-returner, that non-conceiving assumes the form of a prescription. Conceiving (maññati, e.g., "he conceives earth...") is what the worldling does do, what the sekha ought not to do, and what the asekha (arahant) does not do.
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
    — William Penn Some Fruits of Solitude,
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Re: Not-Thinking as a practice

Postby twelph » Sun Jan 06, 2013 10:56 pm

Alex123 wrote:
twelph wrote:If you are blocking out thinking completely, how are you gaining insight?


Do you know teachings about anicca, dukkha, anatta? If these are found in ALL dhammas then one doesn't need to deliberately go looking or thinking about this triple characteristic. Every arisen and ceased dhamma has them.

twelph wrote:During this quest to block out thoughts, what will you be doing with the thoughts that do happen to get through your guard, ignore them?


Don't react to akusala thoughts with aversion, etc. Don't add additional akusala.

If a thought arises and ceases, then it is nature. After all, it is the nature of mind to think and remember past things. If it ceases without a trace, then it isn't bad.


Could you please link a source outside of the Abhidharma stating that anicca, dukkha, and anatta are found in all Dhamma? A lot of what you are saying is very reminiscent of Sayadaw U Tejaniya, who acknowledges that his teachings stem from this source.
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Re: Not-Thinking as a practice

Postby Alex123 » Sun Jan 06, 2013 10:58 pm

Bhante,

Dhammanando wrote:In MN 1 it is for the sekha alone, i.e. the stream-entrant, once-returner and non-returner, that non-conceiving assumes the form of a prescription. Conceiving (maññati, e.g., "he conceives earth...") is what the worldling does do, what the sekha ought not to do, and what the asekha (arahant) does not do.


So how exactly does one not conceive? Maybe one should avoid thinking and conceiving. That is the practice.

Of course after a while, when one practices a skill long enough, it becomes like 2nd nature.
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Re: Not-Thinking as a practice

Postby Alex123 » Sun Jan 06, 2013 10:59 pm

twelph wrote:Could you please link a source outside of the Abhidharma stating that anicca, dukkha, and anatta are found in all Dhamma? A lot of what you are saying is very reminiscent of Sayadaw U Tejaniya, who acknowledges that his teachings stem from this source.



In Dhammapada it states that all sankharas are anicca/dukkha and all dhammas are anatta.

277. "All conditioned things are impermanent" — when one sees this with wisdom, one turns away from suffering. This is the path to purification.
278. "All conditioned things are unsatisfactory" — when one sees this with wisdom, one turns away from suffering. This is the path to purification.
279. "All things are not-self" — when one sees this with wisdom, one turns away from suffering. This is the path to purification.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .budd.html

Ananda, the bhikkhu knows, it is impossible, that one come to right view should take any determination as permanent. It is possible that an ordinary person should take any determination as permanent. It is impossible, that one come to right view should take any determination as pleasant. It is possible that an ordinary person should take any determination as pleasant. It is impossible, that one come to right view should take any thought as his. It is possible that an ordinary person should take any thought as his. (Note: Translation for the last two sentences is bad. It should be Atta for self and Dhamma for thoughts)
http://metta.lk/tipitaka/2Sutta-Pitaka/ ... uka-e.html
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Re: Not-Thinking as a practice

Postby kirk5a » Sun Jan 06, 2013 11:14 pm

Might as well add this to the mix:

Whether walking, standing,
sitting, or lying down,
whoever thinks evil thoughts,
related to the household life,
is following no path at all,
smitten
with delusory things.
He's incapable,
a monk like this,
of touching superlative
self-awakening.
But whoever —
walking, standing,
sitting, or lying down —
overcomes thought,
delighting in the stilling of thought:
he's capable,
a monk like this,
of touching superlative
self-awakening.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
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Re: Not-Thinking as a practice

Postby twelph » Sun Jan 06, 2013 11:21 pm

Alex123 wrote:
twelph wrote:Could you please link a source outside of the Abhidharma stating that anicca, dukkha, and anatta are found in all Dhamma? A lot of what you are saying is very reminiscent of Sayadaw U Tejaniya, who acknowledges that his teachings stem from this source.



In Dhammapada it states that all sankharas are anicca/dukkha and all dhammas are anatta.

277. "All conditioned things are impermanent" — when one sees this with wisdom, one turns away from suffering. This is the path to purification.
278. "All conditioned things are unsatisfactory" — when one sees this with wisdom, one turns away from suffering. This is the path to purification.
279. "All things are not-self" — when one sees this with wisdom, one turns away from suffering. This is the path to purification.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .budd.html

Ananda, the bhikkhu knows, it is impossible, that one come to right view should take any determination as permanent. It is possible that an ordinary person should take any determination as permanent. It is impossible, that one come to right view should take any determination as pleasant. It is possible that an ordinary person should take any determination as pleasant. It is impossible, that one come to right view should take any thought as his. It is possible that an ordinary person should take any thought as his. (Note: Translation for the last two sentences is bad. It should be Atta for self and Dhamma for thoughts)
http://metta.lk/tipitaka/2Sutta-Pitaka/ ... uka-e.html


Thanks. Out of curiosity, does anyone know what pali word is translated into conditioned?
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Re: Not-Thinking as a practice

Postby Alex123 » Sun Jan 06, 2013 11:35 pm

twelph wrote:Thanks. Out of curiosity, does anyone know what pali word is translated into conditioned?


In Dhammapada word Saṅkhārā is used for 277/278.
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Re: Not-Thinking as a practice

Postby Dhammanando » Mon Jan 07, 2013 2:56 am

Alex123 wrote:Bhante,

Dhammanando wrote:In MN 1 it is for the sekha alone, i.e. the stream-entrant, once-returner and non-returner, that non-conceiving assumes the form of a prescription. Conceiving (maññati, e.g., "he conceives earth...") is what the worldling does do, what the sekha ought not to do, and what the asekha (arahant) does not do.


So how exactly does one not conceive?


If one is a worldling there is no 'how' about it. One cannot not conceive, nor is not conceiving one’s task. Likewise if one is an arahant there is no 'how' about it: having cut off the fetter of māna the arahant does not have to deliberately refrain from conceiving any more than he needs to deliberately abstain from immoral conduct.

So presumably your question is about the sekha, of which MN.1 states:

    “He directly knows earth as earth.”

The commentary explains: “He knows it with distinguished knowledge. What is meant is that resolving upon the earth in accordance with its real nature as earth, he knows it as impermanent, dukkha and not self.”

MN.1 then adds the instruction:

    “Let him not conceive earth.”

Commentary: http://tinyurl.com/Let-him-not-conceive

Maybe one should avoid thinking and conceiving. That is the practice.

Of course after a while, when one practices a skill long enough, it becomes like 2nd nature.


A worldling who believes that the abandoning of māna consists in the deliberate avoidance of thinking and conceiving will be going about things the wrong way. He will probably just end up frustrated, unless he’s a jhāna-wallah and very strongly committed to deliberate abstention from thinking, in which case he may arrive at the impercipient attainment and end up spending a few kalpas in the Brahmā realms as an anthropomorphic block of stone.
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
    — William Penn Some Fruits of Solitude,
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Re: Not-Thinking as a practice

Postby twelph » Mon Jan 07, 2013 3:03 am

Dhammanando wrote:A worldling who believes that the abandoning of māna consists in the deliberate avoidance of thinking and conceiving will be going about things the wrong way. He will probably just end up frustrated, unless he’s a jhāna-wallah and very strongly committed to deliberate abstention from thinking, in which case he may arrive at the impercipient attainment and end up spending a few kalpas in the Brahmā realms as an anthropomorphic block of stone.


:lol: Maybe you would get lucky and become a Buddha statue.
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Re: Not-Thinking as a practice

Postby pegembara » Mon Jan 07, 2013 3:12 am

What if a person practices not thinking? It seems to me that wrong views, intellectual doubts, conceivings are made up of abstract thoughts or thoughts about event that has occurred. Without thinking "I am this... My true Self is that... I love this, I hate this..." at that moment of not thinking could there be views about the Self? Without thinking, at that moment, can there be wrong theories?

English word "sweet" and actual experience of sugar on the tongue are different, and experience doesn't require the thought. There is no false experience. There are only false theories and interpretations of experience. Things are not as they seem, yet they aren't otherwise either.

Thoughts are at least one level removed from experience, and at worst totally unrelated, false and misleading. And when people argue, they argue over their thoughts and thought patterns.

Even thoughts, no matter how correct and well reasoned, about what is seen, heard, etc, add a layer of interpretation so that experience is no longer "direct". Angry thoughts add anger, while lustful thoughts add more lust.


There is direct experience of sights, sounds, smells and even thoughts. All that arises in direct experience passes away - this includes thoughts of "I, me, mine, you, yours, others etc". Sabbe sankhara anicca.

What is left after this is not self either. Sabbe dhamma anatta.
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: Not-Thinking as a practice

Postby pegembara » Mon Jan 07, 2013 3:12 am

What if a person practices not thinking? It seems to me that wrong views, intellectual doubts, conceivings are made up of abstract thoughts or thoughts about event that has occurred. Without thinking "I am this... My true Self is that... I love this, I hate this..." at that moment of not thinking could there be views about the Self? Without thinking, at that moment, can there be wrong theories?

English word "sweet" and actual experience of sugar on the tongue are different, and experience doesn't require the thought. There is no false experience. There are only false theories and interpretations of experience. Things are not as they seem, yet they aren't otherwise either.

Thoughts are at least one level removed from experience, and at worst totally unrelated, false and misleading. And when people argue, they argue over their thoughts and thought patterns.

Even thoughts, no matter how correct and well reasoned, about what is seen, heard, etc, add a layer of interpretation so that experience is no longer "direct". Angry thoughts add anger, while lustful thoughts add more lust.


There is direct experience of sights, sounds, smells and even thoughts. All that arises in direct experience passes away - this includes thoughts of "I, me, mine, you, yours, others etc". Sabbe sankhara anicca.

What is left after this is not self either. Sabbe dhamma anatta.
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: Not-Thinking as a practice

Postby nibbuti » Mon Jan 07, 2013 3:17 am

@ Alex123

It is best to forget about "non-conceiving" altogether, instead think it of wise-conceiving.

i.e. to wisely regard all conditioned things as ultimately impermanent and unsatisfactory, and all things including Nibbana as not 'I' or 'mine'.

Then conceiving will occur naturally when it is necessary, and non-conceiving will occur when it is adequate.

(Also please note, MN 1 was for sons of Brahmins, who were used to being segregated into 4 classes.)

:anjali:
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Re: Not-Thinking as a practice

Postby SarathW » Mon Jan 07, 2013 4:20 am

Hi Alex
you wrote:
What if a person practices not thinking?

To me it sound like Nither perception nor non perception state. Even in that state you have some thoughts.
You have to come out of that to attain Nirvana. I think Buddha has some thoughts untill he attains Parinibbana.
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Re: Not-Thinking as a practice

Postby Mr Man » Mon Jan 07, 2013 9:11 am

Hi Alex123
Noticing Space taken from a talk by Ajahn Sumedho http://www.tricycle.com/dharma-talk/noticing-space May be of interest (again). Ajahn Sumedho often talked about focusing on the space around thought which I guess you could call taking the non-thinking mind as an object. This is somthing that you can tune into fairly easily once you get the hang of it - a skillfull means.
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Re: Not-Thinking as a practice

Postby SarathW » Mon Jan 07, 2013 11:52 am

Mr Man
I think that you mean the Dhayna infinity of space. In that state you are thinking about the space.
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