Dan74 wrote:Do we verify the Dhamma through experience by insight into its actual workings as it happens, do we train the mind so that it is clear and sharp, to see how defilement and clinging arises and cut it off at the root? Or do we rely on the words and trust our untrained confused and deluded mind to apply them properly?
I feel there's something of a false dichotomy emerging here... as if "the words" (in the second option) have no connection to "the Dhamma" (in the first option). Whereas actually, they are one and the same.
We learn the Dhamma to establish Right View, and then confirm the truth of that view by observing for ourselves that it is true through its application via the Noble Eightfold Path. This application builds confidence, joy, and is conducive to release.
On one hand it can be said that Right View is the cause for wisdom and is indeed wisdom itself (and Robert has already provided support for this), but the fulfilment of the entire Noble Eightfold Path is
the validation of that Dhamma, and it is the path that leads to release, so one's Right View becomes all the more refined over time as the path is followed. We see a couple of examples of differently evolved forms of Right View in MN 117.
However, without Right View, there is no Right Path in the first place (again, the suttas are quite clear on this point). So in relation to "the causes of wisdom", Right View is the fore-runner - not some rear-runner by-product of activity.
There is no false dichotomy of course, but a simple rhetorical device to elicit any potential source of disagreement.
I am still not sure what Robert and DF are suggesting. No one has discounted the Right View as the foundation of practice. It's just not the whole thing. As far as I can make out the Noble Eightfold Path also contains Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration:
And what, monks, is right mindfulness?
(i) There is the case where a monk remains focused on the body in and of itself—ardent, aware, and mindful—putting away greed and distress with reference to the world.
(ii) He remains focused on feelings in and of themselves—ardent, aware, and mindful—putting away greed and distress with reference to the world.
(iii) He remains focused on the mind in and of itself—ardent, aware, and mindful—putting away greed and distress with reference to the world.
(iv) He remains focused on mental qualities (dhammesu) in and of themselves—ardent, aware, and mindful—putting away greed and distress with reference to the world.
This, monks, is called right mindfulness.
Bhikkhu Bodhi comments:
The mind is deliberately kept at the level of bare attention, a detached observation of what is happening within us and around us in the present moment. In the practice of right mindfulness the mind is trained to remain in the present, open, quiet, and alert, contemplating the present event. All judgments and interpretations have to be suspended, or if they occur, just registered and dropped.
Right concentration (DN 22):
And what is right concentration?
(i) Herein a monk aloof from sense desires, aloof from unwholesome thoughts, attains to and abides in the first meditative absorption [jhana], which is detachment-born and accompanied by applied thought, sustained thought, joy, and bliss.
(ii) By allaying applied and sustained thought he attains to, and abides in the second jhana, which is inner tranquillity, which is unification (of the mind), devoid of applied and sustained thought, and which has joy and bliss.
(iii) By detachment from joy he dwells in equanimity, mindful, and with clear comprehension and enjoys bliss in body, and attains to and abides in the third jhana, which the noble ones [ariyas] call "dwelling in equanimity, mindfulness, and bliss".
(iv) By giving up of bliss and suffering, by the disappearance already of joy and sorrow, he attains to, and abides in the fourth jhana, which is neither suffering nor bliss, and which is the purity of equanimity — mindfulness.
This is called right concentration.
So I am at a loss how these practices appear to have been dismissed as rituals or formal. If I am missing the point, perhaps you or the others can explain.