Two "truths"/"descriptions" and meditation in the suttas

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Re: Two "truths"/"descriptions" and meditation in the suttas

Post by tiltbillings » Mon Oct 31, 2011 3:15 am

daverupa wrote:The dichotomy is an artificial one; to ask about this dichotomy without recourse to the commentaries is to beg the question, because in the worldview of the Suttas this dichotomy does not exist.
If we take retro seriously, as in his immediately above msg, it seems not to be artificial at all. Also, The distinction between a use of a more percise set of terms and the conventional use of language in talking about the same thing is an acknowledged part of the suttas, which is found in the suttas, where the Buddha directly talks about using conventional language to make his points.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: Two "truths"/"descriptions" and meditation in the suttas

Post by tiltbillings » Mon Oct 31, 2011 3:19 am

daverupa wrote: I'm not using the Satipatthana Sutta as found in the Majjhima Nikaya because it's a combinatorial work, as explored here. The Samyutta Nikaya contains what was compiled to generate MN 10, and as such the SN sources are worth exploring on their own.
If one believes that. The problem is that when starts picking and choosing suttas, as to what is valid or not, one can twist the Buddha's teachings into anything. Now, if you want to discuss this further, a new thread would be in order.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: Two "truths"/"descriptions" and meditation in the suttas

Post by tiltbillings » Mon Oct 31, 2011 3:48 am

daverupa wrote:I paraphrase: Sariputta there asks the Buddha "in what way is one a 'great person'?" (Pali: mahapurisa) The Buddha responds "With a liberated mind, one is a mahapurisa... And how does one have a liberated mind? Here, a bhikkhu dwells contemplating the body in the body (etc.)" Here we see a juxtaposition of talk of a being, and talk of subdivisions.

Or again, SN 47.18 calls satipatthana "the one-way path for the purification of beings". Another juxtaposition of the dichotomy.

SN 47.19 says that satipatthana is to be practiced with the idea "I will protect myself" and "I will protect others". Yet again, juxtaposed. The Suttas are completely at ease combining such talk of beings alongside talk of contemplation of dhammas in and of themselves.

The dichotomy is an artificial one; to ask about this dichotomy without recourse to the commentaries is to beg the question, because in the worldview of the Suttas this dichotomy does not exist.
Actually, you are very neatly making the point here. You are implicitly acknowledging the use of conventional language and the use of the precise, paramattha, language (as Ven Nanananda uses the term). And, while there are suttas that combine the two, as you have nicely shown, there are suttas that use the precise, paramattha, language, and there are suttas that use conventional language. So, what is the problem?
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: Two "truths"/"descriptions" and meditation in the suttas

Post by retrofuturist » Mon Oct 31, 2011 4:15 am

Greetings Tilt,
tiltbillings wrote:The conventional language, which you here implicity admit exists, is part of the suttas. While you, in your sorting of what is what in the suttas, have found what appeals to you is the precise, paramattha, language, that does not mean that more conventional language does not have a significant role to play for others. The Buddha clearly acknowledges conventional usage, so this not an artificial bifurcation. It is simply an acknowledgment of differing ways of talking about the same thing. Understanding that can help prevent some rather serious mistakes.
If there is a useful distinction to be made, I think it's the distinction of Right [Path Factor] with/without asavas, ala MN 117. If you look at each side of the with/without asava equation, they do tend to marry up to what you're nominally regarding as "two truths". Accordingly, it's probably a more useful distinction to make (and one explicitly rooted in the Sutta Pitaka), since as you know, this whole "two truths" business has become very much loaded with, and convoluted by, post-canonical Abhidhammic developments, that (as Geoff points out) the dynamic Theravada tradition is starting to abandon.

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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Re: Two "truths"/"descriptions" and meditation in the suttas

Post by tiltbillings » Mon Oct 31, 2011 4:29 am

retrofuturist wrote:If there is a useful distinction to be made, I think it's the distinction of Right [Path Factor] with/without asavas, ala MN 117. If you look at each side of the with/without asava equation, they do tend to marry up to what you're nominally regarding as "two truths". Accordingly, it's probably a more useful distinction to make (and one explicitly rooted in the Sutta Pitaka), since as you know, this whole "two truths" business has become very much loaded with, and convoluted by, late-era Abhidhammic developments, that (as Geoff points out) the dynamic Theravada tradition is starting to abandon.
Thank you. Again, essentially acknowledging the double truth notion. If Geoff can pick and choose how he wants to understand the dhamma notion, going back to the Abhidhamma Pitaka rather than taking the much later ideas, there is no reason one has to buy into the later ideas of the double truth notion to find value in it.


If you do not find value in it, fine. No one here is saying you have to, but at least you have directly acknowledged its basis
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: Two "truths"/"descriptions" and meditation in the suttas

Post by retrofuturist » Mon Oct 31, 2011 4:34 am

Greetings Tilt,
tiltbillings wrote:If you do not find value in it, fine. No one here is saying you have to, but at least you have directly acknowledged its basis
Oh, I see a lot of value in the MN 117 with/without asava distinction, and see a lot of application for the "with asava" version of Right View either for lay practitioners who are content with "a good rebirth" or as a stepping stone to Right View without asavas as part of the so-called "gradual path" mode of teaching.

If you frame the distinction in accordance with MN 117 and not post-canonical terminology, I think you will find less resistence to the point you are trying to make. Furthermore, it may lead to a more refined discussion of the points others are trying to make too, which would be beneficial to everyone.

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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Re: Two "truths"/"descriptions" and meditation in the suttas

Post by tiltbillings » Mon Oct 31, 2011 4:46 am

retrofuturist wrote: If you frame the distinction in accordance with MN 117 and not post-canonical terminology, I think you will find less resistence to the point you are trying to make. Furthermore, it may lead to a more refined discussion of the points others are trying to make too, which would be beneficial to everyone.
And why the resistance?

But as Mike says, he is not talking about the commentarial stuff, but commentarial or not, you have acknowledged the basis for a double truth notion, which is what Mike is trying to work with. The anti-commentarial crowd are the ones who seem to not to be getting get beyind the commentarial double truth notion and get at what Mike is actually trying to say. The conventional language and the precise, paramattha, language distinction is there in the suttas, commentaries or not. Rather than focusing the naughty commentaries, deal with the disctinction you have already acknowledged and actually address Mikes questions without all the side show.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: Two "truths"/"descriptions" and meditation in the suttas

Post by mikenz66 » Mon Oct 31, 2011 4:48 am

Hi Retro,

MN117 is the only place in the Suttas you find that distinction, and it seems to be a late addition... :thinking:

http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... 341#p16848" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

:anjali:
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Re: Two "truths"/"descriptions" and meditation in the suttas

Post by tiltbillings » Mon Oct 31, 2011 4:53 am

mikenz66 wrote:Hi Retro,

MN117 is the only place in the Suttas you find that distinction, and it seems to be a late addition... :thinking:

http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... 341#p16848" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

:anjali:
Mike
Not another late addition.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: Two "truths"/"descriptions" and meditation in the suttas

Post by retrofuturist » Mon Oct 31, 2011 5:00 am

Greetings Tilt,
tiltbillings wrote:And why the resistance?
Because it's a distinction that if not handled correctly, can be (and has been demonstrated to have historically been) harmful. The way the Buddha handled the distinction on the other hand was skilful, neither liable to harm nor diminuition of Buddhavacana by the doctrines of non-sammasambuddhas that establish themselves as "abhi". As Bhikkhu Bodhi observes in his critique of Nanavira Thera's DO interpretation, the commentaries take unnecessary risks when they retrofit their own frames of reference into the Sutta Pitaka.

My view is let us learn from history and avoid those unecessary risks and complications, and speak directly with reference to the Dhamma and the Discipline of the Teacher... taking that as the gold standard.
tiltbillings wrote:Not another late addition.
At least it's in the Sutta Pitaka. If one chooses to reject it, it's at their own peril... but do you really want to shoot down the Sutta which may help you make your point?

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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Re: Two "truths"/"descriptions" and meditation in the suttas

Post by tiltbillings » Mon Oct 31, 2011 5:21 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Tilt,
tiltbillings wrote:And why the resistance?
Because it's a distinction that if not handled correctly,
The pitfalls are obvious: no absolutist paramattha.
tiltbillings wrote:Not another late addition.
At least it's in the Sutta Pitaka. If one chooses to reject it, it's at their own peril... but do you really want to shoot down the Sutta which may help you make your point?
I have no problem with it, but we already seen in this thread the Satipatthana Sutta set aside.

So, let us see where we go from here.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: Two "truths"/"descriptions" and meditation in the suttas

Post by Nyana » Mon Oct 31, 2011 6:18 am

mikenz66 wrote:Some objections to modern "vipassana" approaches (Mahasi, Goenka, etc) seem to me to revolve around the fact that they make use of Commentarial terminology. Therefore they are infected by these two-truth ideas. Therefore they are problematic.
I'm not really familiar with these objections to the Burmese vipassanā approaches, but AFAIK Burmese vipassanā doesn't necessarily require adherence to the commentarial two truth paññatti vs. paramattha distinction. Ñāṇananda practices and teaches vipassanā meditation which he learned from Ven. Ñāṇārāma, who was himself trained by Burmese monks in the Burmese vipassanā method. So it seems to me that these are two separate issues.
mikenz66 wrote:So if you think that:
"breaking experience down into simpler bits" isn't a two truth notion
then that's fine with me.

My reading of Ven Nanananda's discussions of bhavana is that he does seem to advocate beginning by "breaking experience down into simpler bits", just as in approaches I am familiar with. However, he objects to taking those "simpler bits" to be "ultimate".
And this is the crux of the issue: Those "simpler bits" are also conventional and not ultimate things in any way, shape, or form. The entire path uses conventional designations from start to finish, and it's misguided to assume that those conventions represent a real substratum of experience (i.e. an "ultimate reality") independent of those conceptual categories themselves. The culmination of cognitive liberation occurs when those categories are also transcended during supramundane meditation.

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Re: Two "truths"/"descriptions" and meditation in the suttas

Post by tiltbillings » Mon Oct 31, 2011 6:26 am

Ñāṇa wrote:And this is the crux of the issue: Those "simpler bits" are also conventional and not ultimate things in any way, shape, or form. The entire path uses conventional designations from start to finish, and it's misguided to assume that those conventions represent a real substratum of experience (i.e. an "ultimate reality") independent of those conceptual categories themselves. The culmination of cognitive liberation occurs when those categories are also transcended during supramundane meditation.
I know I am not, and rather doubt that Mike saying anything different from this.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: Two "truths"/"descriptions" and meditation in the suttas

Post by mikenz66 » Mon Oct 31, 2011 8:01 am

Ñāṇa wrote: I'm not really familiar with these objections to the Burmese vipassanā approaches, but AFAIK Burmese vipassanā doesn't necessarily require adherence to the commentarial two truth paññatti vs. paramattha distinction. Ñāṇananda practices and teaches vipassanā meditation which he learned from Ven. Ñāṇārāma, who was himself trained by Burmese monks in the Burmese vipassanā method. So it seems to me that these are two separate issues.
That's good to know. Much of "Seeing through" reads as if it came from Mahasi: "seeing, seeing...". :thinking:
mikenz66 wrote: My reading of Ven Nanananda's discussions of bhavana is that he does seem to advocate beginning by "breaking experience down into simpler bits", just as in approaches I am familiar with. However, he objects to taking those "simpler bits" to be "ultimate".
Ñāṇa wrote: And this is the crux of the issue: Those "simpler bits" are also conventional and not ultimate things in any way, shape, or form. The entire path uses conventional designations from start to finish, and it's misguided to assume that those conventions represent a real substratum of experience (i.e. an "ultimate reality") independent of those conceptual categories themselves. The culmination of cognitive liberation occurs when those categories are also transcended during supramundane meditation.
And, as Tilt says, I don't think it is necessary to designate such things as "real". The Path is, after all, just a raft...

On the other hand, I do feel that too much can be made of the "problem" of believing that there is an "ultimate reality in there somewhere". Unless a practitioner is extremely naive and/or poorly instructed, it is quite obvious that one progresses through a series of "peeling away layers of delusion". [Oversimplified] One see that a "leg moving" is a complex combination of sensations, motions, and thoughts, and feels proud that one is "discerning khandhas and elements". Then, after a while, it becomes obvious that this "reality" is just another layer of concepts... [/Oversimplified].

I've no idea how it ends, but it seems to me that the important thing is to keep examining, not the motive for examining.

:anjali:
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Re: Two "truths"/"descriptions" and meditation in the suttas

Post by Nyana » Mon Oct 31, 2011 9:57 am

mikenz66 wrote:On the other hand, I do feel that too much can be made of the "problem" of believing that there is an "ultimate reality in there somewhere". Unless a practitioner is extremely naive and/or poorly instructed, it is quite obvious that one progresses through a series of "peeling away layers of delusion". [Oversimplified] One see that a "leg moving" is a complex combination of sensations, motions, and thoughts, and feels proud that one is "discerning khandhas and elements". Then, after a while, it becomes obvious that this "reality" is just another layer of concepts... [/Oversimplified].
After recently reading Ṭhānissaro's rather bizarre footnotes to MN 38, you'll have to forgive me for not sharing your optimism on this point.

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