Permanent, effortless concentration.

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vinasp
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Permanent, effortless concentration.

Post by vinasp »

Hi everyone,

Is there another kind of concentration? One which is permanent,
continuous, effortless, non-volitional?

A concentration which has no object, or in which nibbana is the object?

This thread will look at passages which may be describing such a state.

This Sutta is AN 3.32 [ PTS Gradual Sayings, Vol. I page 115.]

"Now the venerable Ananda ...... said this to the Exalted One:
"May it be lord, that a monk can acquire such concentration that
in this body, together with its consciousness, he has no notion
of "I" or "mine", or any tendency to vain conceit: that likewise
in all external objects he has no such notion or tendency: may it
be that he can so abide in the attainment of release of the heart,
the release by insight, that he has no such notion or tendency?"
"It may be so, Ananda ..... he can so abide."
"But, Lord, by what process can it be?"
"In this matter, Ananda, a monk has this idea: This is the calm,
this is the exalted state, to wit, - rest from all activities, the
forsaking of all substrate (of rebirth), the destruction of craving,
passionlessness, making to cease, nibbana.
That is how a monk can acquire such concentration that ..... he abides
in the attainment of the heart's release, the release by insight. ...."

Regards, Vincent.

Buckwheat
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Re: Permanent, effortless concentration.

Post by Buckwheat »

vinasp wrote: "This is ... nibbana."
Sotthī hontu nirantaraṃ - May you forever be well.

vinasp
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Re: Permanent, effortless concentration.

Post by vinasp »

Hi everyone,

Here is a short extract from AN 9.37

Ananda: "And when she had thus spoken, I replied: 'This concentration,
sister, which is neither bent away nor bent aside, in which the restraint
is not controlled by conscious effort, but by its freedom is stable, by its
stability happy, by its happiness untroubled - this concentration, sister,
is said, by the Exalted One, to have gnosis as its fruit."

[ PTS Gradual Sayings, Vol. IV, page 287, translation by E. M. Hare.]

For comparison, here is the same passage translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu:

"I said to her, 'Sister, the concentration whereby — neither pressed down nor forced back, nor with fabrication kept blocked or suppressed — still as a result of release, contented as a result of standing still, and as a result of contentment one is not agitated: This concentration is said by the Blessed One to be the fruit of gnosis.'[1] ... " Note. 1. Arahantship. - Link:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

"To have gnosis as its fruit" = to have arahantship as its result.

"To be the fruit of gnosis" = to be the result of arahantship.

A bit of a contradiction there! We better take a look at the Pali.

Regards, Vincent.

vinasp
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Re: Permanent, effortless concentration.

Post by vinasp »

Hi everyone,

Regarding AN 9.37 here is the Pali of the passage already quoted:

“evaṃ vutte, sohaṃ, āvuso, jaṭilavāsikaṃ bhikkhuniṃ etadavocaṃ — ‘yāyaṃ, bhagini, samādhi na cābhinato na cāpanato na ca sasaṅkhāraniggayhavāritagato, vimuttattā ṭhito, ṭhitattā santusito, santusitattā no paritassati. ayaṃ, bhagini, samādhi aññāphalo vutto bhagavatā’ti. evaṃsaññīpi kho, āvuso, tadāyatanaṃ no paṭisaṃvedetī”ti. chaṭṭhaṃ.

The words in question are in the compound "anna-phala". My very limited
knowledge of Pali does not enable me to say anything more.

Perhaps those members with more knowledge would help to explain this.

My own guess is that they have just strung two words together, to create
an ambiguous expression, which could be translated - knowledge-fruit.

This can be understood as the "fruit of knowledge" or as the "knowledge
which is the fruit of."

Regards, Vincent.

vinasp
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Re: Permanent, effortless concentration.

Post by vinasp »

Hi everyone,

Here is an extract from AN 10.6

"There is the case, Ananda, where the monk would be percipient in this way: 'This is peace, this is exquisite — the resolution of all fabrications; the relinquishment of all acquisitions; the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding.' It's in this way that a monk could have an attainment of concentration such that he would neither be percipient of earth with regard to earth, nor of water with regard to water, nor of fire... wind... the dimension of the infinitude of space... the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness... the dimension of nothingness... the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception... this world... nor of the next world with regard to the next world, and yet he would still be percipient."

Link: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Regards, Vincent.

vinasp
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Re: Permanent, effortless concentration.

Post by vinasp »

Hi everyone,

The next Sutta is AN 11.7 which is not yet available on the ATI site.
It is almost identical to AN 10.6 and differs only in the inclusion of
more items in the list of things which the bhikkhu does not perceive:

" ... ; that whatsoever is seen, heard, sensed, cognized, attained,
sought after, thought over by mind - of all that he is unaware, and
yet he is conscious?"

[ PTS Gradual Sayings, Vol. V, page 202, translation by F.L.Woodward.]

The next sutta is AN 11.9 which seems to differ only in that it adds the
following items to the list of things which the bhikkhu does not perceive:

" [... may be of such a sort that,] though he pay no heed to eye or object
seen, or to ear or sound, to nose or scent, to tongue or savour, to body
or tangibles; ..." [ page 204.]

Note that "mind" and "mind objects" are not included.

Regards, Vincent.

vinasp
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Re: Permanent, effortless concentration.

Post by vinasp »

Hi everyone,

The final sutta which we need to consider is AN 11.10 - Sandha.

"On one occasion the Blessed One was staying at Nadika in the Brick Hall. Then Ven. Sandha went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As he was sitting there the Blessed One said to him, "Sandha, practice the absorption[1] of a thoroughbred horse, not the absorption of an unbroken colt."

----------------

"There is the case, Sandha, where for an excellent thoroughbred of a man the perception[2] of earth with regard to earth has ceased to exist; the perception of liquid with regard to liquid... the perception of fire with regard to fire... the perception of wind with regard to wind... the perception of the sphere of the infinitude of space with regard to the sphere of the infinitude of space... the perception of the sphere of the infinitude of consciousness with regard to the sphere of the infinitude of consciousness... the perception of the sphere of nothingness with regard to the sphere of nothingness... the perception of the sphere of neither perception nor non-perception with regard to the sphere of neither perception nor non-perception... the perception of this world with regard to this world... the next world with regard to the next world... and whatever is seen, heard, sensed, cognized, attained, sought after, or pondered by the intellect: the perception of that has ceased to exist.

"Absorbed in this way, the excellent thoroughbred of a man is absorbed dependent neither on earth, liquid, fire, wind, the sphere of the infinitude of space, the sphere of the infinitude of consciousness, the sphere of nothingness, the sphere of neither perception nor non-perception, this world, the next world, nor on whatever is seen, heard, sensed, cognized, attained, sought after, or pondered by the intellect — and yet he is absorbed. And to this excellent thoroughbred of a man, absorbed in this way, the gods, together with Indra, the Brahmas, & Pajapati, pay homage even from afar:

'Homage to you, O thoroughbred man.
Homage to you, O superlative man —
you of whom we don't know even what it is
dependent on which you're absorbed.'"

Link: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Regards, Vincent.

vinasp
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Re: Permanent, effortless concentration.

Post by vinasp »

Hi everyone,

All of these discourses are difficult to understand. I would like to share
my own interpretation, which is based on the following assumptions:

1. Enlightenment is a "permanent" not just a temporary experience.

2. There are two kinds of concentration, volitional and non-volitional.

These discourses are all pointing to the non-volitional kind of concentration,
but they seem to attribute it to the arahant, or connect it with enlightenment.

This is certainly true, but what these discourses fail to make clear is that
for noble disciples, on the noble eightfold path, this non-volitional kind of
concentration is already "emerging" or "developing."

It may be the path factor called right concentration.

I understand the noble eightfold path to be not eight separate things, but
one thing which has eight aspects. Another way of saying this is that all eight
path factors arise together, and are connected.

The noble eightfold path is really only right view, the other seven path
factors are automatic results of this.

One starts with wrong view. A multiplicity of unwholesome mental states
arises in dependence on this wrong view. Then one acquires right view which
is weak at first and needs to be developed. As right view is developed it
diminishes wrong view and all the unwholesome states which depend on it.

All that the noble disciple needs to do is to develop right view, everything
else follows automatically. As the unwholesome states are diminished a natural
concentration emerges.

Regards, Vincent.

vinasp
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Re: Permanent, effortless concentration.

Post by vinasp »

Hi everyone,

"Monks, there are these three conditions. What three? The complacent view,
the self-view, the wrong view. Verily, monks, these are the three. And to
get rid of these three, cultivate three. What three?
To get rid of the complacent view, cultivate the thought of impermanence;
to get rid of the self-view, cultivate the thought of not-self; to get rid
of the wrong-view, cultivate right view. ..." AN 6.112 - Complacence.

[ PTS Gradual Sayings, Vol. III, page 311, translation by E.M. Hare.]

Why do the teachings not tell us what right view actually is?

I think that it is because the Buddha was accused of being an annihilationist
by Brahmins because of his teaching of no-self. So the Buddhist's adopted a
strategy of concealment. They formulated many of the teachings without any
explicit mention of self or no-self. This made the teachings acceptable to
Brahmin's.

Buddhist monks would then provide the "key", which unlocks the teachings,
to those followers who they trusted to "keep a secret". They would explain
that wrong view is the view of self, that right view is what removes that
wrong view. Of course, some people did not need to be told, they were able
to guess the solution to the puzzle, because they were willing to question
whether self may be a delusion.

How many Buddhist monks were Brahmins who never understood the teachings
because they were too attached to the view of self?

The noble eightfold path only arises when one is ready to seriously question
whether this apparent self is actually real.

Regards, Vincent.

Buckwheat
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Re: Permanent, effortless concentration.

Post by Buckwheat »

vinasp wrote: Why do the teachings not tell us what right view actually is?

I think that it is because the Buddha was accused of being an annihilationist
by Brahmins because of his teaching of no-self. So the Buddhist's adopted a
strategy of concealment. They formulated many of the teachings without any
explicit mention of self or no-self. This made the teachings acceptable to
Brahmin's.
The Buddha was no shrinking violet. He made many bold statements that confronted Brahmanism head-on. And right-view is pretty clearly spelled out: suffering, craving, nibbana, the path. Right view uses those four categories to eradicate the cause of suffering, leaving the bliss of nirvana.
vinasp wrote:Buddhist monks would then provide the "key", which unlocks the teachings,
to those followers who they trusted to "keep a secret". They would explain
that wrong view is the view of self, that right view is what removes that
wrong view. Of course, some people did not need to be told, they were able
to guess the solution to the puzzle, because they were willing to question
whether self may be a delusion.
My understanding is that the Buddha made it clear he had no esoteric (secret) teachings. He did follow a gradual teaching, starting with generosity and virtue, but never held back anatta as some secret key.

At least this is my understanding.
Sotthī hontu nirantaraṃ - May you forever be well.

vinasp
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Re: Permanent, effortless concentration.

Post by vinasp »

Hi everyone,

I have been studying AN 3.32 the first sutta cited on this thread.
It goes something like this:

Ananda: Could a monk attain concentration such that: [ description of
state of enlightenment.]

Buddha: Yes, Ananda, he may do so.

Ananda: But how, Lord, in what way?

Buddha: Here, Ananda, a monk realizes: [ description of what needs to be
realized for enlightenment.]
In this way a monk attains concentration such that: [ description
of state of enlightenment.]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------

I cannot see the point of this unless they had not previously disclosed that
the enlightened mind is characterised by a powerful concentration.

Regards, Vincent.

vinasp
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Re: Permanent, effortless concentration.

Post by vinasp »

Hi everyone,

There may be an alternative interpretation of AN 3.32

It may be intended to give support to those monks who thought that nibbana
could only be a temporary experience in this life. These monks thought that
the highest of the "eight liberations", the state called "cessation of
perception and feeling", was an experience of nibbana.

If this is correct then even a passage such as this;

'This is peace, this is exquisite — the resolution of all fabrications; the relinquishment of all acquisitions; the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding.'

Which is used by the Buddha to describe his own enlightenment, would have
to be understood, by some monks, as describing only a temporary experience.

There is a systematic ambiguity running through the Nikaya teachings. It is
not made clear whether the things which cease do so in a temporary or in a
non-temporary way.

Only a small number of passages distinguish between temporary and
non-temporary liberation, and these could be later additions.

Is such an interpretation possible?

Regards, Vincent.

vinasp
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Re: Permanent, effortless concentration.

Post by vinasp »

Hi everyone,

AN 3.32 may be the first sutta which suggests that arahants have a special
kind of concentration. It became the "template" for a series of later
discourses which explained this concentration in more detail.

One of these is AN 10.6 which we will now look at.

"It's in this way that a monk could have an attainment of concentration such that he would neither be percipient of earth with regard to earth, nor of water with regard to water ..."

Ten things are mentioned: Earth, water, fire, wind, sphere of unbounded space,
sphere of unbounded consciousness, sphere of nothingness, sphere of neither
perception nor non-perception, this world and the world beyond.

This covers all three realms that make up the entire cosmos. The four elements
are "form", gross and subtle, and cover the first two realms. The four spheres
make up the third or highest realm.

The phrase "this world" could be understood as the lowest of the three realms
(kama-dhatu), and "world beyond" as the two higher realms.

[ Those monks who thought that the eighth liberation was nibbana and was
outside or beyond the cosmos, could understand AN 10.6 to be describing
such an experience.]

Some Questions.

" ... he is not percipient of earth with regard to earth ..."

What does this mean? What does perception mean?
Why the strange phrase "earth with regard to earth" why not just "earth".

Regards, Vincent.

vinasp
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Re: Permanent, effortless concentration.

Post by vinasp »

Hi everyone,

What is Sanna (perception)?

This is one of the most difficult terms in the Five Nikaya's.
I will share my own interpretation. Here are two early passages from the
Sutta Nipata:

" ... by the stopping of perception, thus there is destruction of
misery. ..." [Sn. 732 - PTS Sutta Nipata, K.R.Norman, 1985, page 122.]

"By him not even a minute perception has been formed here in respect
of what is seen, heard, or thought. ..." [Sn. 802 - page 135.]

We see that sanna should be eliminated. Having no sanna does not mean not
seeing or hearing, sanna is not essential, it is something added to what
is seen or heard. I will guess the meaning of sanna to be as follows:

The ascription of the unreal on to the real, where "unreal" means an
idea or notion of something that does not exist.

In Vedic thought, if there was a word for something, then it must exist.
The Buddha said "No!", some words do not correspond to any thing. Those
who do not see this create a false "reality" for themselves. This is
what is meant by delusion and wrong views.

The Mulapariyaya Sutta (MN.1) describes a "worldling" who perceives each
item in a list of twenty-four things. The first five are: earth, water,
fire, air and "beings". Elsewhere, the teachings make it clear that these
things do not really exist.
This sutta goes on to describe an arahant, who is said to "know with a
higher knowledge" (abhinna) these twenty four things. The word "sanna" is
not used.

If we assume that this "higher knowledge" is the same as "knowing and seeing
things as they really are" then this passage is interesting:

"... to teach dhamma about them in such a way that, when proficient, a man
shall know of the real that it is, of the unreal that it is not; ..."

"This, Ananda, is knowledge unsurpassable, the knowledge of this or that
thing as it really is. ..." AN 10.22

So the arahant's higher knowledge of the four great elements could be that
they do not exist in reality, and the same applies to "beings".
In MN.1 everything that the worldling perceives is just a figment of his
imagination.

Everything which is perceived is unreal. To eliminate perception is to
know things without the addition of what is unreal.

Regards, Vincent.

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equilibrium
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Re: Permanent, effortless concentration.

Post by equilibrium »

vinasp wrote: Everything which is perceived is unreal. To eliminate perception is to know things without the addition of what is unreal.
This is interesting because everything perceived is unreal.....which is true.
One can only remove the need of "perception" because he does not need it, he does not depend on it as it is just a tool.
To achieve this, one needs to "know things" as they really are.....in reality that everything is empty.
If one knows this and truly understands, there will be no doubt or even a question of what is "unreal", one would not even question it.

Hence, when one knows things, you will have no doubt that it is unreal so therefore one can eliminate the need of perception as he knows it is not real anyway, why use it.

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