The causes for wisdom

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
Virgo
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Re: The causes for wisdom

Post by Virgo » Mon Feb 04, 2013 12:37 am

tiltbillings wrote:
Virgo wrote:
tiltbillings wrote: Don't be stingy with your words. What is the right path and what is the wrong path?
One needs to understand magga-paccaya to really understand it.

Kevin
Of course, this is a non-answer.
Of course it's not a non-answer. Magga-paccaya is one of the 24 Conditions, right out of the texts. Whether it conditions the right path or the wrong path can be seen by what cetasikas are present. I answered briefly, because magga-paccaya itself explains everything. If you don't understand what it is, you can read more about it here: http://www.zolag.co.uk/conditions/html_ ... ition.html.

I didn't want to explain everything, so I summed it up with magga-paccaya.
tiltbillings wrote: The talk you linked was interesting for any number of reasons. The traditional metta practice as we see in the suttas and the Visuddhimagga was utterly dismissed. discounted as being wrong path was interesting, but expected in light of what as been said above, and the rather triumphalist responses of the questioners of Sujin in regards to the traditionalist to metta practice approach was very interesting. So, the question is: why did you link this talk? For what purpose?
True metta is never unwholesome. Sila is never unwholesome, etc. There have been many great meditators that cultivated metta. However, just because we think we are cultivating mettta does not mean we actually are. It takes a person with very high accumulations for it to practice samatha of any kind. They have to have panna on that level. I personally do not believe that every person has that kind of understanding. A lot of times, we just increase our self-view that way, taking attachment (unwholesome) as calm (wholesome). During those moments, the cetasikas which are path factors are not present, so we are not on the right path.

It can be hard to know when the mind is kusala or akusala. For example, earlier today while driving I saw a Golden Retriever in someones yard. It was running around and came very close to the edge of the road (almost on the road) as I approached in my vehicle. I had aversion thinking that the dog was pesky and might run into traffic while I drove by, and that I might hit it by accident. Then the dog (while still on the lawn) jumped in the air and wagged it's tail which was quite beautiful. I felt happier immediately and was no longer disturbed by the presence of the dog. After I drove by I thought to myself "first I was averse to the dog which was akusala but then there was a moment with metta and I liked the dog when I saw how playful it was and how nice it looked". When I examined my mind closer, I realized there was actually not any metta at the moment that I thought there was, there was just attachment because seeing a carefree dog made me feel good. I liked the color of it's fur. I liked it's bushy tale. I liked that it was carefree. It made me feel good, and I was attached at that moment. That's akusala, not metta. That moment was not an eight-fold path moment.

Kevin

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tiltbillings
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Re: The causes for wisdom

Post by tiltbillings » Mon Feb 04, 2013 2:25 am

Virgo wrote:
Of course it's not a non-answer. Magga-paccaya is one of the 24 Conditions, right out of the texts. . . . I didn't want to explain everything, so I summed it up with magga-paccaya.
Using technical Abhidhamma terminology that is certainly not going to understood by a fair numbers of readers here is in a non-answer.
tiltbillings wrote: The talk you linked was interesting for any number of reasons. The traditional metta practice as we see in the suttas and the Visuddhimagga was utterly dismissed. discounted as being wrong path was interesting, but expected in light of what as been said above, and the rather triumphalist responses of the questioners of Sujin in regards to the traditionalist to metta practice approach was very interesting. So, the question is: why did you link this talk? For what purpose?
True metta . . .Kevin
Again, you did not answer the questions put to you: The talk you linked was interesting for any number of reasons. The traditional metta practice as we see in the suttas and the Visuddhimagga was utterly dismissed. discounted as being wrong path was interesting, but expected in light of what as been said above, and the rather triumphalist responses of the questioners of Sujin in regards to the traditionalist to metta practice approach was very interesting. So, the question is: why did you link this talk? For what purpose? It certainly does not look like you are denying that the traditional Theravadin understanding of metta practice is being rejected as being simply wrong. And you certainly did not at all address the the attitude of triumphalism exptressed by the Sujin questioners in the talk.
>> 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

Sylvester
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Re: The causes for wisdom

Post by Sylvester » Mon Feb 04, 2013 3:00 am

Hmm, if stream entry is an absolute pre-requisite to practise by this theory, how will that sit with the model in MN 70 that even the Dhamma-followers and Faith-followers have a duty with heedfulness (appamādena karaṇīyanti)?

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Mr Man
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Re: The causes for wisdom

Post by Mr Man » Mon Feb 04, 2013 3:24 pm

Virgo wrote:
Of course it's not a non-answer.
Hi Virgo,
And how about the answers to the questions I offered to you?

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tiltbillings
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Re: The causes for wisdom

Post by tiltbillings » Tue Feb 05, 2013 2:24 am

When you write about the development of vipassana, you don’t speak about concentration methods or sitting practice.
Vipassana, insight, is actually panna (wisdom) which has been developed to clearly understand realities as they are, as non-self. It is not some special practice, it is not sitting or breathing. If one wishes to induce calm by sitting one still wants to get something. There is subtle clinging which can pass unnoticed. The aim of vipassana is to have less ignorance of realities, including our defilements, even subtle ones. Therefore it can and should be developed in daily life; any object can be an object for mindfulness and understanding.

But can’t sitting quietly be an assistance for mindfulness to arise?
Even mindfulness is anatta, non-self, it cannot be induced just by concentrating or trying to be calm or by sitting quietly. The conditions for mindfulness to arise are listening to the Buddha’s teaching, discussing, considering and pondering over realities. And it develops by studying realities as they appear in our daily lives. Some people find it difficult to accept that one cannot force sati to arise, and they wonder whether this means idleness. The Buddha taught us to develop all good qualities, such as generosity and metta, along with right understanding. It is understanding, actually, that should be emphasized.

Nevertheless, the Buddha taught concentration practices such as anapanasati--breathing mindfulness. Doesn’t that suggest that they are important?
We read about this in the scriptures because in the Buddha’s time there were people who were able to concentrate on the breath. This is a very subtle rupa, which is produced by citta. It is most difficult to be aware of breath, before one knows it one takes for breath what is something else, air produced by other factors, not breath. The commentary to the Kindred sayings V, The lamp, states that only Maha-Purisas, the great disciples can practice it in the right way. Thus, the Buddha did not teach that everyone should practice it. To those who were gifted, who had the accumulations to do so, he taught it. He explained that there is no self who is breathing, and that breath is only rupa. -- Interview with Nina van Gorkom
And this is, of course, an highly inaccurate, self-serving caricature of sitting meditation practice.
>> 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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Dan74
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Re: The causes for wisdom

Post by Dan74 » Tue Feb 05, 2013 2:43 am

It's the last paragraph that is the most interesting for me - Nina van Gorkom saying that anapanasati is only for the gifted, the great disciples.

I definitely think that there should be a discussion of whether meditation has taken a disproportionately large place in Western Buddhist practice, but saying that it's only "for the great disciples, for the gifted" may be going way too far!

Perhaps knowledgeable people can bring some scriptural evidence to show that

1. The Buddha exhorted his monks to meditate in various ways (anapanasati, parts of the body, metta, etc)

or

2. The Buddha taught meditation only to the most gifted.

It seems that the tradition evolved so that the lay did not meditate outside the Mahayana. But was that what the Buddha intended?

Of course it may also be the case that meditation is more needed now than in the times of the Buddha when his disciples' minds were perhaps not as cluttered and their egos not as big as ours.

For me, meditation has been a wonderful gift that has helped make sense of the Dhamma and I slowly introduce it to my children and of course share with any friend who asks. I highly doubt that I am gifted and certainly not a "great disciple" by any stretch of imagination. Recent studies in mindfulness based cognitive psychology have shown an anapanasati type practice even divorced from the Dhamma, can be very beneficial for people's well-being. How much more so, when founded upon the Right View?
_/|\_

Sylvester
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Re: The causes for wisdom

Post by Sylvester » Tue Feb 05, 2013 3:04 am

Thanks Tilt.

I wonder why there is this rejection of anything that smacks of even the slightest form of clinging.

In SN 22.55, a form of contemplation is advocated by the Buddha that leads to Non-Return, namely the "It might not be, it might not be mine; it will not be, it will not be mine" contemplation (no cassaṃ, no ca me siyā, na bhavissati, na me bhavissatī). The ahaṃ conceit (embedded in the me) responsible for the niggling clinging sense of individuality persists in this recommendation. Yet, there is the promise of Non-Return if one practices in this manner.

It's not until one has completed the task underlying this contemplation that the final vestige of clinging to the sense of "I" is to be abandoned. This process is set out famously in MN 106 -
When this was said, the venerable Ānanda said to the Blessed One: “Venerable sir, here a bhikkhu is practicing thus: ‘It might not be, and it might not be mine; it will not be, and it will not be mine. What exists, what has come to be, that I am abandoning.’ Thus he obtains equanimity. Venerable sir, does such a bhikkhu attain Nibbāna?”

“One bhikkhu here, Ānanda, might attain Nibbāna, another bhikkhu here might not attain Nibbāna.”

“What is the cause and reason, venerable sir, why one bhikkhu here might attain Nibbāna, while another bhikkhu here might not attain Nibbāna?”

“Here, Ānanda, a bhikkhu is practicing thus: ‘It might not be, and it might not be mine; it will not be, and it will not be mine. What exists, what has come to be, that I am abandoning.’ Thus he obtains equanimity. He delights in that equanimity, welcomes it, and remains holding to it. As he does so, his consciousness becomes dependent on it and clings to it. A bhikkhu with clinging, Ānanda, does not attain Nibbāna.”
I get the sense from these suttas that some forms of clinging are tolerable in the path and practice, or at the very least, are not obstructive to Non-Return. The residue just needs to be dealt with on the final leg to awakening.

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tiltbillings
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Re: The causes for wisdom

Post by tiltbillings » Tue Feb 05, 2013 3:11 am

Dan74 wrote:It's the last paragraph that is the most interesting for me - Nina van Gorkom saying that anapanasati is only for the gifted, the great disciples.
Of course it would be of value to see the actual full text of that commentary, but it would also be of help to know exactly which suttas is being referenced here. Since this is robertk's interview, maybe he give us that info.
>> 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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tiltbillings
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Re: The causes for wisdom

Post by tiltbillings » Tue Feb 05, 2013 3:12 am

Sylvester wrote:
I get the sense from these suttas that some forms of clinging are tolerable in the path and practice, or at the very least, are not obstructive to Non-Return. The residue just needs to be dealt with on the final leg to awakening.
That makes sense, indeed.
>> 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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tiltbillings
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Re: The causes for wisdom

Post by tiltbillings » Tue Feb 05, 2013 7:04 am

Dan74 wrote: 1. The Buddha exhorted his monks to meditate in various ways (anapanasati, parts of the body, metta, etc)

or

2. The Buddha taught meditation only to the most gifted.
No evidence for 2.
It seems that the tradition evolved so that the lay did not meditate outside the Mahayana.
Or inside the Mahayana. The Mahayana was not a lay movement. The commentary to the Satipathhana Sutta indicates that this texts was being put into practice by the laity at least early in the Buddha's dispensation:
Further, in that territory of the Kuru people, the four classes — bhikkhu, bhikkhuni, upasaka, upasika — generally by nature were earnest in the application of the Arousing of Mindfulness to their daily life. At the very lowest, even servants, usually, spoke with mindfulness. At wells or in spinning halls useless talk was not heard. If some woman asked of another woman, "Mother, which Arousing of Mindfulness do you practice?" and got the reply, "None at all," then that woman who replied so was reproached thus: "Your life is shameful; though you live you are as if dead," and was taught one of the kinds of Mindfulness-arousing. But on being questioned if she said that she was practicing such and such an Arousing of Mindfulness, then she was praised thus: "Well done, well done! Your life is blessed; you are really one who has attained to the human state; for you the Sammasambuddhas have come to be." http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... html#fnt-4" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
>> 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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Polar Bear
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Re: The causes for wisdom

Post by Polar Bear » Tue Feb 05, 2013 7:25 am

Nevertheless, the Buddha taught concentration practices such as anapanasati--breathing mindfulness. Doesn’t that suggest that they are important?
We read about this in the scriptures because in the Buddha’s time there were people who were able to concentrate on the breath. This is a very subtle rupa, which is produced by citta. It is most difficult to be aware of breath, before one knows it one takes for breath what is something else, air produced by other factors, not breath. The commentary to the Kindred sayings V, The lamp, states that only Maha-Purisas, the great disciples can practice it in the right way. Thus, the Buddha did not teach that everyone should practice it. To those who were gifted, who had the accumulations to do so, he taught it. He explained that there is no self who is breathing, and that breath is only rupa. -- Interview with Nina van Gorkom
I will go so far as to call this wrong view. Do not be so heedless, meditate, lest you regret it later.

:namaste:
"I don't envision a single thing that, when developed & cultivated, leads to such great benefit as the mind. The mind, when developed & cultivated, leads to great benefit."

"I don't envision a single thing that, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about such suffering & stress as the mind. The mind, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about suffering & stress."

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robertk
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Re: The causes for wisdom

Post by robertk » Tue Feb 05, 2013 7:39 am

It's the last paragraph that is the most interesting for me - Nina van Gorkom saying that anapanasati is only for the gifted, the great disciples
AS Nina says it is in the Commentary to the suttas but also in the Visuddhimagga
Viii

211: "Although any meditation subject, no matter what, is successful only in one who is mindful and fully aware, yet any meditation subject other than this one gets more evident as he goes on giving it his attention. But this mindfulness of breathing is difficult, difficult to develop, a field in which only the minds of Buddhas, paccekabuddhas and Buddhas sons are at home. It is no trivial matter, nor can it be cultivated by trivial persons..."

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tiltbillings
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Re: The causes for wisdom

Post by tiltbillings » Tue Feb 05, 2013 7:57 am

Robertk:

So, even though Buddhaghosa advocates deliberate sitting meditation practice, you are taking this passage as being a support for the Sujin-style rejection of sitting meditation as we see in the very provocative Sujin talk Kevin linked?
>> 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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Mr Man
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Re: The causes for wisdom

Post by Mr Man » Tue Feb 05, 2013 7:59 am

Hi robertk
In the interview Nina van Gorkom says "It is most difficult to be aware of breath, before one knows it one takes for breath what is something else, air produced by other factors, not breath". It there a slightly different definition of "breath here? What does "air produced by other factors" mean?

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tiltbillings
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Re: The causes for wisdom

Post by tiltbillings » Tue Feb 05, 2013 8:38 am

While the mindfulness of breathing is potentially the most subtle of practices, as Buddhaghosa states, Buddhaghosa spends a great deal of time discussing its development, from the very basic counting of breaths beginner's practice onwards through the jhanas to awakening. Taking Chapter VIII section 211 out of context, as was done in the robertk interview above, actually neatly makes the point of how terribly wrong Nina van Gorkom is in the above interview.

  • Visuddhimagga CHAPTER VIII

    145. Now comes the description of the development of mindfulness of breathing
    as a meditation subject. It has been recommended by the Blessed One thus:
    “And, bhikkhus, this concentration through mindfulness of breathing, when
    developed and practiced much, is both peaceful and sublime, it is an
    unadulterated blissful abiding, and it banishes at once and stills evil unprofitable
    thoughts as soon as they arise” (S V 321; Vin III 70).

    It has been described by the Blessed One as having sixteen bases thus: “And
    how developed, bhikkhus, how practiced much, is concentration through
    mindfulness of breathing both peaceful and sublime, an unadulterated blissful
    abiding, banishing at once and stilling evil unprofitable thoughts as soon as
    they arise?
    “Here, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu, gone to the forest or to the root of a tree or to an
    empty place, sits down; having folded his legs crosswise, set his body erect,
    established mindfulness in front of him, [267] ever mindful he breathes in,
    mindful he breathes out.

    146: Developed, bhikkhus, … is concentration through
    mindfulness of breathing

    153. . . . So too, when a bhikkhu wants to tame his own mind which
    has long been spoilt by being reared on visible data, etc., as object for its food
    and drink, he should take it away from visible data, etc., as object and bring it
    into the forest or to the root of a tree or to an empty place and tie it up there to the
    post of in-breaths and out-breaths with the rope of mindfulness.

    162. Ever mindful he breathes in, mindful he breathes out: having seated himself
    thus, having established mindfulness thus, the bhikkhu does not abandon that
    mindfulness; ever mindful he breathes in, mindful he breathes out; he is a mindful
    worker, is what is meant.

    190. 1. Herein, this clansman who is a beginner should first give attention to
    this meditation subject by counting. And when counting, he should not stop
    short of five or go beyond ten or make any break in the series. By stopping short
    of five his thoughts get excited in the cramped space, like a herd of cattle shut in
    a cramped pen. By going beyond ten his thoughts take the number [rather than
    the breaths] for their support. By making a break in the series he wonders if the
    meditation subject has reached completion or not. So he should do his counting
    without those faults.

    211. Although any meditation subject, no matter what, is successful only in
    one who is mindful and fully aware, yet any meditation subject other than this
    one gets more evident as he goes on giving it his attention. But this mindfulness
    of breathing is difficult, difficult to develop, a field in which only the minds of
    Buddhas, Paccekabuddhas, and Buddhas’ sons are at home. It is no trivial matter,
    nor can it be cultivated by trivial persons. In proportion as continued attention is
    given to it, it becomes more peaceful and more subtle. So strong mindfulness
    and understanding are necessary here.

    212. Just as when doing needlework on a piece of fine cloth a fine needle is
    needed, and a still finer instrument for boring the needle’s eye, so too, when
    developing this meditation subject, which resembles fine cloth, both the
    mindfulness, which is the counterpart of the needle, and the understanding
    associated with it, which is the counterpart of the instrument for boring the
    needle’s eye, need to be strong. A bhikkhu must have the necessary mindfulness
    and understanding and must look for the in-breaths and out-breaths nowhere
    else than the place normally touched by them.

    238. Its great beneficialness should be understood here as peacefulness both
    because of the words, “And, bhikkhus, this concentration through mindfulness
    of breathing, when developed and much practiced, is both peaceful and sublime”
    (S V 321), etc., and because of its ability to cut off applied thoughts; for it is
    because it is peaceful, sublime, and an unadulterated blissful abiding that it cuts
    off the mind’s running hither and thither with applied thoughts obstructive to
    concentration, and keeps the mind only on the breaths as object. Hence it is said:
    “Mindfulness of breathing should be developed in order to cut off applied
    thoughts” (A IV 353).

    239. Also its great beneficialness should be understood as the root condition
    for the perfecting of clear vision and deliverance; for this has been said by the
    Blessed One: “Bhikkhus, mindfulness of breathing, when developed and much
    practiced, perfects the four foundations of mindfulness. The four foundations of
    mindfulness, when developed and much practiced, perfect the seven
    enlightenment factors. The seven enlightenment factors, when developed and
    much practiced, perfect clear vision and deliverance” (M III 82).
>> 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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