Once again, Ajahn Thanissaro comes to the rescue by illuminating obscure suttas:
The "neti, neti" doctrine is a form of craving for non-becoming and tends to lead to the arupa states (i.e. For instance, you can discern from the discourses of Upanishadic yogis such as Ramana Maharshi that he got stuck on one of the formless state by disidentifying himself with phenomena. You can also see it in the writings of Christian and Muslim mystics.):
"Another problem with the Niga°˛ha view is that they did not see that the act of being equanimous in the face of pain is also a type of kamma, and as such can become a center for craving and clinging. The Buddha discusses this point in his
analysis of another view, one that he adapted from meditators of sects who aimed at non-becoming. This viewpoint is expressed in a fairly cryptic statement that, because of an idiomatic peculiarity of the P›li language, can be translated in two ways:
“The supreme viewpoint external (to the Dhamma) is this: ‘I should not be and it should not be mine; I will not be; it will not be mine.’” — AN
“The supreme viewpoint external (to the Dhamma) is this: ‘I should not be and it should not occur to me; I will not be; it will not occur to me.’”
— AN 10:29
In the first reading, the “it” in “it should not be … it will not be,” apparently refers to any object of consciousness. In the second reading, the “it” apparently refers to any thought or perception appearing in the mind. In either reading, this viewpoint is aimed at putting an end to all thought, perception, consciousness, and any sense of identity at all. The Buddha regarded this as the supreme viewpoint external to the Dhamma because it prevents the person holding it
from regarding becoming as an attractive option, and the cessation of becoming as an unattractive one. In this way, it could prove useful in a path aiming at the cessation of becoming.
“The supreme viewpoint external (to the Dhamma) is this: ‘I should not be and it should not occur to me; I will not be; it will not occur to me.’ Of one with this view it may be expected, ‘(The thought of) unloathsomeness with regard to becoming will not occur to him, and (the thought of) loathsomeness with regard to the cessation of becoming will
not occur to him.’” — AN 10:29
However, this viewpoint—in and of itself—does not lead to freedom from the changeablility of becoming.
“There are beings who have this view. Yet even in the beings who have this view there is still aberration, there is change. Seeing this, the instructed disciple of the noble ones grows disenchanted with that.” — AN
The Buddha nowhere discusses the precise state of becoming engendered by the act of holding to this viewpoint, but two possibilities come to mind. The first is that the act of holding to the second reading of the viewpoint—stating that no
thoughts (or perceptions) should or will occur to one—would apparently lead to the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception. AN 4:172 singles out this dimension as the realm in which beings take rebirth without conscious
intention on their part or on the part of anyone else. In other words, one takes rebirth and inhabits a new level of becoming there even when one does not consciously want to engage in becoming at all. As we will see below, MN 106
states that this realm is the fate of a monk who, with an incomplete understanding of its results, uses a modified version of this viewpoint. A second possibility is that, in trying to obliterate both perception and one’s existence—“I should not be … I will not be”—a person at death would join the ranks of a class of devas that are mentioned—briefly—in only one spot in the discourses: the “beings without perception” (asaññı satta or asaññ›-satta—DN 1). These beings apparently exist in a state of total blankness, for DN 1 adds that when they fall from this state they retain no memory of anything preceding their fall, even if they later develop the level of concentration that would otherwise allow them to remember previous lives. In either event, the primary flaw in this viewpoint aimed at non-becoming is that it actually results in renewed becoming. This, as we have frequently noted, is the central paradox of becoming. The simple desire to put an end to becoming cannot, by itself, put an end to the ignorance that lies at the root of becoming. This is why the Buddha, in MN 49, says that he saw becoming in the search for non-becoming, and why his full definition of the cause of suffering includes not only craving for sensuality and becoming, but also craving for non-becoming as well. This is also why his path to the end of becoming has, as its crucial moment, an act of knowledge that puts an end to ignorance about becoming and the types of clinging and craving that underlie it. An understanding of the processes of
becoming thus not only helps to explain the path. It is part of the path itself."
http://www.dhammatalks.org/Archive/Writ ... coming.pdf
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Getting stuck on the arupa states was the Buddha's primary criticism of Upanishadic yogis:
"Two mistaken inferences are particularly relevant here. The first concerns the range of the not-self teaching. Some have argued that, because the Buddha usually limits his teachings on not-self to the five aggregates — form, feeling, perceptions, fabrications, and consciousness — he leaves open the possibility that something else may be regarded as self. Or, as the argument is often phrased, he denies the limited, temporal self as a means of pointing to one's identity with the larger, unlimited, cosmic self. However, in this discourse the Buddha explicitly phrases the not-self teaching in such a way as to refute any notion of cosmic self. Instead of centering his discussion of not-self on the five aggregates, he focuses on the first four aggregates plus two other possible objects of self-identification, both more explicitly cosmic in their range: (1) all that can be seen, heard, sensed, cognized, attained, sought after, pondered by the intellect; and (2) the cosmos as a whole, eternal and unchanging. In fact, the Buddha holds this last view up to particular ridicule, as the teaching of a fool, for two reasons that are developed at different points in this discourse: (1) If the cosmos were "me," then it must also be "mine," which is obviously not the case. (2) There is nothing in the experience of the cosmos that fits the bill of being eternal, unchanging, or that deserves to be clung to as "me" or "mine.""
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
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