Thai forest tradition - Refuge in Awareness

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anthbrown84
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Thai forest tradition - Refuge in Awareness

Post by anthbrown84 » Wed Mar 02, 2016 7:20 pm

Hello everyone,

I have been left wondering, the Thai Forest (or at least Ajahn sumedho and Munindo who i listen to most) base nearly all their teachings around awareness and that it is 'unconditioned' and 'indestructible'. We should, in their teachings go for refuge in this awareness and rest in Buddho, the one that knows.

I know this isnt a view Sri Lanken Theravada belive in, so my question is, with which teacher did this start off with? Was it Ajahn chah? Ajahn Tate? Ajahn Mun?

I have also been left pondering the fact that, if awareness is inconditioned, Is that awareness still there when Parinibanna occurs?

This seems very similar to a zen look at things, i know the traditions have a lot in common, but is the thaai forest teaching that awarensss and Nibanna are the same thing?
"Your job in practise is to know the difference between the heart and the activity of the heart, that is it, it is that simple" Ajahn Tate

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Goofaholix
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Re: Thai forest tradtion - Refuge in Awareness

Post by Goofaholix » Wed Mar 02, 2016 7:55 pm

I'm not sure where you go the idea that this awareness is unconditioned, can you provide a reference where they teach this. Nibbana is unconditioned, yes, but awareness as it operates in someone unawakened is very much conditioned and I don't believe the Ajahns teach otherwise.
but is the thaai forest teaching that awarensss and Nibanna are the same thing?
No.
“Peace is within oneself to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.” ― Ajahn Chah

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anthbrown84
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Re: Thai forest tradtion - Refuge in Awareness

Post by anthbrown84 » Wed Mar 02, 2016 8:13 pm

Goofaholix wrote:I'm not sure where you go the idea that this awareness is unconditioned, can you provide a reference where they teach this. Nibbana is unconditioned, yes, but awareness as it operates in someone unawakened is very much conditioned and I don't believe the Ajahns teach otherwise.
but is the thaai forest teaching that awarensss and Nibanna are the same thing?
No.
I wil try and find a quote but i have heard Ajahn Sumedho say this multiple times. I have heard him say that we should "go for refuge in that awarness necause it's something that doesnt change, its indistructable"

ill try find a quote!
"Your job in practise is to know the difference between the heart and the activity of the heart, that is it, it is that simple" Ajahn Tate

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Goofaholix
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Re: Thai forest tradtion - Refuge in Awareness

Post by Goofaholix » Wed Mar 02, 2016 8:24 pm

anthbrown84 wrote:I wil try and find a quote but i have heard Ajahn Sumedho say this multiple times. I have heard him say that we should "go for refuge in that awarness necause it's something that doesnt change, its indistructable"

ill try find a quote!
I would expect he means it's relatively unchanging and indestructible, not absolutely unchanging and indestructible. Does it change when you're tired? or asleep? or having a good meditation? yes of course. However whenever you turn to it for refuge it's there so from that point of view it's a reliable refuge, more reliable than the things we normally take refuge in like money or people. I think that's probably the point being made.
“Peace is within oneself to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.” ― Ajahn Chah

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bodom
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Re: Thai forest tradition - Refuge in Awareness

Post by bodom » Thu Mar 03, 2016 1:22 am

Ajahn Sumedho from his book Intuitive Awareness :
In terms of this conditioned realm that we perceive, create and hold to, it is a very unstable, uncertain, undependable and changing condition in itself. That’s just the way it is. The Buddha pointed to the instability of conditioned phenomena, to their impermanence. This is not just a philosophy that he was expecting us to go along with. We explore and see the nature of the conditioned realm in just the way we experience it, the physical, the emotional and the mental. But that which is aware of it — your refuge is in this awakened awareness, rather than in trying to find or create a condition that will give us some sense of security. We are not trying to fool ourselves, to create a false sense of security by positive thinking. The refuge is in awakening to reality, because the unconditioned is reality. This awareness, this awakeness is the gate to the unconditioned. When we awaken, that is the unconditioned, the actual awakeness is that. The conditions are whatever they are — strong or weak, pleasant or painful, whatever. -
:namaste:
The heart of the path is so simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice.

Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing.

Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this-just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle.

- Ajahn Chah

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bodom
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Re: Thai forest tradition - Refuge in Awareness

Post by bodom » Thu Mar 03, 2016 1:38 am

Also from Intuitive Awareness:
Awareness is your refuge:
Awareness of the changingness of feelings,
of attitudes, of moods, of material change
and emotional change:
Stay with that, because it’s a refuge that is
indestructible.
It’s not something that changes.
It’s a refuge you can trust in.
This refuge is not something that you create.
It’s not a creation. It’s not an ideal.
It’s very practical and very simple, but
easily overlooked or not noticed.
When you’re mindful,
you're beginning to notice,
it’s like this.
:namaste:
The heart of the path is so simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice.

Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing.

Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this-just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle.

- Ajahn Chah

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Goofaholix
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Re: Thai forest tradition - Refuge in Awareness

Post by Goofaholix » Thu Mar 03, 2016 2:12 am

bodom wrote:Ajahn Sumedho from his book Intuitive Awareness :
In terms of this conditioned realm that we perceive, create and hold to, it is a very unstable, uncertain, undependable and changing condition in itself. That’s just the way it is. The Buddha pointed to the instability of conditioned phenomena, to their impermanence. This is not just a philosophy that he was expecting us to go along with. We explore and see the nature of the conditioned realm in just the way we experience it, the physical, the emotional and the mental. But that which is aware of it — your refuge is in this awakened awareness, rather than in trying to find or create a condition that will give us some sense of security. We are not trying to fool ourselves, to create a false sense of security by positive thinking. The refuge is in awakening to reality, because the unconditioned is reality. This awareness, this awakeness is the gate to the unconditioned. When we awaken, that is the unconditioned, the actual awakeness is that. The conditions are whatever they are — strong or weak, pleasant or painful, whatever. -
:namaste:
This is a good example.

You'll notice he doesn't say that awareness is unconditioned, but reality is.

He also says that awareness is the gateway to the unconditioned, which was my point, we condition awareness through meditation etc until eventually awareness gains momentum to the point of being unconditioned, this is Nibbana.
“Peace is within oneself to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.” ― Ajahn Chah

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Re: Thai forest tradition - Refuge in Awareness

Post by pegembara » Thu Mar 03, 2016 4:22 am

So when the Buddha pointed to awareness, sati-sampajanna, he was pointing to the reflective capacity. For this I use the phrase 'intuitive awareness.' Although 'intuition' is a common enough word in English, I myself use it to refer to the ability to awaken and be aware, which is a state of reflection. It isn't thought; it's not filling my mind with ideas or views and opinions. It's an ability to receive this present moment, to receive both the physical and mental conditions as they impinge on me through the senses. It is the ability to embrace the moment, which means the embracement of everything. Everything belongs here, whether you like it or not. Whether you want it or don't want it is not the issue. It is the way it is.

Personality is not the problem; the problem is the attachment to it. So you're always going to have a personality, even as an arahant; but an arahant has no identity with it and no attachment. So we have ways of speaking and talking and doing things that might seem very personal or unique or eccentric or whatever.

But that's not a problem. It's the ignorance and attachment that the Buddha was always referring to again and again as the cause of suffering.

This awareness, sati-sampajanna, intuitive awareness, is not something that I can claim personally. If my personality started claiming it, it would just be more self-view, sakkaya-ditthi again. If I started saying 'I'm a very wise person,' then it would be self-view claiming to be wise. So when you understand that, how could you claim to be anything at all? Of course, on a conventional level I'm willing to play the game. So, when they say 'Ajahn Sumedho' I say 'Yes'. There's nothing wrong with conventional reality either. The problem is in the attachment to it out of ignorance.

Once you see through self-view, the development of the path is then very clear. You trust in this awareness, in non-attachment. You are able to see that attachment is like this, non-attachment is like this. There's a discernment.

When you attach to things, really attach, so that you get the feeling of what attachment, upadana, really is. Don't just grasp the view that you shouldn't be attached to anything, because then you get attached to the view not to attach. So really be attached to being this, or to having a view; but observe attachment, really notice the power of attachment, upadana, of ambition, of wanting to get something, wanting to get rid of something. Make it fully conscious. And then once you really see attachment, you can inform yourself to let go of it. Let go. Let it be. So you are more accepting of things until they fall away. Of course, you can't keep anything, because things are always changing. Even if you delude yourself that you can keep something by holding on, you'll eventually see that that's an impossibility.

Finally in practice, we're left with the existential reality of our humanity. We've still got these primordial drives, sexual desire and anger. But now we know better than to make them personal. With sakkaya-ditthi, self-view, we're always judging our sexual desires, and our anger, hatred, aversion and fear, and making them very personal. But now we can look at them for what they are. They're energies, they're a part of being human, of having a human body and being in a sensitive and vulnerable space. We begin to see and understand the nature of lust, greed, anger, hatred and delusion, because we have taken the sakkaya-ditthi, the self-view out of it, the attachment to it on a personal level. We see that these energies arise and cease according to conditions. However, if you still haven't seen through sakkaya-ditthi, then your whole life you'll be celibate and feel guilty about sexual desire and anger and hatred. You'll become neurotic through identifying with those energies and forces that are in fact part of human reality, and are not personal.

We all have these primordial drives as human beings. They are common to all of us. They are not a personal identity. Our refuge is in awareness rather than in judging these energies that we're experiencing. Of course, our religious form is celibate, so when sexual energies arise, we're aware of them, and don't act on them. They arise and cease just like everything else. Anger and hatred arise and cease. When the conditions for anger arise, it's like this; likewise fear, the primal emotion of the animal realm. But the awareness of lust and greed, the awareness of anger, the awareness of hatred and fear, that is your refuge. Your refuge is in the awareness.

Ajahn Sumedho
And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech.

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Re: Thai forest tradition - Refuge in Awareness

Post by pegembara » Thu Mar 03, 2016 4:35 am

"Buddho" refers to the Lord Buddha and the one who inwardly recites "Buddho" is just this mind. It is just this mind that recites Buddho, knows Buddho, knows the breath and is aware while doing so that one is creating virtue. This mind has always been here. The knowing has been born into the world countless times, but because ignorance and craving have overwhelmed it, our dana, sila, and bhavana have been insufficient to free us from the mass of suffering with which the human organism is fraught. So we must muster our energy with firm resolve, taking meditative calm as our foundation. The principles that will lead us out of this world and the mass of suffering are those of samatha (calm) and vipassana(insight) meditation. The mind must be firmly one-pointed, tranquil, cool and at ease withsamatha before vipassana is feasible. If the mind is still in movement, drifting and infirm, still not tranquil and motionless or one-pointed, it is impossible for understanding of the nature of things to take place.

The knowing lies right here within us; everything else is merely a passing affair. The truth lies with the knowing. Clearly observe that since our birth into this world, the knowing has dwelt in the body. Wherever we go, the body goes too. The knowing cannot escape from the body and mind. It drags the body with it here and there. When we sit it is the body that sits and when we lay down it is the body that lays down, and so the knowing is deceived into attaching to that name and form, the provisional realities of the world. Not comprehending the way to withdraw from them and put them down, the defilements of greed, hatred and delusion steadily accumulate.

So in studying Buddhism, whether it's the Dhamma or the Discipline, whatever method it is being taught by, having studied we must put those teachings into practice. We must compose this knowing firmly on itself. Keep the mind within, don't allow it to wander about and become fascinated with sentient beings and the material world, through delusion and unclear seeing.

Resolve to put forth effort. Aspire to rid yourself of defilements. Greed, hatred and delusion all lie here within the mind so put effort into abandoning them just here. Be vigilant and care for the mind right here. Recite "Buddho" right here. Compose the knowing. When we have established the knowing in this way then in whatever posture we are in there is constant meditation. Sitting here we can inwardly recite "Buddho," undistracted and undeceived by external matters. We have been deluded by the external world for countless lifetimes. Let us not be deluded by it any more.

Looang Boo Sim
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai ... plyso.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech.

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Re: Thai forest tradition - Refuge in Awareness

Post by Thisperson » Thu Mar 03, 2016 5:14 pm

Thanks for posting those selections, bodom and pegembara.

I came across this Ajahn Chah talk Monastery of Confusion recently on reddit which seems relevant here.
I've often taught that tranquility is stillness; flowing is wisdom. We practice meditation to calm the mind and make it still; then it can flow.

In the beginning we learn what still water is like and what flowing water is like. After practicing for a while we will see how these two support each other. We have to make the mind calm, like still water. Then it flows. Both being still and flowing: this is not easy to contemplate.

We can understand that still water doesn't flow. We can understand that flowing water isn't still. But when we practice we take hold of both of these. The mind of a true practitioner is like still water that flows, or flowing water that's still. Whatever takes place in the mind of a Dhamma practitioner is like flowing water that is still. To say that it is only flowing is not correct. Only still is not correct. But ordinarily, still water is still and flowing water flows. But when we have experience of practice, our minds will be in this condition of flowing water that is still.

This is something we've never seen. When we see flowing water it is just flowing along. When we see still water, it doesn't flow. But within our minds, it will really be like this; like flowing water that is still. In our Dhamma practice we have samādhi, or tranquility, and wisdom mixed together. We have morality, meditation and wisdom. Then wherever we sit the mind is still and it flows. Still, flowing water. With meditative stability and wisdom, tranquility and insight, it's like this. The Dhamma is like this. If you have reached the Dhamma, then at all times you will have this experience. Being tranquil and having wisdom: flowing, yet still. Still, yet flowing.

Whenever this occurs in the mind of one who practices, it is something different and strange; it is different from the ordinary mind that one has known all along. Before when it was flowing, it flowed. When it was still, it didn't flow, but was only still - the mind can be compared to water in this way. Now it has entered a condition that is like flowing water being still. Whether standing, walking, sitting, or lying down, it is like water that flows yet is still. Making our minds like this there is both tranquility and wisdom.

What is the purpose of tranquility? Why should we have wisdom? They are only for the purpose of freeing ourselves from suffering, nothing else. At present we are suffering, living with dukkha, not understanding dukkha, and therefore holding onto it. But if the mind is as I've been speaking about then there will be many kinds of knowledge. One will know suffering, know the cause of suffering, know the cessation of suffering and know the way of practice to reach the end of suffering. These are the Noble Truths. They will appear of themselves when there is still, flowing water.
http://www.ajahnchah.org/book/Monastery_Confusion1.php
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8FyyWQWECOQ

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anthbrown84
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Re: Thai forest tradition - Refuge in Awareness

Post by anthbrown84 » Mon Mar 07, 2016 12:39 pm

Sorry for the delay guys, been really busy!

Thankyou for your inputs.

Does anyone have an idea what he means by awareness is indestructible?

How is this indestructible? if it is conditioned, then its destructible?
"Your job in practise is to know the difference between the heart and the activity of the heart, that is it, it is that simple" Ajahn Tate

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Re: Thai forest tradition - Refuge in Awareness

Post by Thisperson » Mon Mar 07, 2016 4:24 pm

anthbrown84 wrote:Sorry for the delay guys, been really busy!

Thankyou for your inputs.

Does anyone have an idea what he means by awareness is indestructible?

How is this indestructible? if it is conditioned, then its destructible?
It's not conditioned. The peace is there when nothing is grasped as "self". There's simply awareness of the constant change of the aggregates. As seen below "In reference to the heard, only the heard." There doesn't need to be a "me" to hear sound. Hearing can simply be hearing. The same is true for the other sense bases. You'll see at the end of the Buddha's brief but excellent summary, if what is being sensed by the mind and body is not "personified" then there's no person, and when there's no person there's no stress.

Bāhiya Sutta:
A third time, Bāhiya said to the Blessed One, "But it is hard to know for sure what dangers there may be for the Blessed One's life, or what dangers there may be for mine. Teach me the Dhamma, O Blessed One! Teach me the Dhamma, O One-Well-Gone, that will be for my long-term welfare & bliss."

"Then, Bāhiya, you should train yourself thus: In reference to the seen, there will be only the seen. In reference to the heard, only the heard. In reference to the sensed, only the sensed. In reference to the cognized, only the cognized. That is how you should train yourself. When for you there will be only the seen in reference to the seen, only the heard in reference to the heard, only the sensed in reference to the sensed, only the cognized in reference to the cognized, then, Bāhiya, there is no you in connection with that. When there is no you in connection with that, there is no you there. When there is no you there, you are neither here nor yonder nor between the two. This, just this, is the end of stress."
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

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Re: Thai forest tradition - Refuge in Awareness

Post by dhammarelax » Mon Mar 07, 2016 5:21 pm

anthbrown84 wrote:Sorry for the delay guys, been really busy!

Thankyou for your inputs.

Does anyone have an idea what he means by awareness is indestructible?

How is this indestructible? if it is conditioned, then its destructible?
Observing rise and fall is an important part of the path, but is not the end of it, as you can note Awareness does not apear in the noble eighfold path, Minfullness does but awareness does not and they are not the same also in the factors of awakening there is no awareness but Investigation of qualities, also note that when you enter the jhana of neither perception nor no perception, awareness is greatly diminished to the extent that to gain insight in to the states occurring in that jhana one needs to remember what happened in there (MN 111), and when one enters the cessation of perception and feeling there is no awareness any more, body retains some temperature but otherwise it lies there like a log so awareness is destructible.

Check other teachers as well, Thanissaro B. is a great one also Vimalaramsi.

smile all the time
dhammarelax
Even if the flesh & blood in my body dry up, leaving just the skin, tendons, & bones, I will use all my human firmness, human persistence and human striving. There will be no relaxing my persistence until I am the first of my generation to attain full awakening in this lifetime. ed. AN 2.5

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Re: Thai forest tradition - Refuge in Awareness

Post by tiltbillings » Mon Mar 07, 2016 5:30 pm

dhammarelax wrote: Minfullness does but awareness does not and they are not the same
And the qualities of mindfulness are?
>> 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

dhammarelax
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Re: Thai forest tradition - Refuge in Awareness

Post by dhammarelax » Mon Mar 07, 2016 8:31 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
dhammarelax wrote: Minfullness does but awareness does not and they are not the same
And the qualities of mindfulness are?
Right Mindfulness includes a specifically directed awareness (not just general) but awareness does not necessarily involve mindfulness:

From Thanissaros B. Right Mindfulness:

"The Buddha, in including right mindfulness in the path, takes the role that
mindfulness plays in any experience where memory is brought to bear on the
present and points it in a skillful direction. This is an important point to note.
Instead of telling you to abandon past memories so as to approach the present
with totally fresh eyes and bare awareness, he’s saying to be selective in calling
on the appropriate memories that will help keep you on the path to the end of
suffering. And instead of telling you to watch passively as things arise and pass
away on their own, he’s saying to keep remembering the need to complete any
uncompleted tasks required by the path, and to protect any attainments that
have already been attained. In other words, there are some things you have to
remember to make arise and to prevent from passing away."

smile all the time
dhammarelax
Even if the flesh & blood in my body dry up, leaving just the skin, tendons, & bones, I will use all my human firmness, human persistence and human striving. There will be no relaxing my persistence until I am the first of my generation to attain full awakening in this lifetime. ed. AN 2.5

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