Are teaching of Mahasi Sayadaw questionable?

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SarathW
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Are teaching of Mahasi Sayadaw questionable?

Post by SarathW » Fri Nov 02, 2018 2:28 am

In another discussion there was some concern about the instructions in "Manual for Insight" by Mahasi Sayadaw.

viewtopic.php?f=13&t=31582&start=15

I invite you to express your opinion.

Is there a link to free download of Manual for Insight?
I found the following.

http://www.aimwell.org/manualofinsight.html
Last edited by SarathW on Fri Nov 02, 2018 3:15 am, edited 1 time in total.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

rightviewftw
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Re: Are teaching of Mahasi Sayadaw questionable?

Post by rightviewftw » Fri Nov 02, 2018 2:47 am

I can point out four things;

1. Stages of Insight
2. Re-attainment of Fruition
3. Notion that Sotapanna cannot break five precepts
4. Taking "restlessness in regards to the Dhamma" to mean "Imperfections of Insight"

All of these are questionable as far as i can tell.

In regards to;
#1. This is definitely not in the Sutta and i can't really tell if it is useful or not. It is however tied to #2 on the list.
#2. This is a strange one and i have no means of verifying the existence of this attainment. As far as i know there are no explicit instances of people entering these "Fruition Absorbtions" in the Sutta nor is there any Instruction in the Sutta advising people to develop this re-attainment of fruition upon attaining the Path. As far as i can tell nowhere are the Fruitions referred to as a meditative state to be re-attained at all.

Whereas in the Manual it says that the yogi having attained the path should master the fruition re-attainment before making resolve to attain the higher paths.

Questions arise like why before Parinibbana the Tathagata did not enter Arahataphala fruition when running the Jhanas up and down? Why is this attainment left out from the Sutta Pitaka?

#3. There is no agreement even among commentaries on this and this can certainly not be inferred from the Tipitaka alone. So there is not much to say about this.

#4. I personally can't tell how this was inferred from the Sutta pitaka.

My conclusion;
#1 & #2 are most important here and i personally can't tell if the Mahasi Method is a cookie-cutter system leading to attainment of the Path, if it leads to something else entirely or if it can go both ways dependent on the person.

Some people (ie Vimalaramsi and others (Aya Khema(?)) have criticized the attainment of path in this lineage saying; "Mahasi teaches that Nibbana is "blacking out".

I am not sure if Mahasi Sayadaw himself ever referred to it as a blacking out so i can't say if there is any validity to this or if people have merely misunderstood the teachings of MS.

Either way i am most grateful for Mahasi method because i found aspects of it most useful.
Last edited by rightviewftw on Fri Nov 02, 2018 10:49 am, edited 6 times in total.
How to meditate: Anapanasati, Satipatthana.
Intro to General Semantics
Factors & Perceptions

Parallel Dhammapada Reading
Chinese to Eng Dhp
"The statements; 'With the remainderless stopping & fading of the six contact-media is it the case that there is anything else?' '.. is it the case that there is not anything else .. is it the case that there both is & is not anything else .. is it the case that there neither is nor is not anything else?' objectify non-objectification. However far the six contact-media go, that is how far objectification goes."

SarathW
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Re: Are teaching of Mahasi Sayadaw questionable?

Post by SarathW » Fri Nov 02, 2018 2:58 am

1. Stages of Insight
Can you give me some more details. Off the head I would say they are in the Sutta
2. Re-attainment of Fruition
Do you mean Magga and Pala. You find them in Sutta.
3. Notion that Sotapanna cannot break five precepts
I think we had a long discussion on this and I agree with MS and it is accordance with Sutta
viewtopic.php?f=13&t=14256&p=209622&hilit=

4. Taking "restlessness in regards to the Dhamma" to mean "Imperfections of Insight"
There are many imperfections. Restlessness can be an imperfection and a hindrance.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

rightviewftw
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Re: Are teaching of Mahasi Sayadaw questionable?

Post by rightviewftw » Fri Nov 02, 2018 3:07 am

SarathW wrote:
Fri Nov 02, 2018 2:58 am
1. Stages of Insight
Can you give me some more details. Off the head I would say they are in the Sutta
The Sixteen Stages of Vipassana Knowledge

Knowledge to distinguish mental and physical states (namarupa pariccheda nana).
Knowledge of the cause-and-effect relationship between mental and physical states (paccaya pariggaha nana).
Knowledge of mental and physical processes as impermanent, unsatisfactory and nonself (sammasana nana).
Knowledge of arising and passing away (udayabbaya nana).
Knowledge of the dissolution of formations (bhanga nana).
Knowledge of the fearful nature of mental and physical states (bhaya nana).
Knowledge of mental and physical states as unsatisfactory (adinava nana).
Knowledge of disenchantment (nibbida nana).
Knowledge of the desire to abandon the worldly state (muncitukamayata nana).
Knowledge which investigates the path to deliverance and instills a decision to practice further (patisankha nana).
Knowledge which regards mental and physical states with equanimity (sankharupekha nana).
Knowledge which conforms to the Four Noble Truths (anuloma nana).
Knowledge of deliverance from the worldly condition (gotrabhu nana).
Knowledge by which defilements are abandoned and are overcome by destruction (magga nana).
Knowledge which realizes the fruit of the path and has nibbana as object (phala nana).
Knowledge which reviews the defilements still remaining (paccavekkhana nana).
SarathW wrote:
Fri Nov 02, 2018 2:58 am
2. Re-attainment of Fruition
Do you mean Magga and Pala. You find them in Sutta.
You do find the words in the Sutta but the Mahasi Lineage says that a Sotapanna ie can enter the fruition of Nibbana as a meditative absorbtion and that a person can choose if they want to train for the higher path or if they want to train to enter the absorbtion they already attained. This is not in the Sutta afaik, at most there are attainments of signless concentration but these are never referred to as Fruition Attainments.
SarathW wrote:
Fri Nov 02, 2018 2:58 am
3. Notion that Sotapanna cannot break five precepts
I think we had a long discussion on this and I agree with MS and it accordance with Sutta
Well if asked to use logical rules of inference this can not be shown to be the case. This is a fact, nobody in the whole world can show this to be true using rules of inference, therefore it is a unreasonable assumption and can not be established as a fact. This is not a matter of opinion, because rules of inference are not subjective and nobody can use them to show this notion to be true, therefore it is a view which can turn out to be right or wrong but it is most definitely not a definitive truth to be inferred.
SarathW wrote:
Fri Nov 02, 2018 2:58 am
4. Taking "restlessness in regards to the Dhamma" to mean "Imperfections of Insight"
There are many imperfections.
I am not sure what that is supposed to mean.
How to meditate: Anapanasati, Satipatthana.
Intro to General Semantics
Factors & Perceptions

Parallel Dhammapada Reading
Chinese to Eng Dhp
"The statements; 'With the remainderless stopping & fading of the six contact-media is it the case that there is anything else?' '.. is it the case that there is not anything else .. is it the case that there both is & is not anything else .. is it the case that there neither is nor is not anything else?' objectify non-objectification. However far the six contact-media go, that is how far objectification goes."

SarathW
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Re: Are teaching of Mahasi Sayadaw questionable?

Post by SarathW » Fri Nov 02, 2018 3:35 am

The Sixteen Stages of Vipassana Knowledge
Thanks, Right View.
I am sure these are in Sutta one form or another.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

rightviewftw
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Re: Are teaching of Mahasi Sayadaw questionable?

Post by rightviewftw » Fri Nov 02, 2018 3:55 am

SarathW wrote:
Fri Nov 02, 2018 3:35 am
The Sixteen Stages of Vipassana Knowledge
Thanks, Right View.
I am sure these are in Sutta one form or another.
As far as i know this is clearly a commentary invention. According to Vimalaramsi;
In the Visuddhimagga there are nine insight knowledges. In the sub-commentary written by Mahasi Sayadaw, there are 16 knowledges.
Also keep in mind the Visuddhimagga itself is based on what was Sri Lankan commentary for hundreds of years before it was translated into Pali.

Therefore this is surely a later invention and is not from the Sutta.

Is it based on the Sutta? Obviously it is based on the Sutta but i would be skeptical to making it the basis for my teachings and assessment of progression.
Last edited by rightviewftw on Fri Nov 02, 2018 3:59 am, edited 1 time in total.
How to meditate: Anapanasati, Satipatthana.
Intro to General Semantics
Factors & Perceptions

Parallel Dhammapada Reading
Chinese to Eng Dhp
"The statements; 'With the remainderless stopping & fading of the six contact-media is it the case that there is anything else?' '.. is it the case that there is not anything else .. is it the case that there both is & is not anything else .. is it the case that there neither is nor is not anything else?' objectify non-objectification. However far the six contact-media go, that is how far objectification goes."

SarathW
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Re: Are teaching of Mahasi Sayadaw questionable?

Post by SarathW » Fri Nov 02, 2018 3:59 am

According to Vimalaramsi;
Please read the Sutta yourself.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

rightviewftw
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Re: Are teaching of Mahasi Sayadaw questionable?

Post by rightviewftw » Fri Nov 02, 2018 4:04 am

SarathW wrote:
Fri Nov 02, 2018 3:59 am
According to Vimalaramsi;
Please read the Sutta yourself.
What is that supposed to mean?
I just posted that quote to explain the origin of 16 insight knowledges. I know they are not in the Sutta Pitaka and i've seen Insight Knowledges in the Vsm therefore afaik Vimalaramsi is more or less correct. If anything maybe someone other than Mahasi Sayadaw came up with the 16 knowledges before him but i don't know.

Anyway do go ahead and prove me wrong on any of the points raised i would be grateful but i would appreciate something more substantial than "Go read Sutta yourself"
How to meditate: Anapanasati, Satipatthana.
Intro to General Semantics
Factors & Perceptions

Parallel Dhammapada Reading
Chinese to Eng Dhp
"The statements; 'With the remainderless stopping & fading of the six contact-media is it the case that there is anything else?' '.. is it the case that there is not anything else .. is it the case that there both is & is not anything else .. is it the case that there neither is nor is not anything else?' objectify non-objectification. However far the six contact-media go, that is how far objectification goes."

SarathW
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Re: Are teaching of Mahasi Sayadaw questionable?

Post by SarathW » Fri Nov 02, 2018 5:43 am

"Go read Sutta yourself"
Sorry Right View
I said "Please read the sutta"
It is a suggestion, not a command.
Even Ven. Dhammika said the same thing.



By the way, if you want to take Vimalaramsy as your guidance then it is as good as keeping MS as your source guidance.
Anyway, will see the opinion of others.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

rightviewftw
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Re: Are teaching of Mahasi Sayadaw questionable?

Post by rightviewftw » Fri Nov 02, 2018 7:29 am

SarathW wrote:
Fri Nov 02, 2018 5:43 am
By the way, if you want to take Vimalaramsy as your guidance then it is as good as keeping MS as your source guidance.
Anyway, will see the opinion of others.
How is considering Vimalaramsi's opinion on the origin of 16 stages of insight in any way equal to taking MS as a source of guidance :shrug:
The two are not at all related. Vimalaramsi may well be wrong about the origin but i have never seen the 16 stages of insight being taught in the Sutta as they are taught in the Manual.
SarathW wrote:
Fri Nov 02, 2018 5:43 am
"Go read Sutta yourself"
Sorry Right View
I said "Please read the sutta"
It is a suggestion, not a command.
I think you are rude making these comments.
SarathW wrote:
Fri Nov 02, 2018 5:43 am
Anyway, will see the opinion of others.
I am sure you will find some opinions which are agreeable to you.
How to meditate: Anapanasati, Satipatthana.
Intro to General Semantics
Factors & Perceptions

Parallel Dhammapada Reading
Chinese to Eng Dhp
"The statements; 'With the remainderless stopping & fading of the six contact-media is it the case that there is anything else?' '.. is it the case that there is not anything else .. is it the case that there both is & is not anything else .. is it the case that there neither is nor is not anything else?' objectify non-objectification. However far the six contact-media go, that is how far objectification goes."

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budo
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Re: Are teaching of Mahasi Sayadaw questionable?

Post by budo » Fri Nov 02, 2018 9:27 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu on "stages" or "progress of insight"
The Forest Tradition has never followed the Visuddhimagga in insisting on the various stages of insight. Ajaan Lee talks about them in The Craft of the Heart, because they were included in the official Dhamma textbooks used at the time—and still used today, 80 years later!—but his explanations show that a meditator was not expected necessarily to go through all the stages. Apparently, the scholars whose work formed the basis for the Visuddhimagga went through the Canon to find all the possible stages that different people went through before awakening, and compiled them all into a single list. Then, at some point, the list morphed into a series of required steps that all meditators have to go through. At any rate, the Forest Tradition does not treat the list as authoritative. Experience has shown that different meditators' minds are different, and that they will approach the Deathless in somewhat different ways. Some features of awakening are the same for everyone—the experience of the Deathless, for instance, is always a positive one; people who find the "Deathless" terrifying or disorienting are actually experiencing something else. But because there are variations in which defilements are strongest in a particular mind, and how they maintain their hold, the process of working free from that hold will be different for each individual.
https://www.reddit.com/r/Buddhism/comme ... h=5a39068b

Ven. Sariputta and Ven. Punna speak of this list of seven purities — purity in terms of virtue, mind, view, the overcoming of perplexity, knowledge & vision of what is & is not the path, knowledge & vision of the way, and knowledge & vision — as if it were a teaching familiar to both of them, and yet nowhere else is it mentioned as a Buddhist teaching in the discourses. The Atthaka Vagga (Sn 4), however, mentions various non-Buddhist sectarians who spoke of purity as the goal of their teaching and who variously defined that purity in terms of virtue, view, knowledge, & practice. Perhaps the seven types of purity listed in this discourse were originally non-Buddhist teachings that were adopted by the early Buddhist community and adapted to their own purpose for showing that these seven forms of purity functioned not as a goal of practice but as stages along the path to that goal. At any rate, this list of the seven purities formed the framework for Buddhaghosa's Visuddhimagga (The Path of Purity), the cornerstone of his Pali commentaries, in which the seven purities cover all three parts of the threefold training in virtue, concentration, & discernment.
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .html#fn-2

rightviewftw
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Re: Are teaching of Mahasi Sayadaw questionable?

Post by rightviewftw » Fri Nov 02, 2018 10:17 am

As far as i remember the manual does actually equate re-attainment of fruition with signless concentration and Ven. Mahasi Sayadaw in one of the books says that any Sotapanna can attain this if "his Vipassana is strong enough". As i understand the claim is basically that a yogi who has attained even the first Path can realize the Signless concenration release if his faculties are strong enough.

I want to state that i am not sure either way, it may be possible and i am even inclined to have faith in MS but not having realized it myself idk. My posts were not meant to criticize the teachings but to point out what i consider to be the questionable parts.
Last edited by rightviewftw on Fri Nov 02, 2018 10:32 am, edited 1 time in total.
How to meditate: Anapanasati, Satipatthana.
Intro to General Semantics
Factors & Perceptions

Parallel Dhammapada Reading
Chinese to Eng Dhp
"The statements; 'With the remainderless stopping & fading of the six contact-media is it the case that there is anything else?' '.. is it the case that there is not anything else .. is it the case that there both is & is not anything else .. is it the case that there neither is nor is not anything else?' objectify non-objectification. However far the six contact-media go, that is how far objectification goes."

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Re: Are teaching of Mahasi Sayadaw questionable?

Post by DooDoot » Fri Nov 02, 2018 10:27 am

Ajahn Buddhadasa devoted a chapter of one of his more famous books to this topic: INSIGHT, BY ORGANIZED TRAINING
Now we shall deal with the organized systems of insight training, which were not taught by the Buddha but were developed by later teachers. This kind of practice is suitable for people at a fairly undeveloped stage, who still cannot perceive the unsatisfactoriness of worldly existence with their own eyes, naturally. This doesn't mean, however, that the results obtained by these systems have any special qualities not obtainable by the nature [natural] method, because when we examine the Tipitaka closely, we find the nature [natural] method is the only one mentioned. Some people consider, however, that natural insight can be developed only by someone who has become so remarkably virtuous, or has such a suitable disposition, that for him to come to a full understanding of things is just child's play. What is a person to do who lacks transcendent virtues and the appropriate disposition? For such people, teachers laid down ordered systems of practice, concise courses which start from scratch and have to be followed through thoroughly and systematically.

These systems of practice for developing insight are now known by the technical term "Vipassana - dhura." Vipassana - dhura is contrasted with Study (Gantha - dhura), the two being considered nowadays complementary aspects of training. Vipassana- dhura is study done within; it is strictly mental training, having nothing to do with textbooks. Neither the term Study (Gantha - dhura) nor Vipassana - dhura is mentioned in the Tipitaka, both appearing only in later books; but Vipassana - dhura is nevertheless a genuine Buddhist practice, designed for people intent on eliminating suffering. It is based directly on sustained, concentrated introspection. In order to explain Vipassana to people, teachers in former ages considered it in terms of the following questions: What is the basis, the foundation of Vipassana? What are the characteristics by which we may know that this is Vipassana? Just what is the activity called Vipassana? What should be the ultimate result of Vipassana?

Continues here: http://www.buddhanet.net/budasa11.htm

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Volovsky
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Re: Are teaching of Mahasi Sayadaw questionable?

Post by Volovsky » Fri Nov 02, 2018 11:26 am

rightviewftw wrote:
Fri Nov 02, 2018 3:55 am
As far as i know this is clearly a commentary invention. According to Vimalaramsi;
In the Visuddhimagga there are nine insight knowledges. In the sub-commentary written by Mahasi Sayadaw, there are 16 knowledges.
Is it a quotation from Ven. Vimalaramsi? If so, it is pity he criticizes something he didn't understand properly.

All these knowledges are in Vism. As you can see from the diagram (http://paauktawyausa.org/pa-auk-meditation-chart) Purification of view is the same as knowledge #1, purification by overcoming doubt = knowledge #2, purification #3 = knowledge #3. So, for "knowledges 1-3" Vism uses "purification 1-3". The rest of knowledges are explained in Vism as "knowledges". 16 knowledges are by no means invention of Mahasi Sayadaw. One might question his interpretation of them but not the knowledges themselves (if one accepts Vism, of course).

All what has so far been written in this topic has nothing to do with the criticism of Mahasi system, but it is a criticism of Vism/Commentaries/Abhidhamma which is a much broader topic.
Last edited by Volovsky on Fri Nov 02, 2018 11:42 am, edited 1 time in total.

SarathW
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Re: Are teaching of Mahasi Sayadaw questionable?

Post by SarathW » Fri Nov 02, 2018 11:39 am

Thank you for the chart.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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