Right grasp on the content of thoughts

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Bundokji
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Right grasp on the content of thoughts

Post by Bundokji » Sat Sep 07, 2019 2:07 pm

The Buddha's teachings encourage us to be aware, mindful and heedful. What thoughts have in common is their ephemeral nature, but what makes thoughts distinctive from one another is their content which conveys different meanings to each thought.

From the perspective of "right attention", to what extent the content of a thought is a distraction?

For example, if we compare the following two thoughts:

1- Thinking about ice cream, sex or any sensual fantasy
2- Thinking about DO

When we focus on the content or the meaning of each thought, we might describe the first thought as "unwholesome" and the second thought as "wholesome". This distinction seem to come at an expense though, that the content of the second thought, which appears wholesome, distracts us from seeing that the thought itself is dependently originated, and therefore unreliable. Another consequence of these distinctions is that the Dhamma is associated with certain types of thoughts, which makes attention divided into:

1- Heedful depending on a content that is perceived as wholesome
2- Heedless depending on a content that is perceived as unwholesome.

The utilization of memory in our practice brought about the opposite of memory, which is forgetfulness or heedlessness. When i am thinking about ice cream, by definition, i am forgetting (or not thinking) about the Buddha's teachings, but at the same time, memorizing (or thinking about) ice cream. Consequently, what constitutes forgetfulness or heedlessness is relative and dependently originated.

Accordingly, the alternatives from this vantage point are:

1- ignoring or not paying attention to the content of a thought is evil because through it we distinguish right from wrong
2- Paying attention to right and wrong (based on the content/meaning of a thought) is equally evil because it divides human consciousness through perception and creates conflict both inwardly and outwardly

Based on the above: what constitutes right attention when it comes to the content of a thought? It is worth noting that "content" seem to belong to the second noble truth where human subjectivity lies based on the where, when and who.
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"

This was the last word of the Tathagata.

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Nicolas
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Re: Right grasp on the content of thoughts

Post by Nicolas » Sat Sep 07, 2019 3:48 pm

We need to be able to discern which thoughts are wholesome and which thoughts are unwholesome (MN 19) and how to deal with them (MN 20). Mindfulness is also the gatekeeper that discriminates & sorts (here and here). If the mind is strained by this dividing and thinking, then the mind should be quieted, settled, unified into samadhi (MN 19).

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Bundokji
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Re: Right grasp on the content of thoughts

Post by Bundokji » Sat Sep 07, 2019 5:32 pm

Nicolas wrote:
Sat Sep 07, 2019 3:48 pm
We need to be able to discern which thoughts are wholesome and which thoughts are unwholesome (MN 19) and how to deal with them (MN 20). Mindfulness is also the gatekeeper that discriminates & sorts (here and here). If the mind is strained by this dividing and thinking, then the mind should be quieted, settled, unified into samadhi (MN 19).
All religions and moral systems divided phenomena into good and bad, so i fail to see what is new here. The path is described as Kamma that is neither white nor black but eliminates both which seems to be an acknowledgement of the problem as i presented it.
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"

This was the last word of the Tathagata.

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Nwad
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Re: Right grasp on the content of thoughts

Post by Nwad » Sat Sep 07, 2019 6:00 pm

Bundokji wrote:
Sat Sep 07, 2019 5:32 pm
The path is described as Kamma that is neither white nor black but eliminates both which seems to be an acknowledgement of the problem as i presented it.
Hello :anjali:

Unwholesome is what lead to agitation.
Wholesome is what lead to peace.

If you want not to generate kamma, then you should not react on your thoughts in body, speach or mind, even wholesome or unwholesome.
Thoughts are just toughts, they are result of past kamma, but reacting on them with craving (wanting, not wanting) or delusion - is generation of a new kamma. So on my opinion the best we can do is just observe they rising and falling away.

Yes, it can be painfull or unpleasant, pleasurable and pleasant, but its ok, its our kamma, no need to follow it and react on it, no need to generate new kamma, just being with it patiently, with calm, and knowing that it will go away in some seconds or minutes. If there is unwholesome thoughts - it not mean that we are bad person, if there is wholesome thoughts - it's not mean that we are good person. They are not me, or mine, they are just visitors.

So non reaction and patience is a kamma that not white nor black, but kamma that lead to the end of kamma, to non-agitation, to the Extinction.

I can mistake but I find it really good to overcome dukkha of craving and grasping...

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Bundokji
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Re: Right grasp on the content of thoughts

Post by Bundokji » Sat Sep 07, 2019 6:14 pm

Nwad wrote:
Sat Sep 07, 2019 6:00 pm
Hello :anjali:

Unwholesome is what lead to agitation.
Wholesome is what lead to peace.

If you want not to generate kamma, then you should not react on your thoughts in body, speach or mind, even wholesome or unwholesome.
Thoughts are just toughts, they are result of past kamma, but reacting on them with craving (wanting, not wanting) or delusion - is generation of a new kamma. So on my opinion the best we can do is just observe they rising and falling away.

Yes, it can be painfull or unpleasant, pleasurable and pleasant, but its ok, its our kamma, no need to follow it and react on it, no need to generate new kamma, just being with it patiently, with calm, and knowing that it will go away in some seconds or minutes. If there is unwholesome thoughts - it not mean that we are bad person, if there is wholesome thoughts - it's not mean that we are good person. They are not me, or mine, they are just visitors.

So non reaction and patience is a kamma that not white nor black, but kamma that lead to the end of kamma, to non-agitation, to the Extinction.

I can mistake but I find it really good to overcome dukkha of craving and grasping...
What you are describing is conducive to developing equanimity towards thoughts. There are many methods in the suttas of which what you are describing is one.

The OP is presenting a specific problem by providing reasoning and examples, so i am not seeking a method or technique as much as seeking a specific answer through addressing the problem as presented. A good answer could also be disputing/falsifying the problem as presented.
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"

This was the last word of the Tathagata.

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Nwad
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Re: Right grasp on the content of thoughts

Post by Nwad » Sat Sep 07, 2019 7:43 pm

Bundokji wrote:
Sat Sep 07, 2019 6:14 pm
What you are describing is conducive to developing equanimity towards thoughts. There are many methods in the suttas of which what you are describing is one.

The OP is presenting a specific problem by providing reasoning and examples, so i am not seeking a method or technique as much as seeking a specific answer through addressing the problem as presented. A good answer could also be disputing/falsifying the problem as presented.
Oh yes, maybe :anjali:

Can you please repeat your question in other words because I find it difficult to grasp on what is your question really is?

PS I read one more time the OP and answer that comes is pretty much the same : there is no bad or good, there is only peace and agitation, dukkha and non-dukkha, so the only way to be at peace toward thoughts it's not generating craving (wanting/not wanting) about them no matter if thoughts are about Dhamma or ice cream - even Dhamma reflections can generate dukkha if they based on Greed Hatred or Delusion... So right way to do sati toward thoughts its observing their rising and ceassing, be awaken to them as they are without judging or interpreting or self-identification with them.
Imho.

If it's not the answer that you looking for, can you repeat question in other way please?_/\_

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Bundokji
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Re: Right grasp on the content of thoughts

Post by Bundokji » Sat Sep 07, 2019 8:06 pm

Nwad wrote:
Sat Sep 07, 2019 7:43 pm
Oh yes, maybe :anjali:

Can you please repeat your question in other words because I find it difficult to grasp on what is your question really is?

PS I read one more time the OP and answer that comes is pretty much the same : there is no bad or good, there is only peace and agitation, dukkha and non-dukkha, so the only way to be at peace toward thoughts it's not generating craving (wanting/not wanting) about them no matter if thoughts are about Dhamma or ice cream - even Dhamma reflections can generate dukkha if they based on Greed Hatred or Delusion... So right way to do sati toward thoughts its observing their rising and ceassing, be awaken to them as they are without judging or interpreting or self-identification with them.
Imho.

If it's not the answer that you looking for, can you repeat question in other way please?_/\_
I stated in the OP that all thoughts are ephemeral (they rise and they cease). Noticing the rising and falling of thoughts (as opposite to content) improves equanimity and probably leads to one being less fearful. However, it does not lead to wisdom.

Wisdom is the ability to deal with poison without getting affected by it, that is, content. The OP presented why content is problematic, and asked about what constitutes right attention in relation to content (if there is such a thing). Regardless of how long you focus on the rising and falling of things, eventually, you will be in contact with the content of either your own thoughts or that of another. Buddhism is not escapism.

By the way, as far as i know, the suttas never said there is no good or bad. Can you substantiate your claim by citing a sutta?
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"

This was the last word of the Tathagata.

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Re: Right grasp on the content of thoughts

Post by mikenz66 » Sat Sep 07, 2019 11:06 pm

Hi Bundokji,

I know you didn't ask for specific technique, but Patrick Kearney's talks on this subject, which are typically called something like "Tracking the Thought Stream" can be helpful:
http://www.dharmasalon.net/Audio/audio.html
Typically, he gives some exercises and then there is some discussion. Since the discussion is different on each retreat, you might listen to a few of them. [I've not been on a retreat with Patrick, but I find these recordings very helpful.]

The difficulty in trying to pay attention to the content of thoughts is that one gets quickly drawn into the story, and is then no longer paying attention to the process. It's not so difficult to do:
... when a mendicant is walking they know: ‘I am walking.’ ...
https://suttacentral.net/mn10/en/sujato#6.1
It is much more difficult to do:
They understand the mind, thoughts, and the fetter that arises dependent on both of these. They understand how the fetter that has not arisen comes to arise; how the arisen fetter comes to be abandoned; and how the abandoned fetter comes to not rise again in the future.
https://suttacentral.net/mn10/en/sujato#40.8
Patrick suggests approaching thoughts by finding some peripheral ways of "seeing" them: Where are they located? How do they arise? What do they feel like? I gather [I'm no expert!] the idea is to be able to let the thoughts "run" but keeping an overview, in the same sort of overview way that "when a mendicant is walking they know: ‘I am walking.’" Once you can actually know "I am thinking", without getting overwhelmed by the thoughts, you then have the possibility of doing some analysis along the lines of the second quote I gave.

Interesting question!
:heart:
Mike

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Nwad
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Re: Right grasp on the content of thoughts

Post by Nwad » Sun Sep 08, 2019 2:00 am

Bundokji wrote:
Sat Sep 07, 2019 8:06 pm
I stated in the OP that all thoughts are ephemeral (they rise and they cease). Noticing the rising and falling of thoughts (as opposite to content) improves equanimity and probably leads to one being less fearful. However, it does not lead to wisdom.
Thank you for reformulation :anjali:

If I don't mistake :

Wisdom element is a space between object and subject. This space let one see object of contemplation as anicca, dukkha and anatta - it's a Liberation Wisdom.
By taking something (form, feeling, mind state, dhammas) as object of contemplation, as object that rise and falls (method from Satipathana Sutta) you automatically generates space and generates Wisdom.

As said Buddha Satipathana is a direct path to liberation.
Bundokji wrote:
Sat Sep 07, 2019 8:06 pm
Wisdom is the ability to deal with poison without getting affected by it, that is, content. The OP presented why content is problematic, and asked about what constitutes right attention in relation to content (if there is such a thing). Regardless of how long you focus on the rising and falling of things, eventually, you will be in contact with the content of either your own thoughts or that of another. Buddhism is not escapism.

Mental Formations goes under "dhammas contemplation" in Satipathana Sutta. But there is no such object as "meaning" or "content".
As said Mikenz - it's difficult to jump into the river and not be moving by the flow. As is technically difficult to jump into the river and still dry, to be interested in the content of thoughts without being interested... Or to taste some food without putting it into the mouth.

If your aim is not being wet - you need a boat/diving costume of wisdom that will prevent you to get wet
If your aim is being wet - you have just to jump into the river without any protection and exposing you to all dangers of the river of thoughts.
If your aim is to be wet but still dry - it's impossible (imho) and it not lead to liberation and crossing to the other shore.

So Iam not sure that it's a good idea to follow the content of thoughts. There is nothing intresting in them, only anicca, dukkha and anatta... It's only information, and information have no limits, it's unsatisfactory. You can draw all forms you want on the white paper, but at the end it goes into the trash to be recycled...
The thing is that if you don't pay attention to the content - thoughts fade away without nutriment of your attention, but of you feed it with your attention it will continue, as you will continue creating kamma (because you don't let it to fade away and keep running).

There is nothing intresting in mental foundation's content. What is intresting is to be free from the content. Imho...
By the way, as far as i know, the suttas never said there is no good or bad. Can you substantiate your claim by citing a sutta?
Yes there is good and bad.
Good is all what lead to Cessation of dukkha, to peace.
Bad is all what lead to unsatisfaction, to agitation, to movement
So we can't say that green is good and red is bad, in the same way, from absolute point if wiev, we can't say that one mental formation is better than another... They are all "bad" because anicca, dukkha and anatta.... Imho

PS it reminds me about Mahayana approach, like: we still reborn but we are free... Yes you can hold a poison in your hand without being poisoned, but there is skin that protect ones blood from the infection, as wisdom protect ones mind from dukkha.
Last edited by Nwad on Sun Sep 08, 2019 2:42 am, edited 1 time in total.

chownah
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Re: Right grasp on the content of thoughts

Post by chownah » Sun Sep 08, 2019 2:39 am

I don't know if thinking that there is a thought and it has content is a useful construction. Without content there is no thought. I think a better construction is to consider that there is thought and there is the process or conditions which surround or are associated with the arising of that thought. I do think that using "content" is a good way to express a specific way of pointing to a thought in and of itself as opposed to the process of thinking.

So...to stay in keeping with how the discussion is proceeding I'll use "content" here : If one is absorbed with the content then one is grasping at that which is fabricated and impermanent.....this is what creates contact and all that suffering stuff which follows.....this is where the delusional self arises. When a thought arises and we become absorbed in its content then it is a sign of ignorance of the four noble truths. I think it is likely that becoming absorbed in the content of thought that this is what "becoming" as used in DO is all about.

It seems to me that the suttas talk alot about the processes and conditions surrounding the arising of thought but that they do not talk so much about examining the "content" of a thought....I would be very happy if someone could bring a sutta reference where examing the "content" of a thought is discussed.

Also, would it be better in this discussion to replace "content" with "meaning"....isn't it by extracting some meaning from a thought that we ascribe that meaning to be its "content"....? Is it becoming entranced by the "meaning" of thought that is the root of delusion?

chownah

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Nwad
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Re: Right grasp on the content of thoughts

Post by Nwad » Sun Sep 08, 2019 4:16 am

:goodpost:
I think too that meaning is avijja main trick...

There is no meaning in the way things are, there is no meaning of life, rainbow have no any meaning or aim, there is just mechanism of Dependent Origination, absolutely aimless, meaningless, endless, selfless, anatta, free from dukkha... All phenomenas are pure from any meaning or color, but avijja put meaning and colours on them, put weight on them, make them hard to bear, make them dukkha...

Meaning is self-creating, self-creating is craving creating, craving creating is dukkha creating... And what is dukkha? Birth is dukkha, aging is dukkha, death is dukkha, sorrow lamentation pain grief and despair are dukkha, association with the disliked is dukkha, separation from the liked is dukkha, not attaining one's wishes is dukkha, in brief 5 focuses of identity are dukkha, this are as follows : attachment to form, attachment to feeling, attachment to interpretation, attachment to mental formation, attachment to sense consciousness... all of us are bound by dukkha and obstructed by dukkha, let us all aspire to the complete freedom from suffering ..._/\_

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Bundokji
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Re: Right grasp on the content of thoughts

Post by Bundokji » Sun Sep 08, 2019 7:23 am

mikenz66 wrote:
Sat Sep 07, 2019 11:06 pm
Hi Bundokji,

I know you didn't ask for specific technique, but Patrick Kearney's talks on this subject, which are typically called something like "Tracking the Thought Stream" can be helpful:
http://www.dharmasalon.net/Audio/audio.html
Typically, he gives some exercises and then there is some discussion. Since the discussion is different on each retreat, you might listen to a few of them. [I've not been on a retreat with Patrick, but I find these recordings very helpful.]

The difficulty in trying to pay attention to the content of thoughts is that one gets quickly drawn into the story, and is then no longer paying attention to the process. It's not so difficult to do:
... when a mendicant is walking they know: ‘I am walking.’ ...
https://suttacentral.net/mn10/en/sujato#6.1
It is much more difficult to do:
They understand the mind, thoughts, and the fetter that arises dependent on both of these. They understand how the fetter that has not arisen comes to arise; how the arisen fetter comes to be abandoned; and how the abandoned fetter comes to not rise again in the future.
https://suttacentral.net/mn10/en/sujato#40.8
Patrick suggests approaching thoughts by finding some peripheral ways of "seeing" them: Where are they located? How do they arise? What do they feel like? I gather [I'm no expert!] the idea is to be able to let the thoughts "run" but keeping an overview, in the same sort of overview way that "when a mendicant is walking they know: ‘I am walking.’" Once you can actually know "I am thinking", without getting overwhelmed by the thoughts, you then have the possibility of doing some analysis along the lines of the second quote I gave.

Interesting question!
:heart:
Mike
Thanks Mike :anjali:

More than once, I came across input by advanced practitioners describing the liberating insight as "seeing where thoughts come from". There seem to be a similarity with the notion of "tracking the thought stream". The exact meaning of this is still not very clear to me though..

I also remember reading Ven Sujato saying that approaching thoughts as "myths" would widen/deepen our understanding.

I think i understand the significance of distinguishing between noticing the act of thinking and the danger of getting entangled in the content. However, the problem facing an unenlightened human like me is that the act of noticing depends on volition, and when i go to work or interact with others, volition gets negotiated and compromised. This gives rise to the perception that i am inline with the dhamma when i am able to notice my actions, and not practicing when i am engaged in worldly activities.

Based on the above, the task becomes: how to see the dhamma without volition or regardless of the conditions? or how to see the notion that "something undhammic" as merely a figure of speech?

Once i was trying to understand the differences between vinnana, manas and citta, then i read a post by Ven Sujato saying that Vinnana is the first noble truth, manas is the second noble truth and citta is the fourth noble truth, all to be discarded upon liberation. So, even citta which we use to notice and to know (using volition) should be used skillfully. Being satisfied with depending on it does not lead anywhere.
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"

This was the last word of the Tathagata.

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Bundokji
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Re: Right grasp on the content of thoughts

Post by Bundokji » Sun Sep 08, 2019 8:25 am

Nwad wrote:
Sun Sep 08, 2019 2:00 am
Mental Formations goes under "dhammas contemplation" in Satipathana Sutta. But there is no such object as "meaning" or "content".
As said Mikenz - it's difficult to jump into the river and not be moving by the flow. As is technically difficult to jump into the river and still dry, to be interested in the content of thoughts without being interested... Or to taste some food without putting it into the mouth.

If your aim is not being wet - you need a boat/diving costume of wisdom that will prevent you to get wet
If your aim is being wet - you have just to jump into the river without any protection and exposing you to all dangers of the river of thoughts.
If your aim is to be wet but still dry - it's impossible (imho) and it not lead to liberation and crossing to the other shore.

So Iam not sure that it's a good idea to follow the content of thoughts. There is nothing intresting in them, only anicca, dukkha and anatta... It's only information, and information have no limits, it's unsatisfactory. You can draw all forms you want on the white paper, but at the end it goes into the trash to be recycled...
The thing is that if you don't pay attention to the content - thoughts fade away without nutriment of your attention, but of you feed it with your attention it will continue, as you will continue creating kamma (because you don't let it to fade away and keep running).

There is nothing intresting in mental foundation's content. What is intresting is to be free from the content. Imho...
I think one of the sure marks of a well-developed mind is the ability to spot and engage in subtle differences in meaning . One aspect of Buddhist practice is "right speech" which is a vehicle to convey meaning. The training of the mind involves paying close attention to nuance and context. The Buddha often addressed his disciple before he began teaching by saying: now i speak, pay attention.

My question is about right attention. If attention to the content runs the risk of getting entangled, then the question naturally arises: where should attention land? and whatever the answer is going to be, it is going to include content/meaning, and depending on the meaning of that content, i would know where my attention should be.

Maybe if attention is seen not as a volitional act, but as a natural reaction to stimuli, would that solve the problem? Or to put it differently, why do we feel that attention is volition? is it because we believe in the possibility of landing it on something else?

Finally, if there is nothing interesting in mental formation's content, then why to study the suttas?
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"

This was the last word of the Tathagata.

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Re: Right grasp on the content of thoughts

Post by Bundokji » Sun Sep 08, 2019 8:51 am

chownah wrote:
Sun Sep 08, 2019 2:39 am
I don't know if thinking that there is a thought and it has content is a useful construction. Without content there is no thought. I think a better construction is to consider that there is thought and there is the process or conditions which surround or are associated with the arising of that thought. I do think that using "content" is a good way to express a specific way of pointing to a thought in and of itself as opposed to the process of thinking.

So...to stay in keeping with how the discussion is proceeding I'll use "content" here : If one is absorbed with the content then one is grasping at that which is fabricated and impermanent.....this is what creates contact and all that suffering stuff which follows.....this is where the delusional self arises. When a thought arises and we become absorbed in its content then it is a sign of ignorance of the four noble truths. I think it is likely that becoming absorbed in the content of thought that this is what "becoming" as used in DO is all about.

It seems to me that the suttas talk alot about the processes and conditions surrounding the arising of thought but that they do not talk so much about examining the "content" of a thought....I would be very happy if someone could bring a sutta reference where examing the "content" of a thought is discussed.

Also, would it be better in this discussion to replace "content" with "meaning"....isn't it by extracting some meaning from a thought that we ascribe that meaning to be its "content"....? Is it becoming entranced by the "meaning" of thought that is the root of delusion?

chownah
Each construction has its potential use. In dependently origination phenomena, a starting point serves to reveal a part of the puzzle where a causal relationship can be potentially inferred/imagined. The particular construction i used in the OP can show how meaning or content is relative in nature, and how it divides consciousness leading to partial view of what is perceived as dhammic or undhammic.

The meaning or content of a certain thought appears to transcend the thought as it can be memorized and revisited. If awakening goes through understanding the nature of deception, then simply dismissing content as "delusional" is an over simplification. The wise seem to use content skillfully, otherwise, the Buddha would have remained completely silent.

The suttas emphasize guarding the senses (or guarding the gates) not allowing everything in. If this selectivity is not based on content, then what is it based on?

The OP used both terms "content" and "meaning". My use of the term "content" is to differentiate the meaning of a thought (which appears to transcend the duration of the particular thought) from its ephemeral nature of the particular thought which is the outcome of perceiving a thought as one coherent unit that has a beginning and an end.
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"

This was the last word of the Tathagata.

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Re: Right grasp on the content of thoughts

Post by Nwad » Sun Sep 08, 2019 9:35 am

Bundokji wrote:
Sun Sep 08, 2019 8:25 am
My question is about right attention. If attention to the content runs the risk of getting entangled, then the question naturally arises: where should attention land? and whatever the answer is going to be, it is going to include content/meaning, and depending on the meaning of that content, i would know where my attention should be.
I find it more liberating to pay attention on relationship between dhammas, on the mechanism of Samsara rather on it content.
Buddha often used similes to illustrate Dhamma. Why he used them? Because smilies are like mathematic formulas, they illustrate relationships between dhammas, they illustrates mechanisms and characteristics of dhammas...
Phenomenas are of infinite kinds, in infinite world systems, what is the same is the mechanism of Samsara, content is different.
I think that nearest distance we can approach our toughts without sinking in it is to diferenciate wholesome from unwholesome, those who lead to peace, and those who lead to agitation.

The thing why I say that thought have no importance it's because they are not me, not mine, not myself, it not belongs to me, so why should I care, follow or worry about them?

In Satipathana Sutta it said that whatever is your object you should just pay attention on it's rising and falling, "not associating with the world"...
Bundokji wrote:
Sun Sep 08, 2019 8:25 am
Maybe if attention is seen not as a volitional act, but as a natural reaction to stimuli, would that solve the problem? Or to put it differently, why do we feel that attention is volition? is it because we believe in the possibility of landing it on something else?
Oh yes! It's a good point!
Perhaps instead of mental phenomena you should take as object "consciousness" dhamma? Observing it's anatta, its dukkha, it's anicca ... It can be realy liberating observation !
The best object for the sati it the object that we most selfidentifying with... The thing that make us most suffer. So maybe observing consciousness can be realy good :anjali:
Bundokji wrote:
Sun Sep 08, 2019 8:25 am
Finally, if there is nothing interesting in mental formation's content, then why to study the suttas?
Perhaps my emphasis on meaningless of conditioned phenomenas is not appropriate here, and I should use more conventional language.

Reflecting on Dhamma is essential when it leads to dispassion, to peace, to cessation of craving.
So the main chriteria to consider when dealing with thoughts is: does it lead to peace or agitation? Does it generates unwholesome dhammas or wholesome dhammas? And then apply Right Effort...
So here the investigation of meaning not goes deeper that it needed to understand wholesomeness or unwholesomeness of this or that thought or mind state. The thing is that even aparently wholesome topics can be unwholesome if they are rooted in greed hatred and delusion. So even thoughts on Dhammas can be unwholesome and nedd to be abandoned, for exemple when there is some conflict about views on Dhamma forum and ones mind is agitated thinking : Iam right he is wrong, he said something at the end that should be said at the beginning...etc.
Reading Suttas is realy good, but I remember that when I started to study them, it's not for dispassion or peace, but just to win Dhamma-battles... Finally I forgot all what I learned, so memory and studiyng scriptures is realy something unsatisfactory on the long term. I continue to read them but not as weapon but as medecine that lead to dispassion and peace of mind, not to agitation and suffering... So actually content have no importance, but motivation have importance.

Imho... I can mistake but I find that this method brings good results in my practice... _/\_

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