Suffering, revulsion, loathsomeness

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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kirk5a
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Re: Suffering, revulsion, loathsomeness

Post by kirk5a » Mon Mar 25, 2013 1:34 pm

norman wrote: (the 5th for me is only for weekdays!)
Best wishes
Norman
That means you're a virtuous lay follower only 5 days of the week.
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230

norman
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Re: Suffering, revulsion, loathsomeness

Post by norman » Wed Mar 27, 2013 9:42 am

More like four actually. I'm not really clear whether it's helpful to define yourself in any way though - except perhaps as a 'work in progress'.
The problem with definition as I see it is that you end up trying to judge if you fit the 'rules' to be a member of the club - but working from written rules seems to lead to possible dogmatism and intolerance - and maybe bizarre behaviour based on misreadings or corrupt documentation. Rather than starting from clear view it seems to start from a need to build a permanent self who somehow has to be made to fit some model and be rewarded with enlightenment!

Just to add - I don't find a reference to abstaining from alcohol in these texts on Right Action:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dham ... index.html
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

I think one must make one's own decisions: the general principle of sila seem good to me, helping the community to live well, not building up memories of wrong-doing that would plague the here and now... and probably make concentration more difficult.

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kirk5a
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Re: Suffering, revulsion, loathsomeness

Post by kirk5a » Wed Mar 27, 2013 1:24 pm

The point isn't to "define yourself" as "a virtuous lay follower" - it is to cultivate virtue and abstain from action which has very bad results.
"The drinking of fermented & distilled liquors — when indulged in, developed, & pursued — is something that leads to hell, leads to rebirth as a common animal, leads to the realm of the hungry shades. The slightest of all the results coming from drinking fermented & distilled liquors is that, when one becomes a human being, it leads to mental derangement."
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

We can't ignore the countless times the Buddha advocated against drinking alcohol just because he didn't specifically mention it here or there.
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230

norman
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Re: Suffering, revulsion, loathsomeness

Post by norman » Wed Mar 27, 2013 3:07 pm

Fair point. I think these precepts are (should be) freely entered into, and I suppose individuals will differ as to how many or which they will (try to) adhere to.
My sceptical approach is to try to follow the eightfold path in a straightforward way and try not to hold opinions on anything that I cannot see clearly here and now. I do this not in order to obey the Buddha as an authority figure, but because my own small trials of it lead me to some trust of it. For me I can only go ahead (if that is the right way to put it) by telling myself the truth as seen here and now and not trying to make beliefs by auto-suggestion. I have no evidence of what may happen after I die - and thus no fear of any consequences after I die (though there are obvious consequences of actions within this life, and like a lot of us I have some fear of the process leading to death). That doesn't stop me considering a whole set of future possibilities as vanishingly unlikely based on present evidence (not what I have been told or read): going to heaven/hell, reincarnation, and in fact any continuation after death. I don't find this depressing at all - as Seneca says - consider this self as a loan - just give it back in effect at death and be thankful for having been 'given' it. If a few small glasses of wine per week makes you mentally deranged, I might suspect other non-wine causes!

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kirk5a
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Re: Suffering, revulsion, loathsomeness

Post by kirk5a » Wed Mar 27, 2013 4:14 pm

If you're going to approach it that way, there's nothing stopping you or anyone from conducting a "trial" of not drinking alcohol and seeing what comes of it here and now. I would say 1 month of total abstinence at a minimum will probably reveal a few clearly visible things. :stirthepot:
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230

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Re: Suffering, revulsion, loathsomeness

Post by norman » Wed Mar 27, 2013 9:03 pm

Actually... that's a great idea! I like a challenge. Whereas the first four precepts are clearly pointing at avoiding gross wrong-doing, the 5th - though done to excess would lead to bad results - is a bit different: minor consumption is not harmful I think, but to follow the precept literally could give a good opportunity for reflection! In this way I would categorise it with precept 6. Not right now though (OK - cop out... birthdays etc) but from the next full moon (25th Apr) to 24th May... We'll see - should be interesting!

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kirk5a
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Re: Suffering, revulsion, loathsomeness

Post by kirk5a » Wed Mar 27, 2013 11:39 pm

norman wrote:Actually... that's a great idea! I like a challenge. Whereas the first four precepts are clearly pointing at avoiding gross wrong-doing, the 5th - though done to excess would lead to bad results - is a bit different: minor consumption is not harmful I think, but to follow the precept literally could give a good opportunity for reflection! In this way I would categorise it with precept 6. Not right now though (OK - cop out... birthdays etc) but from the next full moon (25th Apr) to 24th May... We'll see - should be interesting!
Is alcohol required for birthdays etc.? :lol: But that's the spirit, accepting the challenge. Who knows what interesting things you might notice.
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230

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Nyorai
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Re: Suffering, revulsion, loathsomeness

Post by Nyorai » Thu Mar 28, 2013 12:29 am

norman wrote:I appreciate that I see these things arise in my mind, but do not see a need to hang on to them - or make them a special subject of contemplation. Perhaps these as contemplations are a sort of antidote to attachment to passing pleasure - to be used like medicine when necessary?
Perhaps arising buddha in your mind is a good antidote of contemplation, it replacing all these things you see as buddha in your mind :twothumbsup:
ImageTo become vegetarian is to step into the stream which leads to nirvana.
If you light a lamp for somebody, it will also brighten your path. He who experiences the unity of life sees his own Self in all beings, and all beings in his own Self.Image

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ground
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Re: Suffering, revulsion, loathsomeness

Post by ground » Thu Mar 28, 2013 3:57 am

norman wrote:I appreciate that there is difficulty in translating from Pali. However these words seem very loaded and for me imply an emotional engagement with things that seems just the opposite of dispassion, observation of the way things are without judgement, letting things that arise naturally pass away again. I appreciate that I see these things arise in my mind, but do not see a need to hang on to them - or make them a special subject of contemplation. Perhaps these as contemplations are a sort of antidote to attachment to passing pleasure - to be used like medicine when necessary?
Why should one follow the constructed ideal of " observation of the way things are without judgement"? There is nothing bad about aversion against fetters if one wants to get rid of these. The aversion does not necessarly have to become a fetter itself. :sage:

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Re: Suffering, revulsion, loathsomeness

Post by norman » Thu Mar 28, 2013 8:01 am

We'll have to disagree on that one, ground.
For example, doubt (though I think it applies to the others too): I would say doubt does not need to be labelled 'bad' or 'good' - it just exists. It should not be the subject of aversion which just adds another layer of problems. To need aversion to be there to be able to gather enough energy to tackle issues is itself a problem...

I have heard the metaphor of 'using a thorn to extract a thorn' (not sure where that comes from) - but I think this is only useful in more positive situations - for example to want to follow the path is a prime mover for starting to follow the path (though I'd assume that later on even this want would be let go of).

Doubt about the 'teachings' to me is a good approach because it leads to a need to test the teachings for oneself - and if the test reveals the teachings as true (not judged true but seen directly as true) then the doubt about those teachings disappears for itself immediately. Doubt about oneself (for example - is my meditation getting anywhere?) I think is also useful and leads to a dispassionate and honest look at oneself - and maybe change or increased understanding (for example - meditating to 'get somewhere' isn't useful - meditating - 'being there' - perhaps is).

Just to add - kirk5a's signature seems to me to sum it all up perfectly (and can be tested by any one of us directly):
"When one thing is practised & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230

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ground
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Re: Suffering, revulsion, loathsomeness

Post by ground » Fri Mar 29, 2013 7:13 am

norman wrote:We'll have to disagree on that one, ground.
No problem. Since I have been expressing to not share your view your disagreement follows naturally.
norman wrote: For example, doubt (though I think it applies to the others too): I would say doubt does not need to be labelled 'bad' or 'good' - it just exists. It should not be the subject of aversion which just adds another layer of problems. To need aversion to be there to be able to gather enough energy to tackle issues is itself a problem...
I cannot see a connection between this statement of yours and what I have written above, sorry.
norman wrote: I have heard the metaphor of 'using a thorn to extract a thorn' (not sure where that comes from) - but I think this is only useful in more positive situations - for example to want to follow the path is a prime mover for starting to follow the path (though I'd assume that later on even this want would be let go of).

Doubt about the 'teachings' to me is a good approach because it leads to a need to test the teachings for oneself - and if the test reveals the teachings as true (not judged true but seen directly as true) then the doubt about those teachings disappears for itself immediately. Doubt about oneself (for example - is my meditation getting anywhere?) I think is also useful and leads to a dispassionate and honest look at oneself - and maybe change or increased understanding (for example - meditating to 'get somewhere' isn't useful - meditating - 'being there' - perhaps is).

Just to add - kirk5a's signature seems to me to sum it all up perfectly (and can be tested by any one of us directly):
"When one thing is practised & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
Again I cannot see a connection between these statements of yours and what I have written above, sorry.

Let me repeat what I have written above and if you want to disagree then please directly refer to these words to point out what you disagree with:
ground wrote:Why should one follow the constructed ideal of " observation of the way things are without judgement"? There is nothing bad about aversion against fetters if one wants to get rid of these. The aversion does not necessarly have to become a fetter itself.
:sage:

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daverupa
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Re: Suffering, revulsion, loathsomeness

Post by daverupa » Fri Mar 29, 2013 11:55 am

Aversion is unwholesome, but can be noticed by sati without engendering more aversion. This is observation without judgment, or bare awareness. Thereupon right effort can come to the fore, applying metta or uppekha or other antidotes as appropriate. But the intention can never be right intention if it is rooted in aversion.

Using a thorn to extract a thorn may refer to using conceit to be rid of conceit, or using desire to be rid of desire. These are attested approaches, while using aversion to uproot aversion is definitively said to never work, in a number of places.

:heart:
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

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ground
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Re: Suffering, revulsion, loathsomeness

Post by ground » Sat Mar 30, 2013 3:51 am

daverupa wrote:Aversion is unwholesome, ...
If this is what you experience generally then be it so. However I cannot agree since I am experiencing that aversion can be wholesome in that it is an efficient motivator to act against what causes aversion. E.g. aversion against being distracted fosters mindfulness.
daverupa wrote: ... by sati ... This is observation without judgment, or bare awareness.
From my perspective this implicit definition is merely an ideological statement following a modern trend of interpreters. There is nothing bad about judgements. Even naming experiences is a judgments and buddhist religion with its rights and wrongs is full of judgements even if these are merely understood "technically".
daverupa wrote: Thereupon right effort ...
See... A judgement ...
daverupa wrote: But the intention can never be right intention if it is rooted in aversion.
That is mere ideology that strives to categorize the experience of others.

:sage:

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ground
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Re: Suffering, revulsion, loathsomeness

Post by ground » Sat Mar 30, 2013 4:19 am

daverupa wrote:... This is observation without judgment, or bare awareness. Thereupon right effort can come to the fore, ...
Here we have a contradiction. If there would be no judgement at all, only so called "bare awareness" effort would never arise. Why? Because effort is connected with intention, intention to change one state into another, to change a state that is judged to be non-compliant with an ideal into a state that judged to be "better" or compliant with an ideal. That is judgement. If you fail to acknowledge this inconsistency how can you think you are in a position to make general claims about what may be called "aversion", general claims that cover all possible contexts, all individuals, all times and places? But if you acknowledge this inconsistency then your generalisations will appear as expressions of merely wanting things to be a certain way, i.e. ideological statements. :sage:

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daverupa
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Re: Suffering, revulsion, loathsomeness

Post by daverupa » Sat Mar 30, 2013 5:10 am

You seem to think that practicing mindfulness necessitates making it ones entire raison d'être, with the consequence that any effort at all becomes impossible due to contradiction.

But mindfulness is basically an overarching awareness of what's going on, and as such has no part to play in responding to anything. It's simply a way of speaking about one aspect of the process of development and awakening.

I think that should cover the gist of things; the word salad was confusing, but so far you appear to me to be laboring under some misapprehensions.
AN 3.33 wrote:"Any action performed with aversion — born of aversion, caused by aversion, originating from aversion: wherever one's selfhood turns up, there that action will ripen. Where that action ripens, there one will experience its fruit, either in this very life that has arisen or further along in the sequence.
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

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