How low can you go?

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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Viscid
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Re: How low can you go?

Post by Viscid » Mon Jul 28, 2014 7:05 pm

tiltbillings wrote:Our OP is trying to be clever, seemingly using low, as in low temperature, which Ven Pesala caught.
Well, the topic of the thread is 'how low can you go,' perhaps a reference to the limbo chant, which would suggest the 'lowering' refers to some process of diminution.
tiltbillings wrote:That I would imagine is what nibbana would be, but only more unimaginably profound.
I was considering starting a thread called 'Can we imagine nibbana?' We're conceptualizing nibbana based on a projection of our past experience. We are familiar with the difference between identifying with a source of suffering and observing it passively, and from that we imagine what it would be like to do that comprehensively-- to be totally free of the suffering associated with attachment. But as you say, nibbana is "only more unimaginably profound." (How do you know that?) If it's so different from what we can possibly imagine.. if it's so different from our past experience, what right have we to speak of it at all? How could we possibly know our projection is accurate? Conceptualizing nibbana in such a way is pragmatic in the sense that it motivates our practice toward a goal, but how can we say with conviction we know what nibbana actually is? Are we not misleading people in creating metaphors or analogies for something we haven't directly experienced to the fullest extent?
"What holds attention determines action." - William James

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tiltbillings
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Re: How low can you go?

Post by tiltbillings » Mon Jul 28, 2014 7:55 pm

Viscid wrote:
tiltbillings wrote: But as you say, nibbana is "only more unimaginably profound." (How do you know that?) If it's so different from what we can possibly imagine.. if it's so different from our past experience, how can we speak of it at all? How can we know our projection is accurate? Conceptualizing nibbana in such a way is pragmatic in the sense that it motivates our practice toward a goal, but can we say with any conviction we actually know what nibbana is?
How do I know that? The sentence that you quote in part in whole reads: "That I would imagine is what nibbana would be, but only more unimaginably profound." Obviously, I do not know, but given that the awakening to the Dhamma plays itself out in the world, it would be surprising if the experience of nibbana would not be foreshadowed by the experiences of practices of meditation in the "world."

As to what nibbana really is, I think the practices outlined by the Buddha point to letting go, unbinding, cessation, and in the context of meditation practice (but not solely limited to meditation experiences) we can experience small letting go-s, small unbindings, small cessations. I do not know why nibbana would be some experience totally unrelated. The texts suggest that the experience of nibbana is not unrelated to what is foreshadowed by the very practice itself, which makes sense, and it is the reason why I interpret the Dhamma the way I do.

On the other hand, that is what I believe, it is my opinion, but I do keep Seng-Ts'an in mind when it comes to my opinions, but in actual terms of practice, I really do not care. I don't worry about it; I do not worry about attainments of any sort, jhana, sotapanna, etc. The practice is about letting go. I do not much like the word "enlightenment" as a translation of bodhi, but the word enlightenment does allow one to pun on it. The practice is about lightening-up, carrying less baggage, and so forth.

These conversations can be fun, but . . . .
>> 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

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Mkoll
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Re: How low can you go?

Post by Mkoll » Mon Jul 28, 2014 9:14 pm

Viscid wrote:Well, the topic of the thread is 'how low can you go,' perhaps a reference to the limbo chant, which would suggest the 'lowering' refers to some process of diminution.
Yes, the limbo chant was what I heard, hence my first post. :tongue:
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa

SarathW
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Re: How low can you go?

Post by SarathW » Mon Jul 28, 2014 9:47 pm

In regard to imagine Nibbana:

I think we all have our own little imagination about what Nibbana is.
As we know even the scholars are divided as to what Nibbana is.
For example every time I read that there is a consciousness out side five aggregate (Ven. Thanissaro's understanding of Nibbana), I feel very uncomfortable.
I think someone can read the Bible by replacing the word God with Nibbna and may think that he is in the path to Nibbana.

As far as I am concern it is waste of time to understand Nibbna outside the Suttas.
Suttas are difficult enough.
Why do we need to complicate it any further?

For me it is something like you trying to split the atom without having any knowledge about e,m,c, = and square.

So there is no Nibbana outside the Noble Eightfold Path or Four Noble Truths.

:meditate:
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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m0rl0ck
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Re: How low can you go?

Post by m0rl0ck » Mon Jul 28, 2014 11:18 pm

tiltbillings wrote:As to what nibbana really is, I think the practices outlined by the Buddha point to letting go, unbinding, cessation, and in the context of meditation practice (but not solely limited to meditation experiences) we can experience small letting go-s, small unbindings, small cessations. I do not know why nibbana would be some experience totally unrelated. The texts suggest that the experience of nibbana is not unrelated to what is foreshadowed by the very practice itself, which makes sense, and it is the reason why I interpret the Dhamma the way I do.

On the other hand, that is what I believe, it is my opinion, but I do keep Seng-Ts'an in mind when it comes to my opinions, but in actual terms of practice, I really do not care. I don't worry about it; I do not worry about attainments of any sort, jhana, sotapanna, etc. The practice is about letting go. I do not much like the word "enlightenment" as a translation of bodhi, but the word enlightenment does allow one to pun on it. The practice is about lightening-up, carrying less baggage, and so forth.

:goodpost:
“The truth knocks on the door and you say, "Go away, I'm looking for the truth," and so it goes away. Puzzling.” ― Robert M. Pirsig

alan
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Re: How low can you go?

Post by alan » Mon Jul 28, 2014 11:41 pm

In regards to 'Enlightenment", absolute zero may not be the best metaphor, as it can be attained only for nanoseconds in controlled experiments.
Now, I can also speak from personal experience, as I once came close to that theoretical limit--when almost all molecules cease activity--on a Cape Cod beach in winter. No higher awareness pervaded my mind. Defilements, in fact, increased significantly.

vesak2014
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Re: How low can you go?

Post by vesak2014 » Tue Jul 29, 2014 1:43 am

tiltbillings wrote:
Viscid wrote:Not sure how much I like using 'low,' in reference to nibbana.. If a thing is 'low' then there are other things 'higher' than it, and is nibbana not described as the highest bliss? It also suggests a depth, as if you're referring merely to a deep meditative state rather than a permanent attainment of liberation.
Our OP is trying to be clever, seemingly using low, as in low temperature, which Ven Pesala caught. Our OP is punning on words such nibbuti/nibbuta, cooling/cooled, which of course refers to nibbana the extinguishment of burning: "The eye is burning, forms are burning, . . . Burning with what? Burning with the fire of lust, with the fire of hate, with the fire of delusion. I say it is burning with birth, aging and death, with sorrows, with lamentations, with pains, with griefs, with despairs."



Now, is this what our OP is driving at? Damdifino.
@Viscid
You completely missed the point. I didn't mean to use 'low' in reference to nibbana. 'How low you can go' would be what I use to refer to nibbana. And this reference is not complete since it's missing the context. How low you can go, in what context am I saying? So far no one has figured it out. Bhikkhu Pesala came up with temperature context.

@tiltbillings
Nope, you are wrong again. Earlier I thought Bhikkhu Pesala would have nailed it (maybe later you'll see what I mean by this.) I responded with a question because he was almost nailed it. But I was expecting more than stock formula: greed, hatred, and delusion. Temperature can be used too (as a metaphor) but not in that way.
He provided a link to SN 35.28 (The Fire Sermon) but it doesn't quite connect since the sutta doesn't say "to cool to absolute zero" the three fires. Both you and him took it too literal (e.g. cooled, burning) regarding the temperature metaphor.

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tiltbillings
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Re: How low can you go?

Post by tiltbillings » Tue Jul 29, 2014 1:48 am

vesak2014 wrote: You completely missed the point. . . . Nope, you are wrong again. . . . .
Given the games you have played in earlier threads, what a boring surprise.
>> 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

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daverupa
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Re: How low can you go?

Post by daverupa » Tue Jul 29, 2014 1:50 am

vesak2014 wrote:It is inviting people to talk about nibbana using your own words instead of merely using the stock phrases in the suttas.
Why? I am very curious.
vesak2014 wrote:How low you can go, in what context am I saying? So far no one has figured it out.
The context is... they are your own words to talk about nibbana, I bet.

Or the title is a meta-commentary on the thread, and inherently off-topic, which would be an odd thing that should probably be nipped in the bud.

And anyway, gnomic utterances are so very pedantic.
  • "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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Mkoll
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Re: How low can you go?

Post by Mkoll » Tue Jul 29, 2014 2:47 am

daverupa wrote:And anyway, gnomic utterances are so very pedantic.
More like pretentious in this case. ;)
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa

SarathW
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Re: How low can you go?

Post by SarathW » Tue Jul 29, 2014 3:09 am

tiltbillings wrote:
Viscid wrote:
tiltbillings wrote: But as you say, nibbana is "only more unimaginably profound." (How do you know that?) If it's so different from what we can possibly imagine.. if it's so different from our past experience, how can we speak of it at all? How can we know our projection is accurate? Conceptualizing nibbana in such a way is pragmatic in the sense that it motivates our practice toward a goal, but can we say with any conviction we actually know what nibbana is?
How do I know that? The sentence that you quote in part in whole reads: "That I would imagine is what nibbana would be, but only more unimaginably profound." Obviously, I do not know, but given that the awakening to the Dhamma plays itself out in the world, it would be surprising if the experience of nibbana would not be foreshadowed by the experiences of practices of meditation in the "world."

As to what nibbana really is, I think the practices outlined by the Buddha point to letting go, unbinding, cessation, and in the context of meditation practice (but not solely limited to meditation experiences) we can experience small letting go-s, small unbindings, small cessations. I do not know why nibbana would be some experience totally unrelated. The texts suggest that the experience of nibbana is not unrelated to what is foreshadowed by the very practice itself, which makes sense, and it is the reason why I interpret the Dhamma the way I do.

On the other hand, that is what I believe, it is my opinion, but I do keep Seng-Ts'an in mind when it comes to my opinions, but in actual terms of practice, I really do not care. I don't worry about it; I do not worry about attainments of any sort, jhana, sotapanna, etc. The practice is about letting go. I do not much like the word "enlightenment" as a translation of bodhi, but the word enlightenment does allow one to pun on it. The practice is about lightening-up, carrying less baggage, and so forth.

These conversations can be fun, but . . . .
:goodpost:
By the way what Seng-Ts'an said?
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Mkoll
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Re: How low can you go?

Post by Mkoll » Tue Jul 29, 2014 3:41 am

SarathW wrote:By the way what Seng-Ts'an said?
A poem called the Hsin Hsin Ming (Faith in Mind) is attributed to him. It's one the pithiest of Zen writings and one of my favorites from that school.

Here's the relevant passage I believe Tilt was referring to:
Hsin Hsin Ming wrote: If you wish to see the truth
then hold no opinions for or against anything.
To set up what you like against what you dislike
is the disease of the mind.
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa

vesak2014
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Re: How low can you go?

Post by vesak2014 » Tue Jul 29, 2014 3:51 am

tiltbillings wrote:Given the games you have played in earlier threads, what a boring surprise.
Be patient, keep the ball rolling, and you will elicit more. It's not a game, instead It's an approach to keep the discussion going by stimulating thinking rather than merely listening.
daverupa wrote:The context is... they are your own words to talk about nibbana, I bet.
Nope, you lose the bet.
Alright then. The context is an important teaching that is often forgotten in explaining nibbana. From there it will answer the question "what is got cooled to absolute zero?" The answer will include the three fires. Three fires don't include the answer since they are subset of it.
Actually there is one more clue you can dig from the temperature metaphor. What happen if something is experiencing absolute zero temperature? It is totally "frozen". And what is frozen a metaphor for? I believe people know.

vesak2014
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Re: How low can you go?

Post by vesak2014 » Tue Jul 29, 2014 3:55 am

Mkoll wrote:More like pretentious in this case. ;)
"Good luck to you, sir." ~ Trungpa

;)

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Mkoll
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Re: How low can you go?

Post by Mkoll » Tue Jul 29, 2014 4:14 am

vesak2014 wrote:
Mkoll wrote:More like pretentious in this case. ;)
"Good luck to you, sir." ~ Trungpa

;)
I just watch you prove the point in nigh every post you make.

:popcorn:
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa

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