Ajahn Brahm Responds To "Secular Mindfulness"

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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aflatun
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Re: Ajahn Brahm Responds To "Secular Mindfulness"

Post by aflatun » Fri Jan 19, 2018 4:27 am

DooDoot wrote:
Fri Jan 19, 2018 4:04 am

But, again, this argument above is mere word-play. It has no basis in evidence or reality. Knowable reality is:

1. When the body is fatigued, due to a lack of food, the mind becomes fatigued.

2. When the body is exhausted due to sleep deprivation, the mind will collapse into unconsciousness sleep.

3. When the body lacks certain hormones & chemicals, the mind becomes depressed.

4. When the body is charged with certain hormones & chemicals, the mind becomes animated.

5. While Ajahn Brahm may discern the mind expands in clarity in rupa jhanas as the body ceases impingement as a stressful sense object, thus believing body & mind are separate, once the mind enters into arupa jhana the mind starts to fade in the the base of neither-perception-nor-non-perception, until disappearing in nirodha samapatti.
Schopenhauer would certainly concede your points 1 through 4 my friend! In fact he argued the significance of these things quite forcefully. (As for Ajahn Brahm I don't care much for his approach in general, so I don't have anything to add there.)

Schopenhauer's take on these things was actually quite complex, and in my opinion ultimately inconsistent and untenable, but I won't get into all that as its off topic and I'm fairly certain no one cares all that much what the old curmudgeon thought :) (readers digest version: he rejected personal immortality, he rejected a "subject without an object," and he didn't hold consciousness to be some kind of "fundamental reality" or the creator of all...in fact he rather violently criticized the german idealists, Hegel, Fichte, et al for all this).

Nevertheless as a general critique of naive realism and materialism I have to disagree with you, the principle underlying the argument is quite profound and devastating to those theses, but not so clear if you haven't struggled with his entire corpus as the passage is embedded in a great deal of context. Apologies for the derail, I was just expressing my excitement that someone else enjoyed the passage.
"People often get too quick to say 'there's no self. There's no self...no self...no self.' There is self, there is focal point, its not yours. That's what not self is."

Ninoslav Ñāṇamoli
Senses and the Thought-1, 42:53

"Those who create constructs about the Buddha,
Who is beyond construction and without exhaustion,
Are thereby damaged by their constructs;
They fail to see the Thus-Gone.

That which is the nature of the Thus-Gone
Is also the nature of this world.
There is no nature of the Thus-Gone.
There is no nature of the world."

Nagarjuna
MMK XXII.15-16

DooDoot
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Re: Ajahn Brahm Responds To "Secular Mindfulness"

Post by DooDoot » Fri Jan 19, 2018 5:05 am

aflatun wrote:
Fri Jan 19, 2018 4:27 am
Schopenhauer's take..
OK. Thanks for the (secular) education. :)

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Bundokji
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Re: Ajahn Brahm Responds To "Secular Mindfulness"

Post by Bundokji » Fri Jan 19, 2018 9:40 am

It would have been more fruitful if there is an agreement between discussants about the meaning of mind. Nevertheless, we seem to have a first hand knowledge of our consciousness, not of our brain, and even when we think about the interdependence or the relationship between the two, the idea would be accepted, rejected or negotiated always as a first hand knowledge through self-consciousness.

Imagine someone who have never seen a brain nor encountered the term itself, would he be able to fabricate and hold a belief that consciousness has a material origin?

Is it possible for someone who believes that the mind can ultimately be reduced to matter to change his belief/mind, or vice versa? is not the open possibility that our views or theories can be changed according to circumstances/evolving evidence, but that those changing beliefs will always appear in consciousness as a first hand knowledge, seem to give the mind the upper hand over matter, at least for all the practical reasons!
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: Ajahn Brahm Responds To "Secular Mindfulness"

Post by DooDoot » Fri Jan 19, 2018 10:27 am

I suppose my personal objections were not to Buddhists who chose to believe what Ajahn Brahm teaches but to Buddhists using these beliefs to attack science; similar to how fundamentalist Xtians attack science. In my opinion, it makes Buddhism look really stupid in the eyes of the humanity.

It is similar to those who use Buddhism to attack Islam; which is not the purpose of the Buddhist teachings.

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Re: Ajahn Brahm Responds To "Secular Mindfulness"

Post by SarathW » Fri Jan 19, 2018 10:54 am

Buddha never said which came first, consciousness or the rupa.
Only thing what Buddha said was,

"It is as if two sheaves of reeds were to stand leaning against one another. In the same way, from name-&-form as a requisite condition comes consciousness, from consciousness as a requisite condition comes name-&-form."

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html

The problem I have here is:
Isn't Name-&-form already conscious?
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Re: Ajahn Brahm Responds To "Secular Mindfulness"

Post by Dinsdale » Fri Jan 19, 2018 11:55 am

SarathW wrote:
Fri Jan 19, 2018 10:54 am
Buddha never said which came first, consciousness or the rupa.
Only thing what Buddha said was,

"It is as if two sheaves of reeds were to stand leaning against one another. In the same way, from name-&-form as a requisite condition comes consciousness, from consciousness as a requisite condition comes name-&-form."

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html

The problem I have here is:
Isn't Name-&-form already conscious?
It seems that name+form represents everything we can be conscious of, so nama-rupa is equivalent to the four aggregates of rupa, sanna, vedana and sankharas.

Note that in some versions of DO name+form arises in dependence on consciousness, so not a mutual dependence.
Buddha save me from new-agers!

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aflatun
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Re: Ajahn Brahm Responds To "Secular Mindfulness"

Post by aflatun » Fri Jan 19, 2018 2:25 pm

DooDoot wrote:
Fri Jan 19, 2018 5:05 am
OK. Thanks for the (secular) education. :)
Hah, of course, and thank you for your time :thumbsup:
"People often get too quick to say 'there's no self. There's no self...no self...no self.' There is self, there is focal point, its not yours. That's what not self is."

Ninoslav Ñāṇamoli
Senses and the Thought-1, 42:53

"Those who create constructs about the Buddha,
Who is beyond construction and without exhaustion,
Are thereby damaged by their constructs;
They fail to see the Thus-Gone.

That which is the nature of the Thus-Gone
Is also the nature of this world.
There is no nature of the Thus-Gone.
There is no nature of the world."

Nagarjuna
MMK XXII.15-16

paul
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Re: Ajahn Brahm Responds To "Secular Mindfulness"

Post by paul » Fri Jan 19, 2018 6:48 pm

The practical contemplation aspect of mind and body (mentality-materiality) is to have direct knowledge that although they are interdependent like two sheaves of reeds propped against each other, they are also according to this image individual entities, and the Visuddhimagga manual instructs they be meditated on and separated. This is the foundation for the purification of view required for progress of insight (Vism. XVIII), where materiality can be seen to encompass conventional reality, leading to the Theravada duality of conventional/ultimate reality, which has necessary application in daily life to separate experiences. This is the basis for the foundations of mindfulness if they are simplified into three, body, feelings and mind, with feelings being the intermediary between body and mind. When the Satipatthana sutta says " Or his mindfulness that 'There is a body' is maintained " it means the separation of body from mind as an independent entity.
Necessity of practical application:
"While in a literate culture in which systematic thought is highly prized the lack of such a text with a unifying function might be viewed as a defect, in an entirely oral culture—as was the culture in which the Buddha lived and moved—the lack of a descriptive key to the Dhamma would hardly be considered significant. Within this culture neither teacher nor student aimed at conceptual completeness. The teacher did not intend to present a complete system of ideas; his pupils did not aspire to learn a complete system of ideas. The aim that united them in the process of learning—the process of transmission—was that of practical training, self-transformation, the realization of truth, and unshakable liberation of the mind."---"In the Buddha's Words", Bikkhu Bodhi.
Last edited by paul on Fri Jan 19, 2018 8:17 pm, edited 3 times in total.

SarathW
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Re: Ajahn Brahm Responds To "Secular Mindfulness"

Post by SarathW » Fri Jan 19, 2018 8:09 pm

It seems that name+form represents everything we can be conscious of, so nama-rupa is equivalent to the four aggregates of rupa, sanna, vedana and sankharas.
No this is incorrect.
Listen to the following Dependent Origination recoding by BB.

http://bodhimonastery.org/the-buddhas-t ... it-is.html
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Re: Ajahn Brahm Responds To "Secular Mindfulness"

Post by Zom » Fri Jan 19, 2018 9:14 pm

The practical contemplation aspect of mind and body (mentality-materiality) is to have direct knowledge that although they are interdependent like two sheaves of reeds propped against each other, they are also according to this image individual entities, and the Visuddhimagga manual instructs they be meditated on and separated.
The practical outcome is to get a direct knowledge that vinnyana disappears when namarupa does (happens upon attaining nirodha samapatti). That is, the direct knowledge that vinnyana is impermanent and thus not-self. This knowledge leads to arahanship. And "purification of views" - is sotapatti which is correct intellectual understanding of the process without the direct knowledge (actually, it is the very start of the path. the first step). In this sense Visuddhimagga and all late commentaries got it wrong 8-)

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Re: Ajahn Brahm Responds To "Secular Mindfulness"

Post by Saengnapha » Sat Jan 20, 2018 2:58 am

Zom wrote:
Fri Jan 19, 2018 9:14 pm
The practical contemplation aspect of mind and body (mentality-materiality) is to have direct knowledge that although they are interdependent like two sheaves of reeds propped against each other, they are also according to this image individual entities, and the Visuddhimagga manual instructs they be meditated on and separated.
The practical outcome is to get a direct knowledge that vinnyana disappears when namarupa does (happens upon attaining nirodha samapatti). That is, the direct knowledge that vinnyana is impermanent and thus not-self. This knowledge leads to arahanship. And "purification of views" - is sotapatti which is correct intellectual understanding of the process without the direct knowledge (actually, it is the very start of the path. the first step). In this sense Visuddhimagga and all late commentaries got it wrong 8-)
+1

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Re: Ajahn Brahm Responds To "Secular Mindfulness"

Post by zerotime » Sat Jan 20, 2018 12:47 pm

aflatun wrote:
Fri Jan 19, 2018 3:50 am
Schopenhauer was a force of nature, one of my favorite passages :twothumbsup:
agree :)

DooDoot wrote:
Fri Jan 19, 2018 2:12 am
"In the case of the one who is dead, who has completed his time, his bodily fabrications have ceased & subsided, his verbal fabrications ... his mental fabrications have ceased & subsided, his vitality is exhausted, his heat subsided, & his [five sense organ] faculties are scattered. But in the case of a monk who has attained the cessation of perception & feeling, his bodily fabrications [in & out breathing] have ceased & subsided, his verbal fabrications ... his mental fabrications [perception & feeling] have ceased & subsided, his vitality is not exhausted, his heat has not subsided, & his [five physical sense organ] faculties are exceptionally clear. This is the difference between one who is dead, who has completed his time, and a monk who has attained the cessation of perception & feeling."
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html
Were someone to say, 'I will describe a coming, a going, a passing away, an arising, a growth, an increase, or a proliferation of consciousness apart from form, from feeling, from perception, from fabrications,' that would be impossible.
SN 22.53

Sorry, but you seem to be backing the wrong horse here, i.e. the horse called 'Eternalism' & 'Permanence'. I will look for the ignore function, now. No time to argue with Mischievous Creationists.
:hello:
I don't write any creationist thing :shock:

I believe when we read those Suttas we cannot forget in Dhamma teaching there is continuity instead any first creator. It seems this is your interpretation using matter as the first cause creator of all.

Our mental fabrications will cease at death but no the cause for the arising of new mental fabrications. While there is not a cease of what causes those fabrications, new fabrications will arise. And also that fabrication of a "me", and a new being should be born with a perceived world (with its mind and its matter!) to be experienced.

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Re: Ajahn Brahm Responds To "Secular Mindfulness"

Post by paul » Sat Jan 20, 2018 5:38 pm

Zom wrote:
Fri Jan 19, 2018 9:14 pm
[...]

Thanks for the replies, I use these as an evaluation of practice. What you say though has little interest as it is from a different tradition, samatha I think. The only thing of interest was that you identified Purification of View as the first stage of insight, which of course I’m well aware of, and have no concerns about admitting to being at that stage. I speak from a practical point of view and find enough interesting material to work on in dealing with the separation of materiality and mentality. Here we are forging a path with an attitude of renunciation new to western culture, taking refuge not in conventional attitudes, but in the Buddha’s assertions of the truth, to be experienced individually. My observation is that most of the discussion here is at the conceptual stage rather than the experiential and no matter what conceptual issues may be discussed, whether they believe in the commentaries or not the practitioner cannot escape dealing with the stages of insight knowledge when it comes to actual application, and that recognising and reconciling the implications of materiality-mentality as applied externally is a gateway that must be passed through before further insight progress can be made. Ajahn Maha Boowa refers to the separation of conventional from ultimate reality in "Samana", which testifies to its legitimacy as a duality to be dealt with. In earlier times I was fortunate enough to meet Ajahn Brahm not long after he returned from studying with Ajahn Chah in Thailand and was exposed to the full potency of the Thai forest tradition. These days his own temperament has come more to the fore and the earlier comments in this thread are accurate, he is not a scholar-monk and his strength has always been in good samadhi, which appeals to the Asian mind and hence his popularity there. Ajahn Chah died during the time I was at Bodhinyana, and around that time a bushfire raged through the monastery.

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Re: Ajahn Brahm Responds To "Secular Mindfulness"

Post by Zom » Sat Jan 20, 2018 8:42 pm

the practitioner cannot escape dealing with the stages of insight knowledge when it comes to actual application
The thing is - these "stages of insight knowledge" themselves are late philosophical concepts which you can never meet in your actual practice. If you are attached to these views, you ll probably try to fit all possible experience into this conceptual scheme and try to interpret it only this way, but doing so you don't actally prove that these concepts are true 8-)
I speak from a practical point of view and find enough interesting material to work on in dealing with the separation of materiality and mentality.
To speak from a practical point of view on this matter, you should first master all jhanas .)

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Re: Ajahn Brahm Responds To "Secular Mindfulness"

Post by JiWe2 » Tue Jan 23, 2018 12:07 pm

I watched yesterday this recent talk by B. Alan Wallace on "The Buddhist Science of Mind." Lots of interesting stuff re: mind, brain, materialism, empirical science, samadhi, different possible dimensions of the concept "mind" etc. and even secular mindfulness is mentioned. This presentation has some of the same ideas I've heard from Ajahn Brahm, but IMO with much more clarity.



PS I've no idea what's true or untrue here, something to be examined by yourself?

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Re: Ajahn Brahm Responds To "Secular Mindfulness"

Post by robertk » Tue Jan 23, 2018 12:15 pm

Alan Wallace is state of the art on anything related to science and Buddhism. Great thinker.

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Re: Ajahn Brahm Responds To "Secular Mindfulness"

Post by mikenz66 » Tue Jan 23, 2018 1:22 pm

Wallace is one of the vanishingly small number of people who doesn't make me cringe when discussing Science and Buddhism. He actually knows about both, unlike most others who know nothing about ine or the other, or both.. The book "Choosing Reality ..." is excellent.

Mike

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