momentariness and experiential understanding

Discussion of Abhidhamma and related Commentaries
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robertk
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Re: momentariness and experiential understanding

Post by robertk »

sam Vara: My recent conditioning regarding the Dhamma (including Retro's piece) prompts me to ask what role volition and attention play in this. They are not mine, for sure, but their contents - as opposed to the brute fact of their totality - do seem to be somewhat amenable to my bidding. Hence my continuing interest in samatha as a tree possibly worth barking up...
That feeling of being amenable to our bidding is, I posit, due to the fact that we are largely unaware of the causes and conditions for each moment, and also that we see things as existing over periods of time, rather than momentary and conditioned.

Coming back to your other point about barking up the wrong tree, and the theme I have been pushing in zoom about the advantage of learning the teachings in enough detail.:
I made this thread:
.viewtopic.php?f=19&t=37183

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robertk
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Re: momentariness and experiential understanding

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Bhikkhu Bodhi notes in his introduction to Mulapariyaya p14 That
“in the stage of full understanding of the known, the gross object is analysed into its constituent dhammas and each dhamma is delimited in its distinct characteristic, function, manifestation, and proximate cause. This procedure rectifies the common sense assumption of simple substantial units, disclosing in its place a world of composite wholes brought temporarily together through a concatenation of conditions”
This is also relevant to our discussion on zoom ( and doesn't Bodhi come out with impressive turns of phrase). Because we live in a world of situations and concepts we miss the actual real and momentary elements - which are fully conditioned and behave according to their own nature - so we don't see the anattaness . It is a magicians trick.

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Sam Vara
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Re: momentariness and experiential understanding

Post by Sam Vara »

robertk wrote:
Mon May 18, 2020 9:08 am


On the possibility of barking up the wrong tree: a perennial problem for all spiritual adventurers, I think. I seem to remember one regular long term poster here who announced he was joining a Christian group one day - after years of arguing passionately for his pet areas in buddhism. Can you or me be sure we won't run off to join the Hari Krishna next year?
Yes, agreed. There is a story that went the rounds of the Forest Sangha a few years ago of a much-valued nun who suddenly disrobed to join some Christian fundamentalists - really crass in their outlook. There was general consternation, and someone asked the Ajahn what he thought of the whole business, especially the group she was joining "Well"' he said, "Perhaps they're right!"
1: it all makes perfect sense to how the world appears to me;
Do you mean that you actually perceive the rapid arising and passing away, or that it provides the most plausible explanation for what the Buddha said? I certainly agree that the origins of our beliefs - why we believe the things we do - are a mystery to us.
According to Abhidhammic theory what we call a block of concrete is actually a mass of trillions of kalapas (a group of matter), each with tiny spaces between them. And each of these kalapas arises and falls away instantly - but is replaced by new kalapas due to temperature (utu-samutthana) primarily in the kalapa that has just fallen away.
All matter outside the body is only composed of eight types of rupa yet the intensities of these eight can vary enormously and so we see a huge type of differing matter - water , snow, wood, plastic, flower, and thank god, coffee etc. So there is a kind of law that as you suggest "one moment of a particular type must give rise to the next, of a very similar type?" But of course this is very dependent and all sorts of events can happen so that deterioration in the conventional sense occurs..

Things like concrete or flower are said to be the shadow of what is really there (only evanescent rupas).
Thanks, that's clear. Presumably, the "law" is something merely conceptual, so is not something in itself which is arising and passing? i.e. do the laws gradually change, as well as the kalapas which they govern?
That feeling of being amenable to our bidding is, I posit, due to the fact that we are largely unaware of the causes and conditions for each moment, and also that we see things as existing over periods of time, rather than momentary and conditioned.
Again, it makes sense, but how then to explain the fact that if all things are subject to causes and conditions, why some of them appear to be more amenable than others? Raising my arm seems under my control, whereas (say) altering the orbit of Jupiter isn't. And - to bring in a point that Mike has alluded to - studying the Dhamma also seems to be within my sphere of control. I can't understand much (evidently! :toilet: ) but I do seem to be able to form the intention in an autonomous way. I believe you said that we are lucky enough to find the Dhamma due to our past interest and progress in previous lives. If so, wasn't that activity somehow efficacious in bringing about a favourable result?

As ever, thanks for taking the time on this one. :anjali:

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confusedlayman
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Re: momentariness and experiential understanding

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robertk wrote:
Sun May 17, 2020 11:11 am
One question raised today on the zoom meeting was how Abhidhammic theory, which posits a universe that is radically momentary, can account for actual experience where things seem to last for seconds, minutes, days or years ..

The first step before direct understanding has to be clear theoretical understanding, the foundation for anything deeper.

In the section on the development of vipassana in Vism.xx (the tika)
13. First it has to be seen by inference according to the texts. Afterwards it gradually comes to be seen by personal experience when the knowledge of development gets stronger (Vism-mhþ 790)

So what obscures seeing this rapid arising and falling?

The Visuddhimagga(XV3)
“The characteristic of impermanence does not become apparent because when rise and fall are not given attention it is concealed by continuity”..However when continuity is disrupted by discerning rise and fall the characteristic of impermanence becomes apparent in its true nature”
Because each element is immediately replaced by a new, and often very similar element ( by conditions), this fact is obscured.
Not only that, but moha (avijja ignorance) and tanha - which we we all have plenty of, actively distract from the truth. It is why the path must be narrow and difficult to see.

We can’t stop seeing, hearing, tasting, touching, feeling, knowing, thinking; these dhammas are not ours and they arise by conditions. . The thing is that the more we look into this, and the more obvious dukkha thus becomes, I think the happier we become.
Possibly the more we see that right effort is a conditioned phenomena, anatta, the more vigor there is – because we are not wasting energy trying to have what can’t yet be had. Then there is detachment from the idea of a self who is doing anything – there is, the theory suggests, the gradual elimination of attasanna (self perception), the paticcasamupadda is being dismantled.
when thing change in to something similar at fast interval, it looks the same. thats the problem with seeing conciousness as same...
Find a tree and practice jhana or dont regret later- Buddha
Something exist, dont exist, both exist and non exist, neither exist nor dont exist .. all these four possibilities are wrong- Nagarjuna
Find a dhamma companion or roam alone like rhinoceros in the wild- Buddha
If you are not happy even after following 8NP then you are doing it wrong- CL (confused layman)

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robertk
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Re: momentariness and experiential understanding

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Sam vara: but how then to explain the fact that if all things are subject to causes and conditions, why some of them appear to be more amenable than others? Raising my arm seems under my control, whereas (say) altering the orbit of Jupiter isn't. And - to bring in a point that Mike has alluded to - studying the Dhamma also seems to be within my sphere of control. I can't understand much (evidently! :toilet: ) but I do seem to be able to form the intention in an autonomous way. I believe you said that we are lucky enough to find the Dhamma due to our past interest and progress in previous lives. If so, wasn't that activity somehow efficacious in bringing about a favourable result?
Dear sam Vara
it is all a magic show as I understand the texts. From the Samantapasadika (note 194 of Bodhi Connected discourses):
Consciousness is like a magical illusion (māyā) in the sense that it is
insubstantial and cannot be grasped. Consciousness is even more transient and
fleeting than a magical illusion. For it gives the impression that a person comes
and goes, stands and sits, with the same mind, but the mind is different in each of
these activities. Consciousness deceives the multitude like a magical illusion.
Why are there movements like raising the arm or standing up, sitting down, putting food in the mouth. It is simply materiality arising because of mental activity. usually in a day most mental activity is conditioned by lobha (tanha/desire).. And that lobha is conditioned to arise by long accumulations of similar lobha. And so there is the belief that I am going to the refrigerator, I am choosing milk or tea..But it is a chain of empty processes -devoid of self.
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/aut ... tml#eating
Within there is nothing called a soul that robes itself. According to the method of exposition adopted already, only by the diffusion of the process of oscillation born of mental activity does the act of robing take place. The robe has no power to think and the body too has not that power. The robe is not aware of the fact that it is draping the body, and the body too of itself does not think: "I am being draped round with the robe.," Mere processes clothe a process-heap, in the same way that a modelled figure is covered with a piece of cloth.

Visuddhimagga XVIII 31
Therefore, just as a marionette is void, soulless and without curiosity, and
while it walks and stands merely through the combination of strings and wood,
[595] yet it seems as if it had curiosity and interestedness, so too, this mentality-materiality
is void, soulless and without curiosity, and while it walks and stands
merely through the combination of the two together, yet it seems as if it had
curiosity and interestedness. This is how it should be regarded. Hence the
Ancients said:

The mental and material are really here,
But here there is no human being to be found,
For it is void and merely fashioned like a doll—
Just suffering piled up like grass and sticks.
Once Mara questioned Bhikkhuni sela about this
https://suttacentral.net/sn5.9/en/bodhi#sc2
Mara: By whom has this puppet been created?
Where is the maker of the puppet?
Where has the puppet arisen?
Where does the puppet cease?”

Then the bhikkhuni Sela, having understood, “This is Mara the Evil One,” replied to him in verses:

“This puppet is not made by itself,
Nor is this misery made by another.
It has come to be dependent on a cause;
With the cause’s breakup it will cease.

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