Alexander Wynne: Sariputta or Kaccāna? A preliminary study of two early Buddhist philosophies of mind and meditation

Textual analysis and comparative discussion on early Buddhist sects and texts.
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mikenz66
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Alexander Wynne: Sariputta or Kaccāna? A preliminary study of two early Buddhist philosophies of mind and meditation

Post by mikenz66 » Thu May 31, 2018 8:24 pm

Alexander Wynne's new article on early Buddhist meditation:
https://www.academia.edu/36752191/Sarip ... meditation

My initial impression is that he is arguing that the earliest approach was a kind of “bare insight”, but not in the later Commentarial sense, but perhaps more along the lines of Bhikkhu Ñāṇananda’s analysis.
We have seen that there are two fundamentally distinct understandings of ‘conciousness’ or ‘mind’, and two related soteriologies, in the early Buddhist discourses. It is difficult to see how they could be reconciled, for both suggest different outcomes towards the end of the Buddhist path. According to our reading of Kaccana, liberation requires mindfulness in the sense of bare cognition; but according to our reading or Sariputta, liberation is attained by minimising experience to its most refined state, which confers the ability to see ideas clearly, or to comprehend the refined contents of this state, or else to jump into a state of non-experience.
There are some links to Wynne's lectures on the subject, and some other comments here: https://discourse.suttacentral.net/t/al ... tions/9603

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Re: Alexander Wynne: Sariputta or Kaccāna? A preliminary study of two early Buddhist philosophies of mind and meditation

Post by Pseudobabble » Fri Jun 01, 2018 7:18 am

Hi Mike,

Very interesting article.

I'm not quite finished, but Wynne highlights a contradiction which doesn't seem too problematic to me:
Screenshot from 2018-06-01 07-49-48.png
Screenshot from 2018-06-01 07-49-48.png (60.41 KiB) Viewed 262 times

It seems to me that the dichotomy posed between Sariputta's application of constructed/refined mental states and Kaccana's cognition stripped of artifice (avoiding 'bare' because of modern connotations) is not really a problem, because Sariputta operates in a terminological framework suited to 'technique', and Kaccana a framework for 'objective state', if I can speak very broadly.

We need to construct a concentrated state of mind, because only a concentrated mind is not disturbed by incidental mental activity, which would prevent it from perceiving the constructed nature of mind/reality. Such perception (of the constructed nature of reality, supported by concentrative clarity) is a function of the cognitive faculty of awareness, and as such is not itself constructed, but requires the artificially clarified environment of a mind cleared by concentration, which is 'constructed' in the sense that it is the result of a process of intentional direction of attention, rather than being a cognitive function or capability.

Basically, in Thanissaro's terms, we fabricate a state of mind which will allow us to perceive the fabricated (conditioned) nature of things. The moment of 'seeing things as they are' is a moment of 'bare cognition', but its not possible to have such a moment without training in 'constructions'.

I've come up against this in my own practice too - after a session of meditation, I get up, and walk into the kitchen. I see the fridge. My mind pictures what is inside the fridge, and the tongue tastes the memory of the food. BAM, hunger. The hunger was not there before, it is purely a result of imagining the taste of the food. That hunger is 'made up', so to speak, constructed on conditions. This process no doubt occurs every time I look at the fridge - who knows how many things have been eaten, purely because I remembered what they taste like! The point is the process occurs far too quickly and obscurely to be perceived when I have not been meditating. It is the artificially constructed state of concentration which allows awareness to perceive the mind in action, and thus demonstrate the conditionality of desire (and other mental states).

No debate here, just wanted to drop a comment. Very interesting article.
"Does Master Gotama have any position at all?"

"A 'position,' Vaccha, is something that a Tathagata has done away with. What a Tathagata sees is this: 'Such is form, such its origination, such its disappearance; such is feeling, such its origination, such its disappearance; such is perception...such are fabrications...such is consciousness, such its origination, such its disappearance.'" - Aggi-Vacchagotta Sutta


'Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return.' - Genesis 3:19

'Some fart freely, some try to hide and silence it. Which one is correct?' - Saegnapha

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Re: Alexander Wynne: Sariputta or Kaccāna? A preliminary study of two early Buddhist philosophies of mind and meditation

Post by mikenz66 » Fri Jun 01, 2018 9:27 am

Pseudobabble wrote:
Fri Jun 01, 2018 7:18 am
We need to construct a concentrated state of mind, because only a concentrated mind is not disturbed by incidental mental activity, which would prevent it from perceiving the constructed nature of mind/reality.
...
That's a good point, and one might argue that the difference between Wynne's "Kaccana approach", and other "insight" approaches are in matters of detail. However, what about the construction of states such as cessation of perception and feeling?

Having now read the article more closely, I'm even more struck by the relationships between Wynne's characterisation of Kaccana's approach, and Nanananda's Nibbana Sermons, which also make heavy use of Kaccana's MN 18 https://suttacentral.net/mn18/en/sujato exposition of papanca https://suttacentral.net/mn18/en/sujato#16.1 (in Sermon 11) and the 4th and 5th chapters of the Sutta Nipata. Of course, Wynne does reference Nananda's early book on Concept and Reality...

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Mike

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