"Its like this"

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.
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daverupa
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Re: "Its like this"

Post by daverupa » Sat Apr 23, 2016 11:40 pm

Cormac Brown wrote:Right mindfulness, as per the satipatthana sutta, includes putting aside unwholesome states of mind
Nope. MN 10 doesn't have that, instead speaking of observation and acting with awareness. Maybe you mean that line 'free from desires & discontent'? Where does it support your claim that mindfulness alone accomplishes this?
It's not at all the case that when you take up mindfulness practice you abandon right effort, and simply let defilements in to "observe" them.
This wasn't claimed; and in fact, one observes whatever defilements or wholesome attributes are present, one does not "let them in" - they're already there, hence the necessity of the Path. And, after having observed what is present, one can then wisely engage effort.
The quoted instructions give the impression that it's a-ok to just sit and watch your mind be in a terrible state.
Observation is a necessary beginning; you are ignoring the network of components here, trying to have one aspect of Samadhi include all the other aspects.
Hence the simile of the gatekeeper.
Well, via AN 7.67:
With mindfulness as his gate-keeper, the disciple of the ones abandons what is unskillful, develops what is skillful, abandons what is blameworthy, develops what is blameless, and looks after himself with purity.
Mindfulness is essential as a first step, and then with this in place right effort can kick into gear. You would claim, on the basis of this metaphor, that mindfulness involved most/all of Samadhi and all of Sila as well.
Even when practising the third foundation, it's with the agenda of doing away with the unskilful cittas...
Again, that's effort. The statements in the Sutta only involve variations on "they clearly know"; effort is other than mindfulness. The three aspects of Samadhi work together, as does the whole of the Path, but each component is not all components.
(See also the Maha-cattarisaka Sutta, which equates right resolve, action etc. all with right mindfulness.)
False. It says:
One makes an effort to abandon wrong view and to enter upon right view: this is one’s right effort. Mindfully one abandons wrong view, mindfully one enters upon and abides in right view: this is one’s right mindfulness. Thus these three states run and circle around right view, that is, right view, right effort, and right mindfulness.
They come together, but are not the same.
They don't work in isolation.
Of course not. This is exactly what's been said here.
  • "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]

Cormac Brown
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Re: "Its like this"

Post by Cormac Brown » Sun Apr 24, 2016 8:38 pm

daverupa wrote:
Cormac Brown wrote:Right mindfulness, as per the satipatthana sutta, includes putting aside unwholesome states of mind
Nope. MN 10 doesn't have that, instead speaking of observation and acting with awareness. Maybe you mean that line 'free from desires & discontent'? Where does it support your claim that mindfulness alone accomplishes this?
Perhaps this refrain, repeated four times at the very beginning, might ring a bell...
putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world
Sorry, but I find the rest of your post so self-contradictory, and some of the sentences so unintelligible, as to render a response too troublesome.

It remains that the instructions represent the increasingly prevalent lazy approach to meditation, one that the most respected Thai Ajaans lampoon and try to discourage, where the state of your mind doesn't matter - all you need to do is observe and let things be, watching things rise and fall. I've spent enough time around practitioners, monastic and lay, who follow such teachings, as well as having tried them myself, to be convinced that they lead nowhere very good. Happily, many in the Western Ajahn Chah monasteries are now taking more of an interest in study & practice of the suttas, and lean instead towards the teachings of Ven Thanissaro and the Krooba Ajahns.

I'm quite sure that Ajaan Mun, whom, ironically, bodom features in his avatar, would have no time for such "practice" as described in the OP, if it even warrants the term. Let alone the Lord Buddha, whose description of his own practice consigns the OP firmly to the dustbin:
AN 2.5 trans. Ven. Thanissaro

"Monks, I have known two qualities through experience: discontent with regard to skillful qualities[1] and unrelenting exertion. Relentlessly I exerted myself, [thinking,] 'Gladly would I let the flesh & blood in my body dry up, leaving just the skin, tendons, & bones, but if I have not attained what can be reached through human firmness, human persistence, human striving, there will be no relaxing my persistence.' From this heedfulness of mine was attained Awakening. From this heedfulness of mine was attained the unexcelled freedom from bondage.

"You, too, monks, should relentlessly exert yourselves, [thinking,] 'Gladly would we let the flesh & blood in our bodies dry up, leaving just the skin, tendons, & bones, but if we have not attained what can be reached through human firmness, human persistence, human striving, there will be no relaxing our persistence.' You, too, in no long time will reach & remain in the supreme goal of the holy life for which clansmen rightly go forth from home into homelessness, knowing & realizing it for yourselves in the here & now.

"Thus you should train yourselves: 'We will relentlessly exert ourselves, [thinking,] "Gladly would we let the flesh & blood in our bodies dry up, leaving just the skin, tendons, & bones, but if we have not attained what can be reached through human firmness, human persistence, human striving, there will be no relaxing our persistence."' That's how you should train yourselves."
It certainly makes me feel ashamed as to the state of my own meagre practice, but it's obvious from this that the incorrect response would be to say, as per the OP, that "my state of mind is not the issue" and just let things be in judgement-free awareness. Instead, a fresh commitment should be made to make an effort to follow the Buddha's advice in "relentlessly" improving the state of my mind, and relentlessly judging it to be inadequate until I've reached what can't be surpassed.

It reminds me of Ven. Thanissaro's story of the psychologists brought in to treat the low self-esteem of drug addicts in the USA. Instead of encouraging them to clean up their act and sober up, they simply told them that they were OK the way they were, and not to feel bad about themselves. The result? They remained addicted to crack and heroin, but now felt totally fine about it and no longer had any motivation to quit.

Similarly, the OP insinuates that our real problem is that we want to change unskilful states of mind, and that the solution is to stop trying. When we stop trying and just be content with "the way it is," all our suffering will disappear. The merest of comparisons of such teachings with the Lord Buddha's, reveals them to be poles apart.

I sympathise with the desire for apparent "comfort Dhamma" such as the OP - we all tend toward laziness - but there comes a time when you have to accept that it just doesn't make the grade.
“I in the present who am a worthy one, rightly self-awakened, am a
teacher of action, a teacher of activity, a teacher of persistence. But the
worthless man Makkhali contradicts even me, (saying,) ‘There is no
action. There is no activity. There is no persistence.’ "
AN 3.138, trans. Ven. Thanissaro

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Re: "Its like this"

Post by clw_uk » Sun Apr 24, 2016 8:55 pm

For me it seems that right effort is maintaining sila, not engaging in unwholesome thoughts when they arise by proliferating them and practicing and developing the brahmavihāras as well as Ānāpānasati etc; so we make an effort to develop what is good, abandon what is bad and to not proliferate thoughts of ill-will etc when they arise. That is also Ajahn Sumedho's position, based upon what I have read/heard from him.

Some suttas extracts on Right Effort:

The definition (the four Right Exertions):

"And what, monks, is right effort?

"There is the case where a monk generates desire, endeavors, activates persistence, upholds & exerts his intent for the sake of the non-arising of evil, unskillful qualities that have not yet arisen.

[ii] "He generates desire, endeavors, activates persistence, upholds & exerts his intent for the sake of the abandonment of evil, unskillful qualities that have arisen.

[iii] "He generates desire, endeavors, activates persistence, upholds & exerts his intent for the sake of the arising of skillful qualities that have not yet arisen.

[iv] "He generates desire, endeavors, activates persistence, upholds & exerts his intent for the maintenance, non-confusion, increase, plenitude, development, & culmination of skillful qualities that have arisen: This, monks, is called right effort."

— SN 45.8
Abandon the unskillful, develop the skillful

"Abandon what is unskillful, monks. It is possible to abandon what is unskillful. If it were not possible to abandon what is unskillful, I would not say to you, 'Abandon what is unskillful.' But because it is possible to abandon what is unskillful, I say to you, 'Abandon what is unskillful.' If this abandoning of what is unskillful were conducive to harm and pain, I would not say to you, 'Abandon what is unskillful.' But because this abandoning of what is unskillful is conducive to benefit and pleasure, I say to you, 'Abandon what is unskillful.'

"Develop what is skillful, monks. It is possible to develop what is skillful. If it were not possible to develop what is skillful, I would not say to you, 'Develop what is skillful.' But because it is possible to develop what is skillful, I say to you, 'Develop what is skillful.' If this development of what is skillful were conducive to harm and pain, I would not say to you, 'Develop what is skillful.' But because this development of what is skillful is conducive to benefit and pleasure, I say to you, 'Develop what is skillful.'"

— AN 2.19
Abandoning the wrong factors of the path

"One tries to abandon wrong view & to enter into right view: This is one's right effort...

"One tries to abandon wrong resolve & to enter into right resolve: This is one's right effort...

"One tries to abandon wrong speech & to enter into right speech: This is one's right effort...

"One tries to abandon wrong action & to enter into right action: This is one's right effort...

"One tries to abandon wrong livelihood & to enter into right livelihood: This is one's right effort."

— MN 117
Like fine-tuning a musical instrument

As Ven Sona was meditating in seclusion [after doing walking meditation until the skin of his soles was split & bleeding], this train of thought arose in his awareness: "Of the Blessed One's disciples who have aroused their persistence, I am one, but my mind is not released from the effluents through lack of clinging/sustenance. Now, my family has enough wealth that it would be possible to enjoy wealth & make merit. What if I were to disavow the training, return to the lower life, enjoy wealth, & make merit?"

Then the Blessed One, as soon as he perceived with his awareness the train of thought in Ven. Sona's awareness — as a strong man might stretch out his bent arm or bend his outstretched arm — disappeared from Vulture Peak Mountain, appeared in the Cool Wood right in front of Ven. Sona, and sat down on a prepared seat. Ven. Sona, after bowing down to the Blessed One, sat to one side. As he was sitting there, the Blessed One said to him, "Just now, as you were meditating in seclusion, didn't this train of thought appear to your awareness: 'Of the Blessed One's disciples who have aroused their persistence, I am one, but my mind is not released from the effluents... What if I were to disavow the training, return to the lower life, enjoy wealth, & make merit?'"

"Yes, lord."

"Now what do you think, Sona. Before, when you were a house-dweller, were you skilled at playing the vina?"

"Yes, lord."

"And what do you think: when the strings of your vina were too taut, was your vina in tune & playable?"

"No, lord."

"And what do you think: when the strings of your vina were too loose, was your vina in tune & playable?"

"No, lord."

"And what do you think: when the strings of your vina were neither too taut nor too loose, but tuned (lit: 'established') to be right on pitch, was your vina in tune & playable?"

"Yes, lord."

"In the same way, Sona, over-aroused persistence leads to restlessness, overly slack persistence leads to laziness. Thus you should determine the right pitch for your persistence, attune ('penetrate,' 'ferret out') the pitch of the [five] faculties [to that], and there pick up your theme."

"Yes, lord," Ven. Sona answered the Blessed One. Then, having given this exhortation to Ven. Sona, the Blessed One — as a strong man might stretch out his bent arm or bend his outstretched arm — disappeared from the Cool Wood and appeared on Vulture Peak Mountain.

So after that, Ven. Sona determined the right pitch for his persistence, attuned the pitch of the [five] faculties [to that], and there picked up his theme. Dwelling alone, secluded, heedful, ardent, & resolute, he in no long time reached & remained in the supreme goal of the holy life for which clansmen rightly go forth from home into homelessness, knowing & realizing it for himself in the here & now. He knew: "Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for the sake of this world." And thus Ven. Sona became another one of the arahants.

— AN 6.55



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Aloka
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Re: "Its like this"

Post by Aloka » Sun Apr 24, 2016 9:29 pm

Cormac Brown wrote:I've spent enough time around practitioners, monastic and lay, who follow such teachings, as well as having tried them myself, to be convinced that they lead nowhere very good
With respect, Cormac, you said in your Bio --

http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... n%20false;

-- that you had your first encounter with Theravada practice in 2012 and then were involved in other things for a while before getting involved with the Dhamma again. Its the early part of 2016 at the moment and to me that really doesn't seem very long in terms of mixing with other practitioners, or for the all important development of study, practice and understanding.

....but maybe I'm just really slow!

:)

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Re: "Its like this"

Post by Chi » Sun Apr 24, 2016 10:02 pm

Cormac Brown wrote:
daverupa wrote:
Cormac Brown wrote:Right mindfulness, as per the satipatthana sutta, includes putting aside unwholesome states of mind
Nope. MN 10 doesn't have that, instead speaking of observation and acting with awareness. Maybe you mean that line 'free from desires & discontent'? Where does it support your claim that mindfulness alone accomplishes this?
Perhaps this refrain, repeated four times at the very beginning, might ring a bell...
putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world
Sorry, but I find the rest of your post so self-contradictory, and some of the sentences so unintelligible, as to render a response too troublesome.

It remains that the instructions represent the increasingly prevalent lazy approach to meditation, one that the most respected Thai Ajaans lampoon and try to discourage, where the state of your mind doesn't matter - all you need to do is observe and let things be, watching things rise and fall. I've spent enough time around practitioners, monastic and lay, who follow such teachings, as well as having tried them myself, to be convinced that they lead nowhere very good. Happily, many in the Western Ajahn Chah monasteries are now taking more of an interest in study & practice of the suttas, and lean instead towards the teachings of Ven Thanissaro and the Krooba Ajahns.

I'm quite sure that Ajaan Mun, whom, ironically, bodom features in his avatar, would have no time for such "practice" as described in the OP, if it even warrants the term. Let alone the Lord Buddha, whose description of his own practice consigns the OP firmly to the dustbin:
AN 2.5 trans. Ven. Thanissaro

"Monks, I have known two qualities through experience: discontent with regard to skillful qualities[1] and unrelenting exertion. Relentlessly I exerted myself, [thinking,] 'Gladly would I let the flesh & blood in my body dry up, leaving just the skin, tendons, & bones, but if I have not attained what can be reached through human firmness, human persistence, human striving, there will be no relaxing my persistence.' From this heedfulness of mine was attained Awakening. From this heedfulness of mine was attained the unexcelled freedom from bondage.

"You, too, monks, should relentlessly exert yourselves, [thinking,] 'Gladly would we let the flesh & blood in our bodies dry up, leaving just the skin, tendons, & bones, but if we have not attained what can be reached through human firmness, human persistence, human striving, there will be no relaxing our persistence.' You, too, in no long time will reach & remain in the supreme goal of the holy life for which clansmen rightly go forth from home into homelessness, knowing & realizing it for yourselves in the here & now.

"Thus you should train yourselves: 'We will relentlessly exert ourselves, [thinking,] "Gladly would we let the flesh & blood in our bodies dry up, leaving just the skin, tendons, & bones, but if we have not attained what can be reached through human firmness, human persistence, human striving, there will be no relaxing our persistence."' That's how you should train yourselves."
It certainly makes me feel ashamed as to the state of my own meagre practice, but it's obvious from this that the incorrect response would be to say, as per the OP, that "my state of mind is not the issue" and just let things be in judgement-free awareness. Instead, a fresh commitment should be made to make an effort to follow the Buddha's advice in "relentlessly" improving the state of my mind, and relentlessly judging it to be inadequate until I've reached what can't be surpassed.

It reminds me of Ven. Thanissaro's story of the psychologists brought in to treat the low self-esteem of drug addicts in the USA. Instead of encouraging them to clean up their act and sober up, they simply told them that they were OK the way they were, and not to feel bad about themselves. The result? They remained addicted to crack and heroin, but now felt totally fine about it and no longer had any motivation to quit.

Similarly, the OP insinuates that our real problem is that we want to change unskilful states of mind, and that the solution is to stop trying. When we stop trying and just be content with "the way it is," all our suffering will disappear. The merest of comparisons of such teachings with the Lord Buddha's, reveals them to be poles apart.

I sympathise with the desire for apparent "comfort Dhamma" such as the OP - we all tend toward laziness - but there comes a time when you have to accept that it just doesn't make the grade.
Hi Cormac,

I've skimmed through this thread, and I noticed there's quite a bit of force and aggression (?) and perhaps subtle defensiveness behind your words. There seems to be some clinging to an idea of what the practice is and how should manifest in the world, and the idea (and the sense of self?) is being threatened by some authoritative teachers. Perhaps, in the end, these teachers realize that any sense of doer-ship, or sense of agency, is a delusion, and any sort of judgment of what is good and bad is also just conventional reality that can be used as a tool toward the beginning, but is unnecessary at a certain stage of practice. Perhaps they are teaching what it looks and feels like from the other shore, and our perception is too skewed to understand their understanding. Just a thought.

I don't know anything about you, and I'm just a spiritual baby, but it's good to keep in mind one of the major wrongdoings anybody can commit is creating a schism in the sangha. The teachers whose teachings you seem to frown upon have many decades of Dhamma service under their belts. They've spent most of their adult lives training their minds to be content and happy and showing others the way. Belittling them in any sort of way and turning people away from their teachings seems unprofitable.

I remember hearing Sayadaw U Pandita (who just a few days ago passed away, most probably into parinibbana) give a Dhamma talk once. His translator interpreted one of his statements as (slightly paraphrased), "There's nothing to see, nothing to smell, nothing to taste, nothing to hear, nothing to feel. This is it. There's no time to be dissatisfied." In other words, whatever comes up, might as well be happy and content. U Pandita taught rapid noting of phenomena without judgement. In other words, judgement-free awareness.

In my shallow experience, if we are abiding in equanimity, we understand all is happening due to cause and effect. We have no choice on what arises, only our reaction to such phenomena. We have no control. Yet we don't give emotions and thoughts any power or truth. Just the observation of thoughts and emotions means we are not caught in it. This is being awake. We see things in the absolute sense, just phenomena coming and going. For a while, we can strive, but in the end, all this striving toward some state in the future has to be dropped.

Just my two cents.

peace and joy :)
Do Good, Avoid Evil, Purify the Mind.

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Thisperson
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Re: "Its like this"

Post by Thisperson » Sun Apr 24, 2016 10:37 pm

Ajahn Chah had something to say in the same vein as Ajahn Sumedho:
If we cut a log of wood and throw it into the river, and that log doesn't sink or rot, or run aground on either of the banks of the river, that log will definitely reach the sea. Our practice is comparable to this. If you practise according to the path laid down by the Buddha, following it straightly, you will transcend two things. What two things? Just those two extremes that the Buddha said were not the path of a true meditator - indulgence in pleasure and indulgence in pain. These are the two banks of the river. One of the banks of that river is hate, the other is love. Or you can say that one bank is happiness, the other unhappiness. The 'log' is this mind. As it 'flows down the river' it will experience happiness and unhappiness. If the mind doesn't cling to that happiness or unhappiness it will reach the 'ocean' of Nibbāna. You should see that there is nothing other than happiness and unhappiness arising and disappearing. If you don't 'run aground' on these things then you are on the path of a true meditator.

This is the teaching of the Buddha. Happiness, unhappiness, love and hate are simply established in nature according to the constant law of nature. The wise person doesn't follow or encourage them, he doesn't cling to them. This is the mind which lets go of indulgence in pleasure and indulgence in pain. It is the right practice. Just as that log of wood will eventually flow to the sea, so will the mind which doesn't attach to these two extremes inevitably attain peace.
http://www.ajahnchah.org/book/Right_View_Place.php

At some point in the practice of meditation, the illusion of being "the meditator" is seen for what it is. At this point, we still need to practice according to the Buddha's teachings, but we must do so with an attitude of letting go. It becomes a process of knowing conditioned things for what they are (anicca, dukkha, anatta) and letting those things be. Not getting sucked into becoming, but letting things be. I hope that you come to understand this Cormac.

Another Ajahn Sumedho talk in the same light:


:anjali:

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Re: "Its like this"

Post by daverupa » Sun Apr 24, 2016 10:43 pm

Cormac Brown wrote:Perhaps this refrain...
I already addressed this above when I said "Maybe you mean that line 'free from desires & discontent'? Where does it support your claim that mindfulness alone accomplishes this?" But you didn't read this, or you chose not to answer the question. You simply quoted it here, as though it were a magic spell of rebuttal.
Sorry, but I find the rest of your post so self-contradictory, and some of the sentences so unintelligible, as to render a response too troublesome.
:toilet:
  • "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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Re: "Its like this"

Post by Sylvester » Mon Apr 25, 2016 1:26 am

Cormac Brown wrote:
daverupa wrote:
Cormac Brown wrote:Right mindfulness, as per the satipatthana sutta, includes putting aside unwholesome states of mind
Nope. MN 10 doesn't have that, instead speaking of observation and acting with awareness. Maybe you mean that line 'free from desires & discontent'? Where does it support your claim that mindfulness alone accomplishes this?
Perhaps this refrain, repeated four times at the very beginning, might ring a bell...
putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world

And perhaps if you had bothered to invest in some Pali studies instead of just flinging an English translation at the readers here, you might have noticed that the above refrain is couched in the gerund/absolutive -
vineyya loke abhij­jhā­do­manas­saṃ
Whether one translates vineyya as a gerund (removing/putting aside) or an absolutive (having removed/having put aside), it makes no difference in one crucial aspect. This verbal syntax is intended to indicate that the action denoted by the gerund/absolutive commenced before the action denoted by the viharati verb (see Hendriksen, Syntax of the Infinite Verb-Forms of Pali, pp.113-114, where he opines that in Pali, the precessional intent is the common one).

Even on the offchance that the vineyya here should be read as a gerund that is contemporaneous with the viharati verb, the Nuclear Brigade interpretation fails to see the sawdust in their eye in whacking defilements during the establishment of mindfulness, when they completely ignore the admonition to forego loke abhij­jhā­do­manas­saṃ (greed and grief with reference to the world).

How many times do the suttas describe the cause of domanassa? It comes to be when paṭighānusaya anuseti (the latent tendency to aversion underlies) : SN 36.6, MN 148. Instead of setting equanimity to understand the defilements, the Nuclear Brigade would have us stirring up paṭighānusaya by manhandling defilements. What is the world (loka) if not the 5 Aggregates (AN 4.45) and the defilements are saṅkhārakkhandha?

Before you presume to correct the readers here on the Dhamma, you should try first to understand what the texts are saying, instead of what the translations are saying. We have enough charlatans here passing off English-jhanas as sutta-jhanas, that we do not need English-satipaṭṭhānas jostling with sutta-satipaṭṭhānas.

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Re: "Its like this"

Post by Ben » Mon Apr 25, 2016 1:36 am

Sylvester wrote:
Whether one translates vineyya as a gerund (removing/putting aside) or an absolutive (have aving removed/having put aside), it makes no difference in one crucial aspect. This verbal syntax is intended to indicate that the action denoted by the gerund/absolutive commenced before the action denoted by the viharati verb (see Hendriksen, Syntax of the Infinite Verb-Forms of Pali, pp.113-114, where he opines that in Pali, the precessional intent is the common one).

Even on the offchance that the vineyya here should be read as a gerund that is contemporaneous with the viharati verb, the Nuclear Brigade interpretation fails to see the sawdust in their eye in whacking defilements during the establishment of mindfulness, when they completely ignore the admonition to forego loke abhij­jhā­do­manas­saṃ (greed and grief with reference to the world).

How many times do the suttas describe the cause of domanassa? It comes to be when paṭighānusaya anuseti (the latent tendency to aversion underlies) : SN 36.6, MN 148. Instead of setting equanimity to understand the defilements, the Nuclear Brigade would have us stirring up paṭighānusaya by manhandling defilements. What is the world (loka) if not the 5 Aggregates (AN 4.45) and the defilements are saṅkhārakkhandha?

Before you presume to correct the readers here on the Dhamma, you should try first to understand what the texts are saying, instead of what the translations are saying. We have enough charlatans here passing off English-jhanas as sutta-jhanas, that we do not need English-satipaṭṭhānas jostling with sutta-satipaṭṭhānas.
Thanks, Sylvester.
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

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Re: "Its like this"

Post by Mkoll » Mon Apr 25, 2016 2:19 am

Chi wrote:Hi Cormac,

I've skimmed through this thread, and I noticed there's quite a bit of force and aggression (?) and perhaps subtle defensiveness behind your words.
Just one word describes his tone best: venomous. I could almost taste it while reading his last post.
Chi wrote:There seems to be some clinging to an idea of what the practice is and how should manifest in the world, and the idea (and the sense of self?) is being threatened by some authoritative teachers. Perhaps, in the end, these teachers realize that any sense of doer-ship, or sense of agency, is a delusion, and any sort of judgment of what is good and bad is also just conventional reality that can be used as a tool toward the beginning, but is unnecessary at a certain stage of practice. Perhaps they are teaching what it looks and feels like from the other shore, and our perception is too skewed to understand their understanding. Just a thought.
Good thoughts here. It's worth revisiting that one may not be perfectly right about something. The Buddha did say something about ascetics clinging to and fighting over views...
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa

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Re: "Its like this"

Post by Ben » Mon Apr 25, 2016 6:51 am

At this point I will ask that everyone stay on topic. As per the TOS, ad hominem remarks and meta-discussion are prohibited.
Thanks for your cooperation.
Ben
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

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Pinetree
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Re: "Its like this"

Post by Pinetree » Mon Apr 25, 2016 7:32 am

Yes, I agree that it's fundamental to accept the present moment. Most if not all of the practice cannot progress if we forget this first important step.

Wishing against the present moment is the inability to recognize that the present moment "is like this" and cannot be something different, and is an exercise in futility, wrong effort, lack of wisdom.

In pursuing wholesomeness, wisdom is the ability push (or not) the right "mental button" and right effort is to press it hard enough, but not too hard.

The subject of debate might be believing that judging or reasoning (which is a sort of micromanagement) rather than cultivation should be an important focus of effort.

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cobwith
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Re: "Its like this"

Post by cobwith » Mon Apr 25, 2016 9:19 pm

daverupa wrote:
Cormac Brown wrote: With mindfulness as his gate-keeper, the disciple of the ones abandons what is unskillful, develops what is skillful, abandons what is blameworthy, develops what is blameless, and looks after himself with purity.
Mindfulness is essential as a first step, and then with this in place right effort can kick into gear. You would claim, on the basis of this metaphor, that mindfulness involved most/all of Samadhi and all of Sila as well.
No one seems to deserve blame here.
Yet, both of you look at the process in a linear way; while it is recursive.

As far as sila is concerned, I would say that the following pleads in Brown's favor:
Buddha wrote: "When defiling mental qualities are abandoned and bright mental qualities have grown, and one enters & remains in the culmination & abundance of discernment, having known & realized it for oneself in the here & now, there is joy, rapture, serenity, mindfulness, alertness, and a pleasant/happy abiding."
(DN 9)
Buddha wrote: But as for those monks who are perfected ones, the cankers destroyed, who have lived the life, done what was to be done, shed the burden, attained to their own goal, the fetters of becoming utterly destroyed, and who are freed by perfect profound knowledge - these things conduce both to their abiding in ease here and now as well as to their mindfulness and clear consciousness (satisampajaññena)."
(MN 107)
Buddha wrote: “The abandoning of both
sensual perceptions and dejection;
the dispelling of dullness,
the warding off of remorse;

purified equanimity and mindfulness
preceded by reflection on the Dhamma:
this, I say, is emancipation by final knowledge,
the breaking up of ignorance.”
(AN 3.33)
Etc.


How sati fits within the different progressions?:

Faculties + Powers
------------------
Confidence > energy > sati > concentration > wisdom.

Noble eightfold path
--------------------
Right view > right thought > right speech > right action > right livelihood > right effort > right mindfulness (sammā sati) > right concentration.

Awakening factors
-----------------
Sati > investigation-of-dhammas (dhamma-vicaya) > energy > joy > tranquillity > concentration > equanimity.
Note:
Contemplation of the dhammas (dhammānupassanā) emphasizes contemplation of the Hindrances [Sensory desire - Ill-will - Sloth-torpor - Restlessness-worry - Doubt,] & the contemplation of the Awakening Factors.
Mindfulness/Sati is the means to a reflection on the known - gate-keeping any new knowledge and phenomena from entering (indriya saṃvara); and allowing in samatha and vipassana (SN 35.245).
Mindfulness is the eye-witness of the sphere that is witnessed.
Buddha wrote:
If he desires, destroying desires, the mind released and released through wisdom, abides here and now having realized; and mindfulness in that mental sphere becomes the eye-witness in the respective sphere." (tatra tatreva sakkhibhabbataṃ pāpuṇāti sati sati āyatane”ti.)
AN 9.35 (Gāvīupamā sutta)
Hence, sati of body, sati of feelings, sati of mind and sati of dhamma - and their sub-categories.

---

So the process is the following:

1. Prerequisite:
---------------
Buddha wrote: The four establishments of mindfulness, too, I say, have a nutriment; they are not without nutriment. And what is the nutriment for the four establishments of mindfulness? It should be said: the three kinds of good conduct.
AN 10.61
Buddha wrote: “In that case, bhikkhu, purify the very beginning of wholesome states. And what is the beginning of wholesome states? Here, bhikkhu, having abandoned bodily misconduct, you should develop good bodily conduct. ...verbal misconduct, ... mental misconduct, you should develop good mental conduct. When, bhikkhu, having abandoned bodily misconduct … you have developed good mental conduct, then, based upon virtue, established upon virtue, you should develop the four establishments of mindfulness.
SN 47.47
In other words, the more you have previously given concern to: confidence > energy & right view > right thought > right speech > right action > right livelihood > right effort; the better the mindfulness/sati will be; the better the dhammānupassanā and dhammāvicaya will be - (and "purified equanimity and mindfulness" will ensue - AN 3.33 above).

2. Sati:
-------
Sati (from sarati: to remember,) enables memory.
Buddha wrote:Mindfulness and clear comprehension, too, I say, have a nutriment; they are not without nutriment. And what is the nutriment for mindfulness and clear comprehension? It should be said: careful attention.
AN 10.61
So, as soon as yoniso manasikāra (careful attention) calls in a particular sphere (body, feeling, mind or dhamma;) and yields a contemplation upon a particular phenomena in that sphere (e.g. dhammesu dhammānupassi - an hidrance, for instance, viz. ill-will) - then Sati should act as a gate keeper (particularly at the sense doors (indriya saṃvara)-MN10,) for any new input (desire and discontent) to enter in. [active]
Then Sati calls the recollective function. [active]
Buddha wrote: Here, a bhikkhu is mindful, possessing supreme mindfulness and alertness, one who remembers and recollects what was done and said long ago.
AN 8.30

Ill-will as a whole, from that particular instance, must be called in from memory. That bad feeling in which consciousness has found its home (SN 22.3;) that particular ill-will, must unveil its entire nature. Consciousness that has settled (SN 12.39,) must bring out all the cumulated qualities of ill-will.

Like the cowherd in AN 10.20, sati must render (actively) the big picture.


3. Contemplation and investigation:
----------------------------------
Then comes the contemplation (passive) and the investigation (active) (anupassati & vicaya).

In our particular case, the meditator contemplates the hindrances; which is a sub-category of the fourth reflection, that is the reflection on dhammas (after body, feeling and mind (citta)). [passive]
Buddha wrote: "Come you, monk, fare along contemplating the mental states in mental states, but do not apply yourself to a train of thought connected with mental states (vitakkaṃ vitakkesi)."
MN 125
Then he investigates them. (And realizes them).[active]

Finally, the meditator contemplates (samanupassati) the disappearance of the five hindrances within himself.[passive]
It is because the dhammas are cognized and realized properly, that there is an abandonment of the defiling mental qualities.
Buddha wrote: As he remains thus focused on mental qualities in & of themselves, his mind becomes concentrated, his defilements are abandoned. He takes note of that fact. As a result, he is rewarded with a pleasant abiding here & now, together with mindfulness & alertness. Why is that? Because the wise, experienced, skillful monk picks up on the theme of his own mind."
(SN 47.8)
His mindfulness is purified.

Then again, the meditator pursues in his quest for perfection:
Buddha wrote: "With mindfulness as his gate-keeper, the disciple of the ones abandons what is unskillful, develops what is skillful, abandons what is blameworthy, develops what is blameless, and looks after himself with purity."
AN7.63
Recursive process applies here, until perfection is attained.

______

Where to put Sumedho in all this?

His excerpt seems to me like a catch-all for odds and ends.

Time, and particularly "Presentness (this)," might be the ultimate reality - yet, it is not the purpose of mindfulness to witness part of time; and certainly not to remain distant from the phenomena.
Mindfulness is definitely not a passive state.
The cowherd in AN 10.20, might have a clear overview (sati) of the situation; yet, he is still guarding the herd. Think of those times (no barbed wires - no weapons of mass destruction - nothing to help the poor lad against those tigers, lions, cheetas, panthers, sylvesterss, and other nefarious creatures).
Sati is not just witnessing but gatekeeping too. Moreover, it is recollecting.

Sati is just a part of a process. Vicaya is another part.
Sati let's in samatha and vipassana. It can't be equated to them.


Acknowledging the present is marginal; and of a quite questionable appurtenance.

______

I must admit that C. Brown's attitude is far from being unpleasant.
There is nothing more rewarding than digging Buddha's words (suttas,) in the face of some unconvincing interpretations; even when the heartiness of youth, have you stumble from time to time.
Last edited by cobwith on Thu Jun 16, 2016 2:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Sā me dhammamadesesi,
khandhāyatanadhātuyo
Thig 5.8

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Ben
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Re: "Its like this"

Post by Ben » Tue Apr 26, 2016 12:05 pm

My apologies for the temporary lock down.
This thread is back open for discussion.
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com..

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badscooter
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Re: "Its like this"

Post by badscooter » Sun May 01, 2016 8:44 pm

Greetings Cormac,

It seems you are very attached to the teachings of Venerable Thanissaro (all be it you may be a bit confused about some of them). I too enjoy his teachings, but I will say I see nothing contradictory in what was stated by Ajahn Sumedho and others in this thread. It seems you tend towards defensiveness and using back handed insults. I suggest you take what Daverupa and Sylvester (and others who have posted here) and try to learn from them. I wouldn't let pride get in the way of a better understanding of the dhamma.

kind regards
"whatever one frequently thinks and ponders upon will be the inclination of one's mind"

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