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Are Vipassana Nanas silly?

Posted: Wed Nov 22, 2017 4:35 am
by archaic
When I first saw the Vipassana Nanas, I was surprised at what they had come up with as a list of potential side-effects of meditation.

For those unfamiliar with them, you can see what I am referring to here:
http://www.vipassanadhura.com/sixteen.html

Oddly enough, some of the potential side-effects of meditation are even diarrhea and vomiting... :shock:

This seems very strange to me. I don't want to be disrespectful to anyone, but it seems that these Nanas are described in a vague and ambiguous way. I am not sure how useful they could be since are kind of all over the place... I might even say listing them in this way could potentially be misrepresentative of what to expect from body-scan meditation?

It seems like it may have begun as an attempt to mirror the Visuddhimagga's stepwise descriptions of the jhanas... However the jhanas are much simpler, clearly and succinctly described, and offer far more tangible and realistic depictions of what to expect.

I am very curious about what others think of the Nanas... Are they silly?
Or perhaps I am the one who is silly for not seeing their genius? :thinking:

Re: Are Vipassana Nanas silly?

Posted: Wed Nov 22, 2017 5:21 am
by retrofuturist
Greetings,

This probably isn't the best sub-forum to ask about people's personal perspectives, because Discovering Theravada is intended to be an arena by which to understand the Theravada perspective on matters.

We can move the topic if you like?

In the meantime, I can say the framework of the vipassana nanas wasn't taught by the Buddha, but as you point out, do appear in the Vissuddhimagga. As such, they play a significant role in the Burmese Vipassana Tradition, which is founded upon that treatise.

Metta,
Paul. :)

Re: Are Vipassana Nanas silly?

Posted: Wed Nov 22, 2017 10:50 pm
by archaic
retrofuturist wrote:
Wed Nov 22, 2017 5:21 am
Greetings,

This probably isn't the best sub-forum to ask about people's personal perspectives, because Discovering Theravada is intended to be an arena by which to understand the Theravada perspective on matters.

We can move the topic if you like?

In the meantime, I can say the framework of the vipassana nanas wasn't taught by the Buddha, but as you point out, do appear in the Vissuddhimagga. As such, they play a significant role in the Burmese Vipassana Tradition, which is founded upon that treatise.

Metta,
Paul. :)
Yes I see your meaning. Please, move it wherever you best see fit. Thank you kindly.

Re: Are Vipassana Nanas silly?

Posted: Wed Nov 22, 2017 10:53 pm
by retrofuturist
Greetings,
archaic wrote:
Wed Nov 22, 2017 10:50 pm
Yes I see your meaning. Please, move it wherever you best see fit. Thank you kindly.
... and it is done. :)

Thanks for getting back to me. Welcome to the General Theravāda Meditation section.

Metta,
Paul. :)

Re: Are Vipassana Nanas silly?

Posted: Wed Nov 22, 2017 11:13 pm
by SarathW
Oddly enough, some of the potential side-effects of meditation are even diarrhea and vomiting... :shock:
I can relate to the vomiting. We do many disgusting things without realising it.
Eating certain food, sex etc. could be disgusting and feel like vomiting when you really contemplate on them.

Re: Are Vipassana Nanas silly?

Posted: Thu Nov 23, 2017 1:25 am
by Saengnapha
SarathW wrote:
Wed Nov 22, 2017 11:13 pm
Oddly enough, some of the potential side-effects of meditation are even diarrhea and vomiting... :shock:
I can relate to the vomiting. We do many disgusting things without realising it.
Eating certain food, sex etc. could be disgusting and feel like vomiting when you really contemplate on them.
This sounds like some psychological therapy that is devoid of insight into perception

Re: Are Vipassana Nanas silly?

Posted: Thu Nov 23, 2017 7:52 pm
by paul
archaic wrote:
Wed Nov 22, 2017 4:35 am
I am very curious about what others think of the Nanas... Are they silly?
Or perhaps I am the one who is silly for not seeing their genius?

I am answering the questions with respect to the Visuddhimagga, and not with respect to the link you provided. As a practitioner with long experience, I find the Vism meditation manual indispensable as it fills in practical information not provided in the suttas due to its being a distillation of about eight hundred years of practice since the suttas were formulated.
The Vism sections are structured on seven stages of purification, the first two being sila and samadhi and the last five being an expanded description of panna. This threefold division is universally used by western Buddhists, yet it is only mentioned once in the suttas (MN 44), so its influence comes from the Vism. The Vism was introduced to Thailand from Sri Lanka just before Ajahn Mun’s era and he used the dhutanga ascetic practices as a basis for practice. The thirteen dhutanga practices are nowhere listed as a group in the suttas, but are described in the Vism, so it exerts a foundational influence on western Buddhism that is not generally recognised.

Included in section six are the nine insight knowledges:

knowledge of rise and fall
knowledge of dissolution
knowledge of appearance as terror
knowledge of danger
knowledge of dispassion
knowledge of desire for deliverance
knowledge of reflection
knowledge of equanimity about formations
conformity knowledge

The development of dispassion constitutes an ongoing project in progress on the path as the practitioner discards one fabricated state to move to a more refined one. Dispassion is the dynamic which causes the mind to turn away from conventional reality. It is normal for a beginner who derives their support from CR to feel incredulous about the attitudes of terror etc instructed in the insight knowledges, but for one who has released attachment to CR, they constitute the development of dispassion. So the progression of the nine insight knowledges follow the natural order of: development of knowledge of impermanence (1-2), knowledge of dispassion (3-7) and abandoning both terror and delight, and knowledge of deliverance (8-9).

To gain a greater understanding of the Thai Forest Tradition underpinnings of western Theravada, the book 'Samana' will provide information, while the book “Forest Recollections: Wandering Monks in Twentieth- Century Thailand,” more background information.
http://www.forestdhamma.org/books/english/

Re: Are Vipassana Nanas silly?

Posted: Thu Nov 23, 2017 8:59 pm
by Dhammanando
paul wrote:
Thu Nov 23, 2017 7:52 pm

The Vism sections are structured on seven stages of purification, the first two being sila and samadhi and the last five being an expanded description of panna. This threefold division is universally used by western Buddhists, yet it is only mentioned once in the suttas (MN 44), so it’s influence comes from the Vism.
Actually the sīla-samādhi-paññā scheme is found in numerous suttas. What's unique to MN 44 is the relating of this scheme to the eight path factors:
“Are the three constituents comprised within the eightfold Noble Path, Noble Lady, or is the eightfold Noble Path comprised within the three constituents?”

“The three constituents are not comprised within the eightfold Noble Path, friend Visākha, but the eightfold Noble Path is comprised within the three constituents.

Whatever is right speech, friend Visākha, and whatever is right action, and whatever is right livelihood, these things are comprised within the virtue constituent.

Whatever is right endeavour, and whatever is right mindfulness, and whatever is right concentration, these things are comprised within the concentration constituent.

Whatever is right view, and whatever is right thought, these things are comprised within the wisdom constituent.

Re: Are Vipassana Nanas silly?

Posted: Thu Nov 23, 2017 9:05 pm
by paul
Thank you for the correction Venerable.

Re: Are Vipassana Nanas silly?

Posted: Thu Nov 23, 2017 9:38 pm
by befriend
I was doing Mahasi meditation which I have been doing for the majority of my Buddhist path, and I have seen fear based on seeing impermanence, disgust, and I have experienced the sunset to be rancid, not in thought but in a inuitive kind of vision or seeing/feeling. They are not silly.

Re: Are Vipassana Nanas silly?

Posted: Thu Nov 23, 2017 10:23 pm
by archaic
SarathW wrote:
Wed Nov 22, 2017 11:13 pm
Oddly enough, some of the potential side-effects of meditation are even diarrhea and vomiting... :shock:
I can relate to the vomiting. We do many disgusting things without realising it.
Eating certain food, sex etc. could be disgusting and feel like vomiting when you really contemplate on them.
While I do understand what you are saying, during any of the meditation retreats I have been on, I cannot imagine someone just starting to vomit or defecate themselves. This sounds preposterous.

Re: Are Vipassana Nanas silly?

Posted: Thu Nov 23, 2017 10:49 pm
by archaic
paul wrote:
Thu Nov 23, 2017 7:52 pm
archaic wrote:
Wed Nov 22, 2017 4:35 am
I am very curious about what others think of the Nanas... Are they silly?
Or perhaps I am the one who is silly for not seeing their genius?

I am answering the questions with respect to the Visuddhimagga, and not with respect to the link you provided. As a practitioner with long experience, I find the Vism meditation manual indispensable as it fills in practical information not provided in the suttas due to its being a distillation of about eight hundred years of practice since the suttas were formulated.
The Vism sections are structured on seven stages of purification, the first two being sila and samadhi and the last five being an expanded description of panna. This threefold division is universally used by western Buddhists, yet it is only mentioned once in the suttas (MN 44), so its influence comes from the Vism. The Vism was introduced to Thailand from Sri Lanka just before Ajahn Mun’s era and he used the dhutanga ascetic practices as a basis for practice. The thirteen dhutanga practices are nowhere listed as a group in the suttas, but are described in the Vism, so it exerts a foundational influence on western Buddhism that is not generally recognised.

Included in section six are the nine insight knowledges:

knowledge of rise and fall
knowledge of dissolution
knowledge of appearance as terror
knowledge of danger
knowledge of dispassion
knowledge of desire for deliverance
knowledge of reflection
knowledge of equanimity about formations
conformity knowledge

The development of dispassion constitutes an ongoing project in progress on the path as the practitioner discards one fabricated state to move to a more refined one. Dispassion is the dynamic which causes the mind to turn away from conventional reality. It is normal for a beginner who derives their support from CR to feel incredulous about the attitudes of terror etc instructed in the insight knowledges, but for one who has released attachment to CR, they constitute the development of dispassion. So the progression of the nine insight knowledges follow the natural order of: development of knowledge of impermanence (1-2), knowledge of dispassion (3-7) and abandoning both terror and delight, and knowledge of deliverance (8-9).

To gain a greater understanding of the Thai Forest Tradition underpinnings of western Theravada, the book 'Samana' will provide information, while the book “Forest Recollections: Wandering Monks in Twentieth- Century Thailand,” more background information.
http://www.forestdhamma.org/books/english/


Thank you for your thoughtful response. I will definitely check out those books you mentioned.

These "knowledges" are definitely great objects of contemplation, however I must be missing something essential. For a meditator, who is simply told to do body-scan meditation and observe sensations with anicca in mind, will they be expected to come upon all of these knowledges spontaneously with no previous mention of such concepts?

Perhaps I am mistaken, It seems unlikely that the vast % of meditators would ever be able to deduce these knowledges ex nihilo from simple body-scan meditation.

Yet, as is mentioned at the start of the website I mentioned in my OP, in many traditions, meditators are not encouraged to know about these nanas before experiencing them first hand because "learning about these insights before acquiring personal meditation experience might cause you to anticipate results".

I suppose my initial questioning of the nanas came primarily from not the knowledges, but their descriptions. They appear totally arbitrary, ambiguous, and extremely difficult to pinpoint to any particular stage of insight (or any other kind of meditation). For example "at this stage of insight you might feel like you're floating" but at the next one "you might find satisfaction in objects" whereas at such and such a stage you "will have a feeling of warmth on the body." Arbitrary! (Or might I go so far as to say random?)

Also the descriptions of the 10 imperfections or defilements of insight seem rather vague and arbitrary, as certainly other meditation forms will include all of these in different degrees (ie./ the 5 jhana factors, which are certainly not "defilements"). I am uncertain why these would be presented in this manner. It seems inaccurate and rather unskillful to describe meditations in these terms.

Re: Are Vipassana Nanas silly?

Posted: Thu Nov 23, 2017 10:53 pm
by befriend
Vipassana dhura website is Mahasi style meditation not body scan meditation.

Re: Are Vipassana Nanas silly?

Posted: Thu Nov 23, 2017 11:20 pm
by mikenz66
Hi archaic,
archaic wrote:
Thu Nov 23, 2017 10:49 pm
... will they be expected to come upon all of these knowledges spontaneously with no previous mention of such concepts?
These are signposts, based on the experience of ancient and modern practitioners. Practitioners following various approaches have reported going through these, or similar, experiences. These are signposts, not things that one strives to "attain".

Here's a mapping of the insight knowledges to the sutta SN 12.23 Upanisa Sutta: Discourse on Supporting Conditions
viewtopic.php?t=11701#p177838

:heart:
Mike

Re: Are Vipassana Nanas silly?

Posted: Thu Nov 23, 2017 11:48 pm
by retrofuturist
Greetings,
mikenz66 wrote:
Thu Nov 23, 2017 11:20 pm
These are signposts, based on the experience of ancient and modern practitioners. Practitioners following various approaches have reported going through these, or similar, experiences. These are signposts, not things that one strives to "attain".
If that is so, why are they called nanas (knowledges), rather than something like nimittas (signs)?

Metta,
Paul. :)