signless concentration vs emptiness

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convivium
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signless concentration vs emptiness

Post by convivium » Mon Jun 14, 2010 5:27 am

what is the difference between the signless concentration and perception of emptiness?
Just keep breathing in and out like this. Don't be interested in anything else. It doesn't matter even if someone is standing on their head with their ass in the air. Don't pay it any attention. Just stay with the in-breath and the out-breath. Concentrate your awareness on the breath. Just keep doing it. http://www.ajahnchah.org/book/Just_Do_It_1_2.php

Kenshou
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Re: signless concentration vs emptiness

Post by Kenshou » Mon Jun 14, 2010 6:22 am

I believe the perception of emptiness simply deals with the direct knowing of all phenomena as anicca, dependently originated, anatta, and all of that. Well actually just anatta, but those other things are so tightly linked with it that they aren't irrelevant to mention.

The signless concentration or animitto cetosamadhi (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .wlsh.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;) is a concentration where the mind does not give any special attention to any phenomena in particular, does not grab onto the distinguishing signs (the nimitta in animitto) by which something is recognized. My understanding is that this non-abiding concentration is a possible kind of occurrence of arahantship, and is a result of the non-fashioning attitude or atammayata, which itself is a result of the perception of emptiness/impermanence. I think that the singless concentration is also a synonym for viññanam anidassam or non-manifestive consciousness. Same thing described from another angle. (Though on second thought, the mind of the arahant is always "non-manifestive" I think, but not always in the signless concentration necessarily)

So these two things are closely related but not identical.

Edit: Oh hey, there was a thread that was similar not long ago. http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=17&t=4508" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Last edited by Kenshou on Thu Jul 22, 2010 1:48 am, edited 1 time in total.

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convivium
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Re: signless concentration vs emptiness

Post by convivium » Thu Jul 22, 2010 1:35 am

Thank you.

"According to the Middle Way, mind and matter exist in the same manner as rainbows: they appear to consciousness (and therefore exist ) but are empty of absolute existence. Everything exists in that way.
So the black box of mind and matter contains, figuratively speaking, only rainbows. "

Chapter - A Rainbow State of Existence - Illuminating Mind and Matter - From Embracing the Mind - B Alan Wallace

is this the same as in the suttas?
Just keep breathing in and out like this. Don't be interested in anything else. It doesn't matter even if someone is standing on their head with their ass in the air. Don't pay it any attention. Just stay with the in-breath and the out-breath. Concentrate your awareness on the breath. Just keep doing it. http://www.ajahnchah.org/book/Just_Do_It_1_2.php

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convivium
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Re: signless concentration vs emptiness

Post by convivium » Thu Jul 22, 2010 1:44 am

Thank you.
Just keep breathing in and out like this. Don't be interested in anything else. It doesn't matter even if someone is standing on their head with their ass in the air. Don't pay it any attention. Just stay with the in-breath and the out-breath. Concentrate your awareness on the breath. Just keep doing it. http://www.ajahnchah.org/book/Just_Do_It_1_2.php

chandrafabian
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Re: signless concentration vs emptiness

Post by chandrafabian » Sun Aug 08, 2010 1:53 pm

Kenshou wrote:I believe the perception of emptiness simply deals with the direct knowing of all phenomena as anicca, dependently originated, anatta, and all of that. Well actually just anatta, but those other things are so tightly linked with it that they aren't irrelevant to mention.

The signless concentration or animitto cetosamadhi (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .wlsh.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;) is a concentration where the mind does not give any special attention to any phenomena in particular, does not grab onto the distinguishing signs (the nimitta in animitto) by which something is recognized. My understanding is that this non-abiding concentration is a possible kind of occurrence of arahantship, and is a result of the non-fashioning attitude or atammayata, which itself is a result of the perception of emptiness/impermanence. I think that the singless concentration is also a synonym for viññanam anidassam or non-manifestive consciousness. Same thing described from another angle. (Though on second thought, the mind of the arahant is always "non-manifestive" I think, but not always in the signless concentration necessarily)

So these two things are closely related but not identical.

Edit: Oh hey, there was a thread that was similar not long ago. http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=17&t=4508" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
IMHO animitta samadhi refer to direct Vipassana.
Vipassana is different compared to Samatha. In Samatha, nimitta arises afer meditating for a period of time, and nimitta replacing in & out breathing as the object of concentration, after the nimitta is strong enough (patibhaga stage)
In direct Vipassana if nimitta arises the meditator should simply mindful of, without getting involved, and in some cases nimitta's are ignored entirely.
The object of concentration is on ti-lakkhana. Therefore the concentration in direct Vipassana is known as khanika samadhi. The object of Khanika samadhi is the arising and passing away of mind and body phenomena, no nimitta.

Mettacittena,
fabian

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Re: signless concentration vs emptiness

Post by dhamma_spoon » Sun Aug 08, 2010 3:08 pm

Hi, kenshou & fabian -

Please accept a contribution from another book-worm !

Patisambhidamagga, Treatise on Coupling,
286. How does he develop(bhavana) serenity(samatha) and insight coupled together in the sense of the signless(animitta)?
When he abandons(pahana) agitation, then his unification of cognizance(citta) and non-distraction are concentration free from all signs with cessation as its domain. When he abandons ignorance, then his insight in the sense of contemplation is free from all signs, having cessation as its domain.
Thus serenity and insight in the sense of the signless ... .

Attention. There are other terms that are worth studying: signless abiding(animitta vihara), signless attainment(animitta samapatti).

Any thoughts?

Dhamma_spoon :stirthepot:
--------------------
A soup spoon does not know the taste of the soup.
A dhamma spoon does not know the taste of the Dhamma!

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Re: signless concentration vs emptiness

Post by Kenshou » Sun Aug 08, 2010 8:12 pm

Chandrafabian-

Pardon me but, to my knowledge the term "nimitta" as used in the suttas is not the same as the "(patinhaga)nimitta" of the orthodox Theravadin description of samatha and jhana, and so it wouldn't be right to conflate the two. I believe that the meaning of nimitta, in general, is the attributes or characteristics by which something is recognizable to the mind. The footnote of the Animitto Sutta quoted above says the same: "3. Nimitta. The characteristic features of anything."

The patibhaganimitta of jhana is simply the characteristic attribute by which jhana is recognized, in the samatha scheme of the visuddhimagga. But the nimitta referred to when talking about animitto samadhi doesn't necessarily refer only to jhana-related nimittas, but rather refers to all characteristic attributes of objects of perception, jhana or not.

Since I am no arahant this is speculation to a degree. But what it it sounds like to me is going on with this signless concentration thingie is that in understanding the stresfullness of all impermanent phenomena, the individual simply stops paying attention to them, absolutely all of them. I think that the act of turning attention away from all phenomena has similar results as what is called non-fashioning, described in the Dhatu-vibhanga sutta: "One neither fabricates nor mentally fashions for the sake of becoming or un-becoming. This being the case, one is not sustained by anything in the world (does not cling to anything in the world). Unsustained, one is not agitated. Unagitated, one is totally unbound right within. One discerns that 'Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for this world.'"

Or, it might be said to be similar to the instruction to Bahiya; "in the seen etc. see only the seen, etc., then, Bahiya, there is no you in terms of that. When there is no you in terms of that, there is no you there. When there is no you there, you are neither here nor yonder nor between the two. This, just this, is the end of stress."

In the first example, through understanding that all phenomena are not fit to be clung to, the mind does not "fashion for the sake of becoming or un-becoming", that is, seeing how craving and aversion result in stress due to the nature of phenomena, craving and aversion (and volitions born of them, self-identification included) are ended, resulting in nibbana. In the Bahiya sutta, by only "seeing what is in the seen" self-identification, not being inherent in any phenomena, is cut off, the result being nibbana.

So, back to our animitto samadhi: I think that the act of stopping paying attention to all phenomena whatsoever has something in common with the previous two examples. First of all, by not paying mind to any phenomena, releasing the mind's hold on them, one is fulfilling non-fashioning in a slightly different way but with similar results. The mind simply stops bothering to get involved with any of those samkharas, to the extent that it even doesn't bother perceive anything about them. By not bothering to have anything to do with all samkharas of experience, the qualifications for non-fashioning are realized, and similarly since nothing is being turned into anything more than it is by the mind, a la the Bahiya sutta, anatta is also fully realized, and in these ways nibbana is reached.

I think that this sutta shows the animitto samadhi from a slightly different angle:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
"But how, friend Sariputta, could a monk have an attainment of concentration such he would neither be percipient of earth with regard to earth... nor of the next world with regard to the next world, and yet he would still be percipient?"

"Once, friend Ananda, when I was staying right here in Savatthi in the Blind Man's Grove, I reached concentration in such a way that I was neither percipient of earth with regard to earth... nor of the next world with regard to the next world, and yet I was still percipient."

"But what, friend Sariputta, were you percipient of at that time?"

"'The cessation of becoming — Unbinding — the cessation of becoming — Unbinding': One perception arose in me, friend Ananda, as another perception ceased. Just as in a blazing woodchip fire, one flame arises as another flame ceases, even so, 'The cessation of becoming — Unbinding — the cessation of becoming — Unbinding': One perception arose in me as another one ceased. I was percipient at that time of 'The cessation of becoming — Unbinding.'"
By not being pecipient of any phenomena, there is one perception that remains, that being the knowledge of unbinding.

It all paints a fairly coherent picture in my mind, but I might not have done a good job of putting it into words. There are probably people more qualified than myself on this subject, hopefully they will come by and correct me if I'm missing something.

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Re: signless concentration vs emptiness

Post by chandrafabian » Mon Aug 09, 2010 10:26 am

Dear Dhamma_spoon and Kenshou,
As far as I know, pure samatha develop nimitta (very strong nimitta is known as patibhaga nimitta). Eventually the mind is absorbed into the nimitta and Jhana is reached.
Whereas animitta is refer to insight meditation. In insight meditation the object is three characteristic (tilakkhana). Nibbana as an object also without nimitta/signs. As mention in Sariputta Sutta by Kenshou:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Mettacittena
fabian

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Re: signless concentration vs emptiness

Post by dhamma_spoon » Mon Aug 09, 2010 10:37 am

chandrafabian wrote:Dear Dhamma_spoon and Kenshou,
As far as I know, pure samatha develop nimitta (very strong nimitta is known as patibhaga nimitta). Eventually the mind is absorbed into the nimitta and Jhana is reached.
Whereas animitta is refer to insight meditation. In insight meditation the object is three characteristic (tilakkhana). Nibbana as an object also without nimitta/signs. As mention in Sariputta Sutta by Kenshou:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Mettacittena
fabian
Many thanks to you both. It is an excellent discussion.

:stirthepot:
A soup spoon does not know the taste of the soup.
A dhamma spoon does not know the taste of the Dhamma!

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Re: signless concentration vs emptiness

Post by chandrafabian » Mon Aug 09, 2010 10:46 am

dhamma_spoon wrote:
chandrafabian wrote:Dear Dhamma_spoon and Kenshou,
As far as I know, pure samatha develop nimitta (very strong nimitta is known as patibhaga nimitta). Eventually the mind is absorbed into the nimitta and Jhana is reached.
Whereas animitta is refer to insight meditation. In insight meditation the object is three characteristic (tilakkhana). Nibbana as an object also without nimitta/signs. As mention in Sariputta Sutta by Kenshou:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Mettacittena
fabian
Many thanks to you both. It is an excellent discussion.

:stirthepot:
Many thanks to you too... :anjali:

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Re: signless concentration vs emptiness

Post by Kenshou » Mon Aug 09, 2010 8:15 pm

chandrafabian wrote:Dear Dhamma_spoon and Kenshou,
As far as I know, pure samatha develop nimitta (very strong nimitta is known as patibhaga nimitta). Eventually the mind is absorbed into the nimitta and Jhana is reached.
Whereas animitta is refer to insight meditation. In insight meditation the object is three characteristic (tilakkhana). Nibbana as an object also without nimitta/signs. As mention in Sariputta Sutta by Kenshou:
Well as I tried to show, I don't believe that in the context of the animitto sutta it is only the absence of jhana-nimittas that is being talked about, but rather all nimittas or signs by which perception would cognize an object. As the sutta says, "paying no attention to any distinguishing signs..."

I believe that it is too narrow to consider all instances of the word nimitta to refer to nimittas developed in the practice of jhana. In fact I would argue that the notion of a specific (patibhaga)nimitta being necessary for jhana is an idea absent from the suttas and therefore not something that could justifiably be read into the animitto sutta, either.

chandrafabian
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Re: signless concentration vs emptiness

Post by chandrafabian » Tue Aug 10, 2010 12:48 am

Kenshou wrote:
chandrafabian wrote:Dear Dhamma_spoon and Kenshou,
As far as I know, pure samatha develop nimitta (very strong nimitta is known as patibhaga nimitta). Eventually the mind is absorbed into the nimitta and Jhana is reached.
Whereas animitta is refer to insight meditation. In insight meditation the object is three characteristic (tilakkhana). Nibbana as an object also without nimitta/signs. As mention in Sariputta Sutta by Kenshou:
Well as I tried to show, I don't believe that in the context of the animitto sutta it is only the absence of jhana-nimittas that is being talked about, but rather all nimittas or signs by which perception would cognize an object. As the sutta says, "paying no attention to any distinguishing signs..."

I believe that it is too narrow to consider all instances of the word nimitta to refer to nimittas developed in the practice of jhana. In fact I would argue that the notion of a specific (patibhaga)nimitta being necessary for jhana is an idea absent from the suttas and therefore not something that could justifiably be read into the animitto sutta, either.
Dear Kenshou, that is exactly what I want to say, only in insight meditation we should not attached to nimitta/should not paying attention to nimitta. But in pure samatha, nimitta is central theme, nimitta should be develop till it strong enough.

The sutta you refer to in Sariputta Sutta (absence of all kinds of nimitta), is explaining Nibbana experience.

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Re: signless concentration vs emptiness

Post by Kenshou » Tue Aug 10, 2010 12:56 am

only in insight meditation we should not attached to nimitta/should not paying attention to nimitta
To clarify, are you referring to "nimitta" in the general sense or in the context of jhana?

chandrafabian
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Re: signless concentration vs emptiness

Post by chandrafabian » Tue Aug 10, 2010 4:42 am

Kenshou wrote:
only in insight meditation we should not attached to nimitta/should not paying attention to nimitta
To clarify, are you referring to "nimitta" in the general sense or in the context of jhana?
Dear kenshou, in the context of Jhana, nimitta has special meaning (light perception)
But in insight meditation or Nibbana, should be absence of any kind of nimitta.

Mettacittena,
fabian

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Re: signless concentration vs emptiness

Post by Kenshou » Tue Aug 10, 2010 5:06 am

I guess my point is that I am doubtful that the signless-concentration of the animitto sutta is referring to insight meditation proper, but rather a particular different sort of meditation attainment, a possible fruition of arahantship in fact, not merely general insight practice.

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