Seeing the hindrances as stress, helps the mind let go of them

The cultivation of calm or tranquility and the development of concentration
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manas
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Seeing the hindrances as stress, helps the mind let go of them

Post by manas » Mon Mar 12, 2018 11:09 pm

Greetings all,
this might be 'old news' for those accomplished in jhana (I'm not one of them), but in case anyone hasn't encountered this passage before: there is a set of analogies the Buddha gave, that I find useful when a particular mental hindrance is afflicting the mind, during sitting meditation. I find that, making the mental effort to see the hindrance as stress, seems to help the mind let go of that hindrance, or at least diminish it's influence at that time.
Abandoning the Hindrances

"Endowed with this noble aggregate of virtue, this noble restraint over the sense faculties, this noble mindfulness and alertness, and this noble contentment, he seeks out a secluded dwelling: a forest, the shade of a tree, a mountain, a glen, a hillside cave, a charnel ground, a jungle grove, the open air, a heap of straw. After his meal, returning from his alms round, he sits down, crosses his legs, holds his body erect, and brings mindfulness to the fore.

"Abandoning covetousness with regard to the world, he dwells with an awareness devoid of covetousness. He cleanses his mind of covetousness. Abandoning ill will and anger, he dwells with an awareness devoid of ill will, sympathetic with the welfare of all living beings. He cleanses his mind of ill will and anger. Abandoning sloth and drowsiness, he dwells with an awareness devoid of sloth and drowsiness, mindful, alert, percipient of light. He cleanses his mind of sloth and drowsiness. Abandoning restlessness and anxiety, he dwells undisturbed, his mind inwardly stilled. He cleanses his mind of restlessness and anxiety. Abandoning uncertainty, he dwells having crossed over uncertainty, with no perplexity with regard to skillful mental qualities. He cleanses his mind of uncertainty.

"Suppose that a man, taking a loan, invests it in his business affairs. His business affairs succeed. He repays his old debts and there is extra left over for maintaining his wife. The thought would occur to him, 'Before, taking a loan, I invested it in my business affairs. Now my business affairs have succeeded. I have repaid my old debts and there is extra left over for maintaining my wife.' Because of that he would experience joy and happiness.

"Now suppose that a man falls sick — in pain and seriously ill. He does not enjoy his meals, and there is no strength in his body. As time passes, he eventually recovers from that sickness. He enjoys his meals and there is strength in his body. The thought would occur to him, 'Before, I was sick... Now I am recovered from that sickness. I enjoy my meals and there is strength in my body.' Because of that he would experience joy and happiness.

"Now suppose that a man is bound in prison. As time passes, he eventually is released from that bondage, safe and sound, with no loss of property. The thought would occur to him, 'Before, I was bound in prison. Now I am released from that bondage, safe and sound, with no loss of my property.' Because of that he would experience joy and happiness.

"Now suppose that a man is a slave, subject to others, not subject to himself, unable to go where he likes. As time passes, he eventually is released from that slavery, subject to himself, not subject to others, freed, able to go where he likes. The thought would occur to him, 'Before, I was a slave... Now I am released from that slavery, subject to myself, not subject to others, freed, able to go where I like.' Because of that he would experience joy and happiness.

"Now suppose that a man, carrying money and goods, is traveling by a road through desolate country. As time passes, he eventually emerges from that desolate country, safe and sound, with no loss of property. The thought would occur to him, 'Before, carrying money and goods, I was traveling by a road through desolate country. Now I have emerged from that desolate country, safe and sound, with no loss of my property.' Because of that he would experience joy and happiness.

"In the same way, when these five hindrances are not abandoned in himself, the monk regards it as a debt, a sickness, a prison, slavery, a road through desolate country. But when these five hindrances are abandoned in himself, he regards it as unindebtedness, good health, release from prison, freedom, a place of security. Seeing that they have been abandoned within him, he becomes glad. Glad, he becomes enraptured. Enraptured, his body grows tranquil. His body tranquil, he is sensitive to pleasure. Feeling pleasure, his mind becomes concentrated.

("Samaññaphala Sutta: The Fruits of the Contemplative Life" (DN 2), translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu. Access to Insight (BCBS Edition), 30 November 2013, http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html .)
:anjali:
Knowing this body is like a clay jar,
securing this mind like a fort,
attack Mara with the spear of discernment,
then guard what's won without settling there,
without laying claim.

- Dhp 40

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Re: Seeing the hindrances as stress, helps the mind let go of them

Post by paul » Tue Mar 13, 2018 6:40 am

covetousness (desire) ---debt
ill will ---sickness
sloth and drowsiness ---prison
restlessness and anxiety---slavery
doubt ---road through desolate country

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Re: Seeing the hindrances as stress, helps the mind let go of them

Post by Sam Vara » Tue Mar 13, 2018 9:37 am

manas wrote:
Mon Mar 12, 2018 11:09 pm
Greetings all,
this might be 'old news' for those accomplished in jhana (I'm not one of them), but in case anyone hasn't encountered this passage before: there is a set of analogies the Buddha gave, that I find useful when a particular mental hindrance is afflicting the mind, during sitting meditation. I find that, making the mental effort to see the hindrance as stress, seems to help the mind let go of that hindrance, or at least diminish it's influence at that time.
:thumbsup:

I have also found it very useful to see the hindrances in terms of the discernment which the Buddha recommends we adopt towards that which can preoccupy us: what is its origin, what is its passing away, what is the allure, what is the danger or drawback, and what is the escape from it?

Dhammapal's latest offering from Ajahn Thanisaro has a nice passage on this:
After you’ve fed the mind well on concentration, you begin to look at all the other things that would pull you out of concentration, and you see that there’s greed or aversion or delusion involved in going after those things. So, to get past them, the first step is to see, when the greed or the anger comes, how does it come? What’s its origination? What’s causing it? Then the second step is to see, when it goes away, how does it go away? But you don’t just stop there though, just watching it coming and going away.

Once you see the cause, the third step is to ask yourself, “Why do you go for that? What’s the allure? What’s the flavor? What’s the sense of being fed that you get off of that?” And then the fourth step is to compare the allure with the drawbacks. “If you feed off this, what are the long-term consequences?” It’s a lot easier to see this in all fairness when you’ve fed the mind well with concentration, because otherwise it’s going to go for whatever hit it can find. And it’s going to lie to itself about what the allure actually is. But when the mind is still, you’re more likely to see the real allure; when it’s well fed, you can see that the allure is very meager compared to the drawbacks. That’s when you can drop it. You develop dispassion for it, which is the fifth step: the escape.
https://www.dhammatalks.org/books/Medit ... n0046.html

I find this works well in formal sittings, as that is the time when the mind is concentrated, yet can be pulled away by hindrances.

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Re: Seeing the hindrances as stress, helps the mind let go of them

Post by manas » Tue Mar 13, 2018 10:22 am

Sam Vara wrote:
Tue Mar 13, 2018 9:37 am

I have also found it very useful to see the hindrances in terms of the discernment which the Buddha recommends we adopt towards that which can preoccupy us: what is its origin, what is its passing away, what is the allure, what is the danger or drawback, and what is the escape from it?
thank you , I will look into that also. :anjali:
Last edited by manas on Tue Mar 13, 2018 12:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Knowing this body is like a clay jar,
securing this mind like a fort,
attack Mara with the spear of discernment,
then guard what's won without settling there,
without laying claim.

- Dhp 40

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Re: Seeing the hindrances as stress, helps the mind let go of them

Post by paul » Tue Mar 13, 2018 10:50 am

States of mind:
I don’t practice meditation on the breath but rather on the skeleton, however I often observe the instructions from the Anapanasati sutta with respect to the third foundation of mindfulness to steady the mind:

“He trains himself , ‘I will breathe out gladdening the mind.’ He trains himself, “I will breathe in steadying the mind.’

The ten recollections can be divided into either of these two categories, and some function for both.

10 recollections (anussati, q.v.): of the Buddha (buddhánussati), the Doctrine (dhammánussati), the Brotherhood of the Noble Ones (sanghánussati), morality, liberality, the heavenly beings, death (maranasati, q.v. ), the body (káyagatásati, q.v.), in-and-outbreathing (ánápána-sati, q.v.) and peace (upasamánussati, q.v.). —-“Buddhist Dictionary”, Nyanatiloka.
Last edited by paul on Tue Mar 13, 2018 8:05 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Seeing the hindrances as stress, helps the mind let go of them

Post by Sam Vara » Tue Mar 13, 2018 11:30 am

manas wrote:
Tue Mar 13, 2018 10:22 am
Sam Vara wrote:
Tue Mar 13, 2018 9:37 am

I have also found it very useful to see the hindrances in terms of the discernment which the Buddha recommends we adopt towards that which can preoccupy us: what is its origin, what is its passing away, what is the allure, what is the danger or drawback, and what is the escape from it?
I'm curious as to how others practice this. For example, this morning, the mind was somewhat dull, and not well focussed. I perceived 'boredom', and pondering that a moment, realized the mind had sensual desire - and the boredom was simply aversion to 'not getting what it wanted', ie, sensuality (as opposed to renunciation). So I brought to mind the disadvantages of sensuality, the fact that we could die at any moment, etc, and reminded myself that "I'm not here to get pleasure, but to practice for the ending of suffering & stress". Only after this exercise, did the mind begin to calm down, and could stay with the breath with any stability. Is this in essence, what you meant, to bring such things to mind during the actual sitting? I find that discernment actually leads the way, in that the mind will often only begin calm down, after it's had a bit of a talking to about the facts, so to speak. Is this what you meant?
Exactly, yes. If the mind wants to run after other things which are not the meditation object, then reflection is often helpful along the lines of

1) Noticing the hindrance as something the mind wants to do. Try to see the contact which triggers it.
2) Noticing the ending of the hindrance, normally because another contact starts something else off
3) Acknowledging how desirable the hindrance looks
4) Reminding myself of where it would lead to if indulged
5) Allowing myself to become disenchanted or disgusted with the hindering tendency.

This also works very well for when there is some concentration, but the mind begins to drift away a bit. The concentrated mind is more easily able to recall this advice, and the more I do it, the easier it gets.

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Re: Seeing the hindrances as stress, helps the mind let go of them

Post by Saengnapha » Tue Mar 13, 2018 5:31 pm

The moment any hindrance is observed with mindfulness, full attention, the hindrance will drop away. This restores the natural light and nimble concentrative focus of the stable observer. Knowing what is arising, cognizing it, is central to this process.

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Re: Seeing the hindrances as stress, helps the mind let go of them

Post by dharmacorps » Tue Mar 13, 2018 6:19 pm

Good post. One of the ways I have been able to see the hindrances more clearly is sometimes just sitting and noticing every impulse I have to stop meditating and get up/do something else and seeing how those are all hindrances. After a while of doing that, you begin to see how pervasive they are, and tricky. At least then you can see them-- usually in my experience they are harder to see.

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Re: Seeing the hindrances as stress, helps the mind let go of them

Post by paul » Tue Mar 13, 2018 9:14 pm

While identification of whatever hindrance is present is important, recognition alone is not enough to eradicate the hindrance in all instances, and in cases of regularly arising unwholesome states of mind, exertion of a strategy is necessary:
“So he exerts a fabrication against the cause of stress for which dispassion comes from the fabrication of exertion, and develops equanimity with regard to the cause of stress for which dispassion comes from the development of equanimity.”—-MN 101

"If, on examination, a monk knows, 'I usually remain covetous, with thoughts of ill will, overcome by sloth & drowsiness, restless, uncertain, angry, with soiled thoughts, with my body aroused, lazy, or unconcentrated,' then he should put forth extra desire, effort, diligence, endeavor, relentlessness, mindfulness, & alertness for the abandoning of those very same evil, unskillful qualities. Just as when a person whose turban or head was on fire would put forth extra desire, effort, diligence, endeavor, relentlessness, mindfulness, & alertness to put out the fire on his turban or head; in the same way, the monk should put forth extra desire, effort, diligence, endeavor, relentlessness, mindfulness, & alertness for the abandoning of those very same evil, unskillful qualities."---AN 10.51

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Re: Seeing the hindrances as stress, helps the mind let go of them

Post by retrofuturist » Wed Mar 14, 2018 2:09 am

Greetings Manas,
Seeing the hindrances as stress, helps the mind let go of them
Very good insight. As you point out, there are suttas that tell us to do just this.

For some reason, in the West, meditators generally seem to have it back-to-front and think something to the effect that "If you do [x] meditation technique, you'll develop insight, and then, and only then, can you see the truth of what's in the suttas".

It's actually the other way around... see as instructed by the suttas, and then you'll become proficient in meditation. This is incidentally, perfectly in accordance with the sequencing of the Noble Eightfold Path.

Metta,
Paul. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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Re: Seeing the hindrances as stress, helps the mind let go of them

Post by Saengnapha » Wed Mar 14, 2018 5:15 am

paul wrote:
Tue Mar 13, 2018 9:14 pm
While identification of whatever hindrance is present is important, recognition alone is not enough to eradicate the hindrance in all instances, and in cases of regularly arising unwholesome states of mind, exertion of a strategy is necessary:
“So he exerts a fabrication against the cause of stress for which dispassion comes from the fabrication of exertion, and develops equanimity with regard to the cause of stress for which dispassion comes from the development of equanimity.”—-MN 101
From which translation did you quote the above MN101?

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Re: Seeing the hindrances as stress, helps the mind let go of them

Post by paul » Wed Mar 14, 2018 5:33 am

Thanissaro:
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html

Even "when equanimity is employed instead of the fabrication of exertion, it's used with a particular purpose in mind: to abandon unskillful qualities. This means that it has an underlying agenda, the agenda of right effort " ---"Right Mindfulness", Thanissaro.

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Re: Seeing the hindrances as stress, helps the mind let go of them

Post by Saengnapha » Wed Mar 14, 2018 6:55 am

paul wrote:
Wed Mar 14, 2018 5:33 am
Thanissaro:
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html

Even "when equanimity is employed instead of the fabrication of exertion, it's used with a particular purpose in mind: to abandon unskillful qualities. This means that it has an underlying agenda, the agenda of right effort " ---"Right Mindfulness", Thanissaro.
Is this Thanissaro's personal take/interpretation on this sutta or are you quoting the Buddha's own words in this sutta. I can't tell. If you are quoting the Buddha's actual words, I don't see where they appear in the actual sutta. Can you direct me to passages you are quoting within the sutta, please.

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Re: Seeing the hindrances as stress, helps the mind let go of them

Post by paul » Wed Mar 14, 2018 7:17 am

"In the same way, the monk, when not loaded down, does not load himself down with pain, nor does he reject pleasure that accords with the Dhamma, although he is not infatuated with that pleasure. He discerns that 'When I exert a [physical, verbal, or mental] fabrication against this cause of stress, then from the fabrication of exertion there is dispassion. When I look on with equanimity at that cause of stress, then from the development of equanimity there is dispassion.' So he exerts a fabrication against the cause of stress where there comes dispassion from the fabrication of exertion, and develops equanimity with regard to the cause of stress where there comes dispassion from the development of equanimity. Thus the stress coming from the cause of stress for which there is dispassion through the fabrication of exertion is exhausted & the stress resulting from the cause of stress for which there is dispassion through the development of equanimity is exhausted."

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Re: Seeing the hindrances as stress, helps the mind let go of them

Post by Saengnapha » Wed Mar 14, 2018 7:35 am

paul wrote:
Wed Mar 14, 2018 7:17 am
"In the same way, the monk, when not loaded down, does not load himself down with pain, nor does he reject pleasure that accords with the Dhamma, although he is not infatuated with that pleasure. He discerns that 'When I exert a [physical, verbal, or mental] fabrication against this cause of stress, then from the fabrication of exertion there is dispassion. When I look on with equanimity at that cause of stress, then from the development of equanimity there is dispassion.' So he exerts a fabrication against the cause of stress where there comes dispassion from the fabrication of exertion, and develops equanimity with regard to the cause of stress where there comes dispassion from the development of equanimity. Thus the stress coming from the cause of stress for which there is dispassion through the fabrication of exertion is exhausted & the stress resulting from the cause of stress for which there is dispassion through the development of equanimity is exhausted."
Can you give me an example of a fabrication against the cause of stress?

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Re: Seeing the hindrances as stress, helps the mind let go of them

Post by Saengnapha » Wed Mar 14, 2018 9:24 am

Saengnapha wrote:
Wed Mar 14, 2018 7:35 am
paul wrote:
Wed Mar 14, 2018 7:17 am
"In the same way, the monk, when not loaded down, does not load himself down with pain, nor does he reject pleasure that accords with the Dhamma, although he is not infatuated with that pleasure. He discerns that 'When I exert a [physical, verbal, or mental] fabrication against this cause of stress, then from the fabrication of exertion there is dispassion. When I look on with equanimity at that cause of stress, then from the development of equanimity there is dispassion.' So he exerts a fabrication against the cause of stress where there comes dispassion from the fabrication of exertion, and develops equanimity with regard to the cause of stress where there comes dispassion from the development of equanimity. Thus the stress coming from the cause of stress for which there is dispassion through the fabrication of exertion is exhausted & the stress resulting from the cause of stress for which there is dispassion through the development of equanimity is exhausted."
Can you give me an example of a fabrication against the cause of stress?
This is the Nanamoli/Bhikkhu Bodhi translation of the paragraph above which is in MN101:

“23. “And how is exertion fruitful, bhikkhus, how is striving fruitful? Here, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu who is not overwhelmed with suffering does not overwhelm himself with suffering; and he does not give up the pleasure that accords with Dhamma, yet he is not infatuated with that pleasure. He knows thus: ‘When I strive with determination, this particular source of suffering fades away in me because of that determined striving; and when I look on with equanimity, this particular source of suffering fades away in me while I develop equanimity. He strives with determination in regard to that particular source of suffering which fades away in him because of that determined striving; and he develops equanimity in regard to that particular source of suffering which fades away in him while he is developing equanimity. When he strives with determination, such and such a source of suffering fades away in him because of that determined striving; thus that suffering is exhausted in him. When he looks on with equanimity, such and such a source of suffering fades away in him while he develops equanimity; thus that suffering is exhausted in him.”

Excerpt From: Nanamoli, Bhikkhu. “The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha.”

To my way of looking at this, full attention/diligence=strive with determination. Striving for what? To recognize what is arising. Recognition is knowing what is arising. This knowing is simple awareness. This 'mindfulness' has power as long as it is sustained. It is dispassionate by nature. It leads one to balance which is samadhi.

Thanissaro's translation seems terribly convoluted to me and unnecessarily complex. A fabrication is to 'make up' something. It is an invention or lie. Where does this fit into the picture?

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Re: Seeing the hindrances as stress, helps the mind let go of them

Post by mikenz66 » Wed Mar 14, 2018 7:28 pm

Here's Sujato's new translation of that passage, from Sutta Central:
And how is exertion and striving fruitful? It’s when a mendicant doesn’t bring suffering upon themselves; and they don’t give up legitimate pleasure, but they’re not stupefied with that pleasure. They understand: ‘When I actively strive I become dispassionate towards this source of suffering. But when I develop equanimity I become dispassionate towards this other source of suffering.’ So they either actively strive or develop equanimity as appropriate. Through active striving they become dispassionate towards that specific source of suffering, and so that suffering is worn away. Through developing equanimity they become dispassionate towards that other source of suffering, and so that suffering is worn away.

https://suttacentral.net/mn101/en/sujato#sc35
I would not worry about Thanissaro's Access to Insight translations. He has updated them on www.dhammatalks.org and, to be fair, his latest translation is a little clearer than his earlier one:
“And how is striving fruitful, how is exertion fruitful? There is the case where a monk, when not loaded down, does not load himself down with pain, nor does he reject pleasure that accords with the Dhamma, although he is not infatuated on that pleasure. He discerns that ‘When I exert a [physical, verbal, or mental] fabrication against this cause of stress, then from the fabrication of exertion there is dispassion. When I look on with equanimity at that cause of stress, then from the development of equanimity there is dispassion.’ So he exerts a fabrication against the cause of stress for which dispassion comes from the fabrication of exertion, and develops equanimity with regard to the cause of stress for which dispassion comes from the development of equanimity. Thus the stress coming from the cause of stress where there is dispassion from the fabrication of exertion is exhausted, and the stress coming from the cause of stress where there is dispassion from the development of equanimity is exhausted.

https://www.dhammatalks.org/suttas/MN/MN101.html
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Re: Seeing the hindrances as stress, helps the mind let go of them

Post by paul » Wed Mar 14, 2018 8:44 pm

Quote: "It leads one to balance which is samadhi."

But as well as right concentration there is also right effort in the noble eightfold path. When words like 'striving' are used in the suttas, it refers to right effort, which is to avoid, to overcome, and to develop, to maintain.

To avoid, to overcome:
"There is the case where a monk remains focused on mental qualities in & of themselves with reference to the five hindrances. And how does a monk remain focused on mental qualities in & of themselves with reference to the five hindrances? There is the case where, there being sensual desire present within, a monk discerns that 'There is sensual desire present within me.' Or, there being no sensual desire present within, he discerns that 'There is no sensual desire present within me.' He discerns how there is the arising of unarisen sensual desire. And he discerns how there is the abandoning of sensual desire once it has arisen. And he discerns how there is no future arising of sensual desire that has been abandoned. (The same formula is repeated for the remaining hindrances: ill will, sloth & drowsiness, restlessness & anxiety, and uncertainty.)"---MN 10, Satipatthana sutta.

Tactic for overcoming:
"Just as the arising of sensual desire can be analysed in terms of its psychological underpinnings, so too the absence of sensual desire depends on an intelligent management of the same psychological mechanisms. Once one has at least temporarily escaped from the vicious circle of continuous demands for satisfaction, it becomes possible to develop some form of counterbalance in one’s perceptual appraisal. If excessively dwelling on aspects of external beauty has led to frequent states of lust, contemplation directed towards the less appealing aspects of the body can lead to a progressive decrease in such states of mind.
Examples for such counterbalancing can be found among the satipatthãna meditation practices, in particular the contemplations of the anatomical constitution of the body and of a decaying corpse. In addition to these, restraint of the senses, moderation with food, wakefulness, and awareness of the impermanent nature of all mental events are helpful measures in order to prevent the arising of sensual desire.
Similar approaches are appropriate for the other hindrances "---"Satipatthana", Analayo.

The Satipatthana sutta then goes on to describe the development of the seven factors of enlightenment.

"Furthermore, the monk remains focused on mental qualities in & of themselves with reference to the seven factors for Awakening. And how does he remain focused on mental qualities in & of themselves with reference to the seven factors for Awakening? There is the case where, there being mindfulness as a factor for Awakening present within, he discerns that 'Mindfulness as a factor for Awakening is present within me.' Or, there being no mindfulness as a factor for Awakening present within, he discerns that 'Mindfulness as a factor for Awakening is not present within me.' He discerns how there is the arising of unarisen mindfulness as a factor for Awakening. And he discerns how there is the culmination of the development of mindfulness as a factor for Awakening once it has arisen. (The same formula is repeated for the remaining factors for Awakening: analysis of qualities, persistence, rapture, serenity, concentration, & equanimity.)"

Just as right effort and right concentration comprise two opposing themes in the noble eightfold path, also in the factors of enlightenment, investigation, effort, and rapture represent right effort, while serenity, concentration and equanimity represent right concentration, mindfulness being the central factor able to focus on either group depending on the intensity of the hindrances at a particular time.
Last edited by paul on Wed Mar 14, 2018 11:22 pm, edited 6 times in total.

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Re: Seeing the hindrances as stress, helps the mind let go of them

Post by Sam Vara » Wed Mar 14, 2018 9:15 pm

Thanissaro's earlier translation of this passage is a bit of a mess, and I have to read it a couple of times to make sure I understand it. But the meaning is pretty much the same as that in the other translations by BB and also by Sujato. I agree with Paul on this, that the Buddha was not advocating an equanimous approach to whatever turns up; sometimes we are urged to exert ourselves when it is appropriate.

In context of the whole sutta, it is significant that the Buddha uses the same term (padahati) for the exertion exercised wrongly by the Jains, and the exertion which can also be appropriate for his own followers. Had he wished to rule out all such exertion in favour of equanimous observation, he would I think have ruled out the term altogether, and made a "clean break" with the Jains.

And widening the context still further, Paul is right to talk about Right Effort. I might have completely misunderstood this, of course, but I don't think that it is supportable to talk of Right Effort as being merely the effort required to remain equanimous. The Vitakkasanthana Sutta's infamous passage, for examle:
Now, suppose that mendicant is focusing on stopping the formation of thoughts, but bad, unskillful thoughts connected with desire, hate, and delusion keep coming up. With teeth clenched and tongue pressed against the roof of the mouth, they should squeeze, squash, and torture mind with mind. As they do so, those bad thoughts are given up and come to an end. Their mind becomes stilled internally; it settles, unifies, and becomes immersed in samādhi. It’s like a strong man who grabs a weaker man by the head or throat or shoulder and squeezes, squashes, and tortures them. In the same way, a mendicant … with teeth clenched and tongue pressed against the roof of the mouth, should squeeze, squash, and torture mind with mind. As they do so, those bad thoughts are given up and come to an end. Their mind becomes stilled internally; it settles, unifies, and becomes immersed in samādhi.
- there's no mention of this effort being deployed to remain in an equanimous state. It's just exerting what looks like a considerable amount of mental effort to stop thinking.

Saengnapha
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Re: Seeing the hindrances as stress, helps the mind let go of them

Post by Saengnapha » Thu Mar 15, 2018 4:37 am

Sam Vara wrote:
Wed Mar 14, 2018 9:15 pm
Thanissaro's earlier translation of this passage is a bit of a mess, and I have to read it a couple of times to make sure I understand it. But the meaning is pretty much the same as that in the other translations by BB and also by Sujato. I agree with Paul on this, that the Buddha was not advocating an equanimous approach to whatever turns up; sometimes we are urged to exert ourselves when it is appropriate.

In context of the whole sutta, it is significant that the Buddha uses the same term (padahati) for the exertion exercised wrongly by the Jains, and the exertion which can also be appropriate for his own followers. Had he wished to rule out all such exertion in favour of equanimous observation, he would I think have ruled out the term altogether, and made a "clean break" with the Jains.

And widening the context still further, Paul is right to talk about Right Effort. I might have completely misunderstood this, of course, but I don't think that it is supportable to talk of Right Effort as being merely the effort required to remain equanimous. The Vitakkasanthana Sutta's infamous passage, for examle:
Now, suppose that mendicant is focusing on stopping the formation of thoughts, but bad, unskillful thoughts connected with desire, hate, and delusion keep coming up. With teeth clenched and tongue pressed against the roof of the mouth, they should squeeze, squash, and torture mind with mind. As they do so, those bad thoughts are given up and come to an end. Their mind becomes stilled internally; it settles, unifies, and becomes immersed in samādhi. It’s like a strong man who grabs a weaker man by the head or throat or shoulder and squeezes, squashes, and tortures them. In the same way, a mendicant … with teeth clenched and tongue pressed against the roof of the mouth, should squeeze, squash, and torture mind with mind. As they do so, those bad thoughts are given up and come to an end. Their mind becomes stilled internally; it settles, unifies, and becomes immersed in samādhi.
- there's no mention of this effort being deployed to remain in an equanimous state. It's just exerting what looks like a considerable amount of mental effort to stop thinking.
This is where we seem to go off on many tangents as to what right effort, dliigence, and striving really mean. This discussion is posted in the Samatha topic. The practice of samatha is about the focus on a meditation object such as the breath. When you focus on the breath, you begin to draw in the attention away from exterior phenomenon and into the body, with the breath as the main focus. It is not about the stopping of thinking although that does tend to happen. What tends to happen is one of two things. Either the attention gets lost in thinking and forgets about the breath or the attention tends to fixate on feelings or some other internal phenomena. Moving the attention back to the breath is not about a rigid concentration and an attempt to either stop thinking or forcing the attention back to the breath. It is simply a relaxation out of an habitual activity like thinking and back on the breath, again and again, until there is a relaxed focus and balance of body, feeling, and the mental processes. This culminates in jhana and samadhi. It is not about analysis and reasoning. In samatha practice, analysis and reasoning are not engaged in. But, this does not lead to real wisdom as satipatthana practice does. Samatha is about calming the citta, the agitation. Penetrating insight comes later through satipatthana and the analysis and reasoning that is possible with equanimity present as its basis.

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