Pitch-black emptiness and Mahasi Sayadaw technique

On the cultivation of insight/wisdom
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kirk5a
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Re: Pitch-black emptiness and Mahasi Sayadaw technique

Post by kirk5a » Thu Feb 03, 2011 1:00 pm

tiltbillings wrote:Though what I described to the teacher was in the context of vipassana practice, the experience of the rise and fall of what I was experiencing, particularly in terms of the "falling" away of experience. It was when the final bit experience seemingly fell away, nothing arising, leaving me in a with a period of just "being there" -- no arising of anything through the sense doors, no thought, no anything, just "being there."

The teacher said a bunch of stuff ending with: "You are now a stream-winner." My reply was: "No, I am not." I pointed out to him that this nothing more than an artifact of concentration and that I used to have the exactly same sort of experience when doing prayers as a Catholic as a kid.
Thanks for sharing that Tilt. :thumbsup:

What about the Paṭisambhidāmagga definition that Geoff presented - do you think it's possible to do a self-evaluation according to that? If so, do you spend any time doing that evaluation? I'm not asking you to say whether you think you've reached stream entry or not, just wondering how you approach the matter. Don't consider it at all, or...?
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230

Akuma
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Re: Pitch-black emptiness and Mahasi Sayadaw technique

Post by Akuma » Thu Feb 03, 2011 1:03 pm

Has it ever occured to you that what you said here is both bone dry and really does not say anything? Give me the suttas that deal with real life.

There is, however, an easy answer to my question, even from an Abhidhamma point of view.
Sorry man I tend to assume that ppl look at Buddhism from the same meta-school perspective as me and tend to presuppose knowledge or critical inquiry that "believers" usually dont have.
In any case to answer that question, no of course Nirvana is not something "out there".

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kirk5a
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Re: Pitch-black emptiness and Mahasi Sayadaw technique

Post by kirk5a » Thu Feb 03, 2011 1:12 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:
kirk5a wrote:Buuuut, who can tell us whether we've reached stream-entry or not? Isn't it somewhat important to know?... Isn't there some clear canonical standard we can use for ourselves?
Of course there is. The canon tells us that it is the cutting off and full extinguishment (parinibbāna) of the first three fetters. The Paṭisambhidāmagga:
  • How is it that the discernment of contemplating what is cut off is gnosis of liberation (vimuttiñāṇa)?

    By the stream-entry path the following imperfections are completely cut off in his own mind: (1) identity-view (sakkāyadiṭṭhi), (2) doubt (vicikicchā), (3) mistaken adherence to rules and duty (sīlabbataparāmāsa), (4) the underlying tendency of views (diṭṭhānusaya), (5) the underlying tendency of doubt (vicikicchānusaya). Mind is liberated, completely liberated from these five imperfections with their modes of obsession.

    How is it that the discernment of the termination of occurrence in one who is fully aware is gnosis of full extinguishment (parinibbāna ñāṇa)?

    Through the stream-entry path he terminates identity view, doubt, and mistaken adherence to rules and duty.... This discernment of the termination of occurrence in one who is fully aware is gnosis of full extinguishment....

    He causes the cessation of identity view, doubt, and mistaken adherence to rules and duty through the stream-entry path.
All the best,

Geoff
Thanks Geoff. Is there more explanation of those 5 imperfections? How would one recognize their occurrence? What is, exactly, identity-view, doubt, mistaken adherence to rules and duty, the underlying tendency of views and the underlying tendency of doubt?
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230

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kirk5a
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Re: Pitch-black emptiness and Mahasi Sayadaw technique

Post by kirk5a » Thu Feb 03, 2011 1:24 pm

I asked earlier whether Ajahn Chah said more on the nature of stream-entry. I did find this story, retold by Ajahn Amaro.

"The newcomer proudly introduced himself as a stream-enterer (the first stage of Enlightenment in which one is free from the first three of the 10 fetters that bind one to the sensuous world). After replying “In the village I’m from, stream-enterer is another word for a mangy dog,” Ajahn Chah watched the new arrival stomp off in anger. “Well, so much for stream-entry,” he commented in so many words."
http://www.abhayagiri.org/main/article/1878/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

My interpretation is that Ajahn Chah was testing the newcomer. And the test seemed to concern whether this person had really gotten past identity-view or not. If this person had, I suspect there would not have been the stomping off in anger. So Ajahn Chah concluded - nope. (I'm sure Ajahn Chah would have tried to help this person more if they had stuck around, but pride seems to have been more important than being open enough to hear what a teacher was saying. Too bad!)

The rest of that article is quite relevant to the question “How do you know when you are enlightened?”
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230

Parth
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Re: Pitch-black emptiness and Mahasi Sayadaw technique

Post by Parth » Thu Feb 03, 2011 4:24 pm

Kirk5a wrote :
My interpretation is that Ajahn Chah was testing the newcomer. And the test seemed to concern whether this person had really gotten past identity-view or not. If this person had, I suspect there would not have been the stomping off in anger. So Ajahn Chah concluded - nope. (I'm sure Ajahn Chah would have tried to help this person more if they had stuck around, but pride seems to have been more important than being open enough to hear what a teacher was saying. Too bad!)
At first stage, one does not get past ego and pride, what identity view means really is that one realises that this body and mind is not "I/ me" and apparantly in the stage beyond, there is no "I" so while the view goes away but ego and pride continue.

What Ajahn Chah was probably testing was humility and zest for learning.

Regards

Parth

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Re: Pitch-black emptiness and Mahasi Sayadaw technique

Post by rowyourboat » Thu Feb 03, 2011 6:22 pm

I think Ajhan Chah was testing whether this man could let go of him-self even for a little bit- and see the jibe with wisdom (that he should have gained)- clearly he couldn't.

There are loads of methods of evaluating whether a person is a stream entrant:

This sutta for example, and those suttas linked to underneath

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

with metta

Matheesha
With Metta

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tiltbillings
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Re: Pitch-black emptiness and Mahasi Sayadaw technique

Post by tiltbillings » Thu Feb 03, 2011 7:54 pm

Akuma wrote:
Has it ever occured to you that what you said here is both bone dry and really does not say anything? Give me the suttas that deal with real life.

There is, however, an easy answer to my question, even from an Abhidhamma point of view.
Sorry man I tend to assume that ppl look at Buddhism from the same meta-school perspective as me and tend to presuppose knowledge or critical inquiry that "believers" usually dont have.
Huh? Believers don't have?. I have not found the Sujin/Van Gorkom version of Buddhism particularly characteristic of critical inquiry.
In any case to answer that question, no of course Nirvana is not something "out there".
Does it "exist" outside the individual who has destroyed greed, hatred and delusion?
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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tiltbillings
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Re: Pitch-black emptiness and Mahasi Sayadaw technique

Post by tiltbillings » Thu Feb 03, 2011 8:10 pm

kirk5a wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:Though what I described to the teacher was in the context of vipassana practice, the experience of the rise and fall of what I was experiencing, particularly in terms of the "falling" away of experience. It was when the final bit experience seemingly fell away, nothing arising, leaving me in a with a period of just "being there" -- no arising of anything through the sense doors, no thought, no anything, just "being there."

The teacher said a bunch of stuff ending with: "You are now a stream-winner." My reply was: "No, I am not." I pointed out to him that this nothing more than an artifact of concentration and that I used to have the exactly same sort of experience when doing prayers as a Catholic as a kid.
Thanks for sharing that Tilt. :thumbsup:

What about the Paṭisambhidāmagga definition that Geoff presented - do you think it's possible to do a self-evaluation according to that? If so, do you spend any time doing that evaluation? I'm not asking you to say whether you think you've reached stream entry or not, just wondering how you approach the matter. Don't consider it at all, or...?
With any sort of evaluation, there is always the possibility of being wrong and being wrong with the unflagging certitude that one is right, which then makes one really, really wrong. Self-evaluate, but don't hang onto it. Continue with the practice.

Dhp 271-272. Not by rules and observances, not even by much learning, nor by gain of absorption, nor by a life of seclusion, nor by thinking, "I enjoy the bliss of renunciation, which is not experienced by the worldling" should you, O monks, rest content, until the utter destruction of cankers (Arahantship) is reached.

"Pitch-black emptiness" is just pitch-black emptiness. What matters is not experiencing pitch-black emptiness; rather, what matters is the ability to simply let go, of not investing oneself into one's experiences, seeing that the self is part of a process of rising and falling. There is nothing that can be forced here. It is a natural unfolding that arises from simply paying attention to what we are.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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kirk5a
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Re: Pitch-black emptiness and Mahasi Sayadaw technique

Post by kirk5a » Thu Feb 03, 2011 9:09 pm

Fair enough, and nicely said Tilt. I can live with that.
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230

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Re: Pitch-black emptiness and Mahasi Sayadaw technique

Post by tiltbillings » Thu Feb 03, 2011 9:15 pm

kirk5a wrote:Fair enough, and nicely said Tilt. I can live with that.
Thank you. The interesting things is that I could be wrong about some of this, but I do not think I am wrong about the need to continue with the practice and to simply learn not to invest oneself into such ideas as being a stream-winner. Anyway, it has been a good discussion.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

Akuma
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Re: Pitch-black emptiness and Mahasi Sayadaw technique

Post by Akuma » Thu Feb 03, 2011 9:53 pm

tiltbillings wrote:Huh? Believers don't have?. I have not found the Sujin/Van Gorkom version of Buddhism particularly characteristic of critical inquiry.
I assume you are a Theravadin and you asked for a reference so I told you the one that sprung up.
Does it "exist" outside the individual who has destroyed greed, hatred and delusion?
Why should it?

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Re: Pitch-black emptiness and Mahasi Sayadaw technique

Post by tiltbillings » Thu Feb 03, 2011 10:16 pm

Akuma wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:Huh? Believers don't have?. I have not found the Sujin/Van Gorkom version of Buddhism particularly characteristic of critical inquiry.
I assume you are a Theravadin and you asked for a reference so I told you the one that sprung up.
I assume I am a Theravadin as well, but the Sujin/Van Gorkom approach strikes me as rather peripheral, though some people find the Sujin/Van Gorkom approach of value.
Does it "exist" outside the individual who has destroyed greed, hatred and delusion?
Why should it?
But certainly seems to be talked about that way by some.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: Pitch-black emptiness and Mahasi Sayadaw technique

Post by Nyana » Thu Feb 03, 2011 10:37 pm

kirk5a wrote:I asked earlier whether Ajahn Chah said more on the nature of stream-entry.
Ajahn Chah has also said the following on the subject of stream-entry. From Food for the Heart: "Not Sure!" -- The Standard of the Noble Ones:
  • The Buddha is still alive to this very day, go in and find him. Where is he? At aniccam, go in and find him there, go and bow to him: aniccam, uncertainty. You can stop right there for starters.

    If the mind tries to tell you, ''I'm a sotāpanna now,'' go and bow to the sotāpanna. He'll tell you himself, ''It's all uncertain.'' If you meet a sakadāgāmī go and pay respects to him. When he sees you he'll simply say, ''Not a sure thing!'' If there is an anāgāmī go and bow to him. He'll tell you only one thing... ''Uncertain.'' If you meet even an arahant, go and bow to him, he'll tell you even more firmly, ''It's all even more uncertain!'' You'll hear the words of the Noble Ones... ''Everything is uncertain, don't cling to anything.''
And on the value of keeping anicca in mind at all times:
  • All the teachings in this world can be contained in this one teaching: aniccam. Think about it. I've searched for over forty years as a monk and this is all I could find. That and patient endurance. This is how to approach the Buddha's teaching... aniccam: it's all uncertain.

    No matter how sure the mind wants to be, just tell it, ''Not sure!'' Whenever the mind wants to grab on to something as a sure thing, just say, ''It's not sure, it's transient.'' Just ram it down with this. Using the Dhamma of the Buddha it all comes down to this. It's not that it's merely a momentary phenomenon. Whether standing, walking, sitting or lying down, you see everything in that way. Whether liking arises or dislike arises you see it all in the same way. This is getting close to the Buddha, close to the Dhamma.

    Now I feel that this is a more valuable way to practice. All my practice from the early days up to the present time has been like this. I didn't actually rely on the scriptures, but then I didn't disregard them either. I didn't rely on a teacher but then I didn't exactly ''go it alone.'' My practice was all ''neither this nor that.''
Even though this may seem like a simplified dhamma, it's actually the result of mature and profound practice. Often the Abhidhammapiṭaka treatises and the stage models of vipassanā ñāṇa-s -- which seem deep in their complexity -- don't accurately convey the pith wisdom of mature practice rooted in a life of simplicity, renunciation, and a calm & clear mind.

All the best,

Geoff

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tiltbillings
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Re: Pitch-black emptiness and Mahasi Sayadaw technique

Post by tiltbillings » Thu Feb 03, 2011 10:45 pm

the perception of impermanence should be cultivated for the removal of the conceit 'I am.' For when one perceives impermanence, Meghiya, the perception of not-self is established. When one perceives not-self one reaches the removal of the conceit 'I am,' which is called Nibbana here and now." Ud 37 (4.1)
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

rowyourboat
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Re: Pitch-black emptiness and Mahasi Sayadaw technique

Post by rowyourboat » Fri Feb 04, 2011 8:11 am

Stream entry or any other attainment is a tough call. For decades the Buddha was the only person who decided what degree of attainment a person had reached. Each time he visited a village where he had taught before, and if one of those disciples had died, Ven Ananda would ask him what the attainment of that person was. Then the Buddha would proclaim him/her as a stream entrant, sakadagamin etc. However he had so many disciples and Ven Ananda would ask so many times that the Buddha gave a sermon on the 'Mirror of the Dhamma' where one could decide for oneself whether they were a stream entrant or not. It is noteworthy that emptiness experiences are not included in these sermons. I think this is because of the confusion and misleading that can occur when we look/think of such experiences. The Buddha wisely avoided confusing his disciples. I think this type of thing (including the vipassana nanas) are not for students to decide but rather for instructors who have seen the same sequence of vipassana nanas arising and seen the nirodha experiences of their students at the culmination of their vipassana. These insights/experiences are difficult to 'diagnose' - it requires a theoretical framework, experience within oneself, and seeing it manifesting in students repeatedly and knowing what all the 'soft signs' (non-verbal communication) are before apprehending these states. It would be very difficult for a student to have this depth of knowledge and experience.

In any case Tilt is right. All we have to do is let go off all 'attainments' and focus on the task at hand- because they can be a genuine hindrance. Better to be heedful:
"This is how one dwells in heedlessness.

"And how does one dwell in heedfulness? When a monk dwells with restraint over the faculty of the eye, the mind is not stained with forms cognizable via the eye. When the mind is not stained, there is joy. There being joy, there is rapture. There being rapture, there is serenity. There being serenity, he dwells in ease. The mind of one at ease becomes centered. When the mind is centered, phenomena (dhammas) [and their characteristics] become manifest. When phenomena are manifest, one is classed simply as one who dwells in heedfulness."

With metta

Matheesha
With Metta

Karuna
Mudita
& Upekkha

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