Anatta vs contemplations of death & metta vs merits making

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starter
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Anatta vs contemplations of death & metta vs merits making

Post by starter » Thu Mar 10, 2011 4:38 pm

Hello Teachers/Friends,

As my comprehension of anatta and the essence of the mind (pure mind) increases, I find it "silly" now to contemplate the uncertainty of life and certainty of death -- both are anatta anyway, and the mind essence has no real change (no birth no death). I also find it "silly" to do metta/karuna/mudita meditation, which all start with "I", "my", "beings" (of course all these are just anatta) -- such contemplations are meaningful at mundane level but not at supramundane level (to me they only increase our conceit and "I"/"my"- making). As to merit making, it's even more "silly", who is that "I" making all the merits? for whom? Are the merits also just fabrications and acquisitions which are anicca/dukkha/anatta -- bind us to samsara? Did the Buddha teach us "all acquisitions are source of dukkha", "all dhammas are not worth of clinging", and "resolute all fabrications and relinquish all acquisitions" to enter nibbana?

To me, it seems at supramundane level only the contemplations (anicca/dukkha/anatta) of the five aggregates (to completely remove the notion of unreal "self"), the contemplation of upekkha (to relinquish "likes" and "dislikes" and to establish equally untouched mind), and the contemplation of nibbana/the pure mind are meaningful. Or probably also metta/karuna/mudita meditation, but change "my awareness" into "the awareness of this mind", change "every living being" into "every mind", change "May I (& other beings) be ..." to "May this mind (& other minds) be ...".

Your input and comments are very welcome. Metta to all,

Starter
PS: the "pure mind" or "mind essence" refer to the "unestablished consciousness", the unconditioned.
Last edited by starter on Sat May 14, 2011 8:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Jack
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Re: Anatta vs contemplations of death & metta vs merits making

Post by Jack » Thu Mar 10, 2011 7:46 pm

starter wrote:Hello Teachers/Friends,

I also find it "silly" to do metta/karuna/mudita meditation, which all start with "I", "my", "beings" (of course all these are just anatta) -- such contemplations are meaningful at mundane level but not at supramundane level (to me they only increase our conceit and "I"/"my"- making).
I have another view of meditations based on the brahmavaharas. Take metta meditation for instance. One starts with using phases such as "May he be at peace." These phrases are used to point to a feeling of loving kindness. This feeling exists without subject and object. One is just expanding this not one/not two feeling outward to include more and more beings. Eventually no phrases are needed.

I believe metta meditation is usually included as a samadhi meditation.

Jack

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tiltbillings
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Re: Anatta vs contemplations of death & metta vs merits making

Post by tiltbillings » Thu Mar 10, 2011 7:50 pm

starter wrote:Hello Teachers/Friends,

As my comprehension of anatta and the essence of the mind (pure mind) increases, I find it "silly" now to contemplate the uncertainty of life and certainty of death -- both are anatta anyway, and the mind essence has no real change (no birth no death).
Sounds like you need to be on a Hindu forum.
>> 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

nathan
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Re: Anatta vs contemplations of death & metta vs merits making

Post by nathan » Thu Mar 10, 2011 11:01 pm

starter wrote:As my comprehension of anatta and the essence of the mind (pure mind) increases, I find it "silly" now to contemplate the uncertainty of life and certainty of death -- both are anatta anyway, and the mind essence has no real change (no birth no death).
Man, if you think there is a pure essential mind you are in for some real surprises, hopefully before it is too late to take appropriate steps in this life.
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}

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Re: Anatta vs contemplations of death & metta vs merits making

Post by beeblebrox » Thu Mar 10, 2011 11:30 pm

I think there is a such thing as pure essential mind, the "Bhikkhave, this citta is luminous," except it's not a permanent, unchanging nature, that one can abide in.

Nihilism is one of the wrong views. "It's pointless to do anything good." The Buddha criticized everyone who thought in this way.

Annihilationism, also one of the wrong views, "The ultimate goal, the 100% total unbinding, Nibbāna is to remove any notion of this self, imaginary or otherwise." It only wastes time.

I think that trying to figure out what this anatta thing exactly means is probably difficult, without falling into either of those two views, but once it's figured out, I think that's a good progress.

:anjali:
Last edited by beeblebrox on Fri Mar 11, 2011 1:33 am, edited 4 times in total.

meindzai
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Re: Anatta vs contemplations of death & metta vs merits making

Post by meindzai » Thu Mar 10, 2011 11:32 pm

You are forgetting the middle way and falling into nihilism, basically. Remember that Buddhism avoids extremes:

"'Everything exists': That is one extreme. 'Everything doesn't exist': That is a second extreme. Avoiding these two extremes, the Tathagata teaches the Dhamma via the middle..." (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;) Kaccayanagotta Sutta (and probably others)

And yeah, you have some weird ideas about mind-essense/pure mind and whatnot in there, which means you've got some eternalist ideas mixed up with you're nihilist ones. You seem to be at two extremes at the same time.

Google Search on access to insight: Avoiding Extremes


-M

starter
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Re: Anatta vs contemplations of death & metta vs merits making

Post by starter » Fri Mar 11, 2011 6:19 pm

Hello Teachers/Friends,

Many thanks for your kind comments/advice. I do appreciate the Buddha's middle-road approach not to even "get involved with or cling to these attachments, clingings, fixations of awareness, biases, or obsessions [of the two extremes]", but only to teach the four Noble truths to get out of suffering. He pointed out that " And when there is the view that the soul is one thing and the body another, there isn't the leading of the holy life. "

But as I understand from his other teachings (e.g. SN 22.59), the actual "how" he taught us to get out of suffering is by realization of the five aggregates as "ANATTA", which leads to disenchantment/dispassion of the five aggregates.

Were the "middle-way" teachings like SN12.35 & SN12.15 given much later than the ANATTA teachings like SN22.59 (which I believe was given at the very early period) or not? Toward the later period of his teaching career, did he still teach the ANATTA method or did he change to Dukkha instead?

SN 12.35:

"... If one were to ask, 'Which aging & death? And whose is this aging & death?' and if one were to ask, 'Is aging & death one thing, and is this the aging & death of someone/something else?' both of them would have the same meaning, even though their words would differ. When there is the view that the soul is the same as the body, there isn't the leading of the holy life. And when there is the view that the soul is one thing and the body another, there isn't the leading of the holy life. Avoiding these two extremes, the Tathagata points out the Dhamma in between: From birth as a requisite condition comes aging & death." [The same applies to birth / becoming / clinging / craving / feeling / contact / six sense media / name & form / consciousness / fabrications]

SN 12.15

"By & large, Kaccayana, this world is in bondage to attachments, clingings (sustenances), & biases. But one such as this does not get involved with or cling to these attachments, clingings, fixations of awareness, biases, or obsessions; nor is he resolved on 'my self.' He has no uncertainty or doubt that just stress [dukkha], when arising, is arising; stress, when passing away, is passing away. In this, his knowledge is independent of others. It's to this extent, Kaccayana, that there is right view.

"'Everything exists': That is one extreme. 'Everything doesn't exist': That is a second extreme. Avoiding these two extremes, the Tathagata teaches the Dhamma via the middle: From ignorance as a requisite condition come fabrications. From fabrications as a requisite condition comes consciousness. ...

"Now from the remainderless fading & cessation of that very ignorance [-- but how?? Through ANATTA of the five aggregates taught in SN22.59?] comes the cessation of fabrications. From the cessation of fabrications comes the cessation of consciousness. From the cessation of consciousness comes the cessation of name-&-form. ... From the cessation of becoming comes the cessation of birth. From the cessation of birth, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair all cease. Such is the cessation of this entire mass of stress & suffering."

SN 22.59:

"Any form [feeling, perception, (mental) fabrications, consciousness] whatsoever that is past, future, or present; internal or external; blatant or subtle; common or sublime; far or near: every consciousness is to be seen as it actually is with right discernment as: 'This is not mine. This is not my self. This is not what I am.'

"Seeing thus, the well-instructed disciple of the noble ones grows disenchanted with form, disenchanted with feeling, disenchanted with perception, disenchanted with fabrications, disenchanted with consciousness. Disenchanted, he becomes dispassionate. Through dispassion, he is fully released. With full release, there is the knowledge, 'Fully released.' He discerns that 'Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for this world.'"

As to the comment, "I think there is a such thing as pure essential mind, the "Bhikkhave, this citta is luminous," except it's not a permanent, unchanging nature, that one can abide in." -- are there any sutta supporting this?

"The mind essence / pure mind" I refer to is nibbana or in nibbana, which is unconditioned, unchaning, ... and completely different from Hindu's "soul" which is still in samsara.

Metta to all,

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tiltbillings
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Re: Anatta vs contemplations of death & metta vs merits making

Post by tiltbillings » Fri Mar 11, 2011 6:38 pm

starter wrote:"The mind essence / pure mind" I refer to is nibbana or in nibbana, which is unconditioned, unchaning, ... and completely different from Hindu's "soul" which is still in samsara.
Not according to Hindu texts. Nibbana is not "mind essence" or "pure mind."
>> 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: Anatta vs contemplations of death & metta vs merits making

Post by kirk5a » Fri Mar 11, 2011 7:29 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
starter wrote:"The mind essence / pure mind" I refer to is nibbana or in nibbana, which is unconditioned, unchaning, ... and completely different from Hindu's "soul" which is still in samsara.
Not according to Hindu texts. Nibbana is not "mind essence" or "pure mind."
So if the teaching of the Buddhas is "purify the mind" - we shouldn't conclude that Nibbana is the purified mind?
"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: Anatta vs contemplations of death & metta vs merits making

Post by daverupa » Fri Mar 11, 2011 8:26 pm

kirk5a wrote:So if the teaching of the Buddhas is "purify the mind" - we shouldn't conclude that Nibbana is the purified mind?
In brief, it is "do good, avoid evil, purify the mind", from the Dhammapada 183 - but saying that nibbana is a purified mind is incorrect.
[url=http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.024.than.html]Ratha-vinita Sutta[/url] (MN 24): wrote:Purity in terms of virtue is simply for the sake of purity in terms of mind. Purity in terms of mind is simply for the sake of purity in terms of view. Purity in terms of view is simply for the sake of purity in terms of the overcoming of perplexity. Purity in terms of the overcoming of perplexity is simply for the sake of purity in terms of knowledge & vision of what is & is not the path. Purity in terms of knowledge & vision of what is & is not the path is simply for the sake of purity in terms of knowledge & vision of the way. Purity in terms of knowledge & vision of the way is simply for the sake of purity in terms of knowledge & vision. Purity in terms of knowledge & vision is simply for the sake of total Unbinding through lack of clinging. And it's for the sake of total Unbinding through lack of clinging that the holy life is lived under the Blessed One.
  • "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: Anatta vs contemplations of death & metta vs merits making

Post by tiltbillings » Fri Mar 11, 2011 11:31 pm

kirk5a wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
starter wrote:"The mind essence / pure mind" I refer to is nibbana or in nibbana, which is unconditioned, unchaning, ... and completely different from Hindu's "soul" which is still in samsara.
Not according to Hindu texts. Nibbana is not "mind essence" or "pure mind."
So if the teaching of the Buddhas is "purify the mind" - we shouldn't conclude that Nibbana is the purified mind?
Maybe, but what would you do with the word "essence."
>> 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

starter
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Re: Anatta vs contemplations of death & metta vs merits making

Post by starter » Sat Mar 12, 2011 12:06 am

daverupa wrote:
kirk5a wrote:So if the teaching of the Buddhas is "purify the mind" - we shouldn't conclude that Nibbana is the purified mind?
In brief, it is "do good, avoid evil, purify the mind", from the Dhammapada 183 - but saying that nibbana is a purified mind is incorrect.
[url=http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.024.than.html]Ratha-vinita Sutta[/url] (MN 24): wrote:Purity in terms of virtue is simply for the sake of purity in terms of mind. Purity in terms of mind is simply for the sake of purity in terms of view. Purity in terms of view is simply for the sake of purity in terms of the overcoming of perplexity. Purity in terms of the overcoming of perplexity is simply for the sake of purity in terms of knowledge & vision of what is & is not the path. Purity in terms of knowledge & vision of what is & is not the path is simply for the sake of purity in terms of knowledge & vision of the way. Purity in terms of knowledge & vision of the way is simply for the sake of purity in terms of knowledge & vision. Purity in terms of knowledge & vision is simply for the sake of total Unbinding through lack of clinging. And it's for the sake of total Unbinding through lack of clinging that the holy life is lived under the Blessed One.
-- Purity in terms of virtue is simply for the sake of purity in terms of mind. Purity in terms of mind is simply for the sake of purity in terms of view ...:

This is only the purification of the mind at the mundane level -- sila, not the purification at the supramundane level, the removal of cravings (for sense pleasures, for beings/not-beings) and ignorance.

To my understanding, the pure mind is pure emptiness, which no appropriate term can actually be used to "name" it; so called "essence" is just a "label".

Another difference between the Hindu "soul" and the Buddhist's "the pure mind" is that with and without "self".

Metta!

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tiltbillings
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Re: Anatta vs contemplations of death & metta vs merits making

Post by tiltbillings » Sat Mar 12, 2011 12:12 am

starter wrote:Another difference between the Hindu "soul" and the Buddhist's "the pure mind" is that with and without "self".
A self by any other name is still a self. I don't see what you are talking about as beiong other than a self.
>> 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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altar
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Re: Anatta vs contemplations of death & metta vs merits making

Post by altar » Sat Mar 12, 2011 2:08 pm

Starter,
I have a few responses.
One is that I have had similar inclinations.
For mindfulness of death, my understanding is that even one may know death on an intrinsic basis, still there is a more profound knowledge, and that with the full comprehension of death one knows, certainly knows, life and death and the path. Remember the charnel contemplations and also that there are rag-refuse wearers and also those who dwell in cemeteries. Imagine the effects of this. I saw a dead squirrel on the side of the road yesterday still whole. A few yards down I saw a gutted rabbit, its organs, stomach, spleen maybe, lying on the pavement, and a smaller severed rabbits head. This is in a suburban neighborhood. While I understand and even sometimes agree that all this focusing on external things, striving to understand them, death, etc., is a kind of fixation on the aggregates, still I think there is more to be understood in it. In the net of views discourse it is said that certain contemplatives, caught by their views, are like fish within a tank within a net, and they emerge from that vessel, still they are caught in a net. I have looked it up online and cannot find the tank, anyway they are still caught in the net everytime they emerge...

But, metta, i found, is not only necessary in some cases, but rather than reinforce conceit, "I making tendencies," I think it makes us confront them. There is another person out there. Even though the person may be just five revolving aggregates, still it is towards oneself or another that one sends loving-friendliness. Even if it involves identification, I think, at least on rudimentary or lower level this is beneficial to rub off or see through the ego. And it is said, from the deeper stages of meditation in metta, one contemplates the 3 characteristics. And it is the antidote to hatred, praised highly by the buddha and sangha.

Lastly, I think you should look at the Sallekha sutta, specifically the place of effacement. And mindfulness of the body is said to full realization, no?
Nonetheless I don't see why you shouldn't contemplate the five aggregates and dukkha, the 5 aggregates is what my teacher recommended me to focus on.
Zack

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altar
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Re: Anatta vs contemplations of death & metta vs merits making

Post by altar » Sat Mar 12, 2011 4:18 pm

also this relates to an intresting distinction I read about 2 days ago in which the five aggregates are broken into perception, consciousness, sankharas and feeling and body (i dont quite remember how it was broken up), and these are related to the 3 charactersitics and regarding beauty/repugnance and maybe one other. What was noted was that stream-enters (and maybe dhamma and faith followers somewhat) cannot regard any of them as self or permamently happy (or permanent i suppose) intellectually, whereas the sakadagamis with less of the categories and upwards more and more on any level they don't do this regarding things as self. this isn't to say stream enterers haven't broken some shackles entirely, but i dont have quote now so i can't figure out exactly what the categorizations were.

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