Two "truths"/"descriptions" and meditation in the suttas

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daverupa
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Re: Two "truths"/"descriptions" and meditation in the suttas

Post by daverupa » Sun Oct 30, 2011 8:57 pm

tiltbillings wrote:studying and understanding the Buddha's word is not without its importance as a guidance and framework for the bhavana.
Agreed, but that's why two truths isn't a bhavana tool - it's been admitted that it's not Buddhavacana. If it's used as a bhavana tool, I actually don't think that's sammasati.

We'll probably have to remain in disagreement here.

:toast:
tiltbillings wrote:Also, keep in mind, daverupa, no one here is saying that you must, to truly understand the Dhamma, look at things this way or that.
... no sammaditthi then? :shrug:

:group:
  • "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]

brahmabull
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Re: Two "truths"/"descriptions" and meditation in the suttas

Post by brahmabull » Sun Oct 30, 2011 9:05 pm

Conventional truth, as I understand it, would be truth according to ordinary worldly conventions and language, i.e., a table has legs and a surface, or, a being form body subject to rebirth. Also included would be proofs deriving from observation, evidence and inference according to something like a court. Ultimate truth is the truth according one who has mastered the path, i.e., that describes the nature of dependent origination of a chair, or the khandas of a being, etc. Such that, the metta and karuna are emotions aspirants of the path share with non-aspirants. Whereas, the practice that involves discerning phenomena in their ultimate truth is unique to the path.

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mikenz66
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Re: Two "truths"/"descriptions" and meditation in the suttas

Post by mikenz66 » Sun Oct 30, 2011 9:21 pm

daverupa wrote: Agreed, but that's why two truths isn't a bhavana tool - it's been admitted that it's not Buddhavacana. If it's used as a bhavana tool, I actually don't think that's sammasati.
That seems like an extremely large leap of logic...

All that I have said is how I understand some parts of the sutta instructions for bhavana. Others seem to understand those sutta instructions in different ways from how I do, and/or prefer to rely on different suttas. That doesn't (necessarily) make either approach "wrong" or "ineffective".

Unless, of course, you think that there is one special "correct" way to interpret the suttas, and approach bhavana, and all of the others are wrong.

:anjali:
Mike

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daverupa
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Re: Two "truths"/"descriptions" and meditation in the suttas

Post by daverupa » Sun Oct 30, 2011 9:30 pm

mikenz66 wrote:Unless, of course, you think that there is one special "correct" way to interpret the suttas, and approach bhavana, and all of the others are wrong.
I think it's possible to do it wrong, yes, especially if one "runs and circles around" wrong view - not at all necessarily that two truths is wrong view, simply that wrong mindfulness springs from wrong view. This is obvious.

It is not the case that any two meditation methods anywhere are equally efficacious, and some are useless, just as some are useful, and there are degrees there as well. It just seems to me that two truths simply leads to problems, and solves none, and that instruction on satipatthana benefits when two truths is not posited.

Preference, I suppose.
  • "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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tiltbillings
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Re: Two "truths"/"descriptions" and meditation in the suttas

Post by tiltbillings » Sun Oct 30, 2011 9:44 pm

daverupa wrote: two truths isn't a bhavana tool
That is your opinion. If it helps one better understand the Dhamma, then it is skilful.
>> 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: Two "truths"/"descriptions" and meditation in the suttas

Post by retrofuturist » Sun Oct 30, 2011 9:45 pm

Greetings Chownah,
chownah wrote:I studied to be a teacher at university and they taught that different people have different learning styles and one of the differences they discussed was that some people are analytic while some are holistic (holisitic isn't the word they used but I've forgotten it).....
Synthetic?

By the way, excellent post earlier (and yes, it was read :tongue: )

Metta,
Retro. :)
"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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tiltbillings
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Re: Two "truths"/"descriptions" and meditation in the suttas

Post by tiltbillings » Sun Oct 30, 2011 9:49 pm

daverupa wrote: seems to me that two truths simply leads to problems, and solves none, and that instruction on satipatthana benefits when two truths is not posited.
Thank you for sharing your opinion.
>> 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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daverupa
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Re: Two "truths"/"descriptions" and meditation in the suttas

Post by daverupa » Sun Oct 30, 2011 10:00 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
daverupa wrote: seems to me that two truths simply leads to problems, and solves none, and that instruction on satipatthana benefits when two truths is not posited.
Thank you for sharing your opinion.
And you, yours.

:group:
  • "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]

Nyana
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Re: Two "truths"/"descriptions" and meditation in the suttas

Post by Nyana » Sun Oct 30, 2011 11:55 pm

mikenz66 wrote:
daverupa wrote: What does holding a two truths notion actually help you to understand?
Not so much a "notion" as the "approach" of breaking experience down into simpler bits.

Since that's what most people I've paid attention to seem to teach as part of their approach it's interesting to find that it's not universal.
This "breaking experience down into simpler bits" isn't a two truth notion per se. You're a pretty smart fellow Mike. I find it kinda hard to believe that you don't understand these distinctions, and don't see the problems and limitations of the commentarial two truth theory?

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Re: Two "truths"/"descriptions" and meditation in the suttas

Post by tiltbillings » Mon Oct 31, 2011 12:12 am

Ñāṇa wrote:This "breaking experience down into simpler bits" isn't a two truth notion per se. You're a pretty smart fellow Mike. I find it kinda hard to believe that you don't understand these distinctions, and don't see the problems and limitations of the commentarial two truth theory?
In the commentary passage I quoted elsewhere? It depends. If one ties the two truths to a rigid hierarchy and absolutism, big problems, That passage, however, taken at face value is not any more a problem than is Nagarjuna's take on it and I would say, even less so, given that the commentator is putting the so-called "conventional" and "ultimate" on equal footing, which really undermines any sort of hierarchy and absolutism, making the teachings exactly what they are, the stuff for putting together the raft.

Now, the question: is there any reason why the double truth notion cannot be approached that way? None that I see, especially if one takes Ven Nanananda seriously. Also, it is a way of questioning and challenging the later orthodoxy's absolutist assumptions.

Now did the authors of the passage mean it that way? Dunno, but I am not convinced that they were also buying into the later absolutist notions that give you the heebie-jeebies.
>> 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: Two "truths"/"descriptions" and meditation in the suttas

Post by Nyana » Mon Oct 31, 2011 12:56 am

tiltbillings wrote:
Ñāṇa wrote:This "breaking experience down into simpler bits" isn't a two truth notion per se. You're a pretty smart fellow Mike. I find it kinda hard to believe that you don't understand these distinctions, and don't see the problems and limitations of the commentarial two truth theory?
In the commentary passage I quoted elsewhere? It depends. If one ties the two truths to a rigid hierarchy and absolutism, big problems, That passage, however, taken at face value is not any more a problem than is Nagarjuna's take on it and I would say, even less so, given that the commentator is putting the so-called "conventional" and "ultimate" on equal footing, which really undermines any sort of hierarchy and absolutism, making the teachings exactly what they are, the stuff for putting together the raft.

Now, the question: is there any reason why the double truth notion cannot be approached that way? None that I see, especially if one takes Ven Nanananda seriously. Also, it is a way of questioning and challenging the later orthodoxy's absolutist assumptions.

Now did the authors of the passage mean it that way? Dunno, but I am not convinced that they were also buying into the later absolutist notions that give you the heebie-jeebies.
Let's be clear here. Ven. Ñāṇananda has explicitly referred to the commentarial era two truth theory as a "deviation from the original position at the commentarial level." He also calls the well-known commentarial verse quoted by Buddhaghosa in support of the two truth theory a "naïve defense" of said theory. Concept and Reality In Early Buddhist Thought:
  • [T]he word ‘paramattha’ in its earlier and non-technical usage, actually meant the Highest Goal as the object of realization, and any words tending towards that goal were called ‘paramatthasaṃhita’ (connected with the Highest Goal), irrespective of their precision or technicality. However, the Buddha, for his part, was content to treat all of them as ‘sammuti’. For him, they were ‘merely worldly conventions in common use, which he made use of, without clinging to them’ (DN I 202, Poṭṭhapāda Sutta).

    One wonders whether this simple though profound attitude of the Buddha towards concepts, has been properly handed down in tradition, when for instance one comes across the following verse quoted approvingly by Buddhaghosa (source unknown) in his commentary to the Anaṅgaṇa Sutta of the Majjhima Nikāya:

    Duve saccāni akkhāsi, sambuddho vadataṃ varo;
    sammutiṃ paramatthañca, tatiyaṃ nūpalabbhati.
    Saṅketavacanaṃ saccaṃ, lokasammutikāraṇā;
    paramatthavacanaṃ saccaṃ, dhammānaṃ bhūtakāraṇā.
    Tasmā vohārakusalassa, lokanāthassa satthuno;
    sammutiṃ voharantassa, musāvādo na jāyati.

    "The Fully Enlightened One, the best of those who speak, declared two truths, the conventional and the absolute; there can be no third.

    "Words of symbolic nature are true by reason of their existence in worldly parlance. Words of absolute significance, are true by reason of the existence of the elements.

    "Hence, even though the Lord of the World, the Teacher versed in worldly parlance, makes use of such conventional speech, there arises no offence of falsehood for him."

    If one can appreciate the significance of the term ‘nippapañca,’ one might realize that the Buddha could magnanimously afford to dispense with such naïve defenses as the above, against any charges of his having violated the fourth precept.
And so this criticism of the commentarial hermeneutic -- which is what it is -- isn't just "an opinion" that's been fostered here on DW by a few fervent "sutta-only" types. It's been a part of the contemporary Theravāda discussion since the publication of C & R in 1971. It's a rather important issue occurring within contemporary Theravāda which probably shouldn't be dismissed lightly. And at some point a practitioner has to decide which interpretation of the dhamma they are going to use. In this particular case, I don't really see how one can have it both ways. To try to regard the two truth theory as merely a nominal distinction undermines the very purpose of the interpretation that it attempts to impose.

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Re: Two "truths"/"descriptions" and meditation in the suttas

Post by mikenz66 » Mon Oct 31, 2011 1:39 am

Hi Geoff,
Ñāṇa wrote: This "breaking experience down into simpler bits" isn't a two truth notion per se. You're a pretty smart fellow Mike.
:anjali:
Ñāṇa wrote: I find it kinda hard to believe that you don't understand these distinctions, and don't see the problems and limitations of the commentarial two truth theory?
Well, that's why I'm trying to discuss some of these ideas without recourse to the commentaries, and therefore the standard objections.

Some objections to modern "vipassana" approaches (Mahasi, Goenka, etc) seem to me to revolve around the fact that they make use of Commentarial terminology. Therefore they are infected by these two-truth ideas. Therefore they are problematic.

So if you think that:
"breaking experience down into simpler bits" isn't a two truth notion
then that's fine with me.

My reading of Ven Nanananda's discussions of bhavana is that he does seem to advocate beginning by "breaking experience down into simpler bits", just as in approaches I am familiar with. However, he objects to taking those "simpler bits" to be "ultimate". And he has his own interpretation of how the insights will unfold.
E.g. in Seeing Through, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katukurund ... anda_Thera" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; or
http://www.scribd.com/doc/64230534/Bhik ... Meditation" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

:namaste:
Mike

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tiltbillings
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Re: Two "truths"/"descriptions" and meditation in the suttas

Post by tiltbillings » Mon Oct 31, 2011 2:10 am

Ñāṇa wrote:And so this criticism of the commentarial hermeneutic -- which is what it is -- isn't just "an opinion" that's been fostered here on DW by a few fervent "sutta-only" types. It's been a part of the contemporary Theravāda discussion since the publication of C & R in 1971. It's a rather important issue occurring within contemporary Theravāda which probably shouldn't be dismissed lightly. And at some point a practitioner has to decide which interpretation of the dhamma they are going to use. In this particular case, I don't really see how one can have it both ways. To try to regard the two truth theory as merely a nominal distinction undermines the very purpose of the interpretation that it attempts to impose.
I am dismissing it in this context, because I am not making that argument nor is Mike is in this thread. I do not care about that argument. You know as well I do that the commentaries are not necessarily consistent, either chronological or among the Nikayas. In terms of the commentarial passage I quoted, Ven Nanananda's conventional gloss of paramattha works.

But more importantly, I think rather you might want to pay a bit more attention to what Mike is saying about what he is trying to do in this thread of his: I'm trying to discuss some of these ideas without recourse to the commentaries, and therefore the standard objections. And in this I am also at fault for bringing up the AN commentarial passage. I think at this point we can point the commentarial issue aside and objections, etc aside, or if you cannot, you can start a new thread.
>> 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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daverupa
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Re: Two "truths"/"descriptions" and meditation in the suttas

Post by daverupa » Mon Oct 31, 2011 2:15 am

discuss some of these ideas without recourse to the commentaries
tiltbillings wrote:I think at this point we can point the commentarial issue aside...
This would mean scrapping the two truth idea, for the purposes of any Sutta-based discussion of bhavana... rather nullifies the OP...
  • "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: Two "truths"/"descriptions" and meditation in the suttas

Post by tiltbillings » Mon Oct 31, 2011 2:26 am

daverupa wrote: This would mean scrapping the two truth idea, for the purposes of any Sutta-based discussion of bhavana... rather nullifies the OP...
No, it would not, and if you cannot abide by the OP's author's wishes, go play elsewhere.
>> 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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