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

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

Post by retrofuturist » Mon Oct 31, 2011 2:35 am

Greetings Mike,
mikenz66 to nana wrote:So if you think that "breaking experience down into simpler bits" isn't a two truth notion then that's fine with me.
I concur that "breaking experience down into simpler bits" isn't a two truth notion. The Buddha broke down the puggala in many ways - five aggregates, six consciousnesses etc.

What I like personally about the 5A & 6C is that they consitute the entirety of experience (ala Sabba Sutta) so seem suitable frames for perception by which to regard anything that comes into your sphere of experience. They are not too excessive either - one does not need to memorise a periodic table of dhammic elements to apply them in practice... a list of five, and a list of six... not too taxing on the old grey matter.

I find the six consciousnesses a good place to start because they are the most obvious... all you need to do is discern the sense-channel and the sensory input and you know how to classify that "framed experience" and observe its aniccata, thus anattata, thus dukkhata. Once the mind tunes into this practice, the five aggregates serve as a good next step of refinement if "mind consciousness" is insufficient as a means of classifying the activities going on within the old grey matter. Again, with the five aggregates you know how to classify that "framed experience" and observe its aniccata, thus anattata, thus dukkhata.

At this point (or anywhere along it), there is the opportunity to recognise that all the "framed experiences" thus far are indeed just that - framed / fabricated / conditioned experiences - they are all sankhata dhamma. This is where the teaching on dependent origination and its underlying this/that conditionality may be applied. One learns the process of framing (sankata), the process of labelling forms (nama-rupa) and nama-rupa's "whirlpool" relationship with consciousness (i.e. consciousness framed by nama-rupa framed by consciousness)... and that in the end it all leads to dukkha.

Seeing thus, there is the realisation that everything (no matter if five aggregates, six aggregates, a periodic table of dhamma elements) is formed, and by believing the formations are real (or worse, thinking they represent something that "exists") we set ourselves up for dukkha. So... we come to learn that the acting of "forming the formed" is the inherent problem here. What would happen if we didn't do the forming? Sankhara would become extinguished, consciousness would become extinguished, nama-rupa would become extinguished - and you can see where this is going.

Realising thus that EVERYTHING experienced is sankhata dhamma (with the attributes of aniccata, anatta & dukkhata) one naturally (when paying attention!) becomes disillusioned with one's own creations and seeks the solitude of emptiness. That leads to development in the Dhamma.

That is how I understand and apply the Dhamma discourses, without recourse to "two truths" or anything else. Although I have presented the above in a particular way for the purpose of logical development and explanation, any of the above can be done in any order at any time, and thus a separate "method" need not be established out of that.

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

Post by tiltbillings » Mon Oct 31, 2011 2:46 am

retrofuturist wrote:. . . What I like personally about the 5A & 6C is that they consitute the entirety of experience (ala Sabba Sutta) so seem suitable frames for perception by which to regard anything that comes into your sphere of experience. . . . That is how I understand and apply the Dhamma discourses, without recourse to "two truths" or anything else. Although I have presented the above in a particular way for the purpose of logical development and explanation, any of the above can be done in any order at any time, and thus a separate "method" need not be established out of that.
Basically, in the above description, you are dealing with the more precise terminology while not paying any real heed to the more conventional expressions.
>> 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 » Mon Oct 31, 2011 2:50 am

Greetings,
tiltbillings wrote:Basically, you are dealing with the more precise terminology while not paying any real heed to the more conventional expressions.
Yes - neither rejected, nor accepted.

In fact, not even bifurcated in the first place... it's just a distinction that is set aside, and not applied.

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

Post by tiltbillings » Mon Oct 31, 2011 3:03 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,
tiltbillings wrote:Basically, you are dealing with the more precise terminology while not paying any real heed to the more conventional expressions.
Yes - neither rejected, nor accepted.

In fact, not even bifurcated in the first place... it's just a distinction that is set aside, and not applied.
A rose by any other name . . . .

The conventional language, which you here implicity admit exists, is part of the suttas. While you, in your sorting of what is what in the suttas, have found what appeals to you is the precise, paramattha, language, that does not mean that more conventional language does not have a significant role to play for others. The Buddha clearly acknowledges conventional usage, so this not an artificial bifurcation. It is simply an acknowledgment of differing ways of talking about the same thing. Understanding that can help prevent some rather serious mistakes.
>> 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 daverupa » Mon Oct 31, 2011 3:07 am

tiltbillings wrote:abide by the OP's author's wishes
mikenz66 wrote:Well, that's why I'm trying to discuss some of these ideas without recourse to the commentaries, and therefore the standard objections.
mikenz66 wrote:it is well known that in the suttas we find two descriptions.
One in terms of "beings"/"concepts" and one in terms of various "subdivisions" (khandhas/sense bases/elements, etc).

In many cases this distinction seems rather important in mental cultivation instructions.
I'm not using the Satipatthana Sutta as found in the Majjhima Nikaya because it's a combinatorial work, as explored here. The Samyutta Nikaya contains what was compiled to generate MN 10, and as such the SN sources are worth exploring on their own.

Throughout the Satipatthanasamyutta (and the Anapanasatisamyutta, but I won't bring it up as much in order to maximize common ground), this "two descriptions" dichotomy simply doesn't occur. I cannot show this without going through every Sutta, but I can highlight an important point on this note with one remarkable Sutta, SN 47.11.

I paraphrase: Sariputta there asks the Buddha "in what way is one a 'great person'?" (Pali: mahapurisa) The Buddha responds "With a liberated mind, one is a mahapurisa... And how does one have a liberated mind? Here, a bhikkhu dwells contemplating the body in the body (etc.)" Here we see a juxtaposition of talk of a being, and talk of subdivisions.

Or again, SN 47.18 calls satipatthana "the one-way path for the purification of beings". Another juxtaposition of the dichotomy.

SN 47.19 says that satipatthana is to be practiced with the idea "I will protect myself" and "I will protect others". Yet again, juxtaposed. The Suttas are completely at ease combining such talk of beings alongside talk of contemplation of dhammas in and of themselves.

The dichotomy is an artificial one; to ask about this dichotomy without recourse to the commentaries is to beg the question, because in the worldview of the Suttas this dichotomy does not exist.
  • "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 3:15 am

daverupa wrote:The dichotomy is an artificial one; to ask about this dichotomy without recourse to the commentaries is to beg the question, because in the worldview of the Suttas this dichotomy does not exist.
If we take retro seriously, as in his immediately above msg, it seems not to be artificial at all. Also, The distinction between a use of a more percise set of terms and the conventional use of language in talking about the same thing is an acknowledged part of the suttas, which is found in the suttas, where the Buddha directly talks about using conventional language to make his points.
>> 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 tiltbillings » Mon Oct 31, 2011 3:19 am

daverupa wrote: I'm not using the Satipatthana Sutta as found in the Majjhima Nikaya because it's a combinatorial work, as explored here. The Samyutta Nikaya contains what was compiled to generate MN 10, and as such the SN sources are worth exploring on their own.
If one believes that. The problem is that when starts picking and choosing suttas, as to what is valid or not, one can twist the Buddha's teachings into anything. Now, if you want to discuss this further, a new thread would be in order.
>> 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 tiltbillings » Mon Oct 31, 2011 3:48 am

daverupa wrote:I paraphrase: Sariputta there asks the Buddha "in what way is one a 'great person'?" (Pali: mahapurisa) The Buddha responds "With a liberated mind, one is a mahapurisa... And how does one have a liberated mind? Here, a bhikkhu dwells contemplating the body in the body (etc.)" Here we see a juxtaposition of talk of a being, and talk of subdivisions.

Or again, SN 47.18 calls satipatthana "the one-way path for the purification of beings". Another juxtaposition of the dichotomy.

SN 47.19 says that satipatthana is to be practiced with the idea "I will protect myself" and "I will protect others". Yet again, juxtaposed. The Suttas are completely at ease combining such talk of beings alongside talk of contemplation of dhammas in and of themselves.

The dichotomy is an artificial one; to ask about this dichotomy without recourse to the commentaries is to beg the question, because in the worldview of the Suttas this dichotomy does not exist.
Actually, you are very neatly making the point here. You are implicitly acknowledging the use of conventional language and the use of the precise, paramattha, language (as Ven Nanananda uses the term). And, while there are suttas that combine the two, as you have nicely shown, there are suttas that use the precise, paramattha, language, and there are suttas that use conventional language. So, what is the problem?
>> 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 » Mon Oct 31, 2011 4:15 am

Greetings Tilt,
tiltbillings wrote:The conventional language, which you here implicity admit exists, is part of the suttas. While you, in your sorting of what is what in the suttas, have found what appeals to you is the precise, paramattha, language, that does not mean that more conventional language does not have a significant role to play for others. The Buddha clearly acknowledges conventional usage, so this not an artificial bifurcation. It is simply an acknowledgment of differing ways of talking about the same thing. Understanding that can help prevent some rather serious mistakes.
If there is a useful distinction to be made, I think it's the distinction of Right [Path Factor] with/without asavas, ala MN 117. If you look at each side of the with/without asava equation, they do tend to marry up to what you're nominally regarding as "two truths". Accordingly, it's probably a more useful distinction to make (and one explicitly rooted in the Sutta Pitaka), since as you know, this whole "two truths" business has become very much loaded with, and convoluted by, post-canonical Abhidhammic developments, that (as Geoff points out) the dynamic Theravada tradition is starting to abandon.

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

Post by tiltbillings » Mon Oct 31, 2011 4:29 am

retrofuturist wrote:If there is a useful distinction to be made, I think it's the distinction of Right [Path Factor] with/without asavas, ala MN 117. If you look at each side of the with/without asava equation, they do tend to marry up to what you're nominally regarding as "two truths". Accordingly, it's probably a more useful distinction to make (and one explicitly rooted in the Sutta Pitaka), since as you know, this whole "two truths" business has become very much loaded with, and convoluted by, late-era Abhidhammic developments, that (as Geoff points out) the dynamic Theravada tradition is starting to abandon.
Thank you. Again, essentially acknowledging the double truth notion. If Geoff can pick and choose how he wants to understand the dhamma notion, going back to the Abhidhamma Pitaka rather than taking the much later ideas, there is no reason one has to buy into the later ideas of the double truth notion to find value in it.


If you do not find value in it, fine. No one here is saying you have to, but at least you have directly acknowledged its basis
>> 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 » Mon Oct 31, 2011 4:34 am

Greetings Tilt,
tiltbillings wrote:If you do not find value in it, fine. No one here is saying you have to, but at least you have directly acknowledged its basis
Oh, I see a lot of value in the MN 117 with/without asava distinction, and see a lot of application for the "with asava" version of Right View either for lay practitioners who are content with "a good rebirth" or as a stepping stone to Right View without asavas as part of the so-called "gradual path" mode of teaching.

If you frame the distinction in accordance with MN 117 and not post-canonical terminology, I think you will find less resistence to the point you are trying to make. Furthermore, it may lead to a more refined discussion of the points others are trying to make too, which would be beneficial to everyone.

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

Post by tiltbillings » Mon Oct 31, 2011 4:46 am

retrofuturist wrote: If you frame the distinction in accordance with MN 117 and not post-canonical terminology, I think you will find less resistence to the point you are trying to make. Furthermore, it may lead to a more refined discussion of the points others are trying to make too, which would be beneficial to everyone.
And why the resistance?

But as Mike says, he is not talking about the commentarial stuff, but commentarial or not, you have acknowledged the basis for a double truth notion, which is what Mike is trying to work with. The anti-commentarial crowd are the ones who seem to not to be getting get beyind the commentarial double truth notion and get at what Mike is actually trying to say. The conventional language and the precise, paramattha, language distinction is there in the suttas, commentaries or not. Rather than focusing the naughty commentaries, deal with the disctinction you have already acknowledged and actually address Mikes questions without all the side show.
>> 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 mikenz66 » Mon Oct 31, 2011 4:48 am

Hi Retro,

MN117 is the only place in the Suttas you find that distinction, and it seems to be a late addition... :thinking:

http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... 341#p16848" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

:anjali:
Mike

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

Post by tiltbillings » Mon Oct 31, 2011 4:53 am

mikenz66 wrote:Hi Retro,

MN117 is the only place in the Suttas you find that distinction, and it seems to be a late addition... :thinking:

http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... 341#p16848" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

:anjali:
Mike
Not another late addition.
>> 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 » Mon Oct 31, 2011 5:00 am

Greetings Tilt,
tiltbillings wrote:And why the resistance?
Because it's a distinction that if not handled correctly, can be (and has been demonstrated to have historically been) harmful. The way the Buddha handled the distinction on the other hand was skilful, neither liable to harm nor diminuition of Buddhavacana by the doctrines of non-sammasambuddhas that establish themselves as "abhi". As Bhikkhu Bodhi observes in his critique of Nanavira Thera's DO interpretation, the commentaries take unnecessary risks when they retrofit their own frames of reference into the Sutta Pitaka.

My view is let us learn from history and avoid those unecessary risks and complications, and speak directly with reference to the Dhamma and the Discipline of the Teacher... taking that as the gold standard.
tiltbillings wrote:Not another late addition.
At least it's in the Sutta Pitaka. If one chooses to reject it, it's at their own peril... but do you really want to shoot down the Sutta which may help you make your point?

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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