Vipassana vs Theravada

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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Ben
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Re: Vipassana vs Theravada

Post by Ben » Mon Dec 26, 2011 10:51 pm

ancientbuddhism wrote:the Burmese vipassanā tenet system
I've never heard of the Burmese vipassana tenet system.
Perhaps you could do us the favour of explaining what you mean by this statement.
ancientbuddhism wrote: However, vipassanā can be found in the Buddha’s teaching, working along with other factors conducive to knowledge and wisdom
And that is what I, and others, have been saying.
kind regards,

Ben
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

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Re: Vipassana vs Theravada

Post by chownah » Tue Dec 27, 2011 2:14 am

It is a claim that satipaṭṭhāna is, in part, representative of the Burmese vipassanā tenet system, and this is fair enough where the later finds support in satipaṭṭhāna. But this is a specious claim when it is used to further another claim that Burmese vipassanā is the Buddha’s teaching. However, vipassanā can be found in the Buddha’s teaching, working along with other factors conducive to knowledge and wisdom:
I don't know the intended meaning behind this text but I think that a reading of the words presented tends to confuse two different meanings of "vipassana"....one meaning is "insight" and the other meaning is "a method of meditation whose goal is to produce insight"......and in this thread there seems to be yet a third meaning with is "a Buddhist sect who believe in the practice of a type of meditation whose goal is to produce insight"...........it seems that the non-specific use of the term "vipassana" is creating a proliferation of meanings which I'm sure that many of us can understand and disentangle but it seems that this thread is evidence that some are getting the different meanings confused.
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Re: Vipassana vs Theravada

Post by ancientbuddhism » Tue Dec 27, 2011 4:58 am

Ben Wrote: I've never heard of the Burmese vipassana tenet system.
Perhaps you could do us the favour of explaining what you mean by this statement.
Call it by its various dīpanī or kathā if you like.
Ben wrote: And that is what I, and others, have been saying.
I’m not sure if you, I ‘and others’ may be just talking around each other. The OP referenced vipassanā as mainstream Theravāda, that ‘U Ba Khin described what he practiced and taught as Buddhism as did Ledi Sayadaw before him.’ The Goenka system does claim a teaching lineage going back to the Buddha. The distinction that I made is that 19th century Burmese vipassanā cannot be found in the Buddha’s teachings. That Burmese vipassanā claiming support from the suttas is one thing, but to back-read its tenet system into the suttas is quite another.
chownah wrote: I don't know the intended meaning behind this text but I think that a reading of the words presented tends to confuse two different meanings of "vipassana"....one meaning is "insight" and the other meaning is "a method of meditation whose goal is to produce insight"......and in this thread there seems to be yet a third meaning with is "a Buddhist sect who believe in the practice of a type of meditation whose goal is to produce insight"...........it seems that the non-specific use of the term "vipassana" is creating a proliferation of meanings which I'm sure that many of us can understand and disentangle but it seems that this thread is evidence that some are getting the different meanings confused.
The confusion is when there is a conflation between the context of vipassanā in the nikāyas, and later Burmese Vipassanā. Vipassanā still means clear-seeing, intense-seeing or ‘insight’ if you like, although our rendering the word into a common language is best when it is unpacked exegetically by both consideration to its context in the nikāyas and practice; and this distinct from the later accretion under its name.
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Re: Vipassana vs Theravada

Post by Ben » Tue Dec 27, 2011 5:45 am

ancientbuddhism wrote:
Ben Wrote: I've never heard of the Burmese vipassana tenet system.
Perhaps you could do us the favour of explaining what you mean by this statement.
Call it by its various dīpanī or kathā if you like.
I don't call it anything. Purely for the purposes of discussion, the teachings of various Burmese Vipassana teachers have been described as "Burmese Vipassana". By describing it as a 'tenet system' as you have, you infer something monolithic - which it isn't.
Ben wrote: And that is what I, and others, have been saying.
I’m not sure if you, I ‘and others’ may be just talking around each other.
That is a matter of opinion.
The OP referenced vipassanā as mainstream Theravāda, that ‘U Ba Khin described what he practiced and taught as Buddhism as did Ledi Sayadaw before him.’
And as I have said here and elsewhere - it is regarded as mainstream by the vast majority of Buddhists in Myanmar. And I have it on some authority - regarded as mainstream within Thailand. Perhaps even Sri Lanka.

The Goenka system does claim a teaching lineage going back to the Buddha.

And there is nothing unusual with that claim.

The distinction that I made is that 19th century Burmese vipassanā cannot be found in the Buddha’s teachings.
As you have already stated, vipassana is found in the Buddha's teaching. The fact that certain "insight exercises" were later developed to facilitate the arising of vipassana, I think, is not important.
That Burmese vipassanā claiming support from the suttas is one thing, but to back-read its tenet system into the suttas is quite another.
I am beginning to wonder whether your use of the use of the term "tenet system" is to cast negative aspersions on something you don't like. Since you have used the term several times in this thread I would appreciate it if you could tell us what this tenet system is. Especially since it has never been defined nor discussed in any literature that I have ever come across. Please feel free to provide textual support.
kind regards

Ben
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

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Re: Vipassana vs Theravada

Post by cooran » Tue Dec 27, 2011 6:14 am

Hello ancientbuddhism, Ben, all,

''Tenet System'' does seem an unusual term to introduce into a discussion on a Theravada list.

My understanding of the term is that, in religion, a tenet can be a central belief or doctrine that is proclaimed to be true without scientific proof.

I don't think this could be applied to tried and tested methods of meditation.

with metta
Chris
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Re: Vipassana vs Theravada

Post by Zom » Tue Dec 27, 2011 7:58 am

Zom, I think its incredible that you feel qualified to judge that what a respected teacher is teaching "wrong view" based on your own incomplete knowledge of what he teaches
Here I'm judging students, not teacher.
Here, again, you display your very real lack of knowledge of what he teaches.
So, does Goenka teach kamma and rebirth?
Because he talks about the last path factor first?
Not only (but this is very important too). When explaining Right Mindfulness I don't see 4 satipatthanas. When explaining Right Concentration I don't see 4 jhanas. I heard that he gives satipatthana teachings for "some students" , but as far as I know - he doesn't teach jhanas.

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Re: Vipassana vs Theravada

Post by Ben » Tue Dec 27, 2011 8:27 am

Zom wrote:
Zom, I think its incredible that you feel qualified to judge that what a respected teacher is teaching "wrong view" based on your own incomplete knowledge of what he teaches
Here I'm judging students, not teacher.
Here, again, you display your very real lack of knowledge of what he teaches.
So, does Goenka teach kamma and rebirth?
Because he talks about the last path factor first?
Not only (but this is very important too). When explaining Right Mindfulness I don't see 4 satipatthanas. When explaining Right Concentration I don't see 4 jhanas. I heard that he gives satipatthana teachings for "some students" , but as far as I know - he doesn't teach jhanas.
You might want to do some research, Zom.
kind regards,

Ben
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com..

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Re: Vipassana vs Theravada

Post by daverupa » Tue Dec 27, 2011 12:18 pm

ancientbuddhism wrote:And all of these factors can be found in the Buddha’s teachings on one contemplative effort where ānāpānasati, which is the support of satipaṭṭhāna, leads to the fulfillment of satta bojjhaṅga and vijjāvimuttiṃ. (S.N.5.10.2.3. Ānanda Sutta)
It seems to me that this is factual and helpful and said at a good time.

:heart:
  • "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: Vipassana vs Theravada

Post by ancientbuddhism » Tue Dec 27, 2011 2:40 pm

Ben wrote:
ancientbuddhism wrote:
Ben Wrote: I've never heard of the Burmese vipassana tenet system.
Perhaps you could do us the favour of explaining what you mean by this statement.
Call it by its various dīpanī or kathā if you like.
I don't call it anything. Purely for the purposes of discussion, the teachings of various Burmese Vipassana teachers have been described as "Burmese Vipassana". By describing it as a 'tenet system' as you have, you infer something monolithic - which it isn't.

cooran wrote:'Tenet System'' does seem an unusual term to introduce into a discussion on a Theravada list.

My understanding of the term is that, in religion, a tenet can be a central belief or doctrine that is proclaimed to be true without scientific proof.

I don't think this could be applied to tried and tested methods of meditation.
te-net (noun) : a principle, belief, or doctrine generally held to be true; especially: one held in common by members of an organization, movement, or profession

And doctrinal tenets within sectarian Theravāda are being discussed here.

Again, call it dīpanī or kathā if you like. Below is from the Mahāsi system, which are found in common, although arranged differently perhaps, within Burmese Vipassanā, and as regurgitated throughout Theravāda for the most part.

The Progress of Insight (Vipassanā) Through the (seven) Stages of Purification:

I. Purification of Conduct (sīla-visuddhi)

II. Purification of Mind (citta-visuddhi)

III. Purification of View (diṭṭhi-visuddhi)
1. Analytical Knowledge of Body and Mind (nāma-rūpa-pariccheda-ñāṇa)

IV. Purification by Overcoming Doubt (kaṅkhā-vitaraṇa-visuddhi)

2. Knowledge by Discerning Conditionality (paccaya-pariggaha-ñāṇa)
3. Knowledge by Comprehension (sammasana-ñāṇa)
4. Knowledge of Arising and Passing Away (I) (udayabbaya-ñāṇa)

V. Purification by Knowledge and Vision of what is Path and Not-Path (maggāmagga-ñāṇadassana-visuddhi)

VI. Purification by Knowledge and Vision of the Course of Practice (paṭipadā-ñāṇadassana-visuddhi)

5. Knowledge of Dissolution (bhaṅga-ñāṇa)
6. Awareness (Knowledge) of Fearfulness (bhayatupaṭṭhāna-ñāṇa)
7. Knowledge of Misery (ādīnava-ñāṇa)
8. Knowledge of Disgust (nibbidā-ñāṇa)
9. Knowledge of Desire for Deliverance (muñcitu-kamyatā-ñāṇa)
10. Knowledge of Re-observation (paṭisaṅkhānupassana-ñāṇa)
11. Knowledge of Equanimity about Formations (saṅkhārupekkhā-ñāṇa)
12. Insight leading to Emergence (vuṭṭhānagāminī-vipassanā-ñāṇa)
13. Knowledge of Adaptation (anuloma-ñāṇa)
14. Maturity of Knowledge (gotrabhu-ñāṇa)

VII. Purification by Knowledge and Vision (ñāṇadassana-visuddhi)

15. Path Knowledge (magga-ñāṇa)
16. Fruition Knowledge (phala-ñāṇa)
17. Knowledge of Reviewing (paccavekkhaṇa-ñāṇa)
18. Attainment of Fruition (phala-samāpatti)
19. The Highest Paths and Fruitions (Uparimagga-bhāvanā

A well organized system of doctrinal tenets.

ancientbuddhism wrote:The distinction that I made is that 19th century Burmese vipassanā cannot be found in the Buddha’s teachings.

Ben wrote:As you have already stated, vipassana is found in the Buddha's teaching.
And this is where we are talking around each other. I have shown that there is a distinct difference between nikāyan vipassanā and Burmese Vipassanā in terms of context and to the suttas. To discuss or guess the reasons for this disconnect I will leave to others. I only suggest that the above tenet-system cannot be found in the suttas.
Ben wrote:The fact that certain "insight exercises" were later developed to facilitate the arising of vipassana, I think, is not important.
The above list is taken directly from the Visuddhi Ñāṇa Kathā and similar lists are found in U Ba Khin's and Ledi Sayādaw's literature. These are not simply "insight exercises", but are assertions of values to be found and developed in contemplative effort. Where these would fit in the suttas and where they fail is important to some.
ancientbuddhism wrote:That Burmese vipassanā claiming support from the suttas is one thing, but to back-read its tenet system into the suttas is quite another.
Ben wrote:I am beginning to wonder whether your use of the use of the term "tenet system" is to cast negative aspersions on something you don't like.


I prefer to distinguish what are the teachings of the Buddha, as closely as I can discern from the suttas. If discussing the doctrines of Burmese Vipassanā as tenets bothers you, I suggest that you simply read this as dīpanī or kathā as these would apply in yours or other Vipassanā schools. Also, I realize that there can be some degree of emotional investment in ones 'school' or 'tradition'. And as I have none other than the Buddha as Ajahn, I apologize if my discussing these matters has upset you 'and others'.
Ben wrote:Since you have used the term several times in this thread I would appreciate it if you could tell us what this tenet system is. Especially since it has never been defined nor discussed in any literature that I have ever come across.
As given above, and there are other examples from the U Ba Khin and Ledi Sayādaw literature. I must admit that I am a little surprised that you haven't read these, but many are content to just ad-hoc from retreats.
Ben wrote:Please feel free to provide textual support.
This has been given as relevant.
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Re: Vipassana vs Theravada

Post by tiltbillings » Tue Dec 27, 2011 4:04 pm

ancientbuddhism wrote:. . . and as regurgitated throughout Theravāda for the most part.
Regurgitated. Vomited up. Another one here with the idea of having the pure teachings, and everything else is just stuff that is vomited up by distorters of the pure teachings.
>> 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: Vipassana vs Theravada

Post by Zom » Tue Dec 27, 2011 4:11 pm

You might want to do some research, Zom.
kind regards,

Ben
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Re: Vipassana vs Theravada

Post by daverupa » Tue Dec 27, 2011 5:41 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
ancientbuddhism wrote:. . . and as regurgitated throughout Theravāda for the most part.
Regurgitated. Vomited up. Another one here with the idea of having the pure teachings, and everything else is just stuff that is vomited up by distorters of the pure teachings.
Was anything in that post factually incorrect? Is this your sole objection?
  • "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: Vipassana vs Theravada

Post by Clarence » Tue Dec 27, 2011 5:53 pm

Has anyone here read Gethin's Buddhist Path to Awakening? In it, he gives a good view on the commentaries and their place in Buddhist history and practice. I haven't finished the book yet but what I have read thus far was worth the time.

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Re: Vipassana vs Theravada

Post by tiltbillings » Tue Dec 27, 2011 6:10 pm

daverupa wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
ancientbuddhism wrote:. . . and as regurgitated throughout Theravāda for the most part.
Regurgitated. Vomited up. Another one here with the idea of having the pure teachings, and everything else is just stuff that is vomited up by distorters of the pure teachings.
Was anything in that post factually incorrect? Is this your sole objection?
As far as "facts" are concerned, probably not, but as far as my objection is concern, what comes across here is a contempt, or in the very least a bit of disparagement, of doctrinal Theravada that spins things in a lopsided comparative manner. Is that really necessary?

There seems to to be an assumption among the Sutta Purists here that the Theravadins have got it mostly, if not all, wrong, have distorted the Dhamma, lost its essence and wandered hopelessly down the garden path, Visuddhimagga firmly in hand. The Sutta Purists brush aside any claimed value in what these tenet-istas teach when compared to the pure truly true truths they so neatly mined from the suttas. And never, ever mind, however, the serious problems that the Sutta Purist position presents.

Since you asked, that is my objection.
>> 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: Vipassana vs Theravada

Post by tiltbillings » Tue Dec 27, 2011 6:11 pm

Clarence wrote:Has anyone here read Gethin's Buddhist Path to Awakening? In it, he gives a good view on the commentaries and their place in Buddhist history and practice. I haven't finished the book yet but what I have read thus far was worth the time.
It is a good book. Well worth reading.
>> 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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