cultivating wisdom?

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
alan...
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Re: cultivating wisdom?

Post by alan... » Thu Dec 20, 2012 11:09 pm

mikenz66 wrote:Hi Alan,
alan... wrote: i don't know where this attitude of thoughtless mindfulness and meditation bringing about perfect buddhist wisdom comes from and i don't see how it's possible.
I've tried to give examples on other threads showing that "thoughtless mindfulness" is not what is being recommended by anyone I know of. For example the quote I gave here about seeing intention:
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... 12#p221757" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Once you are able to discern the arising and ceasing of phenomena, such as intention, etc, it is possible to get some idea of what the Buddha was talking about in terms of causality, impermanence, and so on. So, as you say, some knowledge of the Dhamma is needed in conjunction with the meditation. Thus, if you look at even the titles of the Patrick Kearney retreat recordings I referred to in that thread you'll see that in the morning he gives some meditation instructions and in the evening talks about more general aspects of the Dhamma. This combination of doing some exercises and hearing the Dhamma is typical.

:anjali:
Mike
hmmm. i worded that poorly, what i'm saying is people keep saying it all comes from mindfulness and what not as if prior knowledge or contemplation of wisdom is not required.

detrop
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Re: cultivating wisdom?

Post by detrop » Thu Dec 20, 2012 11:31 pm

alan... wrote:wisdom: um... what? i've read plenty of suttas and modern teachers teachings on how to develop this, there is a ton of variation and i'm kind of confused. getting wisdom is not like abstaining from alcohol, non violence, watching the breath or trying to enter jhana, which are all things you can simply DO, wisdom is something that you have to learn but simply reading about it does not do this, and there's a huge amount of variation on what practices lead to wisdom. help?
I think the cultivation of wisdom has a lot to do with the willingness to face "the problem", to become fully aware of it, to formulate it clearly and to ask the right questions - and not to give up unless the problem is solved. This might not itself bring the solution, but at least one is ready to recognize a (possible) solution as such when it is presented to one.

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Ben
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Re: cultivating wisdom?

Post by Ben » Thu Dec 20, 2012 11:41 pm

alan... wrote:right, these are wonderful words. one must have an idea of what they are looking for when they sit to reach the goal. they get a seed planted in their subconscious and then it grows and ripens during meditation. if you taught someone with no knowledge of the dhamma nothing but vipassana technique alone with zero other direction, literally none, they would not suddenly develop buddhist wisdom.
You can't develop real wisdom by merely reading books about it or thinking about it. Sutamaya panna and cintamaya panna are very valuable but are not liberative on their own. As Mike says, meditation instruction and exposition of the Dhamma are typically given together.
alan... wrote:so perhaps the key here is knowing the right seeds? it seems you kind of tell your mind "we're looking for anicca, dukkha, and anatta." then you just observe and your mind works it out. so i'm wondering, how much of this is cognition developed through pondering and how much is some kind of received knowledge developed and received from the subconscious mind?
And here is the particular approach my teacher employs (in brief):
To develop bhāvanāmayā paññā, we must experience all phenomena and understand their true nature. And this is done through experiencing vedana, (bodily sensations), because it is through these sensations that the totality of our nature manifests itself as pancakkhandha (the five aggregates).
Vedananupassana: observation of sensation, one of the four foundations of mindfulness.
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

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mikenz66
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Re: cultivating wisdom?

Post by mikenz66 » Thu Dec 20, 2012 11:47 pm

Hi Alan,
alan... wrote: hmmm. i worded that poorly, what i'm saying is people keep saying it all comes from mindfulness and what not as if prior knowledge or contemplation of wisdom is not required.
Ultimately, it's true that wisdom arises from causes and condition, and there is no "me" who "has" wisdom (or mindfulness).

See here: http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... 00#p218121" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

:anjali:
Mike

alan...
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Re: cultivating wisdom?

Post by alan... » Fri Dec 21, 2012 1:49 am

Ben wrote:You can't develop real wisdom by merely reading books about it or thinking about it. Sutamaya panna and cintamaya panna are very valuable but are not liberative on their own. As Mike says, meditation instruction and exposition of the Dhamma are typically given together.
i realize that, that's why i said
alan... wrote:they get a seed planted in their subconscious and then it grows and ripens during meditation.
as opposed to: "they get a seed planted and it grows and ripens due solely to thinking about it and reading about it into real wisdom."

all i'm saying is that no techniques alone will make wisdom arise, it takes learning about the dhamma and some contemplation/reflection to make it arise. in theory at least, i believe my example about the 100 people that study dhamma and 100 that don't but both do the same techniques is a correct idea that illustrates this point. you can't get to somewhere without a destination in mind and a map just because you are riding a horse as you can't get wisdom just by meditating, you have to know the kind of knowledge you're looking for and have an idea about the progression. otherwise you may become very wise from these practices but it would be doubtful that your wisdom would be anything like the very specific dhamma wisdom.

as for your teachers instruction and your own words, again, very wonderful stuff.
Ben wrote:Vedananupassana: observation of sensation, one of the four foundations of mindfulness.
but as i keep saying these practices alone will not develop buddhist wisdom without other reflections and contemplations.

which ties into my OP, but perhaps i need to ask a new more specific question: what OTHER THAN mindfulness, morality, and meditation will help develop wisdom?

for example in "focused and fearless" catherine suggests attempting to look for the source of thoughts. this is a contemplative effort that involves thinking and reflection.

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Ben
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Re: cultivating wisdom?

Post by Ben » Fri Dec 21, 2012 2:27 am

alan... wrote:but as i keep saying these practices alone will not develop buddhist wisdom
Yes, the context is very important.
I think Ledi Sayadaw said it best when he described vipassana meditation as "insight exercises". Meditation, in essence, is just a methodology or skillful means that cultivate the mind for wholesome dhammas to arise.
you can't get to somewhere without a destination in mind and a map just because you are riding a horse as you can't get wisdom just by meditating, you have to know the kind of knowledge you're looking for and have an idea about the progression. otherwise you may become very wise from these practices but it would be doubtful that your wisdom would be anything like the very specific dhamma wisdom.
I would caution you with regards to the above statement. You can be sure that the destination (whether it be nibbana, or jhana) is very different to one's idea of it. In fact, having some idea of the destination can very easily turn into subtle craving for this or that attainment which then becomes an insurmountable barrier to it. One only need see some practitioners of "hardcore dhamma" to see how intense craving and fixation on particular attainments have warped perceptions so that some actually mistakenly believe mundane experiences as artefacts of ariyan attainment.

In my experience, the old samurai adage of "expect nothing - but be ready for anything" is a good attitude to have with regards to spiritual practice. Similarly, my teacher often says to his students "All you need do is observe, and leave the rest to Dhamma!"

But by saying the above, I am not advocating an anti-intellectualism. Its great to have theoretical knowledge of the Dhamma and the path. However vaulable it is in illuminating the path, that sort of knowledge is provisional. The Dhamma path is a path that has to be lived, experienced, practiced. Another saying from my teacher: "Pariyatti (study) and Patipatti (practice) should go hand in hand"
with metta,

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..

alan...
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Re: cultivating wisdom?

Post by alan... » Fri Dec 21, 2012 3:14 am

Ben wrote:
alan... wrote:but as i keep saying these practices alone will not develop buddhist wisdom
Yes, the context is very important.
I think Ledi Sayadaw said it best when he described vipassana meditation as "insight exercises". Meditation, in essence, is just a methodology or skillful means that cultivate the mind for wholesome dhammas to arise.
you can't get to somewhere without a destination in mind and a map just because you are riding a horse as you can't get wisdom just by meditating, you have to know the kind of knowledge you're looking for and have an idea about the progression. otherwise you may become very wise from these practices but it would be doubtful that your wisdom would be anything like the very specific dhamma wisdom.
I would caution you with regards to the above statement. You can be sure that the destination (whether it be nibbana, or jhana) is very different to one's idea of it. In fact, having some idea of the destination can very easily turn into subtle craving for this or that attainment which then becomes an insurmountable barrier to it. One only need see some practitioners of "hardcore dhamma" to see how intense craving and fixation on particular attainments have warped perceptions so that some actually mistakenly believe mundane experiences as artefacts of ariyan attainment.

In my experience, the old samurai adage of "expect nothing - but be ready for anything" is a good attitude to have with regards to spiritual practice. Similarly, my teacher often says to his students "All you need do is observe, and leave the rest to Dhamma!"

But by saying the above, I am not advocating an anti-intellectualism. Its great to have theoretical knowledge of the Dhamma and the path. However vaulable it is in illuminating the path, that sort of knowledge is provisional. The Dhamma path is a path that has to be lived, experienced, practiced. Another saying from my teacher: "Pariyatti (study) and Patipatti (practice) should go hand in hand"
with metta,

Ben

fully agree! couldn't have said it better myself! i like the samurai reference as well :smile: .

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Ben
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Re: cultivating wisdom?

Post by Ben » Fri Dec 21, 2012 4:41 am

No worries, Alan.
At some stage, you might wish to consider attending a residential retreat.
Its an experience that I highly recommend.
with metta,

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..

alan...
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Re: cultivating wisdom?

Post by alan... » Fri Dec 21, 2012 5:13 am

Ben wrote:No worries, Alan.
At some stage, you might wish to consider attending a residential retreat.
Its an experience that I highly recommend.
with metta,

Ben
some day when i'm rich. as it is i'm poor poor poor so i've always got to be here working, and i live no where near any temples other than a zen temple. otherwise i would have already gone to many. heck if i didn't have so much responsibilities i would have ordained already and plan to when i'm older. in like twenty years or so. can fifty year old men become monks?

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Ben
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Re: cultivating wisdom?

Post by Ben » Fri Dec 21, 2012 5:22 am

There are some excellent places you can go to meditate if you don't have much money.
“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..

alan...
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Re: cultivating wisdom?

Post by alan... » Fri Dec 21, 2012 5:23 am

Ben wrote:There are some excellent places you can go to meditate if you don't have much money.

such as?

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Ben
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Re: cultivating wisdom?

Post by Ben » Fri Dec 21, 2012 5:32 am

There are a number of sub-traditions that will offer a place for a yogi on a donation basis.
Such as the sub-tradition in which I practice. Many students attend a ten-day course and stay to serve. Some continue to 'sit and serve' for months at a time.
http://www.dhamma.org" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
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..

alan...
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Re: cultivating wisdom?

Post by alan... » Fri Dec 21, 2012 6:56 am

Ben wrote:There are a number of sub-traditions that will offer a place for a yogi on a donation basis.
Such as the sub-tradition in which I practice. Many students attend a ten-day course and stay to serve. Some continue to 'sit and serve' for months at a time.
http://www.dhamma.org" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
kind regards,

Ben

thanks

whynotme
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Re: cultivating wisdom?

Post by whynotme » Mon Dec 24, 2012 1:16 pm

Hi Alan,

Here is the Lakkhana Sutta, which has many things to learn and to follow.
http://tipitaka.wikia.com/wiki/Lakkhana_Sutta" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

And about wisdom:
"Monks, in whatever former life...the Tathágata approached an ascetic or Brahmin and asked, "Sir, what is the good and what is the bad? What is blameworthy, what is not? What course is to be followed, what is not? What, if I do it, will be to my lasting sorrow and harm, what to my lasting happiness?" ...On returning to this Earth he acquired this mark of a great man: his skin is so delicate and smooth that no dust can adhere to his body.

"Being endowed with this mark...as a ruler he will be very wise, and among the un-renounced there will be none equal or superior to him in wisdom...As a Buddha he will have great wisdom, extensive wisdom, joyous wisdom, swift wisdom, penetrative wisdom, discerning wisdom, and among all beings there will be none equal to him or superior to him in wisdom." This was what the Lord declared.
Regards
Please stop following me

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manas
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Re: cultivating wisdom?

Post by manas » Mon Dec 24, 2012 8:54 pm

Alan, I'm glad you find samadhi "fairly straightforward" cos personally I've had a very long and hard struggle with it, which is ongoing.

As for wisdom, just to keep exerting ourselves in the practice requires a degree of wisdom, imo. Otherwise why wake up early every day to sit, abstain from various things, etc? Why not just take it easy and enjoy the ordinary pleasures of life?
Knowing this body is like a clay jar,
securing this mind like a fort,
attack Mara with the spear of discernment,
then guard what's won without settling there,
without laying claim.

- Dhp 40

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