Sutta Readers: Shoot Me Down, Please

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
nowheat
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Re: Sutta Readers: Shoot Me Down, Please

Post by nowheat » Fri Nov 06, 2009 5:53 pm

Jechbi wrote:It's actually an addition to what I was clumsily trying to say, but I could go along with it. But this thread isn't about my reading it's about yours.
I think of this thread as a conversation in which I'm trying to determine if anyone else can see what I saw, which makes your voice as important as mine – as well as the voices of everyone else who has a thought that adds to the discussion. But the difficulty we're having conveying our views, and understanding each other's is really part of my thesis: that the concepts we are dealing with are subtle, and grasping what's really meant is a challenge. It was just the same in the Buddha's day. When we are trying to communicate using the same language and with cultural references in common, even with the best will to try to understand, it is hard to get to perfect understanding of what someone else is trying to convey. Try to convey your meaning across time, factoring in the way language bends – the same word used to mean something entirely different – and the loss of shared context, how much more difficult does it get?

At any rate, I don't know if you (all) agreed with my reading of the two parts we have thus far as an arc – from the unskilled “wrong views” which do harm to others, to the more skilled “right view with taints” which perhaps have good moral grounding going for them, but I used the word “arc” with intention, because you don't draw the lines of an arc with two points, but with three, which this sutta has in its third portion.

The next portion of the sutta reads:
“And what is the right view that is without effluents, transcendent, a factor of the path? The discernment, the faculty of discernment, the strength of discernment, analysis of qualities as a factor for Awakening, the path factor of right view of one developing the noble path whose mind is noble, whose mind is free from effluents, who is fully possessed of the noble path. This is the right view that is without effluents, transcendent, a factor of the path.”
or maybe we should use the Wisdom Pubs version:
“And what, bhikkhus, is right view that is noble, taintless, supramundane, a factor of the path? The wisdom, the faculty of wisdom, the power of wisdom, the investigation-of-states enlightenment factor, the path factor of right view in one whose mind is noble, whose mind is taintless, who possesses the noble path and is developing the noble path: this is right view that is noble, taintless, supramundane, a factor of the path.”
Bridging between the two translations, it seems we're talking about wisdom/discernment here, and perhaps concentration (investigation-of-states as an enlightenment factor), but still with an emphasis on right view as the most important factor of the path. Since this is a sutta about concentration (in which meditation gets mentioned specifically very few times – only clearly stated once at the start) it would make sense for this portion to be about concentration, too, the wisdom developed by “analysis of qualities/investigation-of-states”.

Anyone else have any thoughts on what is being described in this section?

:namaste:

nowheat
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Re: Sutta Readers: Shoot Me Down, Please

Post by nowheat » Sun Nov 08, 2009 2:23 pm

Hmmm, no help there. (I have been off listening to Bhikkhu Bodhi's 3-hour mp3 on the subject of MN 117 which I hope to transcribe and bring bits of into this discussion -- but 3 hours of talking takes a looong time to transcribe.) Meanwhile, here's a question I can really use help with, as it's an aspect I've only begun to really consider:
The Blessed One said, "Monks, I will teach you noble right concentration with its supports and requisite conditions. Listen, and pay close attention. I will speak."

"Yes, lord," the monks replied.

The Blessed One said: "Now what, monks, is noble right concentration with its supports & requisite conditions? Any singleness of mind equipped with these seven factors — right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, & right mindfulness — is called noble right concentration with its supports & requisite conditions.
((-- from Access to Insight))
This sutta is about concentration, but aside from the above-quoted portion and the chains of path arising described at the end, in which right concentration is shown as arising from right mindfulness, and concentration being the factor that causes right knowledge to arise (followed by right release / liberation) it is never directly mentioned again.

Since this sutta is stated to be about concentration, what may we understand is being said about the supports in relation to concentration, and about concentration in general?

:namaste:

vinasp
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Re: Sutta Readers: Shoot Me Down, Please

Post by vinasp » Sun Nov 08, 2009 3:48 pm

Hi nowheat,

What is missing that you would have expected to see ?

Best wishes, Vincent.

pegembara
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Re: Sutta Readers: Shoot Me Down, Please

Post by pegembara » Sun Nov 08, 2009 4:03 pm

Hi nowheat
“And what is the right view that is without effluents, transcendent, a factor of the path? The discernment, the faculty of discernment, the strength of discernment, analysis of qualities as a factor for Awakening, the path factor of right view of one developing the noble path whose mind is noble, whose mind is free from effluents, who is fully possessed of the noble path. This is the right view that is without effluents, transcendent, a factor of the path.”
or maybe we should use the Wisdom Pubs version:
“And what, bhikkhus, is right view that is noble, taintless, supramundane, a factor of the path? The wisdom, the faculty of wisdom, the power of wisdom, the investigation-of-states enlightenment factor, the path factor of right view in one whose mind is noble, whose mind is taintless, who possesses the noble path and is developing the noble path: this is right view that is noble, taintless, supramundane, a factor of the path.”
The suttas say that in knowing dependent origination one achieves supreme or supra-mundane Right View. Such a Right View is not prone to nihilism or the concept of a continuing existence. The doctrine of dependent origination stays in the Middle Path that is neither the substantiation of the ego (concept of a continuing existence) nor the negation of the ego (nihilism). Its law follows the principle of “this exists therefore that exists, this ceases to be therefore that ceases to be.” This principle keeps Buddhism from embracing nihilism or the concept of a continuing existence. We must be careful not to let the doctrine of dependent origination evolve into one that is not in accord with the Buddha Dhamma or become a doctrine of Hinduism or Brahmanism. The truth is it is impossible to instill the doctrine of dependent origination in the mind of one who embraces the concept of a continuing existence because the two are contradictory. Hence, teaching the doctrine of dependent origination using the concept of a continuing existence is undermining the law of dependent arising.

Buddhadasa Bhikkhu http://www.what-buddha-taught.net/Books ... uppada.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

To me it means interpreting DO in the present moment without recourse to 3 lives model. The Buddha was advising one to test his teachings for oneself. This can only be done in the this present life without speculating about the past or future (lives). His was the forerunner of the current rage on living in the present.
And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech.

nowheat
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Re: Sutta Readers: Shoot Me Down, Please

Post by nowheat » Mon Nov 09, 2009 12:53 am

vinasp wrote: What is missing that you would have expected to see ?
A summary at the end of how all this relates to concentration. I'm not the only one that feels it's missing; Bhikkhu Bodhi said so too, in the audio talks I've been listening too.

To be clear, I am not looking for references to some other sutta that explains right concentration. I am asking what the Buddha is saying about concentration through this sutta, since concentration with its supports and requisites is what he says it's about.

:namaste:

vinasp
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Re: Sutta Readers: Shoot Me Down, Please

Post by vinasp » Mon Nov 09, 2009 3:32 am

Hi nowheat,

It would appear that the real meaning of the teachings has been lost or is being kept secret. Many discourses contain things which are difficult to understand and for which no explanation is offered. This sutta is one of the most difficult in the entire five nikayas. I will outline some of the problems for you.

1. This is a "late" discourse chronologically and includes earlier material.
2. The opening is in fact an earlier short sutta, so MN 117 is not in fact about noble right concentration.
3. The term "noble right concentration" is strange and rarely found. Right concentration is a factor of the noble eightfold path and so it is already noble, perhaps the intention is just to emphasise this.
4. Most monks were "ordinary men" and so were on the wrong eightfold path, only "noble disciples" were on the noble eightfold path.
5. When the noble eightfold path arises all eight path factors arise together.
6. This is why the other seven factors are said to be needed for, and to support noble right concentration.
7. Right view is the essential path factor, all the other path factors are just by-products of right view.
8. This means that noble right concentration is quite different from the ordinary concentration practice.
9. What MN 117 is really about is the distinction between the "mundane" path and the "supramundane" path.
10. The "mundane" path is the noble eightfold path.

The above draws on my "new interpretation" and is not the "standard" explanation ( if there is one ).

Best wishes, Vincent.

nowheat
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Re: Sutta Readers: Shoot Me Down, Please

Post by nowheat » Mon Nov 09, 2009 1:18 pm

vinasp wrote:It would appear that the real meaning of the teachings has been lost or is being kept secret. Many discourses contain things which are difficult to understand and for which no explanation is offered. . . . The above draws on my "new interpretation" and is not the "standard" explanation ( if there is one ).
This post gives lots of room for discussion but I think the particular direction of that discussion would be best handled in your thread on the new interpretation of the Pali suttas, Vincent. Here, for the most part, it seems to me it would move us further away from understanding, not toward, and since I have already stated in your thread my reason for disagreeing with your premise, I won't restate it here. I would take up some of your points but am afraid if I do, that discussion of your theory will take over this thread, so perhaps I should not? I do understand that this sutta fits in with your theory, and appreciate the amount of effort you've put into finding evidence to support it.

:namaste:

vinasp
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Re: Sutta Readers: Shoot Me Down, Please

Post by vinasp » Mon Nov 09, 2009 3:09 pm

Hi nowheat,

On the question about noble right concentration. The earlier short sutta can be found in Connected Discourses page 1537 it has the title "Concentration" It begins : "Bhikkhus, I will teach you noble right concentration with its supports and its accessories. Listen to that ...."
This sutta is only seven lines in length. It is a full explanation of noble right concentration in itself. If you are looking for some further explanation in MN117 then you will not find it because it is not there.
What is being said is that any "one-pointedness" of mind which is found with the other seven path factors is, by definition, noble right concentration. The "learner" ( sekha ) is defined by his possesion of the eight path factors, not yet fully developed. Those on the noble eightfold path can be called "learners" or "noble disciples". The path is "one thing" with eight facets ( limbs ) not eight separate things.
The noble eightfold path is a very bad description of the true path to enlightenment. Its purpose is to make the true path look similar to the wrong eightfold path which most monks were on. So that the puthujjana monks would not realise that they were on the wrong path.
This is just my point of view, there is no need to debate any of it.

Best wishes, Vincent.

nowheat
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Re: Sutta Readers: Shoot Me Down, Please

Post by nowheat » Mon Nov 09, 2009 7:07 pm

vinasp wrote:On the question about noble right concentration. The earlier short sutta can be found in Connected Discourses page 1537 it has the title "Concentration"... If you are looking for some further explanation in MN117 then you will not find it because it is not there.
And yet you go on to explain how it is there.
What is being said is that any "one-pointedness" of mind which is found with the other seven path factors is, by definition, noble right concentration.
That right concentration is a part of each other factor of the path, is to be found in each other factor seems a valid way of looking at it.

Is the reverse also true? Take for example right view: Does concentration have anything to do with obtaining right view? If so, how so?

:namaste:

nowheat
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Re: Sutta Readers: Shoot Me Down, Please

Post by nowheat » Wed Nov 11, 2009 2:23 am

Anyone still left standing? That is, anyone who still has an open mind about the premise? I was kind of hoping for discussion but everyone seems to have drifted away, and I'm not really wanting to Expound to a silent audience.

:namaste:

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mikenz66
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Re: Sutta Readers: Shoot Me Down, Please

Post by mikenz66 » Wed Nov 11, 2009 2:40 am

nowheat wrote:Anyone still left standing? That is, anyone who still has an open mind about the premise? I was kind of hoping for discussion but everyone seems to have drifted away, and I'm not really wanting to Expound to a silent audience.
What was it you wanted further feedback on? The right view without taints or where concentration comes into the Sutta?
If the former, what do you think of this comment?
http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=1814#p23845" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
... the idea of mundane/supermundane right view [in this Sutta] seems to be directly from the Abhidhamma, and is the only Sutta I've read where that sort of exposition is presented. ...
Mike

nowheat
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Re: Sutta Readers: Shoot Me Down, Please

Post by nowheat » Wed Nov 11, 2009 4:18 am

mikenz66 wrote: What was it you wanted further feedback on? The right view without taints or where concentration comes into the Sutta?
If the former, what do you think of this comment?
http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=1814#p23845" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
... the idea of mundane/supermundane right view [in this Sutta] seems to be directly from the Abhidhamma, and is the only Sutta I've read where that sort of exposition is presented. ...
Mike
Concentration is where I left off, but I'm glad to take up the Abhidamma question. I noticed Bhikkhu Bodhi said the same in the audio talk I've been listening to, and I've seen it in numerous places, the argument in each place is the same "This is the language used in the Abhidhamma" and "This is the only sutta like this" so "it must be a sutta modified by later thinking."

I haven't studied the Abhidhamma but this makes me want to. Just based on what little has been said in defense of this being a corrupt sutta, though, I don't believe the logic holds up. I would hope that the Abhidhamma would draw language from the suttas -- that the two use the same language is not solid evidence, but an interesting theory, which I remain mindful of. And in my reading, having a sutta that preserves unique language or a less ornamented story gives it extra points towards potentially being closer to what was originally taught. The suttas that have huge chunks of language in common with other suttas are the ones I suspect have gotten tangled up, picking up blocks from elsewhere and muddying the thoughts. For example the blocks of description of tenets in the doctrines in this sutta are found in other suttas stuck together with bits from other places in one long chunk, and when the doctrines don't fit well with what's being said in those suttas -- those seem likely to be corrupted. Whereas in this sutta the three doctrines fit with the list of views at the start.

Plus, looking at this sutta through the lens of the Abhidhamma seems to have made it less comprehensible for Bhikkhu Bodhi (and for me) -- which makes it less likely to be what the Buddha taught. The reading I am seeing in it simplifies it and makes it more comprehensible -- though less in line with current thought -- but it seems to me the Buddha was an excellent speaker, clear and straightforward and good at conveying his message. A reading in which all the pieces fit together smoothly should be closer to the original teaching than one that is confusing, unclear, and difficult to understand.

What do you think, Mike?

:namaste:

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mikenz66
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Re: Sutta Readers: Shoot Me Down, Please

Post by mikenz66 » Wed Nov 11, 2009 4:43 am

I didn't say it was a corrupt sutta, I just wanted to point out the connection with the Abhidhamma, because I've seen it quoted by people who seem to dislike the Abhidhamma, but use this Sutta to expound on right view. Of course, I partly got my information from Bhikkhu Bodhi's talk...

I think that the interesting thing is that super-mundane right view here is really not having a "view":
"And what is the right view that is without effluents, transcendent, a factor of the path? The discernment, the faculty of discernment, the strength of discernment, analysis of qualities as a factor for Awakening, the path factor of right view of one developing the noble path whose mind is noble, whose mind is free from effluents, who is fully possessed of the noble path. This is the right view that is without effluents, transcendent, a factor of the path.
Metta
Mike

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BlackBird
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Re: Sutta Readers: Shoot Me Down, Please

Post by BlackBird » Wed Nov 11, 2009 5:28 am

Hi all

Is there 'for dummies' guide to this thread?

:anjali:
"For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher's message & lives to penetrate it, what accords with the Dhamma is this:
'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta

nowheat
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Re: Sutta Readers: Shoot Me Down, Please

Post by nowheat » Wed Nov 11, 2009 1:26 pm

BlackBird wrote: Is there 'for dummies' guide to this thread?
Hey BlackBird, I suppose it's about time I do a summary; I'll work on that after I've had a cup of tea.

:namaste:

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