I do not agree here. Insight is what leads to liberation but one can speed up getting the objects of insight. Take the satipatthana, when one is not experiencing, say, an unsurpassable mind it is a bit hard to "know the mind is unsurpassable", right? Analysis requires different objects:
Hmm, I think this goes to how we understand insight - is it about analysing different objects (what you accuse DSG people of doing), or about understanding the presently arisen dhamma (whichever it might be) as anatta, anicca and dukkha?
I mean Visuddhimagga XII. How to develop the iddhis. One juggles simultanious samadhis with the kasinas and the jhanas, jumping from one combination to the next.
Not sure what you mean here, will check that Vis. chapter. I mean, not sure how you can juggle kasinas and jhanas, since jhana is beased on kasina (nimitta of it), so there can't be any going between kasina and jhana, what you seem to be saying.
Jhanas are very specific samadhis with very specific objects (sphere of neither perception nor non-perception for example). There are a multitude of samadhis possible, every possible object (gross, subtle, very subtle) can be used for samadhi. Even the universe itself.
I don't have the Visuddhimagga in english but Visuddhimagga III defines the term "samadhi" (translated as "Sammlung" into german, i.e. collection, one-pointedness, absorption). One can be in samadhi with a kasina, too.
Okay. Perhaps we should be more specific and state what kind of concentration is associated with a particular samadhi. Jhana would be (according to Vis) associated with absorption concentration. Kasina as object would lead to absorption, elements would not - only access. Afaik, iddhis would require mastery of 4th jhana (with all previous jhanas already mastered).
Yes, but I do not agree with their interpretation of how this development takes place. Conceptual understanding and discussion on this level and what you call "considering" does not in itself lead to the next step. If this was so everybody who does a lot of conceptual thinking would automatically enter it, aka all philosophers, mathematicians, people who write programs...
Oversimplification. Pariyatti doesn't mean conceptualizing about whatever topic, but about correct (conceptual) understanding of dhamma - i.e. anatta, DO, 4 noble truths, etc - way that leads to liberation. It is this kind of conceptual understanding that makes the correct practice possible. If one doesn't conceptually understand dhamma correctly in the beginning, one will end up practicing something else which doesn't lead to liberation, even though s/he might call it "buddhism".
The problem is that one has to overcome conceptual thinking to enter the next step. This means the mind has to realize that the conceptual understanding is WRONG.
Saying that it is wrong seems a bit counterproductive. Conceptual understanding is just the first step. The next step is verifying in practice what you heard. I mean we can hear (or read) what others tell us only through concepts, so without them, there'd be no possibility of teaching, so practice wouldn't be possible.
So if one wants to use the Abhidhamma theory as a means to make this step one has to stop thinking of Abhidhamma as if written in stone or trying to prove it right (to oneself or others).
You might be completely missing the purpose of abhidhamma - it is not a theory but a description of how things really are. In other words, someone whose insight has been developed to the maximum (sammasambuddha) would see everything exactly as it is described in the abhidhamma. So, it's not something that needs to be studied and theorised/conceptualised about - it is something that helps you do precisely what you are trying to tell me - it helps to go beyond the conventional conceptual desginations/view of the world and see it in ultimate terms (with wisdom).
The problem though is that none of us have a lot of wisdom, so the only way to describe to us how this ultimate "world" looks like is by explaining us the concepts which are still aimed at helping us get to the ultimate - direct insight. So, instead of telling us smth like "The universe was created by X god." - abhidhammma tells us something like - "Universe" is a concept which is not a dhamma (ultimate reality), it is an aramanna (object) of the present akusala citta which is a dhamma, that has arisen with the following cetasiaks which are also dhammas, and it was conditioned by such and such conditions... So it is precisely trying to shift the perspective from conventional/conceptual, towards the ultimate. But it can only do that by using words (concepts) - that's just how things are.
Instead, one has to set oneself the goal to prove Abhidhamma wrong. To find the limits, The moment one finds a limit, can prove Abhidhamma not being able to answer the question, the mind switches over to non-conceptual knowledge. Like when practicing those Zen koans.
Up to you how you do it, but the above seems like an extremely long way - i.e. first you'd need to become a sammasambuddha to really find its limits with direct insight, otherwise you'd be just speculating/conceptualising about its limits.
I consider Abhidhamma as a problematic system for this approach for two reasons. First, it is too large. It will take a long time to find the limits all by oneself - one would need someone else to lead one to it.
You don't need to learn the whole thing, just so much as is necessary to point you to direct insight. Some need a lot of explaining, some only a little. Depends on your wisdom how much you need.
The other is that belief that it is about ultimate truth (non conceptual) but one can take it as normal truth (conceptual), too. Or to put it differently, when it is ultimate truth the whole approach of thinking and discussing it in the pariyatti way is wrong; when we speak about cetasikas and cittas and khandas and all the Abdhihammic terms we use the conceptual mind for practice.
Well, again, this is not a problem of abhidhamma, but of our limited wisdom. So one first needs correct conceptual understanding in order to practice in a right way - way that leads to liberation. Otherwise, with wrong understanding, one might end up practicing in a wrong way that won't lead to liberation. Wrong view is the biggest obstacle of all to liberation.
Same with their so-called patipatti - the idea should not be to apply the conceptual, formal, understanding of Abhidhamma gained from reading and discussing (which is wrong and needs to be overcome/transcendented) to everyday life but to prolong the already experienced and known ultimate truth into it.
Well, folks on DSG keep repeating that abhidhamma is not about theorising and conceptualising but about direct insight in real life. I.e. it's not about thinking - "oh I see a visual rupa, and it is the object of visual consciousness, and that consciousness is associated with such and such cetasikas." No, it's about direct insight into the above process which happens in a nanosecond. I think we talked about this on e-sangha once - these are the stages of insight, and direct insight would differ in description depending on what insight stage it happened.
As far as I know Nimittas are conceptualized images of a non-concept. Thus they provide a bridge to the realm of non-concepts. This is also the reason why they appear in different ways to different people. Some see the breath nimitta as a spider web, others as a sun or star or whatelsenot. What you really want are the non-concepts, the elements in a direct way.
Okay, so let's use theravada terminology. Nimitta is a concept. Non-concept is a dhamma (ultimate reality). I agree that concepts are images of dhammas. But it's not that simple imo. It's not like each dhamma has a certain conceptual image, but more like that a concept which is presently the object of citta is a temporary illusion of how things (all dhammas present at that moment) really are. "Nimitta" can have various uses, but when talked about in terms of jhana, it is still a concept. And a very steady one at that - i.e. jhana (absorption) happens because one and the same nimitta remains the object of citta(s) for a long time. This is very different from vipassana where the object of citta is constantly changing very fast. If you want direct insight into elements (dhammas - the 4 elements) then you'd need to be at least at the first stage of insight where you are able to discern between a sense door process which might have a certain element as the object (suchs as hardness, heat, etc), and the mind-door process which comes immediately after it, as all the consequent mind-door processes that follow already start operating with concepts (and all this is well before the first conceptual thought arises like "I sense hardness", which will also consist of many, many mind-door processes in succession that have concepts as the objects).
Sure, but not everybody is aware of them even when touching. This is why the Visuddhimagga teaches the kasinas with it's various signs and countersigns. To enable the practitioner to be aware of them in the first place.
Again, not sure what you are saying here. Kasinas are used as objects of samatha. Samatha operates with concepts. Kasinas through practice become nimittas - signs and countersigns. These are all concepts (not dhammas-ultimate realities). Only vipassana operates with dhammas - ultimate realities (like rupas - elements), and you don't need to master samatha to have vipassana.
As I said other samadhis are usefull, too. To know that the earthkasina is the earthkasina is a specific insight just as seeing and knowing the specific factors that identify a specific jhana. (see again Visuddhimagga 12)
Earth-kasina in jhana is a concept. Thus, I don't think it can be an object of insight as it isn't real. But the mental factors which accompany the citta while the concept is the object, are real and they can be object of inisght (outside of absorption). Will check Vis XII to make sure.
I know on e-sangha, we talked about this as "energy", but can you please say exactly what you mean by energy here? Rupas, or something else?
Frankly, I hesitate to use this terminology because I have not mastered it. What is rupa? According to Abhidhamma everything that is not nama is rupa. In DO nama/rupa is one link, and just ONE link, not everything is nama/rupa. There are also different translations (name and form, mentality and materiality). And if they are non-concepts it is even more difficult to know what they refer to.
Hm, well in abhidhamma there are only 4 ultimate realities - rupa, citta, cetasika and nibbana, so it would have to be one of those 4.
Using the definition of the elements of the Visuddhimagga (which exist in exactly this definition in Mahayana, too) I think it is safe to say that "energies" (Mahayana) are elements and combinations of the elements (dhatu). "Space" is an element, too, in Mahayana there is for example the meditation called "dissolving the elements" and dissolving space is one of them. In the Visuddhimagga "space" is treated in the same way as earth, fire, etc.
Yeah. We'd need to be careful here as dhatu can have many meanings - so in this context we'd need to choose out of the above 4 ultimate realities. Considering that in abhidhimma the 4 elements (earth, fire, water, wind) are rupa, and so is space, then I guess we can classify it as rupa?
I don't think this is accurate. Afaik, they usually say that development goes through those stages I already mentioned above - pariyatti, patipatti and pativedha. A start needs to be made, so the only place to start is pariyatti, I don't see how it can be any other way.
As I said I agree with the development but not with the interpretation of what those terms mean. When one thinks all the time during everyday life "this is rupa, this is nama" one practices on the first level of what is called "labeling" in the Mahasi style. It is not considering, nor patipatti, it is the very first step to develop the momentary concentration. And this does not require years of reading, remembering and discussing Abhidhamma theory. One can start it now.
Agreed, so perhaps you've misunderstood DSG folks, as they are very much in support of direct insight, not thinking about it.
They use a formal system as a means to practice formal thinking. You can't get more formal than that. Here is the definition of "formal system":
Again, I'm not sure why you insist on this formal thing. As mentioned, the goal of abhidhamma (and DSG) is not to become a great thinker nor to practice thinking, but to point to direct insight. Just like when asking for directions to a place you ask because you want to be able to recognise the directions in real life and get to real-life place (like "go to the corner of that building then turn left and go straight to the post office"), in the same way abdhihamma describes what things you'll see when you get to direct insight that will lead to liberation so that you can be sure you're on the right way. That's the purpose of it.
So, it's not about the conventional activity, but about the kind of citta at the moment. Secondly, that's not how I get them describing kusala calm and concentration at all (I explained about this in the post to Mike, I hope it's clear - it's about panna being there, not the activity, nor the object of concentration, nor concentration itself, because kusala concentration is there as a byproduct when panna is there).
Sure, but panna does not arise from studying a formal system - except by proving it incomplete.
Again. Panna is right view. The most basic level of right view is conceptual and the deeper ones can't happen without it. If the conceptual one is not in place, then there must be wrong view and wrong practice. I'm not sure what's your problem with it - I mean, it seems impossible to expect that someone can skip the basic level and go straight to the advanced one.
The change, the shift that happens when there is panna present in contrast to when it is not, it is surprising, different, alien (for the conceptual mind).
"Surprising, different, alien" are all concepts that different people associate with different realities.
I have asked a few questions in that direction and the only answer I got was that there won't be any surprises, panna simply deepens (implying that the person who speaks already has panna that will deepen).
With respect, when I compare your posts on DSG to other people's posts, they are very different in that you use very different terminology (very new-age/vajrayana) and when you do use thervada terminology -it's influenced by Buddhadassa Bhikkhu's teachings, which aren't exactly classical theravada. So, for those guys on DSG it's like an unknown language because they have been using very strict abhidhamma terminology for decades. Hence, I suggested to you in one of the posts (not sure if you caught it) to try and express your experieneces in terminology they can understand, otherwise there will be misunderstandings, as is evident from this thread as well.
This devellopment describes the development and learning of formal logic. Not panna. Panna is always a surprise to the conceptual mind (though of course not to itself).
Not sure what you are saying here. Panna is a mental factor just like igonrance is. Surprise is a concept, I'd say, that's not a dhamma. Might have dhammas that make it possible for citta to think there's a surprise, but it is still not a dhamma itself.
To overcome something one has to see it's limits. From seeing those limits "disgust" arises. The disgust conditions the will to leave it and the faith that one can do this. As long as one clings to thought/formal logic, as long as one believes this to lead to wisdom, it won't work.
Mind you, I do not mean that developing formal logic is wrong. On the contrary. But it itself is not panna, nor leading to panna.
You misunderstood me. Of course pativdha (direct insight) is the goal. Just what they call pativedha is, IMO, not pativedha.
I think I addressed all this already, i.e. I'd say you are misinterpreting what DSG people are saying.
Afaik, this conclusion is not in line with Theravada at all. I mean, I don't think there's a single reference in the tipitaka where right view is based on iddhis. Divine eye, seeing beings pass away, etc, were known before the Buddha.
Yes. And the Buddha called this "right view" in the suttas. The view arising from insight is called "superior/supramundane right view".
Hmm, I honestly don't think I saw something like that - could you please provide a reference that says that iddhi = right view?
Panna is not Liberation, either. Just a means to get there.
Agreed in that panna is also conditioned dhamma that cannot be forced to be this or that way.