Bhikkhu Akiñcano - "With the Right Understanding" (Phenomenological Explorations of the Pāli Suttas)

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Re: Bhikkhu Akiñcano - "With the Right Understanding" (Phenomenological Explorations of the Pāli Suttas)

Post by retrofuturist » Thu Sep 26, 2019 10:45 am

Greetings chownah,
chownah wrote:
Thu Sep 26, 2019 10:30 am
Have you ever seen or taken instruction in breath meditation from a non-buddhist?
Maybe as a one-off in a certain context that I can no longer recall. If I did, it clearly didn't leave an impression.

Metta,
Paul. :)
"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"It is natural that one who knows and sees things as they really are is disenchanted and dispassionate." (AN 10.2)

“Truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.” (Flannery O'Connor)

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Re: Bhikkhu Akiñcano - "With the Right Understanding" (Phenomenological Explorations of the Pāli Suttas)

Post by retrofuturist » Thu Oct 10, 2019 4:06 am

Greetings,

The book arrived in the post today. I haven't started it, but for anyone interested, here's the Index...
Preface

1. Panna
2. Citta
3. Satipatthana
4. Bhava
5. Kammatthana
6. Kama
7. Attha / Yoni
8. Kayagatasati

Bibliography
If the format is amenable to it, I might drop a summary and mini-review at the end of each of the 8 main chapters.

Metta,
Paul. :)
"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"It is natural that one who knows and sees things as they really are is disenchanted and dispassionate." (AN 10.2)

“Truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.” (Flannery O'Connor)

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Re: Bhikkhu Akiñcano - "With the Right Understanding" (Phenomenological Explorations of the Pāli Suttas)

Post by retrofuturist » Thu Oct 10, 2019 8:59 am

Greetings,

I have now read the Preface.

My main take away from the Preface is the (predicted) juxtaposition of the phenomenological approach to the Dhamma, to what he calls "naturalized Dhamma", a term adopted from Husserl's "the natural attitude".
Bhikkhu Akincano wrote:"The natural attitude is a kind of global realism - the tacit assumption that the world is always there as real. Even though this or that particular thing may turn out to be different from the way I believe it would be (for example, I expect to find a pen in my bag and discover that it is not there), nevertheless the world as a whole is not brought into question (I must have left my pen on my desk). In the natural attitude, whatever is belongs to the domain of 'Nature' - the domain of psycho-physical entities existing in space and time, subject to the laws of causality. This 'naturalism' is essentially a metphysical realism - the monistic view that there is only one kind of thing: natural entities with their natural properties. As a result, one finds oneself committed to the idea that everything has to be studied according to the methods of natural science.

Naturalized Dhamma approaches the Dhamma from within the natural attitude. It involves thinking about meditation in naturalistic terms, as a set of techniques, where one focuses one's attention on this or that part of Nature." (pp13-14)
What is described here as "naturalized" is analogous to what is often termed "naive realism" here at Dhamma Wheel, or if one is following the venacular of Ven. Nanavira, it is "the scholar's essentially horizontal view of things".

In response to some of the questions submitted by members when I initiated this topic, his words seem to agree with the emphasis I placed on "he understands" or "he discerns" in sutta meditation instructions here... and they validate my earlier conjecture that the phenomenologists are used "as a means of juxtaposing the phenomenological viewpoint against the ontological Abhidhammic/Mahavihara worldview". On that note, he goes on to confirm that knowing their works is not essential, but a phenomenological approach to the Dhamma is. To wit, exposure to their works, may help the practitioner to identify previous latent assumptions about the nature of things, that they had not previously had cause to challenge. He says one can work it out with the suttas alone, but without a guiding hand to challenge latent assumptions, and show the subtleties of certain points, it's going to be difficult. Nonetheless, reading the suttas with a phenomenological eye is going to be beneficial and will reveal new layers of depth on the teachings, further highlighting the differences in the viewpoint of the arahant, the sekha and the puthujjana.

The enunciation was obviously more elaborate and detailed than the above, but that should at least give you an indication of the terrain covered. I'm thinking this is going to appeal to anyone who appreciates the works of ven. Ninoslav Nanamoli.

Metta,
Paul. :)
"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"It is natural that one who knows and sees things as they really are is disenchanted and dispassionate." (AN 10.2)

“Truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.” (Flannery O'Connor)

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Re: Bhikkhu Akiñcano - "With the Right Understanding" (Phenomenological Explorations of the Pāli Suttas)

Post by Dinsdale » Thu Oct 10, 2019 10:53 am

I'm trying to understand the practical distinction between phenomenology and naive realism.

Is it that the former approach deals exclusively with sense-objects, while the latter approach assumes those objects represent real things "out there"?
Something like that?
Buddha save me from new-agers!

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Re: Bhikkhu Akiñcano - "With the Right Understanding" (Phenomenological Explorations of the Pāli Suttas)

Post by pegembara » Thu Oct 10, 2019 3:00 pm

The first tetrad is essentially making the in and outbreath the object ie. mindfulness of breathing. The purpose is to stop mind from wandering and dragged by the six senses.

Breathing in long, he discerns, 'I am breathing in long'; or breathing out long, he discerns, 'I am breathing out long.'
Or breathing in short, he discerns, 'I am breathing in short'; or breathing out short, he discerns, 'I am breathing out short.'


Having achieved that the switch is made towards observing and contemplating the 3 characteristics esp in the last tetrad. That's mindfulness with breathing!

13) He trains himself; constantly contemplating impermanence I shall breathe in. He trains himself; constantly contemplating impermanence I shall breathe out.

(14) He trains himself; constantly contemplating fading away I shall breathe in. He trains himself: constantly contemplating fading away I shall breathe out.

(15) He trains himself: constantly contemplating quenching I shall breathe in. He trains himself: constantly contemplating quenching I shall breathe out.

(16) He trains himself: constantly contemplating tossing back I shall breathe in. He trains himself: constantly contemplating tossing back I shall breathe out.
And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech.

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Re: Bhikkhu Akiñcano - "With the Right Understanding" (Phenomenological Explorations of the Pāli Suttas)

Post by SDC » Thu Oct 10, 2019 10:49 pm

retrofuturist wrote:
Thu Oct 10, 2019 4:06 am
The book arrived in the post today.
Melbourne before New Jersey??? smh... :tongue:

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Re: Bhikkhu Akiñcano - "With the Right Understanding" (Phenomenological Explorations of the Pāli Suttas)

Post by retrofuturist » Thu Oct 10, 2019 11:12 pm

Greetings SDC,
SDC wrote:
Thu Oct 10, 2019 10:49 pm
Melbourne before New Jersey??? smh... :tongue:
Melbourne is always ahead of New Jersey. In fact, it's 10:11am, 11th October right now.

8-)

Reading between the lines, it sounds like you've ordered it yourself... so I look forward to hearing your thoughts on it.

Metta,
Paul. :)
"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"It is natural that one who knows and sees things as they really are is disenchanted and dispassionate." (AN 10.2)

“Truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.” (Flannery O'Connor)

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Re: Bhikkhu Akiñcano - "With the Right Understanding" (Phenomenological Explorations of the Pāli Suttas)

Post by SDC » Thu Oct 10, 2019 11:19 pm

retrofuturist wrote:
Thu Oct 10, 2019 11:12 pm
Greetings SDC,
SDC wrote:
Thu Oct 10, 2019 10:49 pm
Melbourne before New Jersey??? smh... :tongue:
Melbourne is always ahead of New Jersey. In fact, it's 10:11am, 11th October right now.

8-)

Reading between the lines, it sounds like you've ordered it yourself... so I look forward to hearing your thoughts on it.

Metta,
Paul. :)
You Aussies and your "time zones" lol

Yes, will definitely jump in the mix.

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Re: Bhikkhu Akiñcano - "With the Right Understanding" (Phenomenological Explorations of the Pāli Suttas)

Post by retrofuturist » Thu Oct 10, 2019 11:30 pm

Greetings Dinsdale,
Dinsdale wrote:
Thu Oct 10, 2019 10:53 am
I'm trying to understand the practical distinction between phenomenology and naive realism.
I'll try to pick up on this, when I do a write up on the chapter on "pañña".
Dinsdale wrote:
Thu Oct 10, 2019 10:53 am
Is it that the former approach deals exclusively with sense-objects, while the latter approach assumes those objects represent real things "out there"?
Something like that?
Something like that, except that you speak of "sense-objects" and by framing it that way, you're assuming a legitimate bifurcation between that "object" and a "subject" (i.e. you). If you challenge that assumption, you might see that there are merely phenomena arising and passing away. IMO, this is what it means to see all things as "not self, not I, not mine". If that assumption is not challenged and overcome, I don't see how you would ever see that sutta-defined reality, rather than just as an article of faith.

Metta,
Paul. :)
"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"It is natural that one who knows and sees things as they really are is disenchanted and dispassionate." (AN 10.2)

“Truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.” (Flannery O'Connor)

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Re: Bhikkhu Akiñcano - "With the Right Understanding" (Phenomenological Explorations of the Pāli Suttas)

Post by kalyanamitta » Fri Oct 11, 2019 2:07 am

Excellent! I've been looking for exactly this sort of phenomenological approach to the early texts. Thanks for sharing.
:buddha1: Buddhism, contemplative practice, philosophy: https://unityinplurality.blogspot.com/ :buddha1:

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Re: Bhikkhu Akiñcano - "With the Right Understanding" (Phenomenological Explorations of the Pāli Suttas)

Post by chownah » Fri Oct 11, 2019 2:44 am

Dinsdale wrote:
Thu Oct 10, 2019 10:53 am
I'm trying to understand the practical distinction between phenomenology and naive realism.

Is it that the former approach deals exclusively with sense-objects, while the latter approach assumes those objects represent real things "out there"?
Something like that?
I think the difference is that with the phenomenologist approach to the dhamma any relationship between the phenomena arising at the individual and any existing "objects out there" is considered irrelevant. For example: To say that the buddhist phenomenologist deals exclusively with sense-objects is an idea which stems from naive realism in that it is based on "objects" while the buddhist phenomonemologist would analyze/understand "sense-objects" by trying to discern what/which phenomena give rise to the concept of "sense-object".....in other words for a buddhist pheneomenlogist there is phenomena which when viewed with ignorance gives rise to the false subject/object duality with its associated false self.

I think that many buddhist phenomenologist see that "objects out there" are unknowable except through whatever phenomena arises with respect to them....so....better to deal with what arises in experience (phenomena) than to go chasing after the unknowable and having done this they find that this approach is enough to attain the goal.
chownah

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Re: Bhikkhu Akiñcano - "With the Right Understanding" (Phenomenological Explorations of the Pāli Suttas)

Post by retrofuturist » Fri Oct 11, 2019 8:50 am

Greetings,

The chapter on paññā starts with a thorough beat down of "sensation" as an English language translation of vedana. The main problem with "sensation" is that it's a "hybrid" term which sees a "sensation" simultaneously regarded as a naturalized "external" thing, which with the right instrumentation, could be discerned by the scientist, and as an experienced feeling. In other words, it is both what is being experienced, and the experience itself. Because it deceptively bridges both meanings, it does not accurately correlate with what the Buddha meant by vedana. All this lambast is done without the word "Goenka" even being mentioned once... 8-)

The other main challenge in this chapter is to how the word paññā is understood.

(Please excuse the lack of diacritics from here on in)
Bhikkhu Akiñcano wrote:The Pali Text Society Pali-English dictionary defines panna as: "intelligence, comprising of all higher faculties of cognition, "intellect as conversant with general truths"..., reason, wisdom, insight, knowledge, recognition." This clearly illustrates the Cartesian bias which affects the traditional way of interpreting the Pali texts. Not only do we see panna being used to refer to the 'wisdom' or 'insight' which we are aiming for, which will arise in the future as long as we keep practicing correctly, but also we see that it is primarily associated with some form of cognition. It is 'intellect', 'intelligence', 'reason', 'cognition' - in other words, it is understood in terms of the Cartesian cogito. (pp30-31)
In Dhamma conversation, we often hear "panna" being regarded as synonymous with "wisdom". Instead, via reference to the suttas, Bhikkhu Akiñcano shows how it represents "understanding" and the word attached to it, shows which type of understanding is being referred to...

Adhipanna (higher understanding) (AN 5.79)
Sammappanna (right understanding) (MN 8)
Ariyapanna (noble understanding) (It 4.8)
Pannaparipurim (the fulfilment of understanding) (DN 9)
Sekha panna (the understanding of one in training) (DN 33)
Asekha panna (the understanding of one beyond training) (DN 33)
Nevasekhanasekha panna (the understanding of one neither in training nor beyond training) (DN 33)
Cintamaya panna (understanding produced by mind) (DN 33)
Sutamaya panna (understanding produced by what is heard) (DN 33)
Bhavanamaya panna (understanding produced by development) (DN 33)

In relation to the above, he says...
Bhikkhu Akiñcano wrote:Clearly, what is being spoken about here is some kind of distinction between the panna of the puthujjana and the panna of the ariyasekha. The sekha can be described in terms of adhipanna, sammappanna and ariyapanna whilst only the arahant can be said to have attained pannaparipurim. This suggests that even though the following words do not appear in the Pali texts, it seems that the understanding of the puthujjana may be described as anadhipanna (not-higher-understanding), micchappanna (wrong understanding) and anariyapanna (ignoble understanding). Even though his understanding may be wrong, ignoble, inferior to the understanding of the ariyasavaka, it is still a kind of understanding. (p34)
So to Dinsdale's earlier observation that "I'm trying to understand the practical distinction between phenomenology and naive realism", if we allow "naive realism" to be the understanding of the puthujjana...
Bhikkhu Akiñcano wrote:
MN 2 wrote:... the view 'With self I perceive self' arises for him as true and actual, or other view 'With self I perceive not-self' arises for him as true and actual; or the view 'With not-self I perceive self' arises for him as true and actual...
The view 'With not-self I perceive not-self' simply does not occur to him. It does not arise as a possibility. This means that for a puthijjana to cease being a puthujjana, not only does he need to be mindful, in order to make explicit the understanding of the situation he finds himself thrown into, he must also be suspicious of that understanding. He must regard mindfulness as a 'hermeneutics of suspicion'. He must take on the attitude that his understanding is inadequate, that the meaning of his situation that presents itself if somehow distorted, preventing him from seeing things clearly. He requires some external help in order to find an alternative way of interpreting his situation.
Recommendations for the puthujjana, here and throughout this chapter do not include "techniques", instead they include:

- Applying the "hermeneutics of suspicion" to unmask "the lies and illusions of consciousness"
- Concerted efforts to understand, according to the higher understandings explained in the suttas
- Seek guidance from a kalyanamitta, one who Bhikkhu Akiñcano explains, strictly, by definition, is an ariyasavaka

In this context, he also quotes the following from Nanavira, which seems a good way to close out this little review...
Nanavira Thera wrote:In order to put an end to avijjā, which is a matter of recognizing avijjā as avijjā, it is necessary to accept on trust from the Buddha a Teaching that contradicts the direct evidence of the puthujjana's reflexion. This is why the Dhamma is patisotagāmī (Majjhima iii,6 <M.i,168>), or 'going against the stream'. The Dhamma gives the puthujjana the outside view of avijjā, which is inherently unobtainable for him by unaided reflexion (in the ariyasāvaka this view has, as it were, 'taken' like a graft, and is perpetually available).
Metta,
Paul. :)
"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"It is natural that one who knows and sees things as they really are is disenchanted and dispassionate." (AN 10.2)

“Truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.” (Flannery O'Connor)

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Re: Bhikkhu Akiñcano - "With the Right Understanding" (Phenomenological Explorations of the Pāli Suttas)

Post by sentinel » Fri Oct 11, 2019 9:13 am

retrofuturist wrote:
Fri Oct 11, 2019 8:50 am
recognising avijja as avijja
When a person is in darkness , recognising avijja as avijja is incorrect , without light not possible to illuminate the darkness . So , the actual thing is , with right attention , avijja destroy by the light that arises hence penetrating into the nature of it .
Last edited by sentinel on Fri Oct 11, 2019 11:27 am, edited 2 times in total.
:coffee:

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Re: Bhikkhu Akiñcano - "With the Right Understanding" (Phenomenological Explorations of the Pāli Suttas)

Post by Dinsdale » Fri Oct 11, 2019 9:55 am

retrofuturist wrote:
Thu Oct 10, 2019 11:30 pm
Greetings Dinsdale,
Dinsdale wrote:
Thu Oct 10, 2019 10:53 am
I'm trying to understand the practical distinction between phenomenology and naive realism.
I'll try to pick up on this, when I do a write up on the chapter on "pañña".
Dinsdale wrote:
Thu Oct 10, 2019 10:53 am
Is it that the former approach deals exclusively with sense-objects, while the latter approach assumes those objects represent real things "out there"?
Something like that?
Something like that, except that you speak of "sense-objects" and by framing it that way, you're assuming a legitimate bifurcation between that "object" and a "subject" (i.e. you). If you challenge that assumption, you might see that there are merely phenomena arising and passing away. IMO, this is what it means to see all things as "not self, not I, not mine". If that assumption is not challenged and overcome, I don't see how you would ever see that sutta-defined reality, rather than just as an article of faith.

Metta,
Paul. :)
Sure, though sense-objects are actually phenomena, and phenomenology isn't the same as non-duality.

So we have phenomena v. noumena, idealism v. realism, duality v. non-duality, and so on. Its a philosophical soup, seasoned with some Buddhist practice.

Anyway, no worries, it's interesting stuff and I look forward to hearing more.
Buddha save me from new-agers!

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Re: Bhikkhu Akiñcano - "With the Right Understanding" (Phenomenological Explorations of the Pāli Suttas)

Post by Dinsdale » Fri Oct 11, 2019 10:12 am

chownah wrote:
Fri Oct 11, 2019 2:44 am
Dinsdale wrote:
Thu Oct 10, 2019 10:53 am
I'm trying to understand the practical distinction between phenomenology and naive realism.

Is it that the former approach deals exclusively with sense-objects, while the latter approach assumes those objects represent real things "out there"?
Something like that?
I think the difference is that with the phenomenologist approach to the dhamma any relationship between the phenomena arising at the individual and any existing "objects out there" is considered irrelevant. For example: To say that the buddhist phenomenologist deals exclusively with sense-objects is an idea which stems from naive realism in that it is based on "objects" while the buddhist phenomonemologist would analyze/understand "sense-objects" by trying to discern what/which phenomena give rise to the concept of "sense-object".....in other words for a buddhist pheneomenlogist there is phenomena which when viewed with ignorance gives rise to the false subject/object duality with its associated false self.

I think that many buddhist phenomenologist see that "objects out there" are unknowable except through whatever phenomena arises with respect to them....so....better to deal with what arises in experience (phenomena) than to go chasing after the unknowable and having done this they find that this approach is enough to attain the goal.
chownah
I think you're muddling up different ideas here. Sense-objects like sights and sounds ARE phenomena. The phenomenologist just works with these, and doesn't assume an underlying noumena, or essence.

This is a different subject from duality v. non-duality, which is described practically by the distinction between "sights" (objects) and "seeing" (activity).
Buddha save me from new-agers!

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