It is hard for most to see that while discussing Dhamma there are immediate conditions for insight: that even at this moment conditioned dhammas are arising. They think study and practice are somehow separate - this stems from strongly held self-view. WE think we have to do this or that before insight arises - not realising that there is nobody who can do anything, but that any moment can be understood if panna has been developed; while no moment can be understood(at the level of satipatthana) if there is an idea of 'me' seeing. Some want to have 'experience', they think Abhidhamma is intellectual, they want to know their own heart; but what is more real than nama and rupa that is arising now? What could be more useful than learning to see what is really there - fleeting, insignificant dhammas- nobody. As
And you replied:
Can I deduce from what you have written , that when someone seperates the pariyatti from the actual practice thinking that the former is a tool for the latter at another time and place, being a situation created by the mind, we are infact chasing our own projections?
This is part of what I meant. While it is true that listening to Abhidhamma is a condition for future direct insight, it is also true that it is pointing to this moment. When we are listening to Dhamma or discussing or reading the texts what cittas are present? Isn't there seeing and visible object, sound and hearing, bhavanga cittas.... It all points to understand the anattaness of dhammas that are arising now. These dhammas are arising right while listening or considering - now is the time to understand. However, if we listen without knowing that the whole Abhidhamma has one flavour- that of anatta- one can still believe "I am listening" or "the real understanding will come later when I do this or that" (whatever one thinks the real practice is). No rule that insight should arise now and yet if there is careful listening and right consideration then wisdom of some level must arise - couldn't stop it. I was in a car with Sarah and Jon and Sujin discussing Dhamma . Jon said he was a little tired to listen after flying into Bangkok the day before . However, I was keen and so (rudely) carried on the discussion. He had to listen and soon came in with some comments anyway. I think it all becomes seamless - listening, considering, any time; because by habit it becomes natural to learn , investigate, study,. And this is such a slow process though. Too, it is not a mathematical rule that we need so many moments of sati. It is view that is the danger. If understanding is developed by listening and considering then when there are moments of direct awareness the insight can go deeper . One can only know for oneself if there is more understanding than say a year ago. But it is sometimes hard to know the conditions that caused this. Do we listen with respect?
In the Atthasalini (translated as Expositor p14)
"the Bhikkhus who study the Abhidhamma experience infinite rapturous joy in reflecting..'The Teacher taught things mental and material, dividing them into various parts- things subtel and abstruse such as the aggregates sense organs, elements, controlling faculties, kamma and its results; and the distinction between mind and matter' The Thera Mahagatigamiyatissa ...was on the upper deck of a boat he looked at the great ocean...He thought to himslef which is more extraordinary - the ocean..or the basis of the method in the Patthana (last book of abhidhamma)The limits of the ocean became apparent but the limits of the universal patthana are not apparent. Abundant rapture arose in him as he reflected on the abstruse and subtle Dhamma and increasing insight he ..became established in arahantship"
When we read this we should know that there was direct insight into nama and rupa happening even during the time he was reflecting. We might think we have to get "my mind calm first" before understanding can come. But even the idea of a mind is a delusion let alone My mind. The theory shows one that nothing lasts even for a moment. here I am talikng about vipassana,. For sila, samatha or giving one can still have such self-view and perform these good deeds - but not for vipassana. The theory gives enough undertanding so that all states can be dissected. Dissected even while they are happening. All the khandas (aggregates), all the time are in a flux; there is nothing good about them. They are, as the Patisambhidhimagga says, a disease and alien, not self. Do we think calmness is good, better than agitation? They are both merely conditioned phenomena, they pass away instantly.
The Atthasalini, (triplets p451)defines "ignorant average man" as:
"owing to the absense of access to the Scriptures, and of the higher attainment of the path and fruition. For to whoever owing to the absense of learning by heart and deduction therefrom regarding the khandas(aggregates) elements(dhatus) sense-organs(ayatanas) the causal mode, the applications of mindfulness etc there is NO attainment of that learning which represses opinionativeness, nor any access, owing to the non-attainment of what should be attained by conduct. Such a person, from the absense of such access and such attainment should be known as ignorant"
There is no self - that is the illusion formed by the rapid change and the different elements doing their functions. It is like a movie - merely different frames joined together and giving the appearance of life.And yet, like a movie we get so engrossed in the 'story of my life'. None of the elements, the different cetasikas and cittas and rupas have any idea of wanting to do this or that. They are merely carrying out there function - which is to know, or to hear, or to see, or to crave and so many other elements with different functions.
There are levels of understanding both at the theoretical and experiential level. The theory assists undertsanding at the practical level and the practical makes the the theory clearer. Even when we are thinking there can be moments of direct understanding of the characteristics of different realities. Also when we are studying a Dhamma book there can be many moments when there is direct study of realities. This is an important question because we have to learn how to study realities directly otherwise our Dhamma study is merely theoretical. Sometimes we might think "there is no self" but still have no understanding. Thus even when we are reflecting or contemplating or whatever we call it we need to develop the ability to see below the surface and see the realities that are conditioning the thinking. It can be done and discussions like these perhaps help to encourage. And are we grateful for the understanding we have now? Whatever level is there only because of the compassion of the Buddha who developed the parami over 100,000 aeons and 4 unthinkably long periods of time. And too the sangha that kept the teachings pristine for these thousands of years - in Sri lanka, thailand, Burma, Cambodia.