Posts by Sukinderpal Narula
Posted 29 April 2006 - 08:42 AM
I think it is important not to confuse the nature of activities with our concepts about them. It may be that in the theoretical scheme of things that contemplating sutta is not a "practice," but in the ordinary sense of the word, it is. It is an activity, a task, with a specific purpose.
I think this is why we must differentiate and come to determine exactly what the reality is and what we mean by them in the conventional sense. I don't think we can rely on the latter, since it is based on the idea of `self', `situations' and `activity', none of which have any ultimate status and all of which are infused with our personal and distorted understandings.
That is how I would define practice. In a sense, I think you are confusing two different meanings of the same word, one a technical term in the Buddhist path, distinguishing between intellectual study and the accomplishment or presence of full mindfulness, which you are calling the "practice;" and the ordinary sense in which "practice" merely means a directed activity. Surely, in that sense, both intellectual study of sutta and meditation are "practices."
Whatever it means by `practice' in the conventional sense, and how we ever create situations out of our experience through the six doorways, through ignorance or through panna, in the end if we are to come to appreciate the Buddha's teachings, we must be able to determine what behind all this, the `ultimate realities' are. I believe otherwise, we will not make any progress.
At the same time, you do have a valid point in that you are saying that meditation purports to grant direct insight, which pariyatti does not. You could say that pariyatti is a preliminary practice, while paripatti is the actual practice.
I think both pariyatti and patipatti must always go hand in hand. There must be I believe, moments of direct experience, though they may be too little to be noticed, otherwise I think, there cannot be the confidence in and to continue with pariyatti. [*Ken H. is this what you are referring to on another thread? I have always wondered about this, but never asked anyone.] So I don't think that pariyatti is preliminary and patipatti is the subsequent step, as in one following the other. I think we do have a tendency to draw lines and in the process take what is not real to be real, namely the conventional activities. Dhammas arise and fall by conditions, and none of us have directly seen enough of this to go beyond doubt that this is quite different from what we usually think. Attachment to our conventional view can only make it harder to appreciate this fact, I think.
This is why I wanted us to be clear from the very beginning what pariyatti is, and how it relates to patipatti. I wanted to show you in the last post, that `study' is not the matter of accumulation of words, but the `understanding' which is something that arises because of conditions and cannot be willed. Of course it does involve `words' on one level, whether this is apprehended through the eye door, the ear door or the mind. And each time there is any understanding, it is `verbalized' mentally. But note that this does not happen automatically when one reads or hears the teachings, it must depend on other conditions as well, the primary of which is the accumulated panna, from hearing and reflecting in the past.
In that sense, what is the preliminary practice prior to meditation, if meditation is the practice? What is the preparation, which would be the meditator's equivalent of pariyatti? I suppose it would also be the basic comprehension of sutta or appropriate scripture. And then putting it into practice through mindfulness meditation. In that sense the paths seem somewhat similar.
Again, I don't think that they should be compared. And just as it requires panna to `understand' the meaning of the words, it is panna which is involved in `patipatti'. No `self' can intend to have satipatthana, if conditions are right, it will happen. Just as one cannot will `understanding' while reading, listening or thinking over the words, similarly one cannot will satipatthana by `intending to apply'. Sati, just like panna, depends on conditions from past accumulations; `intention' is not one of the factors to condition it. Rather, the primary conditions would be, having heard about the Teachings in the past, particularly about the objects of sati, which is the paramattha dhammas. And because so much wrong view and other akusala have been accumulated from the past, that we need to be reminded again and again through pariyatti about realities and their conditioned nature. If we forget that sati and panna arises due to conditions other than intention, then wrong view will make us believe that we can `do' something to condition sati.
Rob, when you decide to "apply" the theory, how sure are you that at that instant, that there is panna which makes the decision? If you agree that it is not panna, then what is the reality of the moment? Is it kusala, or is it desire? And if it is the latter, then by what miracle do you think that satipatthana can ever be conditioned to arise later on, except probably, a highly developed panna accumulated from the past. In which case I think, it would realize the futility of deliberate practice, because it would at that time see that conditions other than the sitting, caused it to arise. And once this happens, you will also see that the so called sati apparent during formal practice is not in fact satipatthana as taught by the Buddha, the characteristic being quite different.
I am still confused however, if paripatti is your equivalent of meditation in our comparison, what exactly does paripatti entail as a practice? If one does not meditate, what exactly is the practice of satipatthana? I suppose it is the discernment of arising moments of everyday life, which to me is basically the same thing as meditation, except that you have the stipulation that one must not do it as a specific purposeful practice, as one does in meditation.
And everyday life may include `sitting', if that is our normal activity! However, we can't decide to `discern the arising moments in daily life' any more than we can do it during `formal sitting'. The main problem is `wrong view', and this can believe that there is a `self' who can apply either in `normal everyday activity' or `formal sitting' or even this very moment "now". This is the `self' which Sarah and others so often talk about, and is not bringing in a dualistic category, but is a reality of the moment, in this case `lobha mula citta accompanied by wrong view'. But this too is confusing: If one practices mindfulness as a stage following pariyatti, then it seems like it really is a purposeful practice to gain the result of full mindfulness of the object, and so it is just as intentional as meditation. And the distinction seems even more artificial when you imagine that the only real difference between paripatti and meditation is that the meditator is "assuming a sitting position," while the practitioner of paripatti practices his "meditation" wherever and under whatever conditions happen to arise. Surely, the physical positioning of the practitioner cannot create such a great theoretical rift?
I hope you now understand that the core matter is Right / Wrong View. Sitting and not sitting is just side issues, though reflective of this primary one. And this is why on DSG so much emphasis is on Rt. View.
Even more confusing is the fact that every meditation practice includes both walking meditation, and the admonition that the practice of mindfulness should be extended into a 24-hour a day operation, where one is always conscious of both the breath and whatever is arising for consciousness. In many ways, both paths seem to come around to the same place by a different route.
Why the `breath' when we know that we have so much ignorance and wrong view regarding it? Why would any serious practitioner want to give importance to that which only conditions more akusala? Anything at all that we as worldlings give special importance to, that becomes immediately an object of clinging. And no matter how we rationalize about `breath' being neutral and so on, the clinging is there and becomes in fact, an object of `wrong view' when associated with right practice.
So what exactly does patipatti entail? And if it is indeed a practice, how is this not a "doing" with a doer involved? I am sincerely interested in the answer to this.
Any moment of satipatthana is a moment of patipatti. So, just as one cannot will satipatthana because it will arise when the conditions are right, there is no one who `practices'.
To me all of the above is "the practice." Now if one is *not* discerning, but hallucinating, and going down an akusala path without knowing it, well, that's a big problem. But I would like to know, Sukin, how is one to know this anyway, if one does not trust his own sense of whether detachment, insight, clarity of discernment, etc. are developing? Who do you trust to tell you you are seeing the real moment arising, if you yourself are not training your own citta to do this? I think without development of faith in one's own evaluation of what is occurring on the path, the path must be lost.
Sanna, citta and ditthi vipallasa is the norm for most of us. We may believe that a certain characteristic trait qualifies as `hallucination' etc. However anytime there is attachment to result which motivates a measuring of one's progress along the path, and involving hindsight, how can we be certain that we are not hallucinating? I don't put much faith in my own evaluation based on the past, but there are moments of faith based on understanding the meaning of the Buddha's teachings and what can be verified in the moment.
Posted 03 May 2006 - 06:49 AM
Hi Robert and All,
Some thoughts I would like to express.
It is worrying that some who study even Abhidhamma do not connect it with satipatthana. But Abhidhamma is purely what is real - how can we separate this subject from the direct study of dhammas? Pariyatti should be intimately connected to pattipatti.
I think this is very important to understand. The mental factor involved in pariyatti is the same as that which is involved in patipatti, i.e. panna, only the difference is that in the former the object is a `concept' about dhammas, and the latter has as its object the actual characteristics of those same dhammas. Both must go hand in hand, especially when sati and panna have not been developed to the level of becoming bala. And even then it is not a question of choosing to do away with `theory' and to get on with the practice, but I believe to be a matter of understanding thoroughly the difference and knowing that only the direct penetration of realities can lead to liberation. And this comes not through reasoning, we all can and do this, but often wrongly believe that the `self' can then just `practice'. Panna which has been developed, initially from `intellectual understanding' and subsequently through much experience of satipatthana, needs no convincing about the relevance of knowing realities. It just knows which way to go.
On the other hand if we do not accept this fact of the relationship between pariyatti and patipatti, it leads to devaluing study and to control and promotion of the idea of `self' needing to be practical and so on. If we really understand what pariyatti is, then in fact there is no need to worry about practice. The moment of intellectual understanding itself, if in fact known, will be seen as being kusala and involving a level of sati. Besides, knowing the value of satipatthana is pariyatti, without which would we even consider developing it? So why so little appreciation of pariyatti?
But of course, this must be seen and one can't expect to convince a person who thinks that pariyatti is `theory' as in the accumulation of information, to come to this conclusion by reasoning alone. The correct intellectual understanding must point to the relevance of understanding the present moment. It is I think a consequent of wrong conceptual understanding that ideas about time, place, and activity are created. And also such ideas which then is used to justify developing the individual factors of the eightfold Path, such as the need to have a concentrated mind, to exert, to have calm or develop the jhanas is I believe, from not knowing intellectually, the nature of dhammas. It seems so obvious that whatever we do, we are following the Buddha's teachings, only in so far that there is any level of panna in the present moment. And at a moment of satipatthana, all the factors necessary to be developed are being so. Howard often talks about starting from `where we are'. I believe where we all are most of the time with respect to the Teachings, is `conceptual' knowledge of it. When we hear about the great and the
lesser disciples of the Buddha and about their renunciations, efforts and so on, we can appreciate their level of understanding and accumulations, with *our own* level of understanding, which again would be only at the level of pariyatti. The same with when hearing about difficult concepts such as the Paticcasamuppada. I believe it is wrong to grasp at understanding dependent origination and consequently risk fooling oneself into thinking that one has a good understanding when even nama and rupa has not been known. Likewise to imitate the outward behavior of the enlightened based on one's level of understanding, is placing oneself to be fooled by the illusion of result. It is good enough for example, that we appreciate the value of the life of the monk, but do we really understand it correctly to know that we don't have the understanding enough to lead such a life? As you said about `kusala thinking', even this is good enough for now. In fact whatever is conditioned to arise in the moment, that is the *best* we can do (conventionally speaking)! Why then be fooled into thinking that we can and must do something else (supposedly `better')? It is more valuable to know the present moment that to be drawn into any ensuing attractive story even if it is about enlightenment.
Lastly, I believe if there is right intellectual understanding, informed by any experience of satipatthana, one will so understand the *conditioned* nature of dhammas, that then the Teachings would be seen as descriptive rather than prescriptive.
Posted 10 May 2006 - 06:32 AM
What I was questioning was about the kind of `attention'. Now I have another matter to point out, namely the accuracy of our assessment concerning the relationship between what we `think' we do i.e. practice, and what we `think' is the outcome of that. I think all this involves a lot of thinking with little consideration about the complexity of conditions. There is danger that sanna and citta vipallasa is involved, and worse still, when this concerns any `measuring' of progress, then the vancaka (cheating) dhammas will likely come into play. Satipatthana is a very high level of panna and this is accompanied by a good level of detachment. Being more aware of what we are doing, as in washing the dishes or registering more of what is going on, seem to be with attachment to "things" and/or the idea of `doing' it. After any sense impression, there is thinking. And it is a matter of many, many mind door processes that we come to recognize, and much more so when this then conditions bodily action. Of course satipatthana can arise in between all these processes and take any nama or rupa as object. And this can even be in the middle of what we call being `self-absorbed'.
According to your theory it seems that satipatthana should condition more awareness of `objects' out there. But those objects are a product of thinking rooted in anything but panna. Some people have the habit of noting all the details in their surroundings, even without having heard the Teachings. Others may have developed the habit of thinking obsessively about all sorts of things. In either case the correct development of panna does not mean that these habit change in any significant way. The one who is generally observant does not become `more' observant (which is in fact `thinking' anyway), the one who thinks a lot does not now start to be more aware of his surroundings. What does happen is that one understands one's accumulations more and is less concerned about trying to be `different'. One is detached from whatever has already been conditioned to arise, in the beginning this will be mostly in the form of `thinking' about what has just arisen. If anything, I think this is a mark of the correct development of sati and panna. How can one change something that has already arisen and why should one presume to know what will arise in the future.
What is the use of studying the Buddha's Teachings if there is no development of understanding? What is sati if there is no panna which "understands" at least some aspect of the experience? Sati arises with all levels of kusala and if the moment is not Dana, Sila or Samatha Bhavana, then it had better be accompanying a moment of Right understanding. Is what you describe the latter? It does not sound like such to me.
Yet there can be panna, if not at the level of direct understanding of a paramattha dhamma, a level which is either Suttamaya or Cintamaya. I think we should not be too eager to "directly experience" i.e. bhavanamaya panna, but accept that ours will mostly be at the two lower level. It is better to know how much we really understand and accept it. It is a great mistake in my opinion, to identify with a conventional practice and call that the development of satipatthana when in fact it is something else altogether. We are guided by what we know or think we know, and if the understanding is wrong, then the wrong path will be followed.
Of course it all starts with pariyatti, i.e. the correct intellectual understanding. So indeed this is not really about what constitutes correct practice. Correct intellectual understanding will condition a correct attitude towards what is patipatti. Therefore for someone who misunderstands practice it means that he has understood the theory wrongly. All three levels of understanding namely, pariyatti, patipatti and pativedha must agree completely. There must be no contradictions. Some seem not to want to believe the Buddha, like Thanissaro who can't get away from self-view and therefore has to change the meaning of Anatta. This and arguments such as those about free will are nothing but an attempt at justifying what one wants to "do", e.g. formal practice.
There is so much fear of not being able to control the outcome of events and there is so much greed for results. With the amount of ignorance and attachment all talk about liberation is just that, "talk"! If we really saw the danger of akusala, i.e. lobha, dosa, mana, macchariya, issa and so on, and if on coming upon the Buddha's Teachings we realize the danger of avijja and miccha ditthi, then I am quite sure that progressively both sati and panna at whatever corresponding level it be, will be directed increasingly towards this *present* dhamma. And this *would* involve "cetana" performing its function. But the leader must be "panna", because without it, ignorance will control matters, including any "ideas" about intentions to practice and be liberated.
Understanding that there are only conditions behind every thought about `doing' or `not doing', can condition seeing the importance of knowing this very present dhamma. And this at the same time would be both, cetana towards knowing what has arisen and also *not* a `waiting for conditions' attitude. Giving panna prime importance is not making cetana a second-class citizen. And it may be an example of chanda in action as against lobha, to know that there is generally so much ignorance and seeing hence, the importance of developing panna. We are so ignorant of our cittas that we don't know what the cetana is rooted in. In `thinking' about taking action to `do' good or `do' satipatthana, most of us are taken in by the "story" where it *seems* to us that it is kusala intention, but may in fact not be so. Any story centered on self projected into the future does not sound like kusala to me.
If anything is to be known, then it is the present dhamma and not some other. If we do not recognize lobha at the root of our thinking, then we will continuously be lead by it. And being students of Dhamma, this lobha will often be hidden from sight by Dhamma ideals. And who can argue with idealism. ;-)
This is a long post and has in fact taken me two days to finish. Please don't feel obliged to respond.
Posted 21 May 2006 - 12:21 PM
No 'Buddhist'. The Buddha's Teachings is for anyone, anywhere to understand if they can. And this can be much or little, so I wouldn't know, nor need to label anyone Buddhist. Whether or not those of us who study the Dhamma *know* suffering, I think you have an idea already. However knowing it at the level I do, I don't think that outside the Buddha's Teachings, there are any descriptions of Suffering which coincide with Dukkha of the 4NT. The concept of Suffering outside of Dhamma does not lead to direct realization of Dukkha in any form.
Well, I disagree. And I think that the various reasonings that some Buddhists have about anyone that shows any understanding of reality "must have heard the Dhamma in a previous life" are immature and tribal.Ss:
Well, you are probably taking such statements in isolation. You surely must have heard us talk extensively about the endless cycle of birth and death, about accumulated kamma, about accumulated views, accumulated talents and inclinations. All this points to the same principle of citta accumulating from moment to moment whatever the experience, and the understanding that at anytime any set of conditions could trigger any of these accumulated tendencies by way of natural decisive support condition, to arise.
It is with this same kind of understanding that the above statement is sometimes made.
I wonder what you use to judge this as being `immature and tribal'. The latter is an expression of strong self view, are you saying that the above stems from this kind of identifying?
The 4 NTs are Ariyan Truths, whereas other religions are teachings of 'worldlings'.
Good! Buddhism as religion is as devoid of understanding the 4NT as any other religion whose main purpose is, in the words of those famous philosophers, the BeeGees, "ah ah ah ah staying alive staying alive".
The reference to "Ariyan" Truth is about "Truth *enlightened* to" and subsequently taught about to everyone else. It is not saying that only an Ariyan will understand the Teachings. The rest of us will understand it at the level we are capable of, starting with intellectual right understanding, and some would even become enlightened instantly.
In the case of the famous philosophers such as, Bee Gees, Jim Morrison and Plato, what they teach is from unenlightened experiences, and so those who follow them will only go further down into the realm of wrong view.
or intellectual analyses even by a team of the best minds taking the best part out of it, can anything close to Dhamma come out. If indeed there has been any plagiarism, sooner or later contradictions will emerge.
I don't think I need to point to the enormous diversity of views that come under the "Buddhist" umbrella. I am not trying to divide and conquer. But assumptions of unity of Buddhist view are ill-founded. Right Understanding can only be considered to have been in place when the goal is reached.
And I don't think that I need to tell you that I'd be happy to not be associated with those other Buddhists. And now I have narrowed down your target, but does that make it easier for you or harder? To reach any goal one must start the journey at some point. And obviously not everyone will reach their projected goal, only those who are facing the right direction. And it is a reference to this that "right understanding" is often used by some of us. It is "right" by virtue of being the right beginning steps.
Also in the case of one who has heard the Dhamma, this understanding is not got from intellectually breaking down the concept of 'self' into component parts, such as, this is feeling, this is perception; this is form and so on.
I think the understanding comes from the 'application' on to the experience, "NOW".
That makes sense to me. But if I understand the views of the dsg core correctly, this application must conform to certain rigourous requirements. It is not allowed to be accompanied by any knowing that it is going to be applied, because then it wouldn't be anatta anymore. Is that right?
It would be just a reaction to a `thought' and not the perception of any arisen `reality'.
That is when it begins to develop. If there is any idea about another place and time for 'observing', then it is not happening. And by the time we do make any observation, it will only be a story *about* impersonal phenomena and not about anatta and conditionality.
I believe, that it is this kind of application which is the precursor to direct experience, even if this would then still be far from direct experience of the three characteristics, hence truly understanding anatta.
I understand what you are saying. But I see a major difference between an idea of another time and place of observation, and reading and writing and studying. The first is quite natural and unforced, the other is totally unnatural and very forced. The idea that there is the possibility of progression from the unnatural and forced intellectual digestion of concepts to an understandlingless understanding of anatta is without foundation in reality, IMHO.
I have just the opposite perception. We in this day and age have developed the habit of seeking knowledge from books and discussions. But more importantly, it makes perfect sense that, as one who is sincerely seeking answers, one `lends ear' to words of the wise, and never be too conceited to think that we have had enough of it. Besides, I see no other activity more worthwhile than discussions with wise friends, as being opportunity for one's views to be aired and challenged.
On the other hand, any idea of a particular time, place and posture is something we have acquired through reading about them. We then seek to "follow" the idea, blindly or reasoned and considered. This seems more unnatural to me!
Suk: Are you saying that since I understand all this only at the intellectual level, that I am not qualified to prove other religions wrong?
Proving things wrong sounds like an intellectual exercise to me. I'm thinking that if there was a twinkle of experiential understanding, there would be a recognition in conversation with others of any persuasion, that they too have a twinkle of experiential understanding when that is apparent.
Yes, no need to try to prove anything right or wrong. Regarding experiential understanding, I think a difference is made when for example there is knowing moments with sati from those without. And though this makes a substantial difference to one's confidence and understanding about the practice, we would be expressing ourselves more or less the same as before with regard to everything else. I think we would be deluding ourselves if we thought that we had anything much more than "experience of ideas".
Talking then about `twinkle of experiential understanding', I find myself for example, agreeing with almost everything Sarah, Jon, Nina, Rob K, Ken H and Phil amongst others say, whereas very little with the rest of the others, `you know who all'.
And besides, I used to have the same feeling of agreement when reading for example the Tao Teh Ching, but not anymore. So really, we can't be so sure can we?
The greatest tribute you can pay to the Buddha is to realise what he says. But if you say to him, before I can realise what you are saying I have to study the Abhidhamma and what Buddhagosa has to say about it, you are not paying him much of a compliment. More like an insult, if he was sensitive.
He would know exactly how best to express his understandings to me. And who knows, this might even turn out to be quite like the way it is in the Abhidhamma and commentaries.
I think the reliance on these is admitting to one's inability to gain a similar understanding from reading the Suttas without guidance and help. It is in fact admitting at the same time, that one's level of understanding is way, way below those who were the Buddha's direct audience and to the fact that the Dhamma the Buddha enlightened to, is deep and very hard to comprehend.
The best help of course would have been the Buddha himself expressing words most suited to us. However, in the absence of this, we then look up to those disciples of his who are more informed and who seem to have taken into account a more general audience. Either way, in the end it is still the Buddha who gets all the credit. Unless of course, one insists on looking at the matter from the perspective you have.
It is also possible if you note, to come up with a reasoning that sees the disregard of the commentaries as reflection of not giving enough credit to the Buddha!
It makes sense to me that out of all the experiences, the sense door experiences of seeing, hearing etc. and Birth and Death are *results* of something. And of all the possible candidates for the *cause* of these, "intention" is the one that stands out. This I believe, is another great discovery by the Buddha, and is far superior to the Hindu and Jain understanding of the same.
Again, this points to the experience "now" and therefore any religion or philosophy which does not teach this, cannot be said to know anatta, conditionality or the 4 NT.
I have mentioned before the saying "As you sow, so shall you reap". Do you want a commentary on that one too?
No need. But I have explained elsewhere, that such conclusions do not necessarily reflect knowledge of dhammas to which cause-effect actually applies. Anyone who has an idea of valuing one thing over another, will have to consider the causes and conditions whereby the one might be encouraged and the other not.
And I believe that conventional reality provides hints and intimations of what does in fact happen at the paramattha level and so any keen observer can see some relations there.
The problem is, not understanding conventional reality to be just that, but instead taking it to be real and spinning theories about it to all possible directions, including ones that lead up to the idea of `GOD'.
You mean to say that if I was told that 23,472 people in the last hundred years got enlightened from studying the Abhidhamma, "saddha" would arise, and that I would then follow and begin to "understand" the
Why do you think the people had confidence in the Buddha? Was it because they had no expectations, and he promised them nothing, and they got nowhere and therefore he was right?
The Buddha's own presence has a great but different effect on one's Saddha. I doubt though that he would have attempted to inspire by giving figures.
Even if I were to meet 500 arahattas who I *truly* believed to have been enlightened, in the end it would still be any steps that I would have taken. These steps are taken ultimately by panna as leader of other dhammas. And with every step taken, Saddha also deepens.
How about confidence in this, because it was borne out everywhere you cared to look?
"Indeed, bhikkhus, whosoever practises these four satipatthanas in this manner for seven years, one of two results is to be expected in him: Arahatship in this very existence, or if there yet be any trace of clinging, the state of an Anagami.
Let alone seven years, bhikkhus, whosoever practises these four satipatthanas in this manner for six years, five years, four years, three years, two years, or one year.
Let alone one year, bhikkhus, whosoever practises these four satipatthanas in this manner for seven months, one of two results is to be expected in him: Arahatship in this very existence, or if there yet be any trace of clinging, the state of an Anagami.
Let alone seven months, bhikkhus, whosoever practises these four satipatthanas in this manner for six months, five months, four months, three months, two months, one month, or half a month.
Let alone half a month, bhikkhus, whosoever practises these four satipatthanas in this manner for seven days, one of two results is to be expected in him: Arahatship in this very existence or if there yet be any trace of clinging, the state of an Anagami."
If you are inclined to reply to this with the standard line about accumulations, please don't harm yourself and just refrain from doing so.
Why? `Accumulation' is too vague and abstract? In the end it boils down to causes and conditions. And if you agree about the anattaness of dhammas, that one can't make sati arise by will, then why not read the above sutta as descriptive of where and when such conditions may arise? Why must you insist on its universal application in termsof "persons performing particular set of conventional actions" and any intention associated? Is it because you believe in some great power in "willing"? Is it because you refuse to accept that the Buddha's
teachings is not limited to this *one* lifetime, for else what use is it? I am not asking for answers of course, so please don't feel obliged to reply.
Posted 23 July 2006 - 09:44 AM
Hi Rob Epstein,
Whew!! Finally finished reading your looong post. Sorry about yesterday, wasn't a good day for me. I always like reading your thoughts even if I don't fully agree, you consider from many angles.
Hope you don't mind me not quoting you in the full, since its such
a long post I'm replying to. Also I changing the name of the subject: importance to 'activity' will I feel lead to some form of silabbataparamasa or the other.
Robert: Unfortunately do not know this term. But I am impressed by how long it is. If you can translate I would appreciate it.
Sukin: Silabbataparamasa is "wrong practise", meaning anything we do with the view that doing such things will lead to understanding.
Robert: I feel that the idea of developing kusala 'naturally' is itself an intention imposed on the 'naturalness' of the arising moments, and I would be interested to see how you can get a 'natural' development out of such a situation.
Sukin: Vipaka arises all through life and we cannot know, less predict when which kamma will bear fruit as sense impressions through which doorway. Our accumulated kilesas will condition the subsequent moments and we will be accumulating more akusala. Sometimes however kusala can arise because conditions for it has arisen. Whether sati and panna will arise at any moment is beyond anyones control, so there is no *trying* to be natural. There will be understanding or there will not, as simple as that. Surely intention is there, but there is no seeking out already fallen states or unarisen ones. Nor trying to 'be' more attentive.
Robert: How can we possibly factor in the.........activities and efforts is barking up the wrong tree.
Sukin: Surely every individual factor comprising a moment of citta, including the arammana influences the type and quality of the citta. A citta conditioned by sati and panna and other beautiful cetasikas will be quite different from a citta conditioned by lobha and a desire to 'catch' and know the moment. The former will accomplish its function to understand, the latter will defeat its own purpose.
Robert: Instead we should follow our true intention ........ most effectively follow the path.
Sukin: Do you think, once you have found the path best suited to you, your sincere intentions to follow that path will carry you through? So is it only the question of finding your path and following it to the end?
Robert: If there were only one answer to this question, ....... false starts and layers of delusion, even for those who follow the dhamma as closely as they know how.
Sukin: I agree, trying out different methods must be quite stressful, but I don't think the difficulty of the path is due to these diversions. The difficulty is in our deeply conditioned, faulty way of viewing reality, made harder by our continual accumulation of ignorance.
Robert: To start with, there is more than one approach to Buddhism,
Sukin: Buddhism as we know it, not as the Buddha taught. Or do you think that the Mahayana teachings are the actual word of the Buddha?
Robert: The Mahayana school says that theTheravadan school is the lesser vehicle for those of ordinary capacities. The Vajrayana-Tibetan school says that both the other schools in their ordinary practices are limited.
Sukin: This might interest you Rob, I have become pro Theravada less than two years ago. Before that I read some Mahayana and a little bit about what Vajrayana was, I never questioned their assertions about them being progressively superior to Theravada. I believed their arguments. Interestingly at one point a couple of months ago, I was reminded about vajrayana, about how they teach about seeing no difference between Nirvana and Samsara, and that their aim is to view any and every event without choice and as equally enlightening. I compared this to K. Sujin's attitude towards the teachings and I saw that she encourages the same thing without having to go through all the hassles that the other practice puts forward as a pre-condition. And I dare say, more simply and affectively.
Robert: Meanwhile the Buddha......Yet the debates go on, because we are in samsara.
Sukin: Yes, debating is pointless I think.
Robert: The concept 'Abhidhamma', .........of the mind and perception [namas and rupas].
Sukin: I agree.
Robert: In my opinion, one can use these sorts of things as a barometer of progress. If the Buddha talks about feelings and realizations that mark progress on the path, we can look to these things.
Sukin: Personally I don't find it useful to measure my or anyone else's progress, not knowing how to do it without giving importance to 'self' ;-).
Robert: If we cannot use something .......So we have to develop some sort of real observation of what is happening in our consciousness, even if it is very slow.
Sukin: I think it isn't necessary, just keep on studying and applying the teachings in an unforced manner.
Robert: There have been some strong moments of clearly seeing .....me shows a general trend towards progress on the path.
Sukin: Good, but is it worth clinging to?:-)
Robert: Shouldn't we keep track of .....taking an outside source as the measure, and we will never reach the independence necessary to be able to discern with surety.
Sukin: I think only when we have discerned the rise and fall of nama and rupa, knowing clearly the distinction between the two, as a sotapanna has, can we really know for sure that what the Buddha taught is all true and only then will we really be independent and no more need outside confirmation.
Robert: I think this is different than the general practices ...... Isn't there some intention in that decision? Sure there is.
Sukin: Intention is in every citta, it arises and falls with it and it takes on the quality of the citta, being with or without sati and panna. And I definitely do not believe that practices of other religions, such as yoga, can lead to sati and panna.
Robert: Well, I understand your point of view, but I don't think you can really know that, can you? How would you know whether it does or not. Kusala was and is recognized by all other religions and I do believe that some level of kusala can be developed by performing activities such as yoga and tai chi, but not sati and panna.
Robert: This seems to be an assumption on your part unless you have some other knowledge that this is the case.
Sukin: I use sati here for sati of the level of satipatthana, which means having a reality as object. I do not think other practices can lead to actually percieving elementary realities. It is an assumption and will remain so until I actually tread the path to its fruition, meanwhile it is based on rational thinking and faith in the Buddha's teachings. The kusala they all encourage is with some sense and form of self or the other.
Robert: With respect, this is not only true ...... Ramana Maharshi and Nisargardatta in Advaita Vedanta, whom I believe thoroughly realized anatta through and through. It is so indicated in both their lives and their conversations.
Sukin: It is hard for me at this point to give a reasonable( I have to think more ) argument to support my claim. But hope you don't mind my pointing out that Nisargardatta either was a chain smoker or sold cigarettes as a living. Do you think that an enlightened person could do that? Would you choose to? A sotapanna could never do such. Besides people like the two you mentioned above, did believe in a great 'SELF' a 'THAT' no? They have no idea of anatta, or even anicca.
I would disagree. While anatta is the clear realization of the Buddha, others have come to see anatta in their own terms. I think it is a realization waiting to be discovered, not an invention of the Buddha.
Sukin: Nobody has ever said that the Buddha invented anything, he didn't even invent buddhism;-). Anatta can be discovered, but by Buddhas only and i doubt there has been a Paceka Buddha even, in this past 2500 years.
Robert: I don't think this is true in the case of great sages of Hinduism......cases are realized within other forms of practice and terminologies.
Sukin: Hope you don't mind that I do not want to make any comments here.
Robert: The Buddha did not originate the non-conceptual realization of impermanence. It is a standard in Hindu meditation.
Sukin: Are you sure that they know that consciousness is an element, rising momentarily conditioning the next moment on and on? If not how can they see rise and fall of individual cittas? It would surprise me greatly if you brought out some proof.
Robert: For instance, Nisargardatta states that the self is not an entity but is just a conceptual object of consciousness.
Sukin: Yes perhaps( never read him) but wasn't he in this case trying to point out that the small individual 'self' is non existent, only to show that the 'real' self was the "SELF"? The Buddha was equally perfect in wisdom the first moment he attained enlightenment till the moment before he attained parinibbana. The wisdom of the arahants all combined do not equal to a small part of the Buddhas.
Robert: I don't say you are wrong, but I would challenge whether you actually know this to be the case. What's the evidence for this?
Sukin: Just that to be a Perfectly Enlightened Buddha means that all the qualities have been developed and accumulated to 100%. Wisdom cannot be added and improved upon by sucessive generations.
Robert: Another disagreement. This is to set the Buddha's words in stone, rather than to reinvigorate them with our understanding in each generation. That which is set in stone becomes remote and static in my opinion. It must be put into practice in each of us by making it our own.
I think every buddhist knows that his religion is a practical religion not just a set of doctrines. By my statement above I meant that the original teacher's insights can only be taken as a guide, but can never be re examined and corrected and improved upon by its followers. Later generations can only adulterate the teachings. A system of practice like yoga which has been worked upon and changed through time can only result in getting people cling to the superficial aspect of it.
Robert: I disagree strongly. ...... This does not change the nature of yoga.
Sukin: Sorry I made the wrong assumption, I based my conclusion on the variety of yoga books available in the market. My conclusion thus is, such practices not only do not help in buddhist practise, but if seen instead as being a support, can be extremely detrimental to development of panna.
Robert: I think this is just an opinion here, ....... Buddhism can be useful.
Sukin: Satipatthana is the *only* way.
Robert: Well, that is like me saying 'meditation is the only way.' .......and so many different factors to be developed.
Sukin: Satipatthana means to be mindful of 'realities'. It can happen under whatever circumstance, even when one is meditating, only that it would be harder to come by if one thinks that one has to do certain activities (like meditation) in order that it will arise. It is the only 'way' to enlightenment but not in the sense that it is a programme or something. From this point of view, it can be reached from as many number of directions as there are beings practising it.
Robert: All of our activities are intentional, .......of Abhidhamma teaching that is an intentional practice. There is nothing natural about it. It is a guided activity within a conceptual framework.
Robert: To not acknowledge this is very dangerous as it tends.....amazing honesty and attention to release one's own view and be in the presence of the naked moment.
Sukin: Yes, and knowing that at the moment it arises frees us from this tendency. But what about moments of seeing, hearing etc., do we doubt those moments? Aren't these moments real? even if our sati and panna is not sharp enough to perceive them as just elements. We can in any case know the individual characteristics that are apparent eventhough clouded by the 'I' experiencing it.
Robert: Having a view that one way is right and the other is wrong does not aid this endeavor, in fact it prejudices it and makes it even more difficult to see what is really happening when *all* views are seen as merely views and the moment itself is allowed to deliver its true nature directly to consciousness without concepts in the way.
Sukin: But even views arise and fall don't they? Its not like it is going to be there all the time, no? Otherwise we will have to get rid of all akusala before we can develop panna.
Robert: That's one way of looking at it. A less complex way of looking at it would be to say that it is all 'merely taking place'. .... one drawn from philosophy.
Sukin: I was drawing you attention to the complexity and hence impossibility of pinpointing any particular activity as being a direct cause for sati and panna to arise.
Robert: Well, I do know that focussing on an object causes more focussed attention. A simple fact. Is that a good thing?
Sukin: I think its better than watching TV and playing video games as I do.;-)
Robert: Jon gave a decent ..... Frankly, I think it's a grave error to think one must or should stick to naturally discerning everyday realities while shying away from a real practice in which mindfulness is highlighted, and by which the work with everyday realities would be greatly enhanced.
Sukin: I would say that if practising Jhana was something you did as a daily thing before hearing about buddhism, then I would advise you to take tips and advice from the Tipitaka as to how to best do it. But ifyou have heard about jhana only after encountering buddhism and have the idea that jhana somehow can be used as a tool for developing sati, then I think you are wrong.
Robert: Can anyone else? Yes or no, depending on whether they do or not. Why be particularly prejudiced against a great meditation teacher? ........ They are both teaching about ways of applying the Dhamma, both legitimate ways of doing so. But because of philosophical predispositions you can only accept the usefulness of one and not the other. I see this as a form of prejudice.
Sukin: One is telling you about the way things are in general. About how development takes place, the right and wrong paths etc., leaving the rest for conditions to arise when you may be able to recognize them. The other proposes a pattern of behavior and agenda to follow and there are inevitably expectations connected to this.
Robert: Have you examined it, and found that it is really true? Or is it an idea you have developed from your affiliation with a school of thought?
Sukin: Thanks, I often think of this. I can never be perfectly sure, but nothing else is more appealing and makes more sense to me. Dead tired. Better rush to sleep now. I am not checking it so I expect some mistakes in this letter.
Posted 23 July 2006 - 09:50 AM
S: First of all let me express my thanks for taking part in this discussion with me. I find that left to myself the kilesas cause movement toward proliferation and/or rest in comfort the idea that there is good understanding of the Buddha's teachings and hence a tendency to be self-satisfied. Knowing that there are a lot of accumulated kilesas is not so much a result of recognizing them when they manifest through body, speech or mind, but mostly is a another form of self deception in which saying that I have them allows for some more moments of being lax. But this is my accumulations and there is no doubt that it is good to be reminded about it, discussion is one way in which this can happen. Regarding the correct interpretation of the Buddha's teachings, I hope both of us come to the correct understanding soon, life is too short and precious to be taking the wrong turn. Right or wrong let me now express my understandings a bit more. Sorry if I misunderstand your points, it is possible that I do not know the intended meaning, but you can correct me.
R: yes, but my point is that we do so with the hope that we will gain greater understanding, so we are certainly reading with intention to learn. you say that to do any activity thinking it will improve our understanding is wrong. I am it is not wrong, and that of course we have no choice but to do those activities which we think will improve our understanding, whether it be 'sutta study' or meditation'. You assume that sutta study is good, so you don't see the hope that this will improve understanding as being wrong, but it is no different than purposely meditating with the hope of increasing vipassana, etc.
S: But intellectual understanding is just intellectual understanding. It is not a practice aimed at direct understanding of realities. Direct understanding may happen or it may not, but there is no misunderstanding that intellectual knowledge is NOT the direct knowledge. In fact direct knowledge is a quantum leap away from the mere intellectual understanding.
R: well, for understanding I think there is value in seeing that there is no 'us' making things happen, but I think it is possible to wrongly draw the conclusion then that we shouldn't attempt to do anything. there is a difference between understanding anatta and giving up responsibility.
S: Responsibility is I think very relative and exists mostly as an idea in the conventional world. There is no responsibility even to "know oneself". Impersonal phenomenon have no idea of a thing to do or not to do, they just perform their functions. This does not mean that nothing is to be done, cittas and cetasikas do their jobs anyway. When I for example, listen to K. Sujin or read posts on dsg, I do not consider it a responsibility of any kind, yet what I do (conventionally speaking)give results either positive or negative depending on whether what I do is done with some degree of wisdom or not. Would an idea of responsibility have any bearing on the arising of sati and panna? I think not. In the conventional world I think about responsibility toward my family, but that is just an idea which gives me direction. Because there is no sati and panna which undersatnd the reality of the moment and because there are no conditions for metta and karuna to arise, there is a dependence on an idea.
R: well, what I see happening in life is that people take certain directions and they certainly wind up in a situation related to the circumstances they set up for themselves. It's not toally predictable, but if you are sailing and aiming for shore, you will have to tack against the wind and go various ways, but if you are skillful you wind up on the shore where you aimed. There is not 'control' but there is a gradual relationship between intention and result. There is an old Chinese saying, as I understand: "If you don't change your direction, you will probably wind up where you were headed."
S: Its not like we decide to sail west from the coast of Spain, and because we are consistant and determined in our quest we finally make it around the globe. Mara is always ahead of us, there are innumerable ways in which we can be deceived, remember the cheating dhammas and the near and far enemies? Having good friend to point out or simply reflect the various ways in which we are deceived is I think the only way.
R: well, I think an excellent meditation teacher can do the same thing. I still think you are prejudiced against meditation without a really good reason. I understand the point that it is a planned activity to get a certain result, but good meditation is not controlled to force a result. It is an activity of inquiry into the arising of consciousness and the working of mind.
S: Rising of consciousness, or the concept of the arising of the concept of consciousness? Or is there an understanding that one starts with what one is capable of understanding (ie. that it is all concept), and expect that one day somehow one will gradually wake up to the direct apprehension of realities? I doubt first of all, that most meditators realize that they are essentially experiencing only concepts. Otherwise they wouldn't be so happy so fast, thinking that they have made some progress. I think for many the attraction would be less if they realize that they were dealing with the "concept" of breath and that the idea of practice itself is a "story" they have been following.
R: yes, but hopefully with greater skill and discernment. It isn't good enough just to be mindful, but to have insight and develop wisdom.
S: Mindfulness, Sati of realities occur accompanied by panna and not without. So being mindful is to have wisdom accompanying.
R: Well, that's kind of my point of view, which is to employ some common sense, even though the common sense view of whether we are developing kusala or akusala may be wrong in a given moment, or even in a given period of time. Maybe negative kamma is coming out and it's a really horrific experience and so we think 'oh my God I am developing so much akusala I must be on the wrong track' when in reality something has opened up and akusala is getting worked out and kicked out of the system. Sometimes we experience things when they are 'on the way out', rather than 'on the way in'. But over time, the general feeling of whether things are more akusala, or more kusala, whether we are getting 'better' or 'worse', whether life seems 'lighter' or more 'burdened', I think gives a pretty accurate idea of whether we're on the right track or not.
S: A few days ago, a thought came up that scared me somewhat. One tendency of mine I recognized when I first joined dsg and heard about satipatthana, is that I like to explain my understandings to myself and philosophize about this and that. I behaved as if that was the way of understanding. That day I thought about the different "gurus" and spiritual teachers all over who manage to convince large crowds of people with beautiful explanations and I thought about how I do the same to myself. " Am I fooling myself, thinking I am doing just what needed to be done but could I instead be off track?". "How would I know if what I am doing is right?". I could say, " go study some more and find out what is the right path and what is not". But this would be 'hoping and wishing' no? And this I would qualify for "wrong practice". Doubts can arise, its just a dhamma. But trying to control dhamma, ie.,a reaction to akusala arisen and fallen away would be I think, be falling into the trap of silabattaparamasa. Panna can recognize the wrong path and only panna can lead us to the right one, but self 'reacts'. (It is my guess that the reactive self originates from the same source as the one which created the idea of progress in the first place.)
R: There are exceptions. I do think it is possible to do something like yoga with devotion, and yoga will just naturally make you feel physically better over time. This can mask what is really going on in a sense. A yogi can develop pride in the body, pride at his physical prowess, and grow attached to the physical well-being that comes from being flexible and strong. This doesn't mean someone shouldn't do yoga, but it does mean that some pleasant feelings and accomplishments can also create hindrances to non-attachment and realization of anatta and anicca. But one has to be conscious of all of these things, and not just make snap judgments about practices automatically being akusala either.
S: First of all I think yoga is good for physical health, I wish I could do it myself. But let me talk about scientists a little. I think a good scientist can be very non-attached and objective in his field of practice, even more so than a yoga teacher. Because science is based on reason and disinterested observation of 'scientific' reality. But any system, if it is not with theoretical "right understanding" of realities, ie., kamma / vippaka, anatta, anicca etc., will only lead to a reinforcement of 'self' and an idea of control.
R: I still don't see why there has to be any more attachment with a meditation or yoga practice than there is with a sutta or discernment practice. They all have intention, so one has to do them for their purpose and keep an eye on the attachment, pride, expectation, etc., that will be sure to be there. If one discerns these things as they arise, then they will be seen to be just as empty in the moment as any other object of discernment.
S: When I sit down to read or listen there can be attachment or not, but I know that it is only intellectual, different from direct understanding. If there is doubt whether I have understood correctly or not and I get all stressed up trying to grasp the meaning, it will still not be considered `wrong practice' since it is aimed only at intellectual understanding. But what is going on when I sit down to meditate, I have a preconceived idea that I know what to look for. This means comparing what I've learnt theoretically with what I am experiencing and hoping that one day I will experience just what the texts talk about, in the mean time precision will increase. But I do not think it works this way, we do not know how much avija is being accumulated realted to an activity we `intentionaly' do. Sati cannot arise to a person (concept), sitting down to meditate(concept) and watching the breath(concept). In a day there is so much unintentional boosting of `atta sanna' when we identify with me, I, myself, mine or simply think about body parts or objects here and there. How much more so would that happen with a planned activity concerning `my' body and mind projected onto the future?
R: It may tell us whether we are on the right track or not. Isn't that part of discernment? How can we be blissfully ignorant and hope that this will somehow aid our practice?
S: I may be blissfully unaware now as I write, but what happens when I'm reminded about mindfulness. If the conditions are right, there can be a moment of sati, otherwise I will remain unmindful. But what if I `try' to be mindful, can sati arise at will? If I don't have the intellectual knowledge about sati and concept, wouldn't "I" try to be mindful and then mistake what is not sati to be sati?
R: Measuring progress will condition an attempt to do something in relation to the result. *What will be that something to do?!* I don't have the feeling about *doing* things that you do. I think it's okay to have the intention to do something and get a certain result. I still think that making believe one doesn't have an intention has more danger that accepting the intention that is there and working with it to release expectation and sincerely go after the result proscribed by Buddha. We all want to develop kusala, panna, vipassana, and reach Nibbana. The question is how do we follow this path, and what do we do with these intentions. They're not going to go away.
S: Understood. So what you are saying is that practice doesn't necessary mean a reactive response. It may originate from a clear purpose in life and understanding what the Buddha really taught. So we come back to whether the Buddha did teach meditation or not. Since we can't come to a conclusion at this stage, let us examine the matter a bit. I believe that jhana can be formally practiced if the accumulations and external conditions are right. Why, because jhana requires concentration on a conceptual object. But what does it mean to "practice satipatthana"? We hope that by observing breath, thoughts, feelings, sensations etc.,one day sati will be mindful of dhammas as they actually are (ie. when they arise). It is my understanding, that most meditators observe what they believe to be `rise and fall' of breath, feelings, thoughts etc. But we know from study, that rise and fall can be observed only after the objects to which rise and fall is refered has been known, ie. a nama or a rupa. Before that we must have had many many previous experiences of satipatthana, which is the visesa lakhana (individual characteristic) of dhammas. So aren't we having a contrary understanding to the way things really are? I think the practice is self defeating.
R: Yes, but those things that are most promoted and repeated will accumulate more. If one is discerning realities all the time, there will be more discernment accumulating and passed down. The cittas arising will be more discerning ones and there will be more discerning cittas arising. If I am wrong about this, someone with more experience can correct me.
S: You are correct, but there is no `sef' who can direct this.
R: Well, I understand your sense of that. I am not as versed in the characteristics of the sotapanna, and I tend not to judge people's attainment on all of the little things they do. I'd like to meet a sotapanna and observe their behavior!
S: But the result of the observation will only reflect the understanding of the observer no?;-) In Buddhism, a sotapanna is one who has eradicated the kilesas which would otherwise condition the breaking of the precepts.
R: Well, if that were absolutely true, there would be no need for the spiritual friend to explain the dhamma, because this would be watering down the suttas, and it would furthermore be polluting them. But the commentaries are there none the less, and valued by practitioners. And the modern commentaries explain the earlier commentaries, because despite the wisdom of the Buddha, without the commentaries and sub-commentaries we can neither understand nor agree on the meaning of the Buddha's words. So I would say that each generation reinterprets the teachings for their generation, whether anyone likes this or doesn't like it. Nina's books makes sense of Abhidhamma for this world, this time and place. I'm sure in another age, she would have written another way. We need the people who are here now, not just the Buddha, as perfect as his understanding was.
S: The commentaries are good, Nina's writings are good and I often prefer them to reading the original words, because they explain something I would never otherwise understand had I only read the original teachings. I believe that Nina has done a great favour for us all in explaining otherwise difficult to understand texts. But is this an improvement? It only reflects an adjustment to time and place, but the adaptation and `all explanations' cannot retain the depth and scope of the original. A person with high level of accumulated wisdom would in my understanding, appreciate the direct word of the Buddha more than the commentaries. He would probably find the elaborate explanations unnecessary. Words can help but they can also misdirect. But this is just speculation on my part.
R: Well, you don't see mindfulness as a cumulative acquirement that is carried over from practice to living. Yet, the citta theory acknowledges that cittas carry the accumulations from previous cittas and there is a developmental movement in the flow of cittas, based on what they experience and pick up. These things are not completely lost in the moment, even though the citta falls away and another rises. In practical experience we do experience that we accumulate tendencies and understandings and become more skillful. If we didn't accumulate something, then we would never learn to walk. Each step would be starting from scratch with no prior learning from the step before, which is of course absurd. We do learn, and we can learn mindfulness and become more mindful of arising realities through practice just as we learn to walk through practice. You can say that the best walking comes from natural walking, not from purposely practicing. The child tries to get something and in the effort has to walk. But children also have natural 'practice periods' where they purposely try to walk over and over again, because they are tired of not being able to walk. They want to learn. Why not with mindfulness as well? It doesn't seem absurd to me at all to do this and to carry it over.
S: Yes, but sati arises and falls, even a Buddha cannot have sati all the time. To think otherwise is to be taking what is not sati to be sati. Walking can be conditioned by kusala, akusala or kiriya cittas. I don't think you can compare this with a particular cetasika, namely sati. Sati arises with only beautiful cetasikas and it is much, much harder for the beautiful cetasikas to come together, than akusala ones. Surely it is not there when "someone" has it.
R: And when you meditate, it is not to confuse this with being enlightened, or confuse this with everyday living, it is to meditate so you can develop your understanding of the moments when you are meditating, and then that carries over in a certain way. If you weren't interested in the 'theory' carrying over in some way, you wouldn't do it. It is only because the theory has indirect bearing on accumulation of insight and understanding of realities that one does it at all. So i don't think it's completely honest to say that it is 'for theoretical understanding only'.
S: I admit that I am not completely honest with myself, there must be some degree of self deception. But whether this moment I study with detachment or I have the ulterior intention to have direct experience, will have an effect on how I read, write or listen in the future. Yet when I see theory as just theory, and my study is not taken as anything more( which can happen when I'm honest with myself), then I think this is different from meditating with an aim to understand what is going on, more so meditating with the aim of ultimately realizing nibbana. In the former there is acceptance of just knowing theory, words, concept; and understanding that all dhammas are anatta therefore cannot be directed and controled. In the latter there is a presupposition that `some dhamma' can direct the flow of other dhammas to the attainment of yet other dhammas.
R: Heh heh, it's quite an exercise, I agree! And we did the whole thing in the hope of getting something out of it! Oh well!!
S: Soon, soon I hope.
Posted 31 July 2008 - 07:45 AM
Anyhow, please comment:
...he seeks out a secluded dwelling: a forest, the shade of a tree, a
mountain, a glen, a hillside cave, a charnel ground, a jungle grove,
the open air, a heap of straw. After his meal, returning from his
alms round, he sits down, crosses his legs, holds his body erect, and
brings mindfulness to the fore.
Sukin: This is from the Samannaphala Sutta which as I recall talks about
the life of the Bhikkhu and how superior this is to that of the lay life.
What are you trying to tell me here? That one ordains in order to be
able to meditate? And that since Bhikkhus meditate, this proves that
‘meditation’ is part of the Path? If this is so, I think that your
reasoning is fueled by your own preference to meditation and has nothing
to do with the reality of the situation. No, the situation of the
Bhikkhu Sangha is not akin to that of a “retreat” which you so often
like to compare with!!
One ordains as a result of *understanding* firstly, about the dustiness
of the lay life, being around people and other situations whereby tanha
and dosa are likely to arise often. Secondly and more important, is that
one knows oneself enough to see the accumulated inclination to live such
a life, else one only *reacts* with ignorance. And this reaction
invariably involving misjudgment is that which gives rise to such ideas
as, ‘being given the opportunity to practice mindfulness and insight in
a more conducive environment’, when the fact of the matter is that
insight being about knowing conditioned realities, this can equally be
developed in the situation of the lay life.
On the other hand, given that the Path comes down to the development of
Vipassana panna, if someone ordained with an intention to practice Jhana
thinking this to be part of the Path or else having no idea about it,
this again in wrong reason to ordain. Rather I think, the Patimokha
provides hint as to the purpose for becoming a monk. The rules in there
more than anything else, reflects where kilesas could possibly find
expression and the solution would then be to develop mindfulness and
understanding in all situations, and not just to go and meditate!!
That said, there surely were and will be monks who have inclinations to
Jhana. These would be those who would have had the wisdom to see the
harm in sense contacts and also the value in developing insight. So for
him besides developing understanding of the vipassana kind, the
situation he finds himself in as a Bhikkhu may well also serve to
provide opportunity to practice Jhana. And this is without doubt a good
"And who is the individual who goes with the flow? There is the case
where an individual indulges in sensual passions and does evil deeds.
This is called the individual who goes with the flow.
"And who is the individual who goes against the flow? There is the
case where an individual doesn't indulge in sensual passions and
doesn't do evil deeds.
!!!****Even though it may be with pain, even though it may be with
sorrow, even though he may be crying, his face in tears***!!!,
he lives the holy life that is perfect & pure. This is called the
individual who goes against the flow.
Sukin: Well, we are in the sensual realm and this is because of craving.
Craving brought us here and craving is what drives us to carry on into
the future. Seeing harm in craving in this realm would most easily be
with reference to sense contacts. Any instance of such an understanding
would be ‘going against the flow’. However the Buddha’s teachings does
not stop there, he taught to see Dukkha in *all* conditioned existence
and this can occur only with the arising of panna, which is the Middle Way.
I think we should take care not to project the worldling’s conception of
“effort” when reading such Suttas which is what you seem to often do.
"When anyone has developed & pursued mindfulness immersed in the body
[see the entire sutta], then whichever of the six higher knowledges
he turns his mind to know & realize, he can witness them for himself
whenever there is an opening.
Sukin: Mindfulness of the body is one of the four Satipatthanas. Isn’t
this what A. Sujin is encouraging all the time? Does she not say that it
is only the practice of satipatthana which will lead to finally becoming
enlightened? Am I missing something?
Must go and pack my bags now.
Posted 24 February 2009 - 04:01 AM
Hi Rob Ep,
I thought to let you have the last word with this post, but after
reconsidering, I decided to try once more to explain. You appear to
continue misunderstanding my position and go on to making critical
remarks that do not therefore apply.
I'll start off with laying out what I see as three different
approaches to the Dhamma, yours, mine and the one you are saying is
a) There are those who see value in the Dhamma and are interested in
continued study of the Texts, but without having applied any of what
is heard to the experience of the present moment. These often end up
doing what's called, holding the snake by the wrong end.
Those who see value in the Dhamma, are interested in hearing more,
but are moved greater, by an idea about `practice' hence ending up
downplaying the importance of listening to and reflecting on the
c) Those who see value in the Dhamma, are interested in hearing /
studying more, conditioned in part by seeing a direct relationship
between hearing the Dhamma, and coming to understand those things
which they would otherwise never have come to realize. This position
is arrived at only as result of some degree of `application' to the
present moment experience. And this is reflective of seeing
importance of direct understanding, but not one which goes on to take
wrong practice for right.
is what I see as being your position. c) is where I am, and a) is
where you judge me to be.
I have tried in many ways to show you the difference between c) and
a), but you keep making comments as if in fact there is no difference
between the two. Perhaps I'm stupid, so much so that I don't know
what I am talking about. You may be right, but your response has not
helped me see where I am wrong. And since I don't think that I can do
any better than this, discontinuing this discussion may be the right
thing to do.
But I'll add more comments on what I wrote above, and I'll do this
using a section of your response to bring out the context.
> understanding? How is this conversion going to take place ever?
> Insight into what? What you are reading? Where is the real dhamma
> all this? What has happened to the present object while you are
> reading and conceptualizing? Where is it?
The distinction between theory and practice is something few people
fail to appreciate. You don't need to hear the Dhamma to think along
these lines. Indeed it is likely that one goes about this particular
idea with `self view' if one has yet to really appreciate the Dhamma,
which is something only a Buddha could point out. On the other hand,
the one important distinction got from hearing the Dhamma is that of
reality vs. concept. It is in fact from seeing this distinction that
in the Teachings, `practice' is understood to be reference to a
particular kind of consciousness and not some conventional activity.
The kind of practice which you are trying to promote here is of the
latter kind, a conceptual story and taken seriously. This is due to
failure at making the concept / reality distinction.
In other words your repeated pointing out the need to get on with the
practice and drop the theory is motivated by `self view', one which
fails to distinguish reality from concept. After all you talk for
example, in terms of `reading' and the need to stop this and instead
`look'. While I have said that no matter what conventional activity
is being engaged in, there are realities arising and falling away
which can be the object of understanding, you are asking me to stop
and do something else, even if this is to "look" at what is going on
while reading. This impresses upon you as application / practice,
however from where I stand, it's just `thinking' motivated by self
While right understanding may manifest on occasion as reminder about
paramattha dhammas and conditionality, this is not what you are
doing. You are insisting on `taking action' with total disregard to
the reality / concept distinction and the principles of anatta and
conditionality. In other words you advice because you fail to
*understand*! And if I followed you, it would be a case of the blind
being lead by the blind.
> you have read and then be present to the actual arising moments.
> Your real experience is something like "reading reading reading
> reading, scratching eyebrow, glance to side, cough, hunger pang,
> sadness, thought of past, person comes into room is perceived as
> thought of taking nap, reading reading reading reading, shopping
> All of these break down into many different dhammas, many different
> cittas with accompanying cetasikas. To do the real work of
> such, one would be looking at these, not at the book the concept,
by conventional activity? Why need to stop "doing" something even if
only momentarily, in order that something else is "done"? Why such
ideas? The real difference is that while there may arise little or no
panna at all during any activity including reading, which implies
there was ignorance all this time, I understand that this is
conditioned and beyond control. *This* realization however, even if
it is only at the level of suttamaya panna or cintamaya panna, would
be an instance of development along the right direction. You on the
other hand, not with any level of right understanding about the
present moment, but instead some wrong view about practice, end up
being moved by "intention to do". When in fact this very intention to
practice could have been the object of panna, a story about practice
is instead being followed. This is idealism.
And I'll say that even though you speak so much in favor of practice,
that you associate it particularly with `formal meditation' and
disassociate it from the development of right understanding at the
level of pariyatti, is reflection of lack of confidence. Because if
there was enough saddha, no excuse will be made as to why
understanding can't arise "now" at this very moment. And if there was
in fact any level of right understanding, the need to keep on
hearing/ studying will never be overlooked.
> then stop reading and look around the room and see what is really
> happening in "real life," including the dhammas that arise in
> the book in the first place.
You are saying that direct understanding can arise only if one makes
a decision to stop reading and start looking? What is your definition
of "real life" which makes `reading a book' not part of it? Dhammas
arise and already fallen away before we know it. The object of direct
understanding is a paramattha dhamma just fallen away and is not
without this very understanding. What you are suggesting leans
towards a view about dhammas being within control, and when anatta is
misunderstood, so will any perception of rise and fall.
And btw, what of the idea of formal practice now? If you are
suggesting the possibility of direct understanding arising at any
time, what then is the role of meditation?
> the concepts of the cittas and rupas; it is "eye door/eye object/
> of book, asngle of book/hardness/scanning of words on
> page/concept/thought of concept/thought of application of
> concept/hardness of page/turning of page/see words in eye door/eye
> processing through nama/new citta; and of course even that is just a
> gross gloss of all the cittas arising in the act of reading and all
> the dhammas; but at least one would really be following the dhamma
> theory and really looking at the dhammas instead of
> concept/concept/concept/concept and more concept; more menu, more
> thoughts about dhammas, without acknowleding the real dhammas that
> right in front of one's nose
And what message are you trying to convey to me with these
descriptions? What have you added to the above which you see as
lacking in the Abhidhamma and the commentaries that I may happen to
be reading? I have my own idea about what is actually going on:
The Abhidhamma has an extensive list of the various paramattha
dhammas and talks about them from various perspectives, such as
dhatu, ayatana, khandha etc. It provides also a description of the
characteristic and functions of all these different realities, and
gives a detailed description about the various conditions possibly
involved. Far from leading one to think that one "knows" just by
reading all this, it in fact helps us to realize how little is
understood, at the intellectual level itself, not to speak of direct
understanding of characteristics.
On the other hand, the message I get from you, is that there is no
need to even distinguish reality from concept. And why is this?
Because one only need to begin "looking" and it does not matter then
what the object of consciousness is, let alone determining whether
the consciousness itself is one which is rooted in wisdom. One takes
it unquestioningly to being `mindfulness' of some level. The
suggestion hence is that when one starts looking, the development of
mindfulness and understanding is taking place.
This is like the suggestion by one biologist to another to look
through a microscope with the expectation that what is observed by
the one will also be observed by the other. *This is not the way of
Dhamma*, but in fact an encouragement by one to another, the feeding
of ignorance and craving! One is caught in the illusion of result and
tries to drag another along the same path. The concepts that are
being pointed out to do not exhibit characteristics, but being agreed
upon convention, all that is needed for the illusion to continue, is
a nod of approval.
One last thing, your objection to pariyatti may in part be due to the
perception of it being constantly referred back to the Texts rather
than what may come from personal experience. It appears to you
therefore like parroting and clinging. True there may be little or no
direct understanding, but even if someone were to experience insight,
if there was a need to express one's understandings, the inclination
would be to refer back to the source of the Teachings if possible
rather than to talk in terms of one's own experience, would it not?
And given that the Teachings are available to be quoted at anytime,
what would be the right thing to do than to quote just those Texts?
Besides should one not also show acknowledgement of the Buddha being
the source of these Teachings without which one could not even begin
to understand such things? And if the understanding is indeed quite
low, what is there to say about personal experience except maybe the
very fact of there being so little understanding? Also if one has had
even a glimpse of what is involved when making reference to one's
past experience, namely perversion of consciousness and of perception
if not also of view, one becomes hesitant to take seriously such
thinking, would one not?
As usual, I've written more than necessary. But you don't have to
respond, especially since you are discussing the same points in other
Posted 04 March 2010 - 01:15 PM
I wish though that someone would make an attempt to actually try to understand
what Mike is saying on his own terms (because to me it seems he tried to
understand what dsg folks are saying using dsg terms, so it'd be nice to show
the same courtesy), rather than dismissing his position as wrong from the
outset. Perhaps you could be the man for the job, perhaps not.
S: I won't be trying to understand Mike particularly, but I'd like to explain
further my understandings.
I've not read many of the posts in this and other related discussions and will
simply refer to Mike's post, the one you responded to and work from there. I
quote from it:
> >>18. If there's any effort to try and be aware at this moment, in >order to
understand the presently appearing object, or any trying to >develop more
kusala, such as more metta, then it's the wrong path >again.
>> A:> Of course. How can you see anatta, if you believe in Atta that can
Mike: I'm still puzzled why any of those points should be considered
particularly controversial in Dhamma circles. As far as I can understand, the
only important disagreement you have with people such as Alex, or any of the
teachers I respect, is in the detailed interpretation of #18. None of those
teachers is saying that there is some atta control agent (as Alex nicely puts it
above), they simply differ on how best to realise that.
Mike: To totally oversimplify, it seems to me that the approach you advocate is
to realise anatta by considering it very carefully. The alternative is to
attempt to control stuff, and see how it goes. Sooner or later the lack of
control becomes painfully obvious... <end quote>
S: The belief in self and control is what we all had before we heard the Dhamma.
But the Dhamma points to us that this is due to wrong perception and wrong view.
That what we used to take for real, namely concepts, are in fact not, and the
idea of `control' associated with this taking for real that which is not is
likewise illusory and hence potentially misleading. For most of us however, this
is not the understanding we get when we first hear the Dhamma from various
quarters. We are encouraged instead, to make a distinction between what is
judged as `theory / book knowledge' from so-called `practice / meditation', all
this by virtue of reasoning based very much on the idea of `self and control',
when in fact the Dhamma should cause us to question our old patterns of thought
in this regard and seeing need to continue listening to and discussing the
Dhamma. Distinguishing pariyatti from patipatti rather than theory and practice
is I believe, the way to go. The former pair has a direct causal connection in
reality, whereas the latter on the other hand, is an abstraction thought out by
any uninstructed worldling.
Indeed pariyatti begins with making the reality / concept distinction, which is
done by virtue of knowing that the one has characteristics to be known directly
by panna and the other doesn't. Putting aside Nibbana, we learn also that
realities are conditioned whereas concepts are not. And talking about
characteristics, there is the individual characteristic of each Nama and each
Rupa and the general characteristics namely, anicca, dukkha and ANATTA. So it
goes together, namely knowing realities as distinct from concepts and
understanding at a corresponding level, conditionality and the Tilakkhana. Is
this not the reasonable approach? If anyone believes that there should be other
approaches instead, perhaps this is because they are not ready for Dhamma and we
should then not have any expectations about them. Better this than try to be
accommodating, I would think?
And this seems to be where the problem is. Those who fail to see the reality of
anatta in the present moment and especially in relation to `practices' which
they follow continue also to take concepts / conventional situations seriously.
In other words being caught up in ideas about someone who needs to do certain
things in time and space in order that understanding be developed, this is
taking what is not real for real and believing in ideas about cause and effect
not in line with the way things are. Their insisting on following what they
believe to be the practice which would enable them to one day understand anatta
and conditionality while at that moment refusing to acknowledge the truth, is
just reflection of attachment and wrong view. And to go on to state that they
are encouraged to `let go' etc. in the process, this simply put, is one good way
how the `self' feels justified in continuing to do what it does.
In conclusion, teachers who approach the Dhamma with ideas about meditation /
setting aside time for practice etc. do not understand the important causal
relationship between pariyatti, patipatti and pativedha. If they do accept that
it is traditionally taught, it would be reducing pariyatti to being mere theory
or book knowledge which then serves to highlight their notion about so called
Speaking then about gently leading students to understand the deeper
implications of anatta, I think this never happens. In fact such ideas on the
part of any teacher more likely are the result of his or her own lack of
understanding about the matter. But more below……
Either way, my opinion on the whole argument is that it's all just down to our
fascination with semantics, so not sure I can add anything constructive at the
moment. E.g. I could say that everything you (or KenH) did prior to encountering
dsg was exactly what was needed so that you could understand the dsg position on
anatta at the right moment. So, you might call all that you learned before dsg
wrong, but I might call it right precisely because it offered a vantage point
for appreciating the dsg position... Still just more semantics, so not very
helpful in either case...
S: As you'd probably see by now, I don't believe that it is a matter of
semantics. We all make reference to realities being conditioned, impermanent,
suffering and non self, but the understanding as applied to one's moment to
moment experiences; this is one place where there is a crucial difference.
A. Sujin talks about all realities with emphasis on those that make up our day
to day lives. In this it is shown that some realities are unwholesome, some
wholesome, and others neither, all however need to be known as and when they
arise, implying then, that the most useful of all is the development of 8FP.
There is therefore no place in this, for ideas about `things to do' as this
would be encouraging of ignorance with regard to what has already arisen by
conditions and being lead instead by some projected idea.
Before we heard the Dhamma, our lives were as it is, few moments of kusala in
between far greater moments of akusala. Looking back we can accept this as being
conditioned primarily due to the accumulations from past lives. Why should it be
expected then that on hearing the Dhamma and just beginning to understand it,
any dramatic change should occur in this regard? It makes sense to me that life
basically goes on as it would, only on having a little understanding about nama
and rupas, wrong view of self begins to become noticed especially given that
hearing about all forms of kusala, attachment and wrong view towards these
likely also arises. One can see then that wrong view is the most harmful and
misleading of all akusala dhammas.
Teachers who teach meditation on the other hand, seem little interested in
pointing to the realities of daily life. If they do, it is never in the sense of
encouraging the need to understand one's life as it is. Instead kusala is talked
about in a way involving things to be done which clearly encourages self view.
For example, rather than showing the value of kindness and the harm of aversion,
because in a day we do relate to many people, one talks about `metta meditation'
and the need to spend time being alone doing this. Is this encouraging of metta
and is it understanding oneself?
People are lead by ambition for results and end up perverting their perception
of life. The Dhamma is supposed to lead us simply to understand our lives *as it
is* without distortion. Most teachers today however, appear to lead their
students further away from the realities which make up their lives into a world
in which the illusory self acts within an illusory world and is trying hard to
get something out of it. Clearly very far from the Middle Way.
This is too long and I must go to bed soon since I need to get up early and do
;-) certain things and likely won't have any time for the computer all day.
Posted 03 March 2011 - 04:27 AM
Reply < Prev Message | Next Message >
Formal Sitting or Natural Arising? (was: Re: Video Games?)
Hi Rob (and * for Ken H.),
> A couple of general responses:
> 1/ I think it is important not to confuse the nature of activities
> with our concepts about them. It may be that in the theoretical
> scheme of things that contemplating sutta is not a "practice," but in
> the ordinary sense of the word, it is. It is an activity, a task,
> with a specific purpose.
I think this is why we must differentiate and come to determine exactly
what the reality is and what we mean by them in the conventional
sense. I don't think we can rely on the latter, since it is based on the
idea of `self', `situations' and `activity', none of which have any ultimate
status and all of which are infused with our personal and distorted
> That is how I would define practice. In a
> sense, I think you are confusing two different meanings of the same
> word, one a technical term in the Buddhist path, distinguishing
> between intellectual study and the accomplishment or presence of full
> mindfulness, which you are calling the "practice;" and the ordinary
> sense in which "practice" merely means a directed activity. Surely,
> in that sense, both intellectual study of sutta and meditation are
Whatever it means by `practice' in the conventional sense, and how we
ever create situations out of our experience through the six doorways,
through ignorance or through panna, in the end if we are to come to
appreciate the Buddha's teachings, we must be able to determine what
behind all this, the `ultimate realities' are. I believe otherwise, we will
not make any progress.
> At the same time, you do have a valid point in that you are saying
> that meditation purports to grant direct insight, which pariyatti does
> not. You could say that pariyatti is a preliminary practice, while
> paripatti is the actual practice.
I think both pariyatti and patipatti must always go hand in hand. There
must be I believe, moments of direct experience, though they may be
too little to be noticed, otherwise I think, there cannot be the confidence
in and to continue with pariyatti. [*Ken H. is this what you are referring
to on another thread? I have always wondered about this, but never
asked anyone.] So I don't think that pariyatti is preliminary and patipatti
is the subsequent step, as in one following the other. I think we do have
a tendency to draw lines and in the process take what is not real to be
real, namely the conventional activities. Dhammas arise and fall by
conditions, and none of us have directly seen enough of this to go
beyond doubt that this is quite different from what we usually think.
Attachment to our conventional view can only make it harder to
appreciate this fact, I think.
This is why I wanted us to be clear from the very beginning what
pariyatti is, and how it relates to patipatti. I wanted to show you in the
last post, that `study' is not the matter of accumulation of words, but
the `understanding' which is something that arises because of conditions
and cannot be willed. Of course it does involve `words' on one level,
whether this is apprehended through the eye door, the ear door or the
mind. And each time there is any understanding, it is `verbalized'
mentally. But note that this does not happen automatically when one
reads or hears the teachings, it must depend on other conditions as
well, the primary of which is the accumulated panna, from hearing and
reflecting in the past.
> In that sense, what is the
> preliminary practice prior to meditation, if meditation is the
> practice? What is the preparation, which would be the meditator's
> equivalent of pariyatti? I suppose it would also be the basic
> comprehension of sutta or appropriate scripture. And then putting it
> into practice through mindfulness meditation. In that sense the paths
> seem somewhat similar.
Again, I don't think that they should be compared. And just as it
requires panna to `understand' the meaning of the words, it is panna
which is involved in `patipatti'. No `self' can intend to have satipatthana,
if conditions are right, it will happen. Just as one cannot
will `understanding' while reading, listening or thinking over the words,
similarly one cannot will satipatthana by `intending to apply'. Sati, just
like panna, depends on conditions from past accumulations; `intention' is
not one of the factors to condition it. Rather, the primary conditions
would be, having heard about the Teachings in the past, particularly
about the objects of sati, which is the paramattha dhammas.
And because so much wrong view and other akusala have been
accumulated from the past, that we need to be reminded again and
again through pariyatti about realities and their conditioned nature. If
we forget that sati and panna arises due to conditions other than
intention, then wrong view will make us believe that we can `do'
something to condition sati.
Rob, when you decide to "apply" the theory, how sure are you that at
that instant, that there is panna which makes the decision? If you agree
that it is not panna, then what is the reality of the moment? Is it kusala,
or is it desire? And if it is the latter, then by what miracle do you think
that satipatthana can ever be conditioned to arise later on, except
probably, a highly developed panna accumulated from the past. In
which case I think, it would realize the futility of deliberate practice,
because it would at that time see that conditions other than the sitting,
caused it to arise. And once this happens, you will also see that the so
called sati apparent during formal practice is not in fact satipatthana as
taught by the Buddha, the characteristic being quite different.
> I am still confused however, if paripatti is your equivalent of
> meditation in our comparison, what exactly does paripatti entail as a
> practice? If one does not meditate, what exactly is the practice of
> satipatthana? I suppose it is the discernment of arising moments of
> everyday life, which to me is basically the same thing as meditation,
> except that you have the stipulation that one must not do it as a
> specific purposeful practice, as one does in meditation.
And everyday life may include `sitting', if that is our normal activity!
However, we can't decide to `discern the arising moments in daily life'
any more than we can do it during `formal sitting'. The main problem
is `wrong view', and this can believe that there is a `self' who can apply
either in `normal everyday activity' or `formal sitting' or even this very
moment "now". This is the `self' which Sarah and others so often talk
about, and is not bringing in a dualistic category, but is a reality of the
moment, in this case `lobha mula citta accompanied by wrong view'.
> But this too is confusing: If one practices mindfulness as a stage
> following pariyatti, then it seems like it really is a purposeful
> practice to gain the result of full mindfulness of the object, and so
> it is just as intentional as meditation. And the distinction seems
> even more artificial when you imagine that the only real difference
> between paripatti and meditation is that the meditator is "assuming a
> sitting position," while the practitioner of paripatti practices his
> "meditation" wherever and under whatever conditions happen to
> Surely, the physical positioning of the practitioner cannot create
> such a great theoretical rift?
I hope you now understand that the core matter is Right / Wrong View.
Sitting and not sitting is just side issues, though reflective of this
primary one. And this is why on DSG so much emphasis is on Rt. View.
> Even more confusing is the fact that every meditation practice
> includes both walking meditation, and the admonition that the practice
> of mindfulness should be extended into a 24-hour a day operation,
> where one is always conscious of both the breath and whatever is
> arising for consciousness. In many ways, both paths seem to come
> around to the same place by a different route.
Why the `breath' when we know that we have so much ignorance and
wrong view regarding it? Why would any serious practitioner want to
give importance to that which only conditions more akusala? Anything at
all that we as worldlings give special importance to, that becomes
immediately an object of clinging. And no matter how we rationalize
about `breath' being neutral and so on, the clinging is there and
becomes in fact, an object of `wrong view' when associated with right
> So what exactly does paripatti entail? And if it is indeed a
> practice, how is this not a "doing" with a doer involved? I am
> sincerely interested in the answer to this.
Any moment of satipatthana is a moment of patipatti. So, just as one
cannot will satipatthana because it will arise when the conditions are
right, there is no one who `practices'.
> To me all of the above is "the practice." Now if one is *not*
> discerning, but hallucinating, and going down an akusala path without
> knowing it, well, that's a big problem. But I would like to know,
> Sukin, how is one to know this anyway, if one does not trust his own
> sense of whether detachment, insight, clarity of discernment, etc. are
> developing? Who do you trust to tell you you are seeing the real
> moment arising, if you yourself are not training your own citta to do
> this? I think without development of faith in one's own evaluation of
> what is occurring on the path, the path must be lost.
Sanna, citta and ditthi vipallasa is the norm for most of us. We may
believe that a certain characteristic trait qualifies as `hallucination' etc.
However anytime there is attachment to result which motivates a
measuring of one's progress along the path, and involving hindsight,
how can we be certain that we are not hallucinating? I don't put much
faith in my own evaluation based on the past, but there are moments of
faith based on understanding the meaning of the Buddha's teachings
and what can be verified in the moment. This keeps me going, at least
more confident in the particular interpretation as taught by K. Sujin and
expressed by many members of this list. But have I gone beyond
doubt? Surely a big NO!!
> I will appreciate your response, hoping that these points are not also
> too far flung to give the basis for a good exchange. : )
Hope you are not disappointed. ;-)
Posted 30 December 2011 - 08:02 AM
Formal Sitting or Natural Arising?
> >Sukin:So you sit down in a safe place in order to avoid otherwise >tripping
>over things and running into walls while trying to be >mindful of >ultimate
> In sitting position there can be more uninterupted awareness of the realities.
Little by little this awareness of realities will accumulate and the process
will gain momentum.
So it is not about the risk of bumping into walls etc. then? Because even if
someone was involved in the most strange of practices, dhammas being anatta, the
suggestion that the practice could lead to driving into trees and falling down
the steps is unfounded, don't you think?
But let's look at your other reason namely, "In sitting position there can be
more uninterrupted awareness of the realities….".
What is the theoretical basis for this?
Based on the fact of there being so much ignorance and attachment with regard to
the realties experienced through all the five senses and the mind, no matter
what we do or not do, how is sitting down crossed legged and intending to note
the breath different in this regard? The very suggestion comes across to me as
motivated by attachment. So when you say that it is about awareness which leads
to more awareness, being that the cause does not match with the result, I can
only conclude that yours in only wishful thinking.
> >If I believed that I could make mindfulness and wisdom arise right >now
while writing this message, this would be no different from you >when you
decide to say, note the breath during some chosen time.
> That is the straw man that has been pointed out many times. One cannot will
wisdom to arise. If I could, I would. If there was control, meditation would be
not needed. One could will wisdom to arise. +
You think that it is a straw man only because you fail to recognize that the
very decision to sit and meditate *is* aimed at trying to make particular
dhammas arise. Certainly you do not think that the sitting down crossed legged
etc. is conditioned just as any other activity in your daily life, do you? It
does have a particular significance, namely in order to experience states that
you think are not possible at other times, is it not? Indeed you are admitting
here, that "meditation is needed"!
Of course you acknowledge that initially there is no awareness or even that a
whole meditation session goes without any. But are you not trying to make it
happen? And when it does not happen, do you not judge even this perception as
somehow fruitful, because otherwise it must be the same as what happens in daily
life and you'd see no reason to continue with the particular activity.
So things are happening for you, and you are motivated to repeat the experience
in the form of regular sitting do you not?
> There is observation of presently arisen realities, and little by little gains
more knowledge which will turn into wisdom. All of this, as have been said many
times, is impersonal process.
What is being suggested here, that there can be awareness of realities without
wisdom? Which "impersonal" dhamma exactly are you referring to that can *turn*
into wisdom? What function does it perform and in what way is it a cause for
> >I have no fear of running into walls because I function in the
> >conventional world in the same way as any other human being.
> And yet there is from time to time denial that conventional world exists, or
that conventional actions exist...
As a child, did you ever scream in your sleep when having a bad dream? If so,
does this prove that the contents of the dream was real?
The difference between dreams and the waking state is that in the latter,
intermittently there arise experiences through the five senses. And this points
exactly to the fact that while these experiences and the thinking are real and
exists, the concepts thought about is the same as what happens during a dream,
So indeed the development of understanding must involve making this distinction
such that one knows what objects constitute the foundation for mindfulness and
what does not. Functioning in the conventional world does not require taking
concepts for real. In fact, not taking concepts for reality must come with
development of all kinds of kusala, such that this must lead to better
functioning in the conventional world.
> >The difference between you and me is that, while you think that >development
of mindfulness and wisdom involves "doing" something,
> Doing something is learning and being more and more aware of presently arisen
realities that arise due to impersonal process without any control.
Doing what one believes in and insisting that it is good is what people of other
religions do, for example "praying to God". People make reference to concepts
and insist not only that they are real, but attribute imagined values to them as
well. And at some point they use reason to convince themselves and others why
they believe what they do.
You are doing the same thing here Alex.
Stating that "meditation is learning and being more and more aware etc…" is
insisting a particular value on what is only a concept / conventional activity.
As a student of Dhamma you need to be precise and refer instead to functions
performed by ultimate realities, otherwise this becomes just something that you
believe in, no different from "praying to God". That you try to qualify
meditation by referring to Buddhist ideas about "impersonal process" and "no
control", is more like hiding behind these concepts and does nothing to change
the fact that you do not in fact understand the reality / concept distinction.
> >I think that development refers to the arising of a set of >impersonal mental
phenomena the leader of which is panna cetasika.
> Right. Where have I said otherwise. I believe that panna is of highest
importance for the maggaphala.
Yes you say this again and again, but do you "understand"? Being able to repeat
what one has read in the Abhidhamma says nothing about whether there is right
understanding or not. To use the knowledge in support of wrong practice, this
can only come from wrong understanding…
> > So you are right to advice about sitting in one place, but this is
> > because you are wrong about what constitutes practice.
> I am wrong about impersonal no control cause-effect process?
> Or am I wrong about wisdom eradicating kilesas?
> Am I wrong about doing learning?
Are we referring to the ability to refer to texts, remembering the concepts and
thinking about them, or are we referring to "understanding" as reflected in the
application of knowledge? If the former, then you pass with good grades. If the
latter, given the lack of interest in understanding the present moment and being
moved instead by ideas about another time, place, particular posture and object
to focus, then you fail badly as far as I'm concerned.
Posted 06 February 2013 - 05:21 AM
> > It would be expected that anyone developing right understanding must
> > also experience little by little, more kusala of other levels along the
> > way.
> Why? If other forms of kusala are inconsequential to the path, why
> would they have a positive relationship to the development of
> satipatthana and panna? If panna is unrelated to whether other kusala
> is being developed and they do not lead to panna, why would panna lead
> to more kusala of other kinds? Can you explain?
What do you think differentiates panna from other forms of kusala? Panna
= Bhavana / mental development is it not? And are not Samatha bhavana
and Vipassana bhavana both a reference to panna?
Panna in understanding the value of kusala and harm in akusala,
increases that much, the tendency toward the one and away from the
other. The object of dana for example, is the need of another being, how
is this related to panna? Panna sees the value of panna itself and all
other kusala, but dana does not perform such a function.
> > Or one might say that if one has as much akusala as before, this
> > may be because there is no real development of right understanding.
> Why should there be such a relationship, if other kusala has no
> relation to the path?
Panna is not selective; therefore kusala and akusala must invariably
become its object from time to time.
> > Regarding the precepts, you know that these are training rules and not
> > like commandments.
> No I am sorry to say I do not know this, and would like to see some
> evidence to that effect, no disrespect intended. I can't think of ever
> seeing a statement made by the Buddha in anything I've read that says
> that these are not firm dictates. In fact there are many references to
> these rules being broken will lead to akusala kamma and lead to
> unpleasant vipaka in future lives.
Being training rules point to the fact that only panna is the Path.
Without understanding, what invariably happens is that kusala is taken
for "self" and therefore instead of kusala, the one dhamma which is a
hindrance to the Path gets encouraged. This of course does not imply
that if the rules are broken, it will not lead to bad results.
> I would also be happily enlightened to see a quote from the Buddha to
> the effect that sila and dana have no relation to the path and that
> only direct right understanding matters. I am pretty sure he never
> said this. There is one sutta at least where he says that right
> understanding leads the other path factors, but that is not to say
> that they are not necessary or important to the path.
I can't quote you anything, sorry. I don't think that Right
Understanding leading other path factors has anything to do with what we
> > The reason for this is that right understanding /
> > satipatthana is primary and overrides everything else.
> Did the Buddha ever say this? Please let me see a quote if one is
> available that you know of. I don't think that right understanding is
> so complete unto itself that it makes all other kusala superfluous,
> and I don't know of any scriptures that say this. But happy to see
> something that is convincing if you can point me to it.
Again, I can't quote you anything. I wish that I could or that I had
better understanding, and if possible, give you a better explanation.
But there is one thing that I'd like to point out.
Supposing someone approached you, suggesting that the Buddha believed in
God and asked you for a direct quote to prove otherwise, do you think
that you need to bring up such a proof? Is not your conclusion based on
a general understanding of what he taught? On some occasions when you
ask for quotes from other people, do you think that perhaps the
situation may be similar to this?
> Other religions
> > also teach against the use of alcohol, killing, lying, stealing and
> > sexual misconduct. But because theirs is not the Middle Way, any kusala
> > must invariably become object of attachment and self-view, therefore
> > rather than increase, they begin to decline.
> Personally I think this is a false type of argument - at least in part
> - that since other religions have a,b or c, therefore a, b or c has no
> role at all in Buddhism - as if *every single element* of Buddhism was
> created from scratch with no regard for any existing structures that
> could be incorporated and still have value in the new context of the
> Buddha's doctrine. I think this is a very mistaken way of thinking. A
> similar argument would be that since the airplane was invented, cars
> are totally meaningless and have no value, and walking is so
> ridiculously inept that one should never go anywhere, even to the
> bathroom, except in a plane.
The argument is, since you say that x, y and z are part of the Path and
since other religions practice x and y, then they must be following the
Path in part.
The Buddha's Dhamma is a totally new set of teachings, which was the
reason why the Buddha hesitated at first, to teach. If it was akin to
the invention of an airplane which followed from that of a car, then
he's have no reason to feel this way.
You are suggesting that the Dhamma evolved from teachings which existed
prior to the Buddha's enlightenment. Did not the Buddha follow the top
teachers during his time and came to the conclusion that theirs was not
> There is no doubt that Buddhism takes all former attempts to transcend
> samsara, and goes way above them in its understanding and techniques,
> as well as the clarity of the path. The clarity of anatta which is not
> clearly present in any other tradition makes a giant leap beyond other
> traditions. But that does mean that all other structures that existed
> prior to the Buddha are totally abandoned.
See here, you are making a case for the argument that other teachings
takes one up to a certain point and only the Buddha's teachings can
carry one further all the way to the other shore. This is saying to the
effect that development of understanding is not a matter of
cira-kala-bhavana or long time development, and one implication of this
is that the Buddha-to-be did not really need to study under so many
Buddha's before him.
> This argument for instance is made about jhana, because in the former
> traditions jhana was thought of as the highest state, and samadhi was
> seen as an end in itself - the repository of peace. While the Buddha
> made clear that jhana without insight was a trap in terms of complete
> liberation, he never abandoned jhana or denounced it as a tool of the
> path, and those who say it was unnecessary or even an obstacle to
> insight do not have the Buddha's words or teachings to back them up.
Jhana is definitely not an obstacle, but the mistaken view that it is
the Path or part of the Path, is.
> While anatta is unique to Buddhism and is the final weapon for
> detachment, other traditions understood dukkha and anicca, though not
> with the Buddha's clarity and not fitting it together with anatta for
> a complete picture. So Buddhism can be seen as a giant evolution from
> former traditions, akin to a monkey evolving into a human, but still
> not a complete clean break from everything.
Other teachings understood dukkha and anicca with reference to
conventional reality. The difference is not anatta coming in to give a
complete picture, but rather the understanding of Dukkha as in the First
Noble Truth. Anatta comes together with Dukkha and Anicca, therefore any
understanding with regard to the latter two without also understanding
the former is not what the Buddha's enlightenment is about.
> > So we have a situation where with right understanding, other levels of
> > kusala must also grow,
Because Right Understanding develops in the course of one's life where
kusala and akusala both must be a part of. It is highly improbable that
only rupas and vipaka cittas will be the object of panna.
> > and another, namely without right understanding,
> > they will decline while self-view increases.
> Do sila and dana as practiced in Buddhism lead to self-view?
As practiced by Buddhism means that they should be seen as conditioned
dhammas, anicca, dukkha and anatta.
> > Does it not make sense then
> > that right understanding should be encouraged at all times, and this
> > must include during instances when kusala of other levels are referred
> > to and encouraged?
> Of course right understanding should be encouraged at all times -
> never said it shouldn't. The question is not whether it should be
> encouraged, but whether it is the *only* form of kusala that
> constitutes the path.
This was with regard to your suggestion that reference to other forms of
kusala in the texts meant that the Buddha was trying to encourage these
as part of the Path . And my point is that it is Right Understanding
which he in fact ultimately encouraged during those times.
> I still contend that there are eight limbs to the Noble 8fold path,
> not 1, and the idea that the other 7 path factors exist only as
> moments in right understanding is not supported by the suttas. I also
> don't see it supported by scripture in any direct way, but I am happy
> to be pointed towards a quote from Abhidhamma or commentary that makes
> this case clearly.
Perhaps someone else reading in can help with this....
> I don't know who is on the way to what, and I also don't know all the
> technical distinctions that you base your understanding on, that only
> a sankhara khanda can cause bhavana.
All cetasikas except sanna and vedana are sankhara khandha. The meaning
is that lobha for example, accumulates as tendency with each arising,
the same with the other cetasikas including panna.
> I do think that the Buddha taught that developing all three forms of
> kusala are necessary
But *development* is the function of panna is it not? How else would
dana and sila increase if not with the help of panna?
> and that suppressing the defilements, developing mindfulness and
> understanding supported by right livelihood, action and speech, etc.,
> was the way in which the path naturally was developed. There is an
> Abhidhamma view of course that there is nothing but pariyatti leading
> to right understanding, and all the other parts of the path outlined
> by the Buddha in plain language are meaningless, but I don't agree
> with this and I don't see it in the scriptures I have seen, esp. the
What according to you is the significance of the Buddha "setting in
motion the Wheel of Dhamma" and the requirement on the part of the
savaka to "hear the Dhamma"?
> If you want to make the case to someone like me, who is rooted in some
> suttas and some exposure to commentary, but who has a sense of the
> living tradition of Buddhism being one of how one lives and works,
> thinks and practices,not just of moments of pariyatti falling out of
> the sky, with no preconditions in anything in daily life, then you
> have to show me a clear scriptural record of why this is so which
> accounts for the Buddha's teachings, which the basic theory of this
> does not.
Sorry, I can't.
> The Buddha was very clear in his teachings for 40 years what was
> required for the path to develop, and part of it was replacing the
> defilements with higher impulses, such as metta, and higher practices,
> such as satipatthana.
But is it not a fact that the defilements are eradicated only through
practice of the Noble Eightfold Path?
> The later scriptural idea that all of this is "training traditions"
> and isn't part of the path seems very suspect to me. If I saw a sutta
> where Buddha said directly, "Don't worry too much about sila because
> it will develop naturally when you develop right understanding," I
> would find that very interesting, but as far as I know, no such
> passage exists! Yet such absurdities are asserted on dsg every day.
No passage where the Buddha said, "There is no God" exists either.
> > > I gave the example that someone who says "I only need to have correct
> > > understanding, so if I butcher a cow, or kill a person or scream
> > > obscenities at someone, that is fine, - it has nothing to do with the
> > > path" is someone who is deeply deluded. And I do think that's true.
> > Note that it is you who is imagining all this.
> I am not imagining anything - statements to this effect have been made
> on dsg any number of times by certain adherents to the "right
> understanding only" group.
> > It is being done in order
> > to give validity to your own view.
> That is an unfounded opinion and is pure speculation on your part. If
> you think you know my motives are to simply support my own view and
> not made on principle please provide some evidence for this, or else
> assert the development of psychic powers, which I will find very
> humbling. I'm glad you can read my mind!
If you can show me who on the DSG said killing and screaming obscenities
at someone is fine, I'll retract my statement and apologize to you.
> > No one with any right understanding
> > would think the way you describe. Akusala is *not* fine.
> And yet you say it has no relation to the development of right
> understanding, so while it may not be *fine,* you don't see it as an
> obstacle to the path. Bye bye suttas and vinaya!
So this is what you were pointing at?
There are hindrances to the development of samatha which does not apply
to the development of vipassana. For vipassana, the only hindrance is
Wrong View. The Suttas and Vinaya agree with this, do it they not?
> > > The paramatha understanding may be ultimate, but conventional akusala
> > > is harmful to the path, and conventional kusala is good for the
> path -
> > > not better than panna, but not unnecessary either.
> > >
> > Not necessary means that they do not constitute the Path.
> Either they are necessary or not. Either they are conditions or
> supporting conditions for the development of understanding and wisdom
> or they are not. Either they are part of the path or they have nothing
> to do with the path. It isn't an obscure question.
They would necessarily arise when the Path is being developed.
> > This does not
> > however mean that they are not encouraged as per any given situation.
> Why encourage something that has nothing to do with the path?
> Seriously, if all that the Buddha taught was right understanding, why
> direct people to put so much attention on meaningless, impotent forms
> of kusala, just because they happen to be good, nice and pleasant.
The knowledge that comes with the development of right understanding
includes the fact that kusala is good and akusala is bad. So why would
the Buddha not talk in favor of one and against the other? If akusala
still has a chance to arise, why not remind about the benefit of kusala?
> Do you think the Buddha was so distracted that he would teach
> repeatedly on unnecessary nice things that had nothing to do with bhavana?
Remember, that thinking in terms of beings, objects and situations is
part of what makes up our life and when it is not thinking with kusala,
then it must be akusala. So why not talk about this difference? How
would doing this take anything away from the importance of developing
right understanding of nama and rupa?
> > When dana, sila, metta, karuna etc. are called for, no one is going to
> > think that these are unnecessary. Only that right understanding does
> > think them to be the Path.
> Then you are trying to have it both ways. Everyone should say they are
> "necessary" but not to the path. So you are saying they are *not*
> necessary to *the path* and that is the question, not if they are
> necessary to something else. If they are not the path, then they have
> the same status as Hinduism and worship of a Deity -
Kusala is kusala, not Hindu, Christian or Buddhist.
I am not trying to have it both ways, when kindness is called for, it
would in fact require wrong understanding to think that it is not
necessary. Right understanding supports all other kinds of kusala. It is
better to understand metta as a nama dhamma than to just have more
metta. The latter can occur in those who have not heard the Dhamma; the
former is the Path which only a Buddha can teach.
> they are dangerous distractions from the real path. We should
> therefore discourage metta and sila and focus on right understanding
> only. And if someone is a murderer we shouldn't worry about that at
> all, because it has no effect on their prospects for enlightenment.
You are beginning to mischaracterize.
> > I'm trying to not make it into another marathon post, hence skipping
> > over much of your comments.
> Don't worry, you got all the good stuff. And your point is clear. The
> path is not one of right living, good works or positive thoughts and
> feelings - those are all Brahmanic nonsense. All that matters is
> pariyatti, so let's eat, drink and be merry.
Kusala is not Brahmanic non-sense. It is good at all levels, but with
the help of Right View, it becomes more pure, in fact leading to
perfection, the kind that no other set of teachings can do.
And btw, pariyatti does not hinder in anyway, the chance of other kinds
of kusala arising in a day, but rather encourages it as per the level of
understanding. It is in fact "doing kusala" with the idea of "self" that
leads to more akusala. This latter may avoid the 'eat, drink and be
merry' kind of behavior, but only at the cost of other forms of akusala
taking the place, most notably, self-view.
Could not avoid the marathon this time.
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
Posted 03 May 2013 - 02:42 PM
> S: >One listens to the Buddha's teachings to understand something one
> otherwise would never come to know by oneself or from any other
> teacher. One keeps on listening because one sees the value of such
> understanding. It is all about "understanding" beginning with the
> intellectual level and only later can there be direct understanding.
> So why talk in terms of direct experience and use this to reject the
> necessary initial level of understanding?
> T: What you think you are listening to may not always be
> what-the-Buddha-taught. So you have to double-check it with several
Only one's own accumulated panna can be a reliable guide. If no panna,
checking with the Suttas will not help. If influenced by wrong view,
checking with the suttas will only reinforce the wrong view.
Is what I understand at the present moment what the Buddha really
taught? Let me put it this way. What I understand now, is not only the
best set of teachings I've ever come across, but the only one that would
qualify as Truth. And this I attribute the Buddha, who I consider the
only enlightened teacher.
> If you listen to a wrong idea, and keep on listening, it will be like
> mud accumulation on a pig's tail! The poor pig runs around crying in
> pain, but it does not "understand now" what is causing the pains.
Well, what I have been hearing is the only set of teachings that
encourage understanding "now". And this is precisely what my confidence
is built upon.
> T: I do not deny that every beginner needs intellectual (not stupid)
> understanding; but intellectual ideas may still be incorrect.
Intellectual understanding stands opposite to wrong understanding, not
to stupidity. Being stupid is not an obstacle to intellectual
understanding, but wrong understanding is. A smart person who can attend
to and manipulate ideas may not have any pariyatti or intellectual
understanding at all. On the other hand, a slow witted person who can't
seem to remember anything that he's heard, may have some understanding
at the intellectual level and which can later result in direct
understanding or patipatti.
> How may an assumed-correct intellectual understanding of what-is-heard
> progress toward direct knowing of the khandhas that they are anicca.m,
> dukkha.m, anatta?
Understanding is understanding, different from remembering and having
the ability to attend to various ideas. One sign of intellectual
understanding and its relation to direct understanding is confidence
that the reality "now" is what needs to be understood. This means that,
if one continues to insist on another time, place and activity as means
to develop mindfulness and wisdom, this is sign of a lack of right
understanding and the presence of wrong understanding.
> Direct experience <through vipassana~nana> of the dhammas such as
> sense objects, sense media, and the five aggregates is absolutely
> important for direct knowing, i.e., "knowledge and vision of things as
> they really are" (yathabhuta~nanadassana) that supports disenchantment
> (nibbida) leading to the cessation of dukkha. The Upanisa Sutta shows
> the dependent conditions. Maybe it's time you properly educate yourself.
Without much patipatti there can never be pativedha. In the same way,
without much pariyatti, there can never be patipatti.
> S: >We all experience ultimate realities and even refer to them all
> day. What is lacking is intellectual understanding that they are
> indeed ultimate realities and not a "self" who owns, is within,
> separate from or identical with, the khandhas. This understanding is
> supposed to have an effect in the general outlook without which there
> can't be direct understanding. And this general effect must include
> from the very beginning, recognizing and rejection of self-view.
> T: No, all of us do not experience ultimate realities
> (paramattha-dhammas) that arise and pass away rapidly;
Without experience of ultimate realities, I wouldn't be writing this
message and you wouldn't be reading it.
Is there not seeing and that which is seen, touching and hardness,
thinking, pleasant and unpleasant feelings, attachment, ignorance,
aversion and so on? Are not these ultimate realities and do we not refer
to them all day as in "I see", "I feel happy or angry" or "how did you
like the taste of the food?"
> our perceptions are perverted (vipallasa) so our minds do not have
> samadhi at the level of right concentration to know and see the
> ultimate realities, Sukin.
There is sanna and citta vipallasa with all akusala cittas, not when the
citta is kusala. When wrong view arises, it is in addition, also ditthi
vipallasa. There is no vipallasa when there is pariyatti, so when there
is intellectual understanding of seeing now, thinking now, touching now,
this is right. To deny that these exist or are expereinced and to go on
to believe in ideas such as "need for concentration in order to see
ultimate realities", this is wrong view and therefore at that time, all
three vipallasas are present.
> What you are claiming to understand ultimate realities as "indeed
> ultimate realities and not a 'self' who owns, is within, separate from
> or identical with, the khandhas" is just a false claim caused by
I admit that pariyatti arises only in flashes, and most of the time I
speak from memory. But I think, you are denying that pariyatti
understanding is right understanding, therefore this speaking from
memory has no basis at all, is that right?
> You still have the 20 self-identifications (attaditthi), don't you?
> Thus it is impossible to pretend that you have the outlook that
> "include from the very beginning, recognizing and rejection of
> self-view". You may be confused, Sukin.
No, you are the one who is confused.
You are saying that so long as one has not attained stream-entry where
all wrong view is eradicated, there can't be any recognition of wrong
view. This is saying that enlightenment happens as a result of causes
other then the development of wisdom.
> S: >You are telling us that there is no such thing, but instead that
> we must go by the dictates of this self-view until stream-entry
> happens. In effect you are suggesting a path of atta sanna as means of
> attaining anatta sanna, of wrong view as means to attain right view.
> This can't happen, can it?
> T: I think you misquoted me. Please provide an evidence to show my
> writing that supports using "atta sanna as means of attaining anatta
> sanna, of wrong view as means to attain right view".
Well, your objection above to my suggestion that the development of
wisdom from the very beginning include recognizing wrong view, this
implies that one will be motivated by wrong view, is it not? If one
can't with right view, recognize wrong view, then invariably one will
proceed to study and practice with wrong view, no?
> Wrong views must be abandoned and right view is to be developed. Period.
And part of the development of Right View is recognizing wrong view as
wrong view. Without this, wrong view will never be abandoned. Period.
> > >T: Are you able to see an ultimate reality arising and passing away
> right now?
> S: > You are talking about a very high level of wisdom and this is why
> in another post I asked about lower levels of wisdom. You are assuming
> that if there is not direct understanding of rise and fall, this means
> that there is no understanding at all, and therefore one should not
> talk about and go by such ideas.
> T: For one who knows that he/she has a low level of wisdom <it is
> muddy>, there should be no claim of understanding of ultimate
> realities. Period.
This comes from someone who has yet to experience the first step along
the Path of understanding the Four Noble Truths.
> Muddy understanding can become less muddy and finally progresses to
> direct knowing through following the Buddha's teachings about sila,
> sense restraint, and samatha-vipassana meditation.
What is sila and how does it influence the ability to understand seeing
or that which is seen, "now"? What is sense restraint, and how is it
different from vipassana? What is samatha?
And please don't respond simply by giving quotes, because when you do
this, your understanding remains hidden from view. A parrot can quote
too, but does it understand?
> >S: One question here, which part of the Buddha's teachings should a
> beginner go by and why?
> T: Everything the Buddha taught about sila (starting with the Five
> Precepts), samadhi and panna at the level that he/she can understand
> and verify. Then apply what-the-Buddha-taught to everyday living.
We need to know what sila in reality is, do we not? So what is it? Also
we need to understand what samadhi is and how it influences panna, do we
not? So please say a little about this too? Applying what the Buddha
taught in everyday living, like understanding the reality "now", right?
Is this what you encourage? Or do you want us to do something else first?
> >S: one side is talking about that which can be verified now, whereas
> the other, like the blind man attempting to lead other blind men, is
> talking about following
> suggestions with reference to anything but "now". Some people love
> stories about "self" moving in time, doing and achieving this and
> that. Others recognize to some extent the deception in such kind of
> thinking and are therefore in the process of making such stories loose
> their power of appeal. You are obviously in the first category and
> that is why you don't like to listen to someone who is in the other
> T: This accusation that everybody else, except you and some DSG
> members you know, has the Self Demon lurking behind is based on a
> wrong view: "I don't have self-views, they do".
Well, aren't you always talking about other than what is "now", such as
the need for sila and samatha-vipassana meditation, whatever this means?
How did you draw the statement "I don't have self-views, they do", from
what I said?
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
Posted 24 July 2013 - 03:31 AM
> So you are referring to samma samadhi as a separate practice which is
> supposed to help panna of the Eightfold Path?
> No. But I would rather give you examples. Have you ever taste a
> chicken curry? Taste. Could you tell me the taste? You would say "It
> is salty. Or it is spicy. Or it is sweet. Or it is sour. Our it is
> bitter." Actually there are different tastes. There what you recognize
> most will appear to your mind and you would say 'some of them even
> though there are many'. I am not lateralizing.
> When kusala dhamma arise as javana cittas there is a citta along with
> 19 cetasikas and if the kusala is tihetuka there will be panna as
> well. If kusala thing is karu.naa then there also is karuna cetasika.
> There are dhamma like ekaggata, cetana, sanna, saddha, sati,
> vitakka,viriya etc. Although there are many sometime one dhamma is
> used as a head-dhamma. All go hand in hand.
> Without samaadhi there will not be panna.
Therefore there is no separate practice of concentration to help the
Eightfold Path. So how does Jhana make it easier for the Path to arise?
> Is not samma samadhi in fact ekaggata cetasika made "right" by virtue
> of being conditioned by samma ditthi?
> Theoretically right. Sammaa-samaadhi is not just simple ekaggataa. It
> has to be built.
How? Through the practice of samatha leading to Jhana for instance?
> Does not panna when developed, becomes indriya and bala
> and this is what reflects the ease in arising regardless of whether
> the preceding dhamma and object is kusala, akusala or avyakata?
> Is panna indriya or bala only because samadhi is indriya and bala?
> This is right. Balancing of indriya is required.
And does the balancing happen as a result of following separate
practices for each of the indriyas?
> You miss the point.
> Hearing the Dhamma and appreciating it, leads to seeing value in
> continued listening rather than to the idea of doing something / practice.
> You seem hating 'the idea of doing something'.
And you don't seem to have any problem with it, so much so that you
accept as valid, many different practices that are done in the name of
> What do you understand by "cira kala bhavana"? Is this a matter of 10,
> 20, 30 or 80 years, or uncountable lifetimes?
> Cira = long time, cira.m = time-takenly, prolongedly
> Cirassa kaalo --> cirakaalo
> Cirakaalassa bhaavanaa --> cirakaala bhaavanaa
> No need to count. But it is not short surely.
Not counting, but you were giving figures such as 7 years and 30 years.
But can these be anywhere close to the correct figure? How long does it
take for the Arahatta with the lowest parami to reach his goal?
> If there is no Pariyatti understanding, wrong attainments will find
> confirmation in the Tipitaka what it seeks. A very dangerous position
> to be in. Begin again and again, which is none other than what appears
> "now". Do you think someone who has attained will want to check with
> the Tipitaka what he has experienced, or he will just keep developing
> understanding of the reality NOW?
> What do you mean by wrong attainment? If it is wrong practice there is
> nothing to attain. The attainers do not need chechking because
> checking has already been done in first javana after attainment as
I mean, what many people believe to be the result of meditation
practice. Some not so great, some as being first jhana, second jhana,
vipassanannana and even sotapatti or higher, but all in fact delusional.
Earlier while making the point of dhamma meditator / students in Myanmar
not overlooking need to study the Tipitaka, you had said that some of
them after attainment, would check with the texts to make sure that what
they attained was correct.
> Are you serious about such practices? Do you really believe that they
> are valid? The Dhamma is One and has one taste. The Path is one. Why
> would there be difference in practice instructions?
> There are similarities and there also are dissimilarities. The arising
> of milestones are the same but when someone passes quickly he did not
> see all milestones. When passed slowly he saw all milestones.
> The Path is one. But cars are not the same. Engines are not the same.
> Tyres are not the same. Car-bodies are not the same. One passed one's
> own path. But there can be generalization.
> Example: Metta is adosa. But metta in a dog, in a man, in a monk, in a
> sotapanna, in the Buddha will not be the same even though
> characterwise it can be said that it is adosa or metta.
You are saying this to justify different forms of meditation practice,
but this is not the right way to think about these things, is it?
Metta is metta. Whatever the strength, it still has a particular
characteristic, function, manifestation and proximate cause, and is this
not the very point of studying the Abhidhamma? Therefore in the same
way, the Path is the Path, it is accompanied by five or six particular
group of cetasikas when it is mundane, and eight cetasikas when it is
supra-mundane. Each of these cetasikas have a particular characteristic
and perform their particular functions. This kind of understanding is
exactly what helps us to discriminate between right vs. wrong practice,
rather than end up believing in one or the other form of conventional
practices, or worse, that they are all equally valid....?!
> Have you and any of the teachers ever checked with the Tipitaka
> regarding these practices? Are you interested only in the "result" and
> not in the causes?
> I am interested in almost everything. I do search the causes, I do
> look at the results, I do check the presence of associations, I do
> track the presence of complications. 'Cause and effect' only is like
> head and tail only.
You mean that you check all these with reference to the present moment
> Practice is conditioned namas / sankhara dhammas or is it something else?
> 1. sappuurisa sa.mveso
> 2. saddhamma savana.m
> Tipitaka needs at leats 7 years just for touch. But for practice not
> evry detail is needed.
Patipatti is the result of accumulated pariyatti. Increased pariyatti
understanding, is not detailed knowledge in terms of ideas attended to
and remembered, but deeper understanding accompanied by increased
confidence, with reference to the present moment reality. This is by way
of "thinking", different from patipatti which is "direct experience" of
characteristic of a nama or rupa.
> Associate with wiseman and being taught by wiseman are the first two
> parts what you said. This is done before going into practice.
> 3. yoniso manasikaara
> 4. dhammaanudhammapa.tipattiyaa
> 3 & 4 require dhamma teachers. Need to be instructed otherwise will
> miss nibbaana.
You mean after "hearing the Dhamma" and "associating with the wise",
you look for a "wise teacher" out there to teach you something which
otherwise cannot happen?
After hearing the Buddha teach, some of his disciples had to look for
teachers to learn meditation? So the Dhamma spoken by the Buddha alone
was not enough for his disciples, and they needed something "more" from
his enlightened savakas?
> "NO PRACTICE NO NIBBAANA". Neyya puggalaa have to do practice
> otherwise will miss the greatest chance.
So this practice is not a dhamma, but a conventional activity, namely,
But as students of the Abhidhamma we are to understand all that ever
arises and falls away as conditioned dhammas, is it not? So do tell me,
what particular dhammas are encouraged in the name of meditation
practice? Also, if we are supposed to refer to the particular
conventional practice rather than characteristic and function of
particular dhammas, do we do this out of blind faith or what? If you say
that we follow a particular meditation instruction with "understanding",
please point out exactly what this understanding is about?
> But by this I do not mean "book knowledge", but of what
> appears from moment to moment.
> When in real practice, 'moment to moment' matter is no more
> theoretical but in real timeline. Things as they really are seen one
> after another in clear background. What is not seen is 'bhava`nga-cittas'.
The reference to "moment to moment" is saying that panna develops only
in relation to what appears "now" and at any given moment, there is only
ever "now" to be known. I don't believe in the idea of being mindful all
the time, except only when it is bhavanga cittas.
> Is this what you have in mind when you
> suggest that those people in the Tipitaka who went in search of
> teachers knew more Dhamma than I do?
> Htoo: :>)
> Entertaining and believing in such stories, how does this reflect
> development of Right Understanding?
> Entertainment is not my job.
So thinking / speculating about the probable number of people who became
sotapannas is something that panna would do?
> Right understanding does not arise without practice. Without
> bhaavanaa, without satipatthana, without vipassana, without practice
> there is no sotapanna, no sakadagam, no anagam, no arahats.
Right understanding begins with pariyatti level. Patipatti can begin to
arise only after this pariyatti level has been accumulated over many
lifetimes. If you refer to some conventional practice done by this or
that person in a given lifetime, then you are not talking about that
which is the result of accumulated pariyatti understanding and that
which would lead to pativedha after yet more uncountable lifetimes, but
> They did have theoretical knowledge and understanding. But there was
> no pa.tivedha because there was no pa.tipatti. That is why they were
> sent to teachers who would guide them to attain nibbaana.
You mean they attained pativedha with just 7 days, 7 years or 70 years
of patipatti regardless of whether or not panna, samadhi, sati, saddha
and viriya were accumulated as indriya and bala?
> The kind of thinking that you express here is something people of
> other religions also express. As Dhamma students we know what it in
> fact takes to determine whether someone has good sila or not, but more
> importantly, that it is Right View which is important and what really
> determines whether someone has this or not.
> Do you mean that the people I talked about had wrong view? Opposite.
Well, that would be the logical conclusion wouldn't it, given that you
are representing their view and you keep expressing what I consider as
wrong understanding with regard patipatti?
> So you do know that it is Right Understanding which is important and
> that it is through questioning / discussion that one comes to know
> whether this is present or not.
> I do not understand what you mean. Could you please put it in another way?
I was responding to this part of your last message:
"But when I have to deal with that person I will assume him as a person.
If I have a chance to talk together I might know how deeply he know
dhamma and then I may feel confident that dhamma in him is dhamma."
> Well, I was talking about me and everyone else on this list who have
> expressed disagreement with you regarding the concept of "practice".
> Actually I am interested in dhammas and the Dhamma not in people.
Sorry, but that is not the impression I have got in this particular
discussion. You appear to express confidence in some respected teachers
of Myanmar more than you do in the Dhamma.
> So you were talking about someone else who has claimed to know
> bhavanga cittas?
> Please look through this post again. There is a part that I had
> written. Did I say as you said?
This is what you wrote in an earlier message:
"Pupils of Mahasi Sayadaw could experience bhava`ngacittas even though
I have to send this off quickly as my computer is showing some problems,
therefore I am not going to review what I wrote.
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
Posted 04 August 2013 - 05:08 PM
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Re: [dsg] Re: Vipassanaa_008 (DT 895 )
Sat Aug 3, 2013 9:46 pm |
> > Even you have right view of impermanence samaadhi is required. Without
> > samaadhi you will not be on the right path.
> Are you referring to the samadhi as in one of the universal cetasikas,
> namely ekaggata? Or are you talking about the so-called practice of
> samadhi?If the latter, I am still waiting for a logical explanation
> regarding its role in the development of the Path. Why do you say that
> the practice of samadhi is needed for the development of Right View
> which sees into the characteristic of impermanence?
> I am not referring to ekaggataa. Many suttas describe. Right view is
> separate. Concentration is separate. Mindfulness is separate. Effort
> is separate. I mean to see separately. They work together.
Do the other "Sammas" of the Path have panna cetasika as a conditioning
Is there right effort, right concentration, right view, right thought
and so on as cetasikas during a moment of satipatthana or vipassana? If
so, why do you also interpret the factors of the Eightfold path as each
being separate practices?
> Manodvaravithi for magga-appanaa has only 8 cittas.
> 1. minddoor adverting consciousness (manodvaravajjana citta)
> 2. 1st anuloma citta (kaamaavacara)
> 3. 2nd anuloma citta (kaamaavacara)
> 4. 3rd anuloma citta (kaamaavacara)
> 5. gotrabhu citta (like nibbana-door)_Kaamaavacara citta
> 6. magga citta (only 1 kha.na)_lokuttara citta (kusala)
> 7. 1st phala citta (lokuttara citta)_(vipaaka)
> 8. 2nd phala citta (lokuttara citta)_(vipaaka)
> This series is very short. This is the time of path arising. Only at
> that time there are 8 magga`nga or all 8 parts arise together.
> Even you understand well and you do not have wrong view and you have
> right-view of sammaa-ditthi its power has to be the same with other
> path factors.
And these are developed as separate practices....?
What is the practice of samma sankappa and samma kammanta for example,
and what determines their rightness?
> > You are talking on citta as if citta is a person. It does not have
> any quality. It just has characteristic.
> In talking about a citta rooted in moha and lobha, do you say that the
> particular citta has the characteristic of akusala?
> I was responding to your suggestion that the practice of samadhi makes
> it easier for the Path to arise. In referring to the difference in
> "quality" of citta, I was trying to point out that a jhana citta is
> different in terms of not only characteristic, but also of function,
> from that of the Path. So this is what you should be responding to
> rather than tell me that I am making citta into a person.
> Apology. It has to be free from hindrances.
> 1. upacaara samaadhi (arise from any kind of 40 kammatthanas)
> 2. 1st jhaana quality
> 3. 2nd jhaana ,,
> 4. 3rd jhaana ,,
> 5. 4th jhaana ,,
> 6. 1st arupa-jhaana quality
> 7. 2nd arupa-jhaana ,,
> 8. 3rd arupa-jhaana ,,
> 9. 4th arupa-jhana ,,
Jhana is free from hindrances by virtue of the conditioning factors
within itself. Satipatthana is also free from hindrances by virtue of
the conditioning factors within itself. Jhana is conditioned by one kind
of understanding, the object of which is a concept (with the exception
of 2 as you point out). Satipatthana is conditioned by one kind of
wisdom, the object of which is characteristic of a reality, and this can
even be the characteristic of one of the five hindrances. The reason
that even the hindrances or any akusala can be the object of
Satipatthana is because of the superiority of this kind of understanding
over that of Jhana, and this shows why *it does not need* the latter's
assistance. What it needs are the paramis and Jhana is not a parami.
Besides, these paramis influence the accumulation of panna not in the
way you suggest the need for Jhana.
> All 8 jhaanas are appanaa-samaadhi. Magga viithi is also
> appanaa-samaadhi. Phala is also appanaa-samaadhi. Phala-samaapatti is
> also appanaa-samaadhi.
This is a misleading reasoning.
Magga and Phala are *appana* samadhi for totally different reasons from
that of Jhana.
> If not to one of these level wisdom will not be full wisdom.
Samma Ditthi is the forerunner of the Path, not Samma Samadhi.
> I was referring to the difference in kind of wisdom between that of
> Jhana and that of the Path, so yes, the object as well.
> So what do you say now, the object of Jhana is not one of the three
> characteristic of paramattha dhammas, but a concept. So please explain
> to me, how concentration on a concept with the understanding about
> "calm" and how this calm can be maintained through repeated
> concentration on a meditation subject, can make it easier for the the
> kind of concentration conditioned by Right View, the object of which
> is a characteristic of paramattha dhammas, to arise? What is the
> relationship between the kind of development where only sensuous
> desire is addressed and the defilements remain suppressed, and the one
> which sees the danger of ignorance and therefore aimed at the
> eradication of all defilements?
> Simple jhaana is not leading to vipassana and to magga. There are 8
> jhaanas. 4 ruupa jhaanas take 'pannati' as their object. 1st and 3rd
> arupa-jhana also take 'pannati' as their object. There are only 2
> arupa-jhaana that take the object of 'naama'. They are 2rd
> arupa-jhaana and 4th arupa-jhaana. Their objects are cittas.
Is the object of 2nd and 4th arupa jhana the characteristic and
understood as dhatu? If not, then it can't have any relationship with
the Path. Indeed if there is no accumulated Right Understanding, these
objects would subsequently be taken for 'atta'. In bringing this to my
attention if you are trying to show the relationship between jhana and
insight, know that you are relying on specious reasoning, something that
the Buddha warned against in the Kalama Sutta.
> Enter jhaana. Exit it and contemplate on that. If not close to jhaana
> one who attains will be sukka-vipassakaa. If close to jhaana it is
> yuganaddha-vipassakaa (both concentration and insight).
So does a sukkha-vipassaka require any prior practice of samadhi or not?
And if it requires exiting from jhana for insight to arise, does this
not indicate that the Jhana can't be having any influence on the insight
and whatever the component of jhana that becomes the object, acts only
as object condition? Besides, for those without developed samma ditthi,
is it not inevitable that upon exiting, the Jhana is taken for "self".
> > Htoo: NEP knows nibbaana, I have said that above.
> Yeah, but you should know that the question was whether the
> development of Right Understanding involves knowing all kinds of
> dhammas or only kusala. Since you were suggesting the need for samadhi
> and the suppression of the hindrances in order for Panna to arise,
> this is saying that only kusala can be the object of the kind of
> panna, after all when it is akusala which precedes, the hindrances are
> not suppressed.
> Htoo: As long as there is niivara.na path-consciousness cannot arise.
Where did you get this idea from? Nivarana are obstacle to samadhi of
samatha practice only. The fact that the development of Right
Understanding involves coming to better understand all dhammas including
akusala, is evidence that these nivarana dhammas are not hindrances to
the arising of samma ditthi or panna cetasika, only ignorance of the
Dhamma and the influence of miccha ditthi acts as obstacle. In this
regard, the idea that a practice of samadhi to suppress the hindrances,
is required for panna to arise is an obstacle, being that it is an idea
conceived of by wrong understanding of the Dhamma.
> > No. Not promotion. It is necessity. It can be seen in many sutta.m.
> > NEP has samaadhi called sammaa-samaadhi.
> If you reason that because samma-samadhi is mentioned as one of the
> eight factors of the Path, therefore this means that Jhana practice is
> needed, then you should also believe that samma sankapa, samma vaca,
> samma kammanta, samma ajiva, samma vayama, samma sati and samma ditthi
> are each separate practices to be followed.
> In prepath there is no direct involvement of siila-magga`nga. It just
> surrounds the prepath. Again prepath is worldly things. It is lokiya.
> Pa~nca`ngika magga or prepath have 5 factors. All have to be sammaa.
> Your sammaa-ditthi is also there. These 5 factors must have equal power.
Where is it mentioned that the other factors are not pre-path and samma
samadhi is? What I know is that five or six of the factors arise
(together) during lokiya moments and all eight do so during lokuttara.
Anyway, the question is, if the Buddha put them all together, why do you
choose to take a particular one out to give it special significance in
terms of being a practice on its own?
> So now can you please describe to me, what each of these practices are
> in the sense of "doing" something?
> Yeah. Viriya is *doing*. Vitakka of sammaa-sa`nkappa is *doing*.
> Concentration of at least upacaara-samaadhi is *doing*. Samma-sati is
> *doing*. These are *doing*, so they are called kaaraka magga`nga. Or
> working magga or *doing* magga. Without *doing* nothing can be true
> prepath. If no true prepath, there will never be path.
Do you not understand my question or are you intentionally changing the
meaning? Is the *doing* in terms of function of each of the cetasikas
the same as the *doing* of jhana practice? As I said in another
response, the *doing* that is being objected to by some of us, is the
function of miccha ditthi cetasika manifested as wrong practice.
> > Htoo:
> > You are totally wrong.
> > Noble Eightfold Path is just a moment. It is at magga kha.na. It is
> as the result of *practice*. The practice is vipassanaa. The practice
> is satipa.t.thaana. Without this anyone including Sammaasambuddhas,
> paccekabuddhas, and all saavaka cannot attain nibbaana.
> I was referring to the Path as a particular kind of development
> corresponding with pariyatti > patipatti > pativedha or suttamaya
> panna > cintamaya panna > bhavanamaya panna. Was I totally wrong to do
> You stop at pariyatti level. Without *doing* there will not be
> pa.tivedha. So I said you are wrong.
*Doing* by cetasikas or the other kind of doing as in silabbataparamasa?
If *doing* as in the function of particular cetasikas, this happens with
pariyatti level as well. So no worry, these being sankhara dhammas, will
accumulate and one day become doings by these same cetasikas at the
levels of patipatti and pativedha. The doing that you try so hard to
promote however, is that of miccha ditthi, and this is exactly because
of lack of pariyatti, and which will never lead to pativedha.
> Should the reference to the development of the Path be limited only to
> Anyway, you should have got my meaning and tried to respond to the
> main point, namely, the development of panna from the very beginning
> involves understanding all jatis of dhammas. This leads to panna
> growing keener becoming indriya, bala and so on, implying that no
> akusala (except for wrong view) would be a hindrance to such panna.
> The idea that samadhi is needed to suppress the hindrances must
> therefore be totally wrong!
> Not wrong(last part I refer to). Understanding at pariyatti level has
> passed and pa.tipatti is being *practiced* *doing is being done*.
> Bala, indriya, sammappadhaana, bojjha`nga all need *doing*.
And this you believe exactly because there is no pariyatti yet!
> And there must be jhana factors now, without which you wouldn't think,
> read, or type any message. So without samadhi and vitakka - vicara,
> there will not be thinking with lobha or dosa either. Don't we
> therefore refer to these two roots and ignorance when talking about
> what is akusala rather than the role of samadhi? And is strength of
> akusala the result of accumulated samadhi? So why the need to see
> samadhi as leading to panna?
> It must be due to wrong understanding at the level of pariyatti,
> leading to wrong idea about patipatti!
> Nope. Sati, panna(dhammaavicaya), viriya (*doing*), piiti(jhaana
> factor), passaddhi (jhaana factor), samaadhi (jhaana factor),
> uppekkhaa (jhaana factor). So jhaana factors are very important.
Important as being mental factors each performing their functions and
supporting samma ditthi, or important according to the dictates of
miccha ditthi which tries to convince that *doing* by 'self' in the name
of developing these jhana factors is required?
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
Posted 09 September 2013 - 07:52 AM
Sorry to take so long to respond.
I think this is a good thing to discuss. I used to think that what you describe above is mindfulness, but now I think it is only thinking (even if it is non-verbal - so a very clear "patterns and shapes recognition" so to speak, without actual verbal thoughts). In other words, to be with mindfulness, such moments would have to be kusala. But what makes knowing that I'm walking up the stairs kusala? There is no dana, no sila, so to make it bhavana at least, there would have to be either consideration of dhammas (vipassana), or of samatha object (samatha).
But walking up the stairs seems to be neither. What would you say is kusala about it? I don't mean to be confrontational - I keep wondering about the same thing, and I can't really find any kusala in knowing that I'm walking, or that I'm sitting, breathing, etc. All these are things mentioned in the satipatthana sutta, yet there must be something I'm missing since there doesn't seem to be any kusala in such moments for me at least.
**Perhaps Sukin and KenH could tell us as ex-meditators:
In your experiences, when you were aware that you are sitting, or walking, or breathing (so things mentioned in satipatthana sutta), what is the difference between just thinking about it (even though it's in a very clear and non-verbal fashion like it occurs in meditation) as opposed to actual panna arising in such situations, the latter being what satipatthana sutta is actually describing I guess. Thanks
I don't think that I can refer to my past experience with any level of accuracy. It is all thinking with ignorance and attachment, hence vipallasa anyway. But I can talk about this topic in a more general way, which I know you don't prefer. ;-)
It is clear that any conventional activity involves lots of both verbal and non-verbal thinking. Without thinking, one can't move a finger, remain seated, or turn one's eye. As objects of thinking during any conventional act, some concepts appear as it were, to be in the background while others are more to the fore. For example while walking, one thinks in terms of what is in front and around, but not in terms of where to place the next foot. Similarly with the postures of sitting, standing and lying down, there is verbal thinking and objects paid attention to more than others, some associated simply, with a sense of 'something'.
What then happens during so-called "mindfulness" of walking, breathing, sitting and postures in general? I believe that it is thinking more about/ proliferating on, concepts which otherwise are in the background and / or involve non-verbal thinking. For example, the movement of the feet, the tactile consciousness of say, the leg touching the floor, the movement of the belly, the sensation at the nose of breath etc. whereas all those other objects which normally are thought about more elaborately, are now in the background or not thought about at all.
Could this be what the Buddha taught? Could he have recommended simply the change of objects of thinking? I don't think so. His is addressing what is at the root, namely ignorance, to be eradicated, and wisdom, to be developed. As you say, the study of citta, cetasika and rupa or vipassana bhavana.
It is as if those who follow such practices, are in fact not hearing the Buddha.
The Buddha taught the Four Noble Truths, therefore what is expected of us as students of his teachings, is to understand this, starting with the pariyatti level. How else could there be sacca nnana which is supposed to then lead to kicca nnana and to kata nnana? The so-called "practice" cited is not what patipatti is about. They are own inventions, and is the reason why often results in downplaying the need to listen to the teachings / study. Any real understanding associated with patipatti on the other hand, this not only is in accord with pariyatti understanding, but must in fact encourage continued listening to / Dhamma study. Sacca nnana, kicca nnana and kata nnana are the three rounds of knowledge with regard to the Four Noble Truths each of which must conform to the other.
I probably have not answered the way you expected. But I hope that it is OK.