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Dhamma for Disciples of Goenkaji's Vipassana


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#21 RobertK

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Posted 14 June 2006 - 06:52 AM

QUOTE

http://web.ukonline..../tdaing3.htm#21
Mogok Sayadaw

It is important for the Yogi to contemplate on Vedana where and when it arises. It has been a general practice to fix it on the chest or on the head but Vedana; appears anywhere in the body at an appropriate time, so it cannot be said that this sort of practice is right. It is like aiming an arrow at a wrong target. It may be said that nobody can make any agreement with Vedana. Nobody can fix Vedana in any particular place. It will arise where there is Phassa preceding. When a Yogi finds and believes that the Vedana he meditates on in one moment is the same one in another moment, it must be said that he has a long way to go. ..
It is important for the Yogis to remember that Vedana is not to be sought after purposely. It is generally believed that when one gets pains, ache, or illness, it is called Vedana but Vedana is more than that. It is prevalent all the time. One of the six Vedana; is arising either on the eye, ear, nose, tongue, body or mind.

There is not a single moment that is free from vedana, so the Yogi must try to cognise, comprehend the arising and perishing of the Khandhas of which Vedana is one.




#22 RobertK

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Posted 15 June 2006 - 02:17 PM

Letter to Susan (Final)

The Visuddhimagga and also the Patisambhidhimagga deal with stages of insight and with the three parinnas. When one reads it all seems theory but this is not so. The Path of Discrimination (Patisambhidhimagga) uses a very difficult English, not clear. Khun Sujin deals with it in Thai, using the pali as well and then it becomes clearer. She makes it come to life, without her explantions I would find it very difficult to understand.
I see that it is very important not to select any objects as object of awareness. We have to apply anatta very consisently, in all conseqeuences. I make myself no illusions that lobha arises seldom. When I consider processes of cittas and their different functions it is an excellent reminder of lobha coming in, and ignorance. There was just now seeing, were the javanna cittas kusala or akusala? there was hearing, touching, all these moments were followed by javana cittas. Kusala or akusala? We cannot answer, thus, ignorance, akusala. I am moving ahand, or a foot, that is not vipakacitta like seeing or hearing. Akusala cittas or kusala cittas make the rupa move. If there is no dana, sila or bhavana (samatha or vipassana) the citta is in such cases akusala. So much akusala we do not notice at all. It makes us more careful. It warns us, that if we try to select objetcs, such as feeling, if we limit teh objects of awareness, if we try to do something different, to concentrate, akusala citta arises already. Lobha with each move we make. We go left, we go right, lobha already.
I had a letter from a friend, khun Kanchana, from Thailand. We had a party at her place, it was a very nice day. We had a Dhamma discussion about about seeing and visible object, it was nice but I still do not find it clear. Anyway everytime I listen my understanding grows. "There is never enough listening from life to life," Khun Sujin said
And so it is. Visible object is all that appears through the eyes, all that appears if we are not blind. We may try to focus, we may have doubts, make ourselves ideas about it. We make it too complicated, we confuse it with shape and form, which are the objects of cittas which think and which come afterwards. I also feel I have never enough of listening and considering, from life to life.
Nina Van Gorkom

#23 Wolfgang

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Posted 15 June 2006 - 02:18 PM

QUOTE(sukin @ Jun 10 2006, 06:45 AM) View Post

Dear Wolfgang,

The Buddha did not have any wrong view, therefore whatever he taught was always right. Same is true for any ariyan disciples. This however cannot be said of you and me or of Goenka, Buddhadasa, Mahasi or Acharn Chah, I think.

So, my objection arose when I began to understand and appreciate the fact that ‘conditioned realities’ are the same here as it is in a cinema hall or a meditation retreat. I began to realize that ideas about a better time and place originated from our ignorance and lack of confidence about this fact. We seek to eradicate ignorance, yet with ignorance we project the idea of ‘formal practice’ and ‘retreats’.

To be frank, I consider what is taught these days in the name of vipassana in centers everywhere, to be in fact the spreading of wrong view and increase of any attachment towards this

Sati can arise anywhere at anytime. It requires some confidence for this, and it seems that only wrong view can make us believe otherwise. If lobha, dosa and moha can arise at anytime by conditions beyond control, why not sati and panna? This error in reasoning that one needs better physical conditions is due to thinking in terms of ‘self’ and ‘situation’.

Also such ideas as even you mentioned, like the need to have ‘constant sati’ is a result of wrong intellectual understanding of the way things are. The development of sati does not require such idealized situation or is it even possible.

Again this is long, so I’ll end here. Hope there has been more food for thought.

With metta,

Sukin.

Ps: I don’t come to the website very often and when I do, I usually print out the posts and take my own sweet time to respond. So please be patient with any expected response from me.




Dear Sukin,

thanks for your long explanations. I also have no direct access to the web. Therefore, it will always take its time until I will be able to answer.

In your first paragraph you write: You think that S.N. Goenka, Ven. Mahasi Sayadaw, Ven. Ajahn Chah or Ven. Buddhadasa were no Ariyas. I would be very careful with making such statements. Because there are stories in the commentaries in which even Arahats were not recognized as such by their fellow monks - who lived for years together with them. I suppose, you did not live together with any of these teacher for even one day (?) So why you give your judgments in such a lighthearted manner?

Why generally refute any living teacher of the Dhamma? (while the Buddha said it would suffice to be called a teacher of the Dhamma if one merely would encourage dispassion) - Don't you think this could have very adverse effects? (It would be something very different if you would have to criticize some concrete behavior - which again is impossible, if you did not have any personal experiences with these teachers)

In respect to you're considering the practice in today's meditation centers as a spreading and an increase in wrong view; - of course, I respect your decision not to practice, and that in fact it did pronounce wrong view in your short experience of 20 days there.

Still, I consider exactly that the way to have it straight in your face. All the reasons you give against discipline, if the ancients would have given the same - we would not have had a Sangha who memorized the Dhamma for about 500 hundred years. In addition, you would not have heard of it.

There is a story of a monk in the Sutta who was disheartened by the austere life (like you?). The Buddha promised him hundreds of celestial nymphs in the afterlife, if he would persist. And because this rumor spread around - that he stayed a monk because of celestial nymphs - this monk became so ashamed and further - Arahat! -voila. (in your own opinion: the Buddha cannot be wrong)

Another Sutta tells that the desire for Nibbana has to be there in the beginning for one to start serious practice. Just as if you want to travel somewhere, you need the desire to do - once arrived, this desire naturally will cease; likewise the desire to reach Nibbana will end right there when one would reach it. So I simply disagree in this point - the moment you think your opinions are holding true for any other.

As I said: I respect your decision and the reasons you give to hold true for yourself.

- But your words will not change my faith in the words of the Buddha. Which is not a blind confidence at all - but because my experience was exactly the same to your short beginnings in practice, but then it followed again exactly where the Buddha said it would, and not where you speculate it to.

May we learn to accept different approaches to the Dhamma how they unfold for others, and not only what one thinks they would mean for oneself.

Wishing whatever you want on your path,


Wolfgang



#24 RobertK

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Posted 15 June 2006 - 02:59 PM

QUOTE
Wolfgang
Another Sutta tells that the desire for Nibbana has to be there in the beginning for one to start serious practice. Just as if you want to travel somewhere, you need the desire to do - once arrived, this desire naturally will cease; likewise the desire to reach Nibbana will end right there when one would reach it. So I simply disagree in this point - the moment you think your opinions are holding true for any other

Dear Wolfgang
Good to read all your posts.
Is this the sutta you were thinking of?
http://www.accesstoi...1.015.than.html
I have heard that on one occasion Ven. Ananda was staying in Kosambi, at Ghosita's Park. Then the Brahman Unnabha went to where Ven. Ananda was staying and on arrival greeted him courteously. After an exchange of friendly greetings & courtesies, he sat to one side. As he was sitting there, he said to Ven. Ananda: "Master Ananda, what is the aim of this holy life lived under the contemplative Gotama?"
"Brahman, the holy life is lived under the Blessed One with the aim of abandoning desire."
"Is there a path, is there a practice, for the abandoning of that desire?"
"Yes, there is a path, there is a practice, for the abandoning of that desire."
"What is the path, the practice, for the abandoning of that desire?".........


Here is another about desire

http://www.abhidhamm..._nikaya_126.htm
But as for any priests or contemplatives endowed with right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, & right concentration: If they follow the holy life even when having made a wish, they are capable of obtaining results. If they follow the holy life even when having made no wish, they are capable of obtaining results. If they follow the holy life even when both having made a wish and having made no wish, they are capable of obtaining results. If they follow the holy life even when neither having made a wish nor having made no wish, they are capable of obtaining results. Why is that? Because it is an appropriate way of obtaining results.
Robert

#25 Wolfgang

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Posted 16 June 2006 - 11:51 AM

Dear Robert,

many thanks again, for sharing your vast knowledge of the Pitaka - pointing again to details I haven't even thought of, in this context.


By now my I found an answer to my first question: The Maṇibhadda Sutta (S. i. 208)

On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling among the Magadhans at the Maṇimālaka Shrine, the haunt of the yakkha Maṇibhadda. Then the yakkha Maṇibhadda approached the Blessed One and in the Blessed One's presence recited this verse:

satīmato sadā bhaddaṃ, satimā sukhamedhati,
satīmato suve seyyo, verā ca parimuccatī ti.

"It is always good for the mindful one,
The mindful one thrives in happiness.
It is better each day for the mindful one,
And he is freed from enmity."

[The Blessed One:]

satīmato sadā bhaddaṃ, satimā sukhamedhati,
satīmato suve seyyo, verā na parimuccati.

It is always good for the mindful one,
The mindful one thrives in happiness.
It is better each day for the mindful one,
But he is not freed from enmity.

yassa sabbamahorattaṃ, ahiṃsāya rato mano,
mettaṃ so sabbabhūtesu, veraṃ tassa na kenacī ti.

"One whose mind all day and night
Takes delight in harmelessness,
Who has loving-kindness for all beings -
For him there is enmity with none."
(Connected Discourses I. pp. 307-8)



By the way, the host of my website has unexpectedly closed it down. Now I put it up here:

Vipassana Inquiry

Wolfgang

#26 RobertK

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Posted 19 June 2006 - 08:38 AM

Thanks Wolfgang.
This topic is getting long so I made a new thread to discuss any points about your website. We can use this current thread for any points specific to this thread.
here is new thread url
http://www.abhidhamm...p?showtopic=137
Robert

#27 sukin

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Posted 19 June 2006 - 11:40 AM

Dear Wolfgang,

I get the impression that you do not want to continue with this discussion. However I’d like to make some comments and will leave it to you if you wish to respond.

My comments are between yours but not in the order you wrote.


QUOTE
Wolfgang:
>>But your words will not change my faith in the words of the Buddha. Which is not a blind confidence at all - but because my experience was exactly the same to your short beginnings in practice, but then it followed again exactly where the Buddha said it would, and not where you speculate it to.<<



I have no expectations either way. It seems to me that reason and logic only works when the other person has it within him, the seed to view experiences in the same light, otherwise it may only serve to push him further into his own views, which obviously he too does with reason and logic. And of course there is always ‘personal experience’ to refer to, hence any held view becomes even more justified.

Actually however, this so called ‘experience’ is in fact ‘perception’ and ‘view’ taking effect. So indeed we are caught in a trap of our own making. Unless one comes across the Dhamma explained in a way that would allow any accumulated understanding to arise, perhaps then would we see the wrongness of our present position.

So Wolfgang, in my case I am not referring to any ‘experience’ in the past to justify or explain my present position. The understanding that I have now is based on my reading of Dhamma and any reflection on experiences in light of that.

You seem to prefer referring only to the Sutta and perhaps the Vinaya, I like to include not only the Abhidhamma, but also its commentaries. So in the end, though we may both refer to the same Suttas, it is all about an interpretation we are most comfortable with.
And this may say nothing about the Dhamma, but some wrong view held by either/or both of us.

From some points of view the influence of the Abhidhamma is towards ‘theorizing’. To me however, the Abhidhamma allows for one to correctly evaluate one’s experience, much more than reading the Suttas alone would allow. One begins to see, I believe correctly, how much ignorance and other akusala there is in daily life. And this is being as *practical* (practice), as one can ever be.

On the other hand, it seems that those who dismiss the Abhidhamma and grow instead to rely on ‘personal experience’, particularly those got from ‘formal sitting’; fail to see this all-pervading ignorance.
They are therefore lead to “believe in” these experiences and the conclusions got from them. This seems to me to be a case of mistaking what is not sati for sati and wrong view for panna, having dwelt on a theory/practice distinction informed by self-view.

And this is why I can’t quite agree with the following sentiment:


QUOTE
Wolfgang:
>>May we learn to accept different approaches to the
Dhamma how they unfold for others, and not only what one thinks they would mean for oneself.

Wishing whatever you want on your path,-<<



It is clear to any student of the Dhamma, that Satipatthana is the ‘one’ right way to enlightenment.
Of course we all approach this understanding with quite different accumulations. In this respect it may be fair to conclude that each one has his or her ‘way’. But I think what some people are suggesting is “methods” of approach/practice. And I think this is wrong.
The person who develops Metta and the one who practices other ways of attaining Jhana, the one who practices Anapanasati or the one who chooses to contemplate on feelings, each one does so rightly or wrongly, by a complex set of conditions. Those disciples of the Buddha who reached high levels of attainment, they did not say, “I shall develop Jhana followed by Vipassana” or, “I shall develop Vipassana followed by Jhana” or, I shall develop Jhana and Vipassana in tandem” or, “I shall take the path of the Sukkavipasska”. They did what they did by their accumulated inclinations, however in the end what they all had to do in order to be developing the Path, is understanding/ insighting the present moment realities.

So it is not about any decision to follow any formal/informal practice, but “understanding’ the present moment. Any idea of “doing” anything so as to develop panna and generalizing this as a “method”, seems to me to be due to wrong view.

The Path consists of Pariyatti, Patipatti and Pativedha. These three must agree completely without a slightest contradiction. Any idea that one has studied pariyatti and now must be “doing” patipatti, is not to be having the right pariyatti which states to the effect that dhammas are conditioned and beyond control of the illusory ‘self’. And this ‘self’ is a manifestation of one of the three Papanca dhammas, namely tanha, mana and ditthi. Panna on the other hand, does not say “I shall do this”. It simply “knows” and detaches.


You say:
QUOTE
>>Why generally refute any living teacher of the
Dhamma? (while the Buddha said it would suffice to be called a teacher of the Dhamma if one merely would encourage dispassion) - Don’t you think this could have very adverse effects? (It would be something very different if you would have to criticize some concrete behavior - which again is impossible, if you did not have any personal experiences with these teachers)

In respect to you’re considering the practice in today’s meditation centers as a spreading and an increase in wrong view; - of course, I respect your decision not to practice, and that in fact it did pronounce wrong view in your short experience of 20 days there.<<



I took the liberty of referring to names because I had the impression that you were critical of Goenka, but I was wrong. Sorry. This however does not mean that I should not point out ‘wrong view’ when I see one, and this can even be while acknowledging the possibility of myself having wrong view, don’t you think?

It is true that one can’t know of the other persons Sila if one has not been in close contact and carefully observed his/her behaviour. But this is about when the person behaves outwardly ethical. I do not in fact concern myself with judging another’s Sila. It isn’t my business to judge anyone at all. My criticism, even when I name names, is towards wrong view.

And this unlike the matter of Sila does not require any long time observation of behaviour. All I need is for the other person to express his ‘views’ on Dhamma.
If in fact it is I who has wrong view and therefore fail to appreciate right view expressed by the other, this can be known while taking part in discussions with persons such as you. If on the other hand I refrain from pointing out certain teachings as being wrong, simply because others think them to be right, where do you think my ‘Saddha” would be directed at those times? Would there even be any saddha at all?


QUOTE
Wolfgang:
>>Still, I consider exactly that the way to have it
straight in your face. All the reasons you give against discipline, if the ancients would have given the same - we would not have had a Sangha who memorized the Dhamma for about 500 hundred years. In addition, you would not have heard of it.<<



Are you sure it is right to compare the tradition of ‘formal practice’ and ‘retreats’ with the Bhikkhu tradition in this way? And do you think being a monk is to be spending one’s time in meditation? And does the Bhikkhu Sangha exist to preserve the Teachings in a form that you and I can hear or read it? Are we even here to receive the results of history?

I think this idea of formal vipassana practice is a fairly recent development, a consequence of an increased wrong understanding of the Dhamma. Perhaps an extrapolation of what one perceives monks to be doing in temples. The individual who wishes to become a bhikkhu on the other hand, must know himself damn well, that he is inclined to the homeless life and really and truly sees the limitations of the lay life. His ‘duty’ would then be to study the Dhamma with the aid and support of the Vinaya. Ideally, satipatthana would have been quite natural for him. And if memorization and recitation of the Texts help in this regard, that is what he does. He also teaches the Dhamma when asked to, but surely this idea of “preserving” the Teachings should not be his aim, no?

If anything, what we all need “preserved” is not so much the texts, though this too is necessary, but “right understanding” of Dhamma. And this is got only when any one of the four individuals namely, the Bhikkhu, Bhikkhuni, Layman or Laywoman truly understands.


QUOTE
Wolfgang:
>> Another Sutta tells that the desire for Nibbana has to be there in the beginning for one to start serious practice. Just as if you want to travel somewhere, you need the desire to do - once arrived, this desire naturally will cease; likewise the desire to reach Nibbana will end right there when one would reach it. So I simply disagree in this point - the moment you think your opinions are holding true for any other.<<



Most people’s understanding of “right effort” is rooted in self-view and conventional thinking. Viriya is a mental factor arising with most cittas and therefore so easy to be mislead by. An earnest intention to sit and observe is most likely to be conditioned by self-view rather than panna. The kind of thinking influenced perhaps also by ideas about “doings” in relation to conventional realities. Where we usually identify with ‘self’ and ‘intention’ to do.

And what do we know of Nibbana? Surely it must be related to the fact of eradicating defilements, no? And if kilesas is what we seek to overcome, where and when is the time to know them? Samvega is not about being here and needing to get there. It is about understanding the nature of ‘conditioned’ realities now. No panna to know the moment, no Samvega and no possibility of attaining Nibbana.


QUOTE
Wolfgang:
>>There is a story of a monk in the Sutta who was disheartened by the austere life (like you?). The Buddha promised him hundreds of celestial nymphs in the afterlife, if he would persist. And because this rumor spread around - that he stayed a monk because of celestial nymphs - this monk became so ashamed and further - Arahat! -voila. (in your own opinion: the Buddha cannot be wrong)<<



As I indicated before, I don’t focus on Sila to judge another’s level of understanding. Someone might still be strongly attached to sense pleasures but at the same time accumulated lots of panna. So this monk may have been still very attached, but the Buddha saw that he also had lots of panna.

I hope you don’t mind the long post Wolfgang; I can’t seem to write short ones. Blame it on the accumulations rolleyes.gif .

Metta,

Sukin.

#28 Wolfgang

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Posted 21 June 2006 - 02:05 PM

QUOTE(sukin @ Jun 19 2006, 01:40 PM) View Post

Dear Wolfgang,

I get the impression that you do not want to continue with this discussion. However I’d like to make some comments and will leave it to you if you wish to respond.

I hope you don’t mind the long post Wolfgang; I can’t seem to write short ones. Blame it on the accumulations rolleyes.gif .

Metta, Sukin.


Dear Sukin,

it's not at all that I want to discontinue this discussion. Maybe my inaptness in using English as my second language made it appear this way? Though I feel a little bit that I have to repeat what I already wrote in my responses to you.

In fact, I am very grateful that you take this enormous effort to make it clear how you understood me. Giving me a further opportunity to clarify possible misunderstandings. I hope it will only testify to the Samvega of both of us, if we haven't succeeded in understanding each other in a year from now. smile.gif From my side, I am confident you don't do it just for being 'right'.

QUOTE(sukin @ Jun 19 2006, 01:40 PM) View Post

So in the end, though we may both refer to the same Suttas, it is all about an interpretation we are most comfortable with.
And this may say nothing about the Dhamma, but some wrong view held by either/or both of us.


Therefore I repeat myself here: When I relate to 'experienced' sati, I mean moments - also increasingly outside formal practice - where I clearly see my tanha to atta, to sukha or nicca - and suffer from my own obstinate clinging (yes, I suffer also by my clinging to sukha in such moments) - still not in the condition just to let go (well, in a way I do detach from this suffering I - having firm confidence in its impermanence - on the other side ...). In that I am quite a freak - or schizophrenic (in its popular understanding of being a split personality).

But such seeing, with all its contradictions and ambivalence, also makes it more natural not to take myself so important in daily life anymore. That does not mean anything in respect of having realized anything. It may only mean I have taken myself sooo important that already a little decrease of my self-importance means practically much ease to me, and for those around me.

In this point I agree with you: I am the one with wrong view (you only can know yourself) and just acknowledging 'my' wrong-view - not modifying it at all - this brought surprising effects in the way I relate to my self and others, especially during everydays conditions.

Exactly out of the perceived all-pervading ignorance of mine (when it comes to atta), I do not consider myself in the position to give judgments on any others - with the certainty you do. I have this momentary certainty: 'Wrong View' in my mind, but not with others as well.

That is why I try to refrain as much as possible to give secure judgments about where you are, or any other teachers. In addition, I expect that insecurity on your side too - if you do not want to imply holiness in a second sentence, while you denied it in a first. Better state the sentences where you think wrong views are spread, I think.

Still I do criticize Goenkaji - not as a person - but that he teaches stubbornly only one kind of monastic meditation - just as an example - therefore, 90 percent of first-time meditators perceive it too difficult and never come back to a second course. (exactly for the missing preconditions you say a monk would have - to be able to start the practice as a monk)

So in my opinion many more could benefit if Goenkaji also taught the beginners practices (like the six recollections) - but contrarily he discourages such practice as not leading to liberation (as probably you would do - and would again scare more than 90 percent of beginners away with the high/try theory of Abhidhamma. Btw., Goenka does teach the 6 recollection - and also about the importance of starting the noble eightfold path with right-view! - however, in the long courses only).

Again, I repeat myself: Only by this - of you so abhorred formal practice - I repeatedly saw ignorance and its rattail. I simply could not understand it with texts of Abhidhamma at all. (you can deny this experience of mine further on, but it doesn't become less true for myself through your denial)

But only through seeing myself doing it. And that happened just in relation to the amount of times in retreats - which in my case went proportionally with the study of Suttas (please understand that I consistently use conventional speech - even if I try to point to ultimacies. There is no pretense for anything from my side, other than taking myself less important or less implicit)

When the Buddha answered to Brahmins their question about how to become reborn with Brahma, or to Visakha how and why to practice Uposatha - because of such answers, in my eyes, it does not mean that he taught wrong view to them. - But only to take them from where they are and what they could comprehend - to a condition to become able also to understand deeper truths. To be understood, the Buddha talked consistently (to laypeople) in terms of conventional truth, to eventually arrive at ultimacies.

The same holds true about public expressions of popular teachers. Today it would have no lesser effect if popular teachers would start out with teaching the Abhidhamma (which for most western laity is nothing more than classifications of dhammas in the Suttas; a sort of index if you like, like a thick telephone book) - than make most beginners shake their heads unbelievingly and leave again.

On the other hand, so many of today's meditators gradually realize the importance of Sila as a precondition to 'practice'. In addition, a few years later - if they persisted - many could not other than become prepared by such persistence - to see their ignorance in all of their 'doing' practice. In my eyes that integrates the noble eightfold path much better - as if they would not have started out with it at all. (of course, in Buddhist Asia this doesn't necessarily holds true. There are really different preconditions)

QUOTE(sukin @ Jun 19 2006, 01:40 PM) View Post

Those disciples of the Buddha who reached high levels of attainment, they did not say, “I shall develop Jhana followed by Vipassana” or, “I shall develop Vipassana followed by Jhana” or, I shall develop Jhana and Vipassana in tandem” or, “I shall take the path of the Sukkavipasska”. They did what they did by their accumulated inclinations, however in the end what they all had to do in order to be developing the Path, is understanding/insighting the present moment realities.


I again can totally agree with this, through me experience. Though I fear personal experience again means nothing to you, because it is only 'perceptions' & 'view' - which you again perceive not to be informed by Dhamma. - That they all had to do insight, in the end, does not imply they could leave any other limb of the noble eightfold path out either:

You know 10-day courses. There one is told to practice for 3 days Anapana to still the mind to a necessary degree to become able to see. Although I have done repeatedly so many of these courses - I have never accomplished that.

During 3 days of Anapana all I am concentrated on is a flickering unstable wavering changing, a painful mind. Even it stays with the breath for some time - that just happens according to conditions and was never under my control at all. While during the moving of awareness with the understanding of impermanence of sensations through the body - allegedly called Vipassana of Vedana - somehow I really become able to stay with a mind concentrated (not 'my' mind though, already implied by being concentrated on impermanence).

My second longer practical experience was in a monastery were the Abbot thinks Abhidhamma in its entirety can only be seen - and for realization: HAVE to be seen in its entirety - after one would have reached fourth Jhana. And that (practice of Jhana) only by the commentarial way, usually with Anapana. So, because Anapana never meant pure 'Samatha' to me anyway, I thought to be able to practice Anapana there, to the extent of my hearts contend (virtually).

However, the commentarial approach only advises counting of breaths, if the concentration does not improve soon. However, as much as I tried, counting method only caused me strong headache. Therefore, I was exempted from counting method and allowed to be with my breath 'only' by the Abbot. (please see also my other post in the 'Brahmali' thread on this)

Despite this, the Abbot of this monastery really is a Unikum in being able to recite from memory the Sutta, the Vinaya, the Commentaries, and the Abhidhamma. On being asked, why he would not be able to give right away the proper method to a particular meditator - he relates a story of the commentaries in which not even Sariputta was able to do that with one monk under his training for 3 rains (Sariputta had instructed this monk in Anapana. [And this Achariya did start out teaching practical Abhidhamma; he just learnt with the years that for most that would only work by having accomplished the fourth Jhana - for example to become able to know & see paticca-samupada not only momentary, but also in the course of countless past and future lifes]).

While then the Buddha (back to the comm. story) instantly saw this monk's propensity to the red color and gave him red Kasina as meditation object. This then worked very fast for this monk. - 'So who would he be', this Abbot with a smile answered, 'if even Sariputta could not do that.' (Please note that this is stated out of memory. The actual words might have been different)

Therefore Sukin, you must be quite a big caliber if you know better than Sariputta what works best for everyone (?) I hope that you now also understand that I just cannot agree wholeheartedly with the commentaries, because they narrow Anapana ridiculously down to mechanics of Samatha (at least as they are understood by some) - which just does not work for me - as the broader Sutta-approach does.

So now we seem to arrive at a standstill: Were I say that only with formal practice I could see ignorance (although never in the order my meditation teachers intented it, and as it worked for them), as you only could see it with the study of Abhidhamma. - And you insist, ignorance can only by seen by the study of Abhidhamma, and not by 'formal practice'. - So... what to do?

Therefore again, I repeat myself:

May we learn to accept different approaches to the Dhamma how they unfold for others, and not only what one thinks they would mean for one self.

Kind regards,

Wolfgang



#29 sukin

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Posted 03 July 2006 - 03:31 PM

Dear Wolfgang,

I apologize for the delay in responding. Two weeks ago, and for the next few more weeks, I go everyday for Physical Therapy, and this is taking 3 hours of my day, including traveling. I will therefore here, respond only to one point in your post. I am glad to hear that you did not wish to discontinue with our discussions.


QUOTE(Wolfgang @ Jun 21 2006, 09:05 PM) View Post

To be understood, the Buddha talked consistently (to laypeople) in terms of conventional truth, to eventually arrive at ultimacies

The same holds true about public expressions of popular teachers. Today it would have no lesser effect if popular teachers would start out with teaching the Abhidhamma (which for most western laity is nothing more than classifications of dhammas in the Suttas; a sort of index if you like, like a thick telephone book) - than make most beginners shake their heads unbelievingly and leave again..



I can understand why people would react negatively to a particular idea about Abhidhamma. I too had similar reaction once a few years ago, when my impression of the Abhidhamma was that was a set of teachings full of lists about abstract ideas and very difficult to study. I guess I was lucky to have come across the same teachings on a later date, which was then presented not as ‘abstract ideas’, but something very immediate and practical. And this I now see as being what Abhidhamma is truly about!

Yet at the same time, there is some sense in viewing not only the Abhidhamma, but also the rest of the Tipitaka, not as “prescription” for certain actions to take, but as “description” of Reality/realities. In other words, we are told about the reality of kusala, akusala, vipaka and avyakata dhammas. And we leave it to conditions to dictate the level at which these will be understood, i.e. whether there will be “application” or just “intellectual” appreciation at any given moment.

It seems to me that another reason that people object to the idea of studying Abhidhamma, is because of a preconceived idea about ‘theory’ v/s ‘practice’. That Abhidhamma being only theory is because their ideas about practice, is such that it must involve taking certain actions, and you won’t find any recommendation to follow some conventional practice in the Abhidhamma. In the conventional world there is always a theory to put into practice, and self-view is never a problem, this will not work when it comes to the world of conditioned dhammas. Here ‘self-view’ is the great hindrance, there being in reality ‘no self’ to put any theory into practice. In fact, the concept of ‘theory’ itself is altogether different in this case.

With so much ignorance and tendency to akusala, should we not pause to consider whether any desire to practice is indeed a moment of understanding? Can non-understanding or worse, wrong understanding lead to right understanding?

We learn that every moment is conditioned and that ultimately there is only citta experiencing an object. No ‘self’ standing apart from the experience to direct the show. Logically it makes sense that ‘understanding’ is the most useful of dhammas. We also know that “intention” is only so good as the roots and other mental factors conditioning the citta.

Thinking of developing sati and panna and following any idea associated, does not make these arise. But they are developed each time that there is satipatthana. In the meantime, we may like to correct our understanding at the pariyatti level, and this would be an instance of Ditthujukamma. More useful in the development of the Path than attending weeks or months of retreat, where we don’t even give ourselves the chance to question what goes on and whether the practice and theory agree.

Now the Abhidhamma, when studied with the understanding of its relevance to the present moment experience, can and does shed light upon this tendency to ignorance and craving to take the lead. It helps us to recognize more and more the wrong paths. Dhamma as taught in the Suttas requires much greater power of discrimination to see through the illusion of ‘self’ and ‘situations’. We see the Teachings as prescriptive precisely because we identify with a self and conventional ‘doings’. The Buddha’s direct audiences were not fooled by reference to conventional reality. We too can understand that in fact the Teachings are ultimately about the nature of Paramattha Dhammas and not about ‘self needing to do something’.

To say that one starts with conventional Dhamma and that this will one day lead to understanding at the paramattha level, is I think, self-deceptive. Without knowing about ultimate realities and what constitutes practice at that level, we are likely to be fooled by ‘conceptual reality’. This is not of course saying that Dhamma has no practical use in conventional everyday life. Even when there is no idea about ‘eradicating kilesas’, surely there can be application of Dhamma to one’s day to day living, and even here, one will see its superiority over every other religion and philosophy.

But the problem is that today’s Buddhist teachers, what they have in mind is the idea of ‘practice’-patipatti, leading to understanding/penetration/eradication of kilesas which is not found on a correct ‘intellectual understanding’- pariyatti. And I have not found *one single* person, who reject/downplay the Abhidhamma, to be teaching/studying the Dhamma with Right View.

The Buddha’s audience may have heard Dhamma in conventional form, but surely they would not have resisted any reference to Khandhas, Ayatanas, Dhatu, Nama/Rupa and so on. Today’s Buddhists on the other hand, want only to hear the conventional form of the Teachings and resist any reference to ultimate realities. This seems to me to be often due to the fact that the latter denies any ‘power’ in a ‘self’ to determine the course taken and outcome got. People who resist the Abhidhamma seem to be attached to the idea of ‘control’ and apparent results, both of which are conditioned by ignorance and wrong view.

But presenting the Abhidhamma does not have to be off-putting. Personally I think, being told about citta, cetasikas and rupa as being all there is, is most compassionate of the teacher. Any book by Nina Van Gorkom for example will show how close to life and useful Abhidhamma is, and she presents it so gently! In fact, to deny an aspiring student of the Abhidhamma is to be cheating him of the best of Teachings and to risk misleading him.

But of course, this is only because the teacher himself does not understand, and I don’t believe that there is any ill-intention. Take for example, Goenka.

I believe that he truly thinks that his interpretation of the Dhamma is correct and that the prescribed practice is effective and right. As far as I am concerned however, his is a path of increasing ignorance and wrong view. If any of his students still manage to speak rightly about dhamma, it is probably because they also study the Texts and reflect on the Teachings from time to time. “Projecting” a theory on to experience is the norm for us putthujanas, so with Buddhist theory it is so easy to fall prey to the illusion of “knowing”. In Goenka’s teachings, the illusion starts from step one.

The intention arises to ‘note’ sensations at a particular location on the body. This is concept about space/location and self, most probably with also a visual idea. Without any sati and panna at this point to know “thinking”, which would have been far more useful, instead this idea conditions memory and thinking about ‘sensations’ at the particular location. And lo and behold, there *is* the experience of sensations right there and then.

Alas this is only a form of thinking, though not of the visual kind, but in terms of bodily feelings, however it is equally unreal. And because there is no panna to know this, it is instead taken to be very real, whether we then label it sensation/vedana or rupa. This is the first “illusion of result’.

From here further proliferation happens in the form of scanning the rest of the body. And now, there is in addition, the ‘illusion of “control”’. These both together, condition strong wrong view, imo. And the interpretation of the Buddhadhamma becomes quite distorted; after all it has to fit with the observation made, doesn’t it? Imagine, body consciousness which is vipaka, even this seems to arise associated with the intention to note!!! :-/

Yet, two of the most important understandings every beginner of Dhamma should have, is the difference between reality and concept, and between kamma and vipaka. Without this, there is no chance of development. We end up taking what is not sati for sati and concept for reality.

Sure, all this being quite different from the experience of one’s day to day life outside of the meditation room, it immediately becomes the object, not only of attachment, but conceiving conditioned by wrong view. Even though this will be quite well hidden behind Buddhists concepts.

As long as there is a sense of observer/observing, you can be sure that it is the thinking mind taking charge. The experience of satipatthana does not happen in this way. Here one dhamma is known for an instant, immediately to be followed most likely, by the usual ignorance and craving. And so one would at least begin to appreciate the difference between a moment of sati and that of forgetfulness, and perhaps also take a tiny step away from the wrong path.

Besides, during those moments when there is no satipatthana, but there is understanding of the level of pariyatti or cintamaya panna, one knows it for what it is. And unlike when one believes oneself to be ‘practicing’/direct experience, but in fact is only ‘thinking’, there is correct estimation[more or less], of where one is at. Better to know that one’s panna is weak and move from there, than to wrongly estimate and be forever lost.

So Wolfgang, I think it is wise to carefully study the Texts, including the Abhidhamma, with the intention to further one’s ‘understanding’, no matter if this is only at the intellectual level and not to be too eager to “experience”.

Hope this has not been too preachy and you do not mind that I am so strong against the formal practice tradition. Also this has become longer than I expected. :-/

But I look forward to any comments by you.

Metta,

Sukin.

#30 Guest_Scott Duncan_*

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Posted 04 July 2006 - 01:50 AM

Dear Sukin,

Thanks! Although not addressed to me, I learned a lot from your excellent post.

With loving kindness,

Scott.

#31 Wolfgang

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Posted 06 July 2006 - 04:01 PM

Dear Sukin,

you contrast 'theory' against 'practice' - 'description' against 'prescription'. Arriving at your conclusion:
"There would always be a theory to be put into practice, were self-view - allegedly - never would be a problem."
- But -
"When it would come to the world of conditioned dhammas, 'self-view' would be a great hindrance for the fiction of a self practicing for the removal of the fiction of a self." (to recycle Scott's words gratefully again - of his post about 'right effort'. - I invite you to read my response there, so I do not have to repeat myself too much)

QUOTE(sukin @ Jul 3 2006, 05:31 PM) View Post

With so much ignorance and tendency to akusala, should we not pause to consider whether any desire to practice is indeed a moment of understanding? ...

Thinking of developing sati and panna and following any idea associated, does not make these arise. But they are developed each time that there is satipatthana ...

More useful in the development of the Path than attending weeks or months of retreat, where we don’t even give ourselves the chance to question what goes on and whether the practice and theory agree...


With above summary, of what I heard you say - of your understanding of the situation - I can agree with you to a certain degree.

However, I myself did not come to a retreat, 'to put any particular theory into practice'. That remains yours - and as it only may appear after a few first 10-day courses, Goenka's - business.

I came to retreats only to pause - to understand - where I only gave myself the change to question what goes on and where this practice is in line with the Buddha Dhamma. The latter for me simply encompasses such contradiction between 'theories' vs. 'practice'. Description vs. prescription. Concept vs. Reality.

Because, there in retreat - being lifted the daily responsibilities of a laypersons life - from the moment one wakes up until the moment falling asleep. Not only weeks or months, but for years!

Moreover, this mere investigation during all waking hours for years did condition such rare moment's of non-conceptual Sati to arise.
You still believe one could only do such practice wrongly out of the believe in a fictional 'I' reinventing itself with 'its' efforts? Therefore, it could - according to this logic - never lead to such moments of Sati?
- What to say? - 'Atta-ditthi' must be really something overwhelmingly solid and satisfying to you (?)

However, if you still dicide to construct here a contradiction - I would like to add this following wise way of considering it:

QUOTE

Anguttara Nikaya, VI, 125 (excerpt transl. by Bhikkhu Boddhi)

Scholars and Meditator:

... 'Friends, there are monks who are keen on Dhamma' and they disparage those monks who are meditators, saying:
'Look at those monks! They think, 'We are meditating, we are meditating!' And so they meditate to and meditate fro, meditate up and meditate down!
(really interesting you worded it almost identical!)
What, then, do they meditate about and why do they meditate?
Thereby neither these monks keen on Dhamma nor the meditators will be pleased, and they will not be practising for the welfare and happiness of the multitude, for the good of the multitude, for the welfare and happiness of devas and humans.

Then, friends, there are meditating monks who disparage the monks who are keen on Dhamma, saying:
'Look at those monks' They think, 'We are Dhamma-experts, we are Dhamma-experts!' And therefore they are conceited, puffed up and vain; they are talkative and voluble. They are devoid of mindfulness and clear comprehension, and they lack concentration;
their thoughts wander and their senses are uncontrolled. What then makes them Dhamma-experts, why and how are they Dhamma-experts?
Thereby neither these meditating monks nor those keen on Dhamma will be pleased, and they will not be practising for the welfare and happiness of the multitude, for the good of the multitude, for the welfare and happiness of devas and humans.

'There are Dhamma-experts who praise only monks who are also Dhamma-experts but not those who are meditators. And there are meditators who praise only those monks who are also meditators but not those who are Dhamma-experts.
Thereby neither of them will be pleased, and they will not be practising for the welfare and happiness of the multitude, for the good of the multitude, for the welfare and happiness of devas and humans.

'Therefore, friends, you should train yourself thus: 'Though we ourselves are Dhamma-experts, we will praise also those monks who are meditators.' And why? Such outstanding men are rare in the world who have personal experience of the deathless element.

'And the other monks, too, should train themselves thus: 'Though we ourselves are meditators, we will praise also those monks who are Dhamma-experts.' And why? Such outstanding persons are rare in the world who can by their wisdom clearly understand a difficult subject.'


- or -
QUOTE

Abandoned craving by relying on craving:

Bhikkhuni Sutta AN IV.159:

"'This body, sister, comes into being through food. And yet it is by relying on food that food is to be abandoned.' Thus was it said. And in reference to what was it said? There is the case, sister, where a monk, considering it thoughtfully, takes food — not playfully, nor for intoxication, nor for putting on bulk, nor for beautification — but simply for the survival & continuance of this body, for ending its afflictions, for the support of the holy life, [thinking,] 'Thus will I destroy old feelings [of hunger] and not create new feelings [from overeating]. I will maintain myself, be blameless, & live in comfort.' Then, at a later time, he abandons food, having relied on food. 'This body, sister, comes into being through food. And yet it is by relying on food that food is to be abandoned.' Thus was it said, and in reference to this was it said.

"'This body comes into being through craving. And yet it is by relying on craving that craving is to be abandoned.' Thus was it said. And in reference to what was it said? There is the case, sister, where a monk hears, 'The monk named such-and-such, they say, through the ending of the fermentations, has entered & remains in the fermentation-free awareness-release & discernment-release, having known & realized them for himself in the here & now.' The thought occurs to him, 'I hope that I, too, will — through the ending of the fermentations — enter & remain in the fermentation-free awareness-release & discernment-release, having known & realized them for myself in the here & now.' Then, at a later time, he abandons craving, having relied on craving. 'This body comes into being through craving. And yet it is by relying on craving that craving is to be abandoned.' Thus was it said. And in reference to this was it said.

"'This body comes into being through conceit. And yet it is by relying on conceit that conceit is to be abandoned.' Thus was it said. And in reference to what was it said? There is the case, sister, where a monk hears, 'The monk named such-and-such, they say, through the ending of the fermentations, has entered & remains in the fermentation-free awareness-release & discernment-release, having known & realized them for himself in the here & now.' The thought occurs to him, 'The monk named such-and-such, they say, through the ending of the fermentations, has entered & remains in the fermentation-free awareness-release & discernment-release, having known & realized them for himself in the here & now. Then why not me?' Then, at a later time, he abandons conceit, having relied on conceit. 'This body comes into being through conceit. And yet it is by relying on conceit that conceit is to be abandoned.' Thus was it said, and in reference to this was it said.

regards...

#32 Wolfgang

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Posted 06 July 2006 - 04:19 PM

Dear Sukin,

QUOTE(sukin @ Jun 19 2006, 01:40 PM) View Post

I took the liberty of referring to names because I had the impression that you were critical of Goenka, but I was wrong. Sorry. This however does not mean that I should not point out ‘wrong view’ when I see one, and this can even be while acknowledging the possibility of myself having wrong view, don’t you think?

It is true that one can’t know of the other persons Sila if one has not been in close contact and carefully observed his/her behaviour. But this is about when the person behaves outwardly ethical. I do not in fact concern myself with judging another’s Sila. It isn’t my business to judge anyone at all. My criticism, even when I name names, is towards wrong view.

And this unlike the matter of Sila does not require any long time observation of behaviour. All I need is for the other person to express his ‘views’ on Dhamma.

QUOTE

How to know a person's discernment:

Thana Sutta, Traits, AN IV.192 (excerpt transl. by Thanissaro Bhikkhu)

"Monks, these four traits may be known by means of four [other] traits. Which four?

"It's through living together that a person's virtue may be known, and then only after a long period, not a short period; by one who is attentive, not by one who is inattentive; by one who is discerning, not by one who is not discerning.

"It's through dealing with a person that his purity may be known, and then only after a long period, not a short period; by one who is attentive, not by one who is inattentive; by one who is discerning, not by one who is not discerning.

"It's through adversity that a person's endurance may be known, and then only after a long period, not a short period; by one who is attentive, not by one who is inattentive; by one who is discerning, not by one who is not discerning.

"It's through discussion that a person's discernment may be known, and then only after a long period, not a short period; by one who is attentive, not by one who is inattentive; by one who is discerning, not by one who is not discerning.

This Sutta does not confirm at all, that to know another person's discernment - in comparison to Sila - would take lesser time!


Here a link to a very precise article if and how to critizise by Venerable Pesala.

QUOTE

Don't judge! AN VI. 123 (excerpt transl. by Bhikku Bodhi)

'Therefore, Ananada, you should not be a hasty critic of people, should not lightly pass judgement on people. He who passes judgement on people harms himself. I alone, Ananada, or one like me, can judge people.'


About dogmatism:

QUOTE

MN 95, Canki Sutta: (excerpt. transl by Thanissaro Bhikku)

"There are five things that can turn out in two ways in the here-&-now. Which five? Conviction, liking, unbroken tradition, reasoning by analogy, & an agreement through pondering views. These are the five things that can turn out in two ways in the here-&-now. Now some things are firmly held in conviction and yet vain, empty, & false. Some things are not firmly held in conviction, and yet they are genuine, factual, & unmistaken. Some things are well-liked... truly an unbroken tradition... well-reasoned... Some things are well-pondered and yet vain, empty, & false. Some things are not well-pondered, and yet they are genuine, factual, & unmistaken. In these cases it isn't proper for a knowledgeable person who safeguards the truth to come to a definite conclusion, 'Only this is true; anything else is worthless."


Regards,..

Wolfgang

#33 Wolfgang

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Posted 06 July 2006 - 04:34 PM

Dear Sukin,

I feel disappointed that you seem not to see through conceptional expressions and only feel assured if it is put in, allegedly, ultimate terms.
Seemingly fooled by the appearance of words and not interested what they do imply and how the other understands them - you are only judging others by what these concepts mean for you.

QUOTE(Sukin @ Jun 21 2006, 09:05 PM) View Post

And I have not found *one single* person, who reject/downplay the Abhidhamma, to be teaching/studying the Dhamma with Right View.

So why are you so glad to continue this discussion with me. You only wanted to assure yourself of your projected preconceptions?

It appears this way: You simply ignored those instances where the Buddha taught the way to heaven to those not interested in any beyond. Or where there could not be any 'accumulations' - as in Suppabuddhas way. - Because they do not fit your 'abhi'-preconceptions at all.

QUOTE(sukin @ Jul 3 2006, 05:31 PM) View Post

We see the Teachings as prescriptive precisely because we identify with a self and conventional 'doings'...

Please speak of your self only!

QUOTE(sukin @ Jul 3 2006, 05:31 PM) View Post

Even when there is no idea about 'eradicting kilesas', surely there can be application of Dhamma to one's day to day living, and even here, one will see its superiority over every other religion and philosophy.

Please speak of yourself only!

QUOTE(sukin @ Jul 3 2006, 05:31 PM) View Post

... they would not have resisted any reference to Khandhas, Ayatanas, Dhatu, Nama/Rupa and so on. Today’s Buddhists on the other hand, want only to hear the conventional form of the Teachings and resist any reference to ultimate realities.

Now this preconception really is an abnegation to me - you accuse the practice traditions allegedly refusing to understand dhammas ?!
Here you ridicule yourself!

QUOTE(sukin @ Jul 3 2006, 05:31 PM) View Post

In fact, to deny an aspiring student of the Abhidhamma is to be cheating him of the best of Teachings and to risk misleading him.

I think, here only your own preconceptions are cheating you!

QUOTE(sukin @ Jul 3 2006, 05:31 PM) View Post

In Goenka's teachings, the illusion starts from step one...

I do not believe it could be otherwise - though it might appear to you:

QUOTE

'Upanisa Sutta, Samyutta Nikaya XII, 23' (excerpt tranl. by Thanissaro Bhikkhu)

'Just as, monks, when rain descends heavily upon some mountaintop, the water flows down along with the slope, and fills the clefts, gullies, and creeks; these being filled fill up the pools; these being filled fill up the ponds; these being filled fill up the streams; these being filled fill up the rivers; and the rivers being filled fill up the great ocean

- in the same way, monks, ignorance is the supporting condition for kamma formations, kamma formations are the supporting condition for consciousness, consciousness is the supporting condition for mentality-materiality, mentality- materiality is the supporting condition for the sixfold sense base, the sixfold sense base is the supporting condition for contact, contact is the supporting condition for feeling, feeling is the supporting condition for craving, craving is the supporting condition for clinging, clinging is the supporting condition for existence, existence is the supporting condition for birth, birth is the supporting condition for suffering,

- suffering is the supporting condition for faith, faith is the supporting condition for joy, joy is the supporting condition for rapture, rapture is the supporting condition for tranquility, tranquility is the supporting condition for happiness, happiness is the supporting condition for concentration, concentration is the supporting condition for the knowledge and vision of things as they really are, the knowledge and vision of things as they really are is the supporting condition for disenchantment, disenchantment is the supporting condition for dispassion, dispassion is the supporting condition for emancipation, and emancipation is the supporting condition for the knowledge of the destruction (of the cankers).'


This Sutta should, once and for all, bring ease to your confusion (I quote):
"Can non-understanding or worse, wrong understanding lead to right understanding?"
- With the voice of another and wise-consideration - definitely! (giving time to investigation - in retreats or otherwise)

QUOTE(sukin @ Jul 3 2006, 05:31 PM) View Post

The Intention arises to 'note' sensations at a particular location on the body. This is concept about space/location and self, most probably with also a visual idea. Without any sati and panna at this point to know "thinking", ...

You are only speaking of how it developed with your own 'accumulations'. Moreover, you differentiated what's concept and what is not. Why you assume others not be able to comprehend the same? Why you assume such unceasing investigation of concept, from top of one's head to the tip of one's toes, would not make it seen through. - You did not persist! - Please speak of yourself only!

For me, and many others, it does evolve in line with the Upanisa-Sutta. However, for such a couple of 10-day courses, for most, will not do.

(ahh..., here my first impression again comes up: You want to understand anatta the short way - and you don't want to feel the dukkha in your tanha? - If that is the case, please feel free. But please don't say, all pervading dukkha-sanna would not lead others to this very anatta!)


Dear Sukin, such rare moments of Sati, of which you think Abhidhamma to have the patent on, conditioned many moment's ease.

I wish you many moments of such ease, so that your superiority-conceit, which makes you think - you know better then Venerable Sariputta which particular approach works best for everyone, becomes less pronounced - in how you relate with others.

I consider it just not very skilled in pleasing either, not to talk about being for the welfare and happiness of the multitude...

And it's not at all about you as a person - which I really appreciate, would like to meet and discuss with - beyond any of your puplic propagations.

It is just your missionary attitude pigeonholing all others who found Abhidhamma - compared to the Dhamma (where I take refuge) - not very helpful.

You don't really differentiate between different personalities - at the same time talk about differentiation between concept and reality? This way it is just not very credible, and does not initiate a healthy investigation. At least with me - because you keep me busy in responding to your preconceptions and silly generalizations.

With many good wishes,

Wolfgang

#34 RobertK

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Posted 07 July 2006 - 02:38 AM

Thana Sutta, Traits, AN IV.192 (excerpt transl. by Thanissaro Bhikkhu)
QUOTE

"Monks, these four traits may be known by means of four [other] traits. Which four?

"It's through living together that a person's virtue may be known, and then only after a long period, not a short period; by one who is attentive, not by one who is inattentive; by one who is discerning, not by one who is not discerning.

"It's through discussion that a person's discernment may be known, and then only after a long period, not a short period; by one who is attentive, not by one who is inattentive; by one who is discerning, not by one who is not discerning.


Dear Wolfgang,
I do agree that we need to be careful and sensitive and wise when speaking about any teacher or teaching.
Nevertheless, a question on your inference from the sutta that wrong view and sila can only be known by living with a person for a long time.
Do you think if you read a teacher who said that God is the creator of the world that you could say he had wrong view?
Or take the example of those Heaven's Gate disciples who commited suicde so they could join the spacemen in the comet a few years ago: I always thought they had wrongview but are you suggesting we can"t say that, and that it would be judgemental to suggest such a thing?

On another forum a disciple of Goenka wrote that
What is and of itself, what does not change, rise or fall, what is not born and does not die, that is reality as it is to me. In meditation I have seen this arising and passing away without further movement of thought and physical reaction to sensation caused by aversion or craving. What does not arise or pass away is awareness which knows the arising and passing away. .


Would it be wrong to suggest to them that that is wrong view?

And on your own site you write
QUOTE
http://vipassana-inq...de/_htm/res.htm

So many more become disappointed after 3, 4 courses - and I know enough who, with 10 courses, still tell me: '[I] come to these courses, because in them [I] can experience that this impermanent body is something different from the eternal soul!' ?!

I assume with this you are suggesting the people who believe in the eternal soul have wrong view?



Or if you don't live with someone but you know they drink alcohol or kill insects (for example) can you be confident they are not sotapanna?
Robert
p.s. When you say to Sukin that
QUOTE
I wish you many moments of such ease, so that your superiority-conceit, which makes you think - you know better then Venerable Sariputta which particular approach works best for everyone, becomes less pronounced - in how you relate with others

Is there any element of judgement ?

#35 RobertK

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Posted 07 July 2006 - 04:05 AM

QUOTE
Anguttara Nikaya, VI, 125 (excerpt transl. by Bhikkhu Boddhi)

Scholars and Meditator:

... 'Friends, there are monks who are keen on Dhamma' and they disparage those monks who are meditators, saying:
'Look at those monks! They think, 'We are meditating, we are meditating!' And so they meditate to and meditate fro, meditate up and meditate down!

Dear Wolfgang,

For discussing this sutta we can use this thread which includeds notes from the Attakatha

http://www.abhidhamm...p?showtopic=142
Robert

#36 RobertK

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Posted 07 July 2006 - 05:15 AM

Dear Wolfgang,
What makes you think SuppaBuddha had no accumulations of wisdom and parami from past lives?
Robert

#37 Wolfgang

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Posted 07 July 2006 - 03:47 PM

QUOTE(RobertK @ Jul 7 2006, 04:38 AM) View Post

I do agree that we need to be careful and sensitive and wise when speaking about any teacher or teaching.
... Or take the example of those Heaven's Gate disciples who commited suicde so they could join the spacemen in the comet a few years ago: I always thought they had wrongview but are you suggesting we can"t say that, and that it would be judgemental to suggest such a thing?


Dear Robert, Sukun and all others,

of course I think one should say if one thinks what another said amounts to wrong-view!

Also when I have the impression that someone spoke to me out of conceit - than I point that out. (and I really said it often enough, in my posts, that my impression could always be wrong. - Only oneself can know one's own mind, and that is often difficult enough)

For example, Sukin made many really good observations. And I really would love to go deeper with her thoughts.

However, as long as these personal observations are generalized and assumed to apply to all others (it would unfold exactly in the same way). This can only be done if preconceptions are projected!

So one can always point where in which particular sentence one suspects wrong view, wrong sila, etc. But where this is assumed to apply to the whole person (as if wrong view would stay longer than a moment or sticks to a 'person' , or worse, even a group of persons - I get the strong impression that person speaks out of a agenda of his own and is not open to any honest investigation.

It's this implication: 'Only this is true, anything else is worthless.' - which I critizice the most with my own tradition, and in my discussions with Sukin. However, that does not make me think I have to critizise Goenka or Sukin as a person.

In fact I am gratefull to both of them. - and at the sama time disappointed that after such clear words as in the Paramatthaka Sutta, or the Chanki Sutta, these persons claim their own path the only true one.

I call myself a Buddhist because I am relieved by these very Suttas of such religious fever. The moment such fever shows in 'Buddhist' cycles, I point it out. If that doesn't help - I am gone - farewell 'Buddhism'.

Kind regards,

#38 sukin

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Posted 09 July 2006 - 11:46 AM

QUOTE(Scott Duncan @ Jul 4 2006, 08:50 AM) View Post

Dear Sukin,

Thanks! Although not addressed to me, I learned a lot from your excellent post.

With loving kindness,

Scott.


Dear Scott,

You are welcome, and this is encouraging. I have been admiring and learning much from your posts on the other list as well.
In my case it is mostly only intellectual understanding, no insight into anything yet. But I guess that its alright, as long as I don’t mistake it for anything more than what it really is.

With Metta,
Sukin.


#39 sukin

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Posted 09 July 2006 - 11:52 AM

]
QUOTE(Wolfgang @ Jul 6 2006, 11:34 PM) View Post

Dear Sukin,

I feel disappointed that you seem not to see through conceptional expressions and only feel assured if it is put in, allegedly, ultimate terms.


Dear Wolfgang,

[I see that Robert has responded, but I haven’t read the posts yet. I am sure I would then have to change my response, which I am not willing to do having put so much time and energy into this one. So please don’t mind if any of this is redundant.]

I appreciate that you put in so much effort in responding to me. Hope that you are not having a hard time with this, because I am. Anticipating having to give a long response, the tendency to proliferate and inability to be concise. In addition to this are the facts of short attention span, typing at ¼ the speed of the average person and a hip problem- the reason I go for physical therapy, I can’t sit down in one position for long. :-/

I am responding by giving remarks under various headings, starting with:-
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Reference to past experience

Referring to the past for understanding is quite unreliable. Sanna and citta vipallasa is most likely to involve. Generally what is registered and later on recalled is conditioned by ignorance and attachment not only at the time it happened, but also now. I choose to remember only that which I like and make connections with yet other events creating an idea of causality which in fact is not true. Generally, anything I think/explain to myself is more often than not, only to ‘please’ me. There is a process of selective thinking involved. In any case, the past ‘thought’ up, should be seen as mere stories, better not to be taken seriously.

So I repeat again, I express my objection about Goenka, not based on any “thinking” about my past experience, but about his “view” about the ‘practice’ as I see it now.
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Views as being motivation for action

I believe that any correct understanding of the Buddha’s Teachings must necessarily lead to the conclusion that whatever arises now does so by a complex set of conditions. In the case of impulsion, this by natural decisive support condition is determined to a large extent by one’s accumulations. Conventionally, we could say, that however one reacts to any sense or mind door experience; it is determined by one’s accumulated tendency to do so.

It makes sense therefore, that any understanding of any dhamma must take place ‘naturally’, not being obscured by any idea of a better time and place. In fact this being a result of view, one which thinks wrongly about the nature of dhammas, having identified with a concept of ‘situation’, forgetting that whatever arises in any of the six doorways are but momentary fleeting dhammas, we end up following any reasoning based on such perception of concepts. For example we reason that, as against the hectic lay life, the retreat situation is more conducive for the arising and development of sati and panna.

Such thinking is in fact a hindrance for sati to arise outside the retreat situation. Yes sure, sati can arise at anytime, even in retreats ;-). However when we have had this wrong view about the value of retreats over normal outside situations, then we are placing ourselves to be fooled by the various cheating dhammas.

You Wolfgang have stated that you have experienced sati of the desired level, only a fraction of the time. And I think you are sincere, without the development of sacca parami, there is no chance of wisdom being developed. But I think you are aware of the claims by many meditation camps of producing students of high attainments. What do you make of that?

You talk of retreat attendants questioning the practice, but do you know of anyone who questions the very idea of retreat itself? I think agreeing to attend a retreat limits the range and scope of enquiry made, such that one might question the effectiveness of the method and opt for another, but that’s about how far one is willing to go given the level of understanding most of us have.

Or have you? If so, what is the reason that you persist with it?
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Scholars v/s Meditators

You seem to be labeling me a ‘scholar’. I don’t see myself as one, nor do I picture any of my friends, including Robert, as being so. Personally, I could never become a scholar even if I wanted to. I was never able to retain anything studied, like names or formulas. The way I used to learn was reflection on real life situation.

Anyway, as I said, Abhidhamma is not about knowledge of lists, but the understanding that whatever dhamma is being referred to, this can be known “now”, through whatever level of panna, intellectual or direct. The important point, no matter if one understands directly or not, is the “confidence” that this is the way it is now.

And so it seems that in so far as this confidence about the present moment being what needs to be known is lacking, and one thinks instead, that another time, place and posture is more conducive, then the level of panna corresponding with this is also lacking. What I believe most meditators to be doing when they talk about carrying over their meditation from the formal sessions to normal situations, is a matter not of the development of understanding and hence confidence, but more like self-hypnosis into an imitation saddha.

Regarding the sutta, the meditators referred to are those who have had Jhana attainments and the scholars are those who have reached levels of vipassana which neither you nor I can hope to achieve in this life. So indeed, both these groups are worthy of respect and veneration. But are you comparing us with these folks? No, neither of us are worthy of the kind of respect. ;-)
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Bhikkhuni Sutta

I doubt that you see craving as leading to panna. You probably have in mind the fact that for us putthujanas, the craving and conceit is very strong and that even in matters of Dhamma, most of the time it would be these that influence us. I agree wholeheartedly with this. However what I have in mind is the fact of craving and wrong view as being instigator of “ideas” such as ‘formal meditation’, and that these ideas are then followed.

My understanding is that the very concept of retreat etc. is a conceiving and could not ever come as a result of panna. The object of understanding is always the present moment. Even to try and catch realities now, is a result of an understanding which ignores the fact that realties already fall away, not remaining there for any ‘self’ to catch. It is by constantly being aware of this ‘self’ at work, always wanting more even in matters of Dhamma, that one day sati may arise to know the present moment. And in retreat situations we are in fact catering to this ‘self’. Nothing is an obstacle to panna except such kind of wrong understanding being actualized.

And of course, craving is abandoned only by having craving as object of insight. This is what is meant by using ‘craving to abandon craving’.

Be sure though, I am not asking you or anyone to stop meditating, this is not going to make panna arise and solve the problem. Besides we do what we do due to conditions, accumulations being decisive. What we need to determine is whether anything is done with wrong understanding, and following someone’s idea or one’s own reasoning about retreat gives plenty of opportunity to note and investigate such wrong views.
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Thana Sutta

What I had in mind when thinking about Sila, was the case of someone following the precepts conditioning outward behavior which was hard to find fault with. I guess this same principle can apply to “Dhamma knowledge” as well. Someone may have good theoretical knowledge and is able to always give the correct answers, but to determine the “understanding” behind the words may require time. But then again, what is this concept of time? Is it about months and years, or simply that we should not believe our first impressions?

What do you think, if someone were to speak of a soul and says that what the Buddha meant by anatta was something other than the fact of there being no self, would you not immediately recognize his wrong view? What one person may not recognize as being wrong, another more discerning may, don’t you think?
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Don’t Judge

Yes it is never nice to point fingers nor is it wise to quickly judge. Generally I don’t make it my business to do so. I also admit to lacking tact when communicating with others. But I do feel strongly when it comes to wrong view being proclaimed as right view. And having little reason to doubt my evaluation, there will inevitably be some criticism coming from me.

I don’t appreciate the notion of ‘different paths leading to the same goal’. If you talk about ‘satipatthana’ as being the practice and yet differentiate between time, place and posture, and how you could choose to go to a retreat and I doing it my way, then I don’t believe that we are talking about the same ‘One Way’. Sorry. And you will at least understand now, why almost any teacher and Buddhist institution is potential object of criticism by me.

Is this arrogance on my part? Maybe, but it should not make any difference.
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Canki Sutta

Yes I admit to stating to the effect that, “Only this is true, anything else is worthless”. However this in the Sutta refers only to wrong view. How could it apply to Right View, the one discovered by the Buddha? I have always admitted to the level of my understanding as being very superficial and only conceptual, and don’t claim to directly know. But this is and will remain the level at which I judge any view at all. There can be intellectual appreciation of right view, and this implies some recognition of wrong view. So what is the harm in expressing my understanding?
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Conceptual Expression

You say that you are disappointed that I don’t see through conceptual expressions.

No I have no problem with conceptual expressions at all. In fact if someone were to start talking only in terms of dhammas, I would probably judge him as silly. I am not against the use of conventional expressions, but I can’t help noting any wrong view behind the words, whether ultimate or conventional.
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Buddha teaching about the way to Heaven

To not have the capacity to appreciate the Teachings on paramattha dhammas is one thing, and *not* a problem. Kusala of other levels can be taught. But to think that “realization” of this can come through study and observation of conventional reality by ‘self’, this *is* a problem.

You say that the “practice tradition” [better call this ‘formal meditation’ because I don’t believe any right practice to be involved] are interested in understanding dhammas. I ask, is ‘breath’ as seen and taught a reality or concept? Is place a reality or concept? Is posture a reality or concept? Is ‘noting’ done by self, a reality or concept? Is anything said about the reality of citta, cetasikas and rupa at all? Does anyone have any *interest* in knowing these?

You say that the practice is supposed to lead to the realization of dhammas. As far as I can see, this is false hope. Thinking conditions more thinking, perhaps not the kind that most recognize, but more subtle? And believing wrongly what is not sati to be sati, conditions not samma, but miccha ditthi. And this is usually very alluring.

And this is the reason why the path necessarily starts with hearing the Teachings and correctly understanding this at that level, for else wrong practice follows. Moreover the practice happens only when and if the accumulated panna at the intellectual level has grown in strength, and this arises by conditions and not by any decision to “do”. Let us be contented with such humble beginnings, this is better than being deluded into believing that one “sees” correctly and calling wrong practice right.
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Upanissa Sutta

As I said earlier, it should be expected that there will be akusala cittas, even when we think about Dhamma. But surely you wouldn’t say that moments of wrong understanding is a condition for right understanding to arise in the future would you?
When I go for dhamma discussions or open the computer to read the mails, 99% of the time it is lobha leading the way. I do not however consider these moments to be “useful”, but only those which do involve sati and panna (part of the remaining 1%) would I consider it to be “development”.

Regarding the arousing of faith, anything can be a condition, but only when accompanied by panna. You say “giving time to investigate”, what chance is there for this if there is no understanding “now”? Should we not always come back to the present moment? Is this not the only real test of any developed understanding?
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Personal / Generalization

Yes whatever explanations that I give are very much my own reasoning and extrapolation and may not exactly reflect the facts. However there being some general rules one of which is that we are *all* driven by ignorance and craving, so I think my words can at least be good reminder of these. ;-)

Hopefully what I refer to is always dhammas and not stories/concepts. At this level there are certain fixed laws and little diversity and unpredictability unlike in the case conventional reality. In the latter we can excuse ourselves for being ‘different’, but here, lobha is lobha, not your lobha or mine. Sati is always sati and has the same characteristic, metta is not tanha and wrong view cannot lead to panna. So I think not only it is quite safe to generalize, but in fact always good to point out!

On the other hand you suggest that I might have persisted with my formal practice. Here you seem to be caught up in a story, a fiction. This is bad enough when evaluating one’s own past experience, worse when projecting into the future, and worse still when suggested to others to follow the same. Sorry again.
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Dukkha Sanna

You say that you gain dukkha sanna in attending retreats and that I avoid it in not doing the same. Avoiding dukkha dukkha and viparana dukkha is the norm of my existence, and this I will admit to as being not skillful. But wouldn’t any decision then to stoically bear pain not only be another face of tanha, but also encouraging of wrong view? And can wrong view really have dukkha sanna?
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Superiority Conceit

Conceit I have plenty, but so far the superior kind, not so much. If there is a feeling of having found the “right” Teachings and understanding correctly, I usually feel ‘gratitude’ and never ‘superior’ in any way.

You accuse me of thinking that I know more than Sariputta. I consider myself to be no more than a speck of dust lodged under one of his toe nails. I think rather than to have come to that conclusion, you could have seen any apparent disagreement as being between *you* and I, your interpretation of Sariputta’s words and mine!
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Missionary Attitude

I think you needn’t worry about my remarks creating confusion. Before anyone reaches my posts here, they will probably wade through other posts by Robert and Scott. If they are not put off there by the views expressed and finally reach my post, I think that they would overlook any negative comments I make and agree with the general understanding. ;-)

I am not interested in converting anyone, period. My own wife a Sikh, who I see as having strong wrong views, I have little desire to convince her. My children, to whom I am absolutely attached, I will express my understandings to them when the time comes, but I don’t have any expectations that they will adopt the same outlook.

On the other hand, Goenka and others, whose words reach millions directly, what if these fellows are wrong? Yet I don’t worry about it. :-)
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Different personalities

You say that I ‘don’t differentiate between personalities- but at the same time talk about reality-concept distinction’.
Well, the difference in personalities that you would like me to consider is conceptual, and as I have explained earlier, at the level of realities, we are basically all alike, same kind of attachments, aversions and wrong views, no you, no me, only dhammas……
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Sorry for the marathon post.

With metta,

Sukin

#40 RobertK

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Posted 10 July 2006 - 01:30 PM

Dear Wolfgang,
I have moved all the posts about whther we need Abhidhamma for right view to this new thread. Let's discuss there smile.gif
http://www.abhidhamm...p?showtopic=149