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#1 RobertK

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Posted 29 April 2006 - 08:33 AM

A letter from Dan ---
..., "onco111" <dalthorp@o...> wrote:

Dear D,

D: Do you agree that we should spend our time with kinds in happiness, or will what ever bad mood will do?

Dan: We'd all like to be free from dosa all the time, but sometimes bad moods do arise. Is it better to understand them as they arise? Or to try to create pleasant sensations to cover up the bad mood? We can always think "happy, happy, happy," or "I want pleasure, always to have pleasant sensations, never any dosa," but this is not reality, and it is not the way out of sansara. Both lobha and dosa arise from the same source: craving and ignorance. These things are so clear in children. But adults are lot like children: Always wanting to free from dosa but not seeing the danger in lobha.

DD: Dan if you know another process in plain English that fits with your use of the word "satipatthana" please provide.

Dan: No. I know no English word that fits well with my use of the word "satipatthana." And you are right to note that no 'method' is specified. Satipatthana cannot be forced or controlled or willed to arise. It arises for brief moments when conditions are ripe. Those conditions include listening to the true Dhamma and wise attention (yoniso manasikara).

D: I think we can come to some understanding about silabbataparamasa. If there is a direct cause/ effect relationship that can be seen then that is wisdom, when there is no relationship between the action and hope for results, then that is ignorance and can be called silabbataparamasa.

Dan: Wonderful sentence, If you mean 'action' as an activity or practice, then you have it exactly backwards. If you mean 'action' as 'volition', then you have it exactly right. Silabbataparamasa is mistaking practice/ritual/method for 'action' and (wrongly) seeing a direct cause/effect relationship between that kind of 'action' and arising of wisdom.

D: Example, Feeding a famous monk on his birthday so that a heavenly life or some merit will come in some future life. Another example. Sitting in meditation retreat waiting for the bell to ring, thinking, I'll meditate after lunch.

Dan: Wonderful examples! In the act of feeding a famous monk on his birthday, consciousness arises and passes away innumerable times. At some moments there may arise a greedy and deluded consciousness: "I want to store up my merit!" At some moments there may arise pure motives of generosity: "May he live comfortably and with good health and good cheer." Also, in some cases there may be no moments of generosity. In other cases there may be no moments of greed and delusion. The merit is not so much in the action qua practice/ritual/method but in the action qua volition. Although giving is powerful and good, there still may be a proliferation of greedy and deluded moments before and after the 'giving' action. This can happen if there is the wrong view: "I will feed a famous monk on his birthday so that I can gain a heavenly life in the future." The volition of giving is good, but wrong view is not eliminated so long as that equation of "gain merit by giving to famous monk" is viewed as a method for generating gain.

The same goes for the meditation retreat sitting. At some moments there may arise a greedy and deluded consciousness:

"I want to attain such-and-such a state because of the merit/pleasantness/wisdom I will gain."

At some moments there may arise pure thoughts:

"Whatever arises is bound to pass away. No need to cling to such ephemeral, impersonal, changing phenomena as self."

In some cases there may be no moments of pure thoughts. In other cases there may be no moments of greed and delusion. The merit is not so much in the action qua practice/ritual/method but in the action qua volition from moment to moment. Although jhana is powerful and good, there still may be a proliferation of greedy and deluded moments before and after the jhana. This can happen if there is the wrong view:

"I will practice samatha so that I can be happy, happy, happy. It's even better than sex!"

By all means, practice samatha, practice jhana. But how can wrong view be eliminated when samatha is viewed as a ritual for gaining merit?

D: Sitting in meditation doing the practice (training) properly is not an empty ritual. Riding the mind of hindrances in a moment by moment activity is not empty ritual. Ritual need not be empty, it depends on the state of mind.

Dan: Agreed. Ritual need not be empty. But silabbataparamasa refers to the 'non-empty' rituals as well as the empty ones.

D: Responding to "justify as righteous because it involves so much effort and concentration" This seems to discount concentration, but as you well know right concentration is a factor of the path, so when you say "righteous" it seems that you are using it as a dirty word. If we belittle concentration, then we can more easily reject it from the daily practice.

Dan: "Righteous" is a function of "rightness", not of effort or concentration. Effort and concentration can easily be wrong effort and wrong concentration. It would be a huge mistake to belittle concentration, but the distinction between 'right concentration' and 'wrong concentration' must also be emphasized. The type of jhana that people so often refer to is a form of right concentration, as the Buddha made clear by so many references to it (the other kind is the jhana is with seeing characteristics as object rather than object as object, i.e. supramundane jhana). But what is the view of jhana during the non-jhana times? If it is viewed as something to be taken up immediately, without delay, a number of problems are raised. First, there is then little effort to understand reality as it is at this moment as opposed to reality as you'd like it to be. Second there is too easily a cultivation of lobha -- "Oh, I wish I were somewhere else! Oh, how I need that cushion and that quiet room. Oh, if only those hindrances weren't there! Then, I'd really be happy!" Third, there is cultivation of self view, of the view that there is one who directs and controls the arising of kusala states.


Thanks.

Dan

#2 RobertK

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Posted 19 May 2006 - 12:52 PM

erik to dan]:

Try jhana meditation! Seriously, there's a point where words stop being helpful and start getting in the way. Again the difference-- from the original post--is that samma sati doesn't have absorption and unification of the mind as characteristics. But words alone aren't helpful here at all, other than if you're coming from the perspective of already knowing the experience jhana to begin with and use these terms to differentiate with that as a basis. Then they make a lot of sense. Otherwise, they're not all that helpful, as I see it.

-------------------------


[Dan responds]:

It is easy to confuse preparatory concentration with jhana, preparatory concentration with access concentration, preparatory concentration with insight, calm with insight, access concentration with insight, trivial insight with profound insight, jhana with profound insight (e.g. compare the descriptions of jhana-entry with stream-entry in Abhidhammattha sangaha), fruits of concentration with fruits of insight, etc. I find that being "sure" of the differences is no real assurance at all. I've been so sure of so many things about Dhamma at so many times, that I figure I ought to have been an Arahant several times over by now. The only problem is that my sureness always seems to stand on shaky ground. Then, all these conceptual structures I build up from the outlines given in Tipitaka come crashing down. The surety itself becomes a hindrance because what I thought was confidence in Buddha-dhamma (saddha) was really confidence in Self
(moha and mana)!

It is indeed useful to think about the differences between sammasamadhi and sammasati, but it is also useful to think about the difference between ekaggata and sati. It is so easy to underestimate the power of special experiences to confuse and lead astray; it can take years or decades to even get an inkling that a practice is generating more mana and lobha than panya.

[eric responds to Dan]:

Dan, you sound terribly confused by all these labels! Have you considered putting your categories down for awhile and taking a few deep breaths? smile.gif

----------------

I find that being "sure" of the differences is no real assurance at all.

--------------------------------

That's why it's indispensible to have qualified teachers who can see our blind spots. It is the "whole of the holy life" after all.

---------------------

I've been so sure of so many things about Dhamma at so many times, that I figure I ought to have been an Arahant several times over by now. The only problem is that my sureness always seems to stand on shaky ground. Then, all these conceptual structures I build up from the outlines given in Tipitaka come crashing down.

---------------------------------------------------------

Watching all those conceptual elaborations come crashing down can only be good thing. There's nothing worse in terms of understanding the oh-so-simple Dhamma (a direct pointing at the heart) than a "hardening of the categories." What I'm curious to know is how it's believed such conceptual structures provide any solid footing at all! The whole point is to tear them down!

------------------------------------
It is indeed useful to think about the differences between sammasamadhi and sammasati, but it is also useful to think about the difference between ekaggata and sati. It is so easy to underestimate the power of special experiences to confuse and lead astray; it can take years or decades to even get an inkling that a
practice is generating more mana and lobha than panya.
--------------------------------------------------------------------

Conversely, it can take practically notime to awaken to the deathless with a dose of humility and the right teachers. I had many problems like the ones you indicate before I found the right teachers, thought I knew it all, etc. Fortunately they saw through my ego's multilayered defense mechanism and skillfully got me into the right place, though it did take several hard whacks and a lot of whining from my ego to accomplish.

****************************************************
[Dan responding to Eric]:

Hmmm... I don't feel confused or befuddled by the labels. I wonder what went wrong in the transition from my experience, to my understanding, to my interpretation, to my writing, to your eyes, to your brain, to your conceiving, to your writing, to my seeing, to my interpretation, to my conceiving, because it seems like you are attributing comments to my terrible confusion. Or are you?

I find that being "sure" of the differences is no real assurance at all.

That's why it's indispensible to have qualified teachers who can see our blind spots. It is the "whole of the holy life" after all.

Yup.

I've been so sure of so many things about Dhamma at so many times, that I figure I ought to
have been an Arahant several times over by now. The only problem is that my sureness always seems to stand on shaky ground. Then, all these conceptual structures I build up from the outlines given in Tipitaka
come crashing down.

Watching all those conceptual elaborations come crashing down can only be good thing. There's nothing worse in terms of understanding the oh-so-simple Dhamma (a direct pointing at the heart) than a "hardening of the categories." What I'm curious to know is how it's believed such conceptual structures provide any solid footing at all!

The whole point is to tear them down!

The building up of conceptual structures is a process that is going to happen in the non-arahant regardless of how much you don't want it to, or think that it shouldn't. How is it believed that conceptual structures provide solid footing? Ignorance. Ignorance -conceptual structures; and ignorance - perception of conceptual structures as real -> perception of conceptual structures as solid footing. Belief
that conceptual structures provide solid footing? I don't know what belief has to do with it: the clinging to conceptual structures as solid footing continues unabated, whether you believe that they do or not, whether you want them to or not, whether you think they do or not. I don't "believe" that concepts provide solid footing, but that does not prevent my concept building. Desire to not cling to concept does not prevent clinging to concept; and even strong desire to not cling to concept does not prevent clinging to concept.

The whole point is to tear down conceptual structures?

No. The point is to develop wisdom. As the development proceeds, clinging to concept lessens naturally, of its own accord. "Tear down conceptual structures" sounds like a recipe for dosa! Conversely, it can take practically notime to awaken to the deathless with a dose of humility and the right teachers. I had many problems like the ones you indicate before I found the right teachers, thought I knew it all, etc. Fortunately they saw through my ego's multilayered defense mechanism and skillfully got m einto the right place, though it did take several hard whacks and a lot of whining from my ego to accomplish.

"...with a dose of humility..." -- I can always use one of those! One good place for that is the suttas. One that comes particularly to mind right now is the Mulapariyaya sutta (MN 1). Wonderful sutta! Very humbling! Another great source of humility is discernment of dhammas. But that isn't always there, even though I would like it to be.

[Frank interjects, Dan responds anyway]:

Fascinating post. Can you give an example or two or more that illustrate how you thought a particular type of insight turned out to not be, or of a different type?

Good question, fk. In my first extended, intensive meditation retreat in Thailand a number of years ago (1988), my teacher often emphasized how important it was to learn how to distinguish the difference between sati and samadhi. "Yeah, yeah. I know. It's obvious now that you've made it so clear." By the end of my stay, I had experienced deep calm and peacefulness unlike anything I'd ever experienced before. Another monk questioned me after my retreat was over: "So, what did you learn?" I replied: "I feel very clear." I had mistaken pleasant sensation with wisdom. He gently pointed this out to me, and said the feeling would pass soon. I responded with irritation! I was insulted: "I know the difference between calm and insight. Who does he think he his, lecturing me on something so basic as that."

Later, after the feeling of clarity had passed, I began to think more about some of the "insight" experiences I had during the retreat--the clear, almost disarming recognition of the sound of a bird singing being distinct from my perception of the sound of the singing, the hasty retreat of discursive conceiving when the mind recognized the discoursing, the stunning perception of toothbrush, hand, and brushing motion as clearly distinct from the conception of the person doing the brushing, etc. These experiences began to take on more importance in my mind than the calm feelings, the lightness, the perception of this light or that image, etc. "Oh, so NOW I understand the distinction between what is path and what is not path. These lights and calm feelings are not path, and the little insights are path." After I was back in the states, someone asked what happens in a retreat like that, why it has to be so long (two weeks). So wise was I, I confidently told them that it takes about two weeks to get to a breakthough in the meditation, that it really takes a full two weeks to get established in udayabbaya-ņana (knowledge of arising and passing away). "For some people it takes longer, but many people get established in the technique in two weeks." I was so confident about my attainment because my meditation experiences matched so closely those experiences that wise people said accompany certain insights; e.g.:

http://www.accesstoi.../progress.html).Of

Of course, I was not at all "established in udayabbaya-ņana". In fact the very idea of "being established in udayabbaya-ņana" is nonsense, but I didn't realize that for several years. Yet, there's a grain of truth to the misperceptions and misconceptions, but that grain is rarely what I think it is at the time.

That was the just the beginning! I look back at myself and how naive I was then and just laugh. And then I look at myself now, and I laugh again at how naive I still am! After many more intensive, extended retreats and after years and years of daily "formal practice" and years of study, the same sorts of delusions arise almost uninterruptedly. That tendency for delusion is reborn every minute. The object of the delusion changes and shifts and perhaps gets more subtle, but by God it is extradinarily persistent. And it is there whether I want it to be or not, and even whether I think it is there or not. The path is indeed long, despite the impression I sometimes get from special experiences.

[robert k. comments]:

Dear group,

As Dan has explained; without an understanding of what the characteristic of sati of the eightfold path is there is bound to be the mistaking of samadhi (which can be either kusala or akusala) for sati. For so long there has been clinging to the idea of self that most of the time we are not even aware of it. Hence one sits down, concentrates , feels much calmer than usual daily life and believes that this is now sati of the eightfold path. If unusual experiences occur this adds more certainly.

The commentary to the satipatthana sutta notes that true awareness (of satipatthana) is nothing like the usual meaning of awareness.

"From the sort of mere awareness.. proceeds the idea of a soul, the perverted perception, with the belief that there is a doer and an experiencer One who does not uproot or remove that wrong perception owing to non- opposition to that perception and to absence of contemplative practice cannot be called one who develops anything like a subject of meditation."" Endquote.

We think 'I' am having insight. No, not so. If it is real insight it is simply a kusala citta(momentary consciousness) associated with panna cetasika (mental factor of wisdom) that takes a paramattha dhamma as object and sees some aspect of it correctly. Panna cetasika doesn't try to know this, it doesn't even want to know this. But its kicca(function) is to understand.

On the other hand if it is imitation insight then it is akusala citta arising with a subtle type of avijja that misunderstands, that is mistaking concept for something real. Avijja has no wish to distort but its function is to obscure, that is what it does. It is also not self. Not your avijja, or mine. An example of imitation insight. One feels the subtle sensations and vibrations in the body and assumes this is no direct insight. But there can still be a deep-rooted idea that these are particles. That they have some type of lasting existence, that they have time to "vibrate" or do something. If so there is not yet insight into paramattha. In this case citta and sanna are present - they know the object but they don't know it in the way that panna does. Avijja is still running among concepts - even if there is no thinking in words.

True insight slowly understands the characteristic, cause, and function of rupas as well as other dhammas. It will distinguish between concept and reality. "We" can't know the difference - but if the right conditions are nurtured then panna must develop and see. The problem, of course, is that there are powerful conditions for avijja to arise. It has been arising, almost without break, ever since we took birth. That is just this life - there is no beginning to the round of samsara, and avijja is the cause of it all. Panna - of the level of satipatthana - arises due to hearing and considering Dhamma. But in its infancy it can't firmly cognise dhammas. Much patience, a parami, is needed I think. Can we be patient and still see the urgency of the task? Can we understand that it is not us being patient.

robert




#3 RobertK

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Posted 19 May 2006 - 12:56 PM

Humans are so perverse that we will even take a doctrine which includes the non-clinging to all dhammas, including concepts and systems of thought, and harden that doctrine into a fixed, unyielding mass of granite-like concepts, so that we end up confusing the map for the territory, and being unable to see the realities for the concepts!

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

Dan:

This hardening of concepts is certainly a problem when it manifests itself as a rigid dogmatism. But it is also a problem in less obvious ways. You mentioned the perception of subtle sensations that are associated with Goenka-style training and that it is easy to perceive the anicca of these sensations. Much more difficult to see is the clinging to the view of an "observer" of these sensations, an experiencer. Avijja attaches the concept of a Self experiencing these sensations. The attachment to the Self concept is even so strong that when samadhi is developed enough so that the perception of craving for the sensations fades, there is still a craving for a self to experience the pleasant, subtle sensations. When samadhi is deepened even further, the tendency for the mind to wander fades and eventually is totally suppressed and replaced by just the experiencing. But even still, the clinging to the notion of a someone experiencing is going just as strong, and the craving for a self to experience the pleasant sensations continues in full force, long after the craving for the sensations themselves has subsided. There is an almost unbelievably strong craving for being that is utterly untouched by samatha. That craving for being is rooted in avijja, the mind's penchant for creating concepts. That tendency to create concepts, that clinging to the mother of all concepts --- the "I", the experiencer of the sensations --- goes on just as strong as ever, even when concentration is developed to a high degree. The hardening of concepts continues!

Yet, we usually only think of it in very gross terms, like ideological dogmatism. We recognize the dangers in dogmatism, so we set about the task of tearing down conceptual structures, not recognizing that this desire to "tear down" is rooted in and arises from a very strong craving, a craving for being or annihilation, a craving that is so personal and familiar that it is very difficult to see. Very difficult. We can easily see craving for gross objects when it arises. With enough practice, we can see the craving for the subtle sensations that pop to mind in meditation. With more practice, we can see the craving for being associated with a sensation or being not associated with a sensation. But seeing the craving for being is difficult. Recognizing it, we see its enormity and realize that the path is longer than we thought. The realization is not discouraging. It only SOUNDS discouraging when we are stuck in a notion of a "being" making "progress" toward a "goal".

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

BTW, Dan, I don't mean to imply that you are any more likely to be stuck in a web of concepts and views than the rest of us. In fact, you are probably less so, since your post shows how much attention you pay
to what is really what.
------------------------------------------------------------------

I am certainly no less likely to stuck in a web of concepts and views than the rest of dsg. Every moment of every day I am continually stuck in a web of concepts and views. Some moments it FEELS like I'm less stuck in the web than others. But really, this is just an indication that I'm being too superficial. Some moments I RECOGNIZE that I am deeply stuck in the web. But really, escape is very distant. No sense in fooling myself about that!

#4 RobertK

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Posted 12 July 2006 - 03:45 AM

Dear Christine,
So, you want an instruction manual. It would make things easier, I
suppose. Then again, I can't imagine what one would look like
because
Dhamma is not a path of "do this, do that -- the act of doing these
prescribed things will lead to understanding." (Would it be clearer
to state that it is not a path of "do this [ritual], do that
[ritual] -- the act of doing these prescribed [rituals] will lead to
understanding"?) Reading the suttas with this understanding, it
becomes clear that the Buddha did not prescribe practices for
attaining wisdom. Even the vaunted "instruction manual" Satipatthana
sutta reads like a series of descriptions of what sorts of things
monks are doing [all sorts of things!] when satipatthana
arises: "There is the case where a monk..." sits crosslegged under a
tree, spine erect, etc.

In 1989 I went to Thailand for my second intensive meditation
retreat. After four weeks of rising at 4:00 a.m. and doing
everything
at a snail's pace (when not sitting on my butt!) until 10:00 at
night, I was very happy about the progress and "insights" I had
developed. To preserve the gains afterward, I maintained a daily
practice of sitting and walking ritual (er, "meditation")
religiously
for 1-1.5 hours per day. "Oh, this is not enough!" I thought. I had
so much faith in the efficacy of the ritual that I wanted to
maintain "unbroken awareness" all day long. At that time I was
working on an agricultural development project in Guatemala, and I
needed to do some work in the fields. I found it difficult to
maintain constant awareness, so I carried a little travel alarm
clock
in my pocket and set the alarm to go off when I started work...

"Beep, beep, beep."
"Oh, time to establish sati." Push the snooze button. Five minutes
later:

"Beep, beep, beep."
"Oh, yeah, time to establish sati again."

"Beep, beep, beep"...

And on through the day. Sheer madness! I so craved the peaceful
feelings and special experiences of the intensive meditation that I
did everything I could to cling to them continously under the guise
of "practicing Vipassana in everyday life."

Understanding does not arise from ritual or from a recipe book. You
cannot force it to arise.

Even now there arises craving for a way to say, "Here's what to
do..." But the attempts to say such a thing never get off the
ground,
and the thoughts turn to description of the arising and passing away
of dhammas -- there's no other way. I think if you read the suttas
with this in mind, you will see that this is also the Buddha's
approach to teaching, viz. description rather than prescription.
Ritual can be so comforting... It takes great confidence in the
Buddha and his Dhamma to abandon clinging to ritual. We must
understand his descriptions of reality and the arising and
experience
of panya and witness them in everyday life.

How? There is no "how." Once we define a "how," there is a "who"
that
does the "how." And born is a superstition about how the who induces
a "what" to arise via a how, when really there are just empty
phenomena rolling on.

Dan




#5 RobertK

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Posted 23 July 2006 - 09:39 AM

D: Do you agree that we should spend our time with kinds in
happiness, or will what ever bad mood will do?

--> Dan: We'd all like to be free from dosa all the time, but
sometimes bad moods do arise. Is it better to understand them as
they
arise? Or to try to create pleasant sensations to cover up the bad
mood? We can always think "happy, happy, happy," or "I want
pleasure,
always to have pleasant sensations, never any dosa," but this is not
reality, and it is not the way out of sansara. Both lobha and dosa
arise from the same source: craving and ignorance. These things are
so clear in children. But adults are lot like children: Always
wanting to free from dosa but not seeing the danger in lobha.

D: Do you think that kids can benefit from sitting meditation

--> Dan: Yes, but not much. The idea of six year olds and three year
olds sitting on a meditation cushion doesn't make a lot of sense to
me.

D: (mindfulness)?

--> Dan: Much more so.

D: Do you think kids should be around family a lot?

--> Dan: Yes.

D: Do you think that kids have better chance of a happy life if they
are trained well?

--> Dan: Most certainly.

D: Do you think it a worthwhile meditation "to be happy all the
time"?

--> Dan: No.

D: Sorry that you do not find much to respond to, I thought the
topic
of children and meditation would be something that you would be
interested in.

--> Dan: I find that when people who have little or no experience
raising kids come with a package of advice about how to do it and
are
quite confident they are right, there isn't a lot for me to say
beyond, "Thank-you. Have a nice day!"

D: Dan if you know another process in plain English that fits with
your use of the word "satipatthana" please provide.

--> Dan: No. I know no English word that fits well with my use of
the
word "satipatthana." And you are right to note that no 'method' is
specified. Satipatthana cannot be forced or controlled or willed to
arise. It arises for brief moments when conditions are ripe. Those
conditions include listening to the true Dhamma and wise attention
(yoniso manasikara).

D: I think we can come to some understanding about
silabbataparamasa.
If there is a direct cause/ effect relationship that can be seen
then
that is wisdom, when there is no relationship between the action and
hope for results, then that is ignorance and can be called
silabbataparamasa.

--> Dan: Wonderful sentence, Dhamarati! If you mean 'action' as an
activity or practice, then you have it exactly backwards. If you
mean 'action' as 'volition', then you have it exactly right.
Silabbataparamasa is mistaking practice/ritual/method for 'action'
and (wrongly) seeing a direct cause/effect relationship between that
kind of 'action' and arising of wisdom.

D: Example, Feeding a famous monk on his birthday so that a heavenly
life or some merit will come in some future life. Another example.
Sitting in meditation retreat waiting for the bell to ring,
thinking,
I'll meditate after lunch.

--> Dan: Wonderful examples! In the act of feeding a famous monk on
his birthday, consciousness arises and passes away innumerable
times.
At some moments there may arise a greedy and deluded
consciousness: "I want to store up my merit!" At some moments there
may arise pure motives of generosity: "May he live comfortably and
with good health and good cheer." Also, in some cases there may be
no
moments of generosity. In other cases there may be no moments of
greed and delusion. The merit is not so much in the action qua
practice/ritual/method but in the action qua volition. Although
giving is powerful and good, there still may be a proliferation of
greedy and deluded moments before and after the 'giving' action.
This
can happen if there is the wrong view: "I will feed a famous monk on
his birthday so that I can gain a heavenly life in the future." The
volition of giving is good, but wrong view is not eliminated so long
as that equation of "gain merit by giving to famous monk" is viewed
as a method for generating gain.

The same goes for the meditation retreat sitting. At some moments
there may arise a greedy and deluded consciousness: "I want to
attain
such-and-such a state because of the merit/pleasantness/wisdom I
will
gain." At some moments there may arise pure thoughts: "Whatever
arises is bound to pass away. No need to cling to such ephemeral,
impersonal, changing phenomena as self." In some cases there may be
no moments of pure thoughts. In other cases there may be no moments
of greed and delusion. The merit is not so much in the action qua
practice/ritual/method but in the action qua volition from moment to
moment. Although jhana is powerful and good, there still may be a
proliferation of greedy and deluded moments before and after the
jhana. This can happen if there is the wrong view: "I will practice
samatha so that I can be happy, happy, happy. It's even better than
sex!" By all means, practice samatha, practice jhana. But how can
wrong view be eliminated when samatha is viewed as a ritual for
gaining merit?

D: Sitting in meditation doing the practice (training) properly is
not an empty ritual. Riding the mind of hindrances in a moment by
moment activity is not empty ritual. Ritual need not be empty, it
depends on the state of mind.

--> Dan: Agreed. Ritual need not be empty. But silabbataparamasa
refers to the 'non-empty' rituals as well as the empty ones.

D: responding to "justify as righteous because it involves so much
effort and concentration" This seems to discount concentration, but
as you well know right concentration is a factor of the path, so
when
you say "righteous" it seems that you are using it as a dirty word.
If we belittle concentration, then we can more easily reject it from
the daily practice.

--> Dan: "Righteous" is a function of "rightness", not of effort or
concentration. Effort and concentration can easily be wrong effort
and wrong concentration. It would be a huge mistake to belittle
concentration, but the distinction between 'right concentration'
and 'wrong concentration' must also be emphasized. The type of jhana
that people so often refer to is a form of right concentration, as
the Buddha made clear by so many references to it (the other kind is
the jhana is with seeing characteristics as object rather than
object
as object, i.e. supramundane jhana). But what is the view of jhana
during the non-jhana times? If it is viewed as something to be taken
up immediately, without delay, a number of problems are raised.
First, there is then little effort to understand reality as it is at
this moment as opposed to reality as you'd like it to be. Second,
there is too easily a cultivation of lobha -- "Oh, I wish I were
somewhere else! Oh, how I need that cushion and that quiet room. Oh,
if only those hindrances weren't there! Then, I'd really be happy!"
Third, there is cultivation of self view, of the view that there is
one who directs and controls the arising of kusala states.

Sorry, I didn't have time to get around to all your excellent
comments this time around. I will make another attempt later.

Thanks.

Dan


#6 RobertK

RobertK

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Posted 23 July 2006 - 09:42 AM

---Dear Dan,
I think the answer to this depends on understanding, on
accumulations, and on attitude. Taking the latter, attitude first:
Are we hoping to gain something for 'ourself' by doing this? More
than anything vipassana is the giving up of self, but clinging to
self comes in so quickly. This isn't limited to sitting with eyes
closed but to all 'we' do. The Abhidhamma (dispeller part 11 p225)
notes that one may study the Dhamma with an attitude of grasping,
wanting to be the 'wise person', better than others: "it is not
permissible to learn (the discourses) actuated by presumption(or
competitiveness,sarambho); that is on the unprofitable side and it
is the path which leads to hell".

All kusala is to be encouraged. Even if ones path is that of the
sukkhavipassaka (dry-insight-worker) who doesn't develop jhana
samatha is beneficial; as is giving, respect and all the ways of
kusala, goodness. But we have to know whether the moments of
watching the breath are genuinely kusala, are they really with
detachment or is there a subtle clinging to the object? Breath is
not a easy subject for samatha; other objects, like maranasati
(death meditation) may be more suitable. One might spend many years
trying to develop anapanasati and not master it - sometimes people
get a few moments of bliss but then it never comes back , and this
becomes a source of great attachment for them. Also we should be
honest with ourselves - do we enjoy sense objects i.e. any pleasant
object through the eyes, ears, nose, tongue or body? We should know
that the development of samatha to the degree of jhana needs
seclusion and renunciation. Right concentration is defined as jhana
in some texts but there are two types of jhana, mundane and
supramundane - even the dry-insight worker attains jhana (the
supramundane one) at the moment of insighting nibbana.

It is not that in one who develops vipassana directly that the
hindrances remain in full strength from A to yea. If there is
genuine development of insight then doubt hindrance is much weakened
and appears rarely. Anger becomes reduced because 'who is there to
be angry with?' Anger takes the concept of a 'person' and it seems
a foolish emotion if there has been understanding of dhammas (but it
may arise sometimes). And even subtle degrees of dosa such as
boredom are seen 'as they are'. Desire and sloth and torpor may
still be common - but they will not obsess the mind to quite the
same degree. However, these are almost side effects as the aim of
insight is to see any dhamma - kusala, akusala or neither as it is.
So simple but so hard.
Nevertheless, I believe that gradually discernment grows and with
this also the causes for the hindrances are understood. Then, too,
the hindrances can be objects for insight, indeed if they are now
present they are the only object at that moment:
""Here the mindfulness which lays hold of the hindrances is the
Truth of Suffering. Thus the portal of deliverance of the bhikkhu
who lays hold of the hindrances should be understood.""Satipatthana
sutta commentary.
There are so many other aspects to consider and I know you would
have some wise thoughts, Dan.
best wishes
robert




"onco111" <dalthorp@o...> wrote:
> Dear Robert,
> I like you explanation of the connection between silabbataparamasa
> and self view. Very clear.
>
> I do have a couple questions I'm hoping you can help me with,
though.
> Isn't it true that jhana is kusala and that Buddha even defines
Right
> concentration in terms of jhana? So, what's wrong with sitting
> quietly, eyes closed, focusing attention on the touch of the
breath
> until the concentration is one-pointed and jhana arises? First,
the
> hindrances are seen, but they are given no foothold. Eventually,
they
> stop arising, and the mind gets to see what the world looks like
> without hindrances. If we are ever to be free from taints, isn't
it
> of enormous benefit to get a clear and extensive view of the world
> without hindrances?
>
> Dan

> <robertkirkpatrick@r...> wrote:

> > Thanks for the note. Panna (wisdom) is the base of the
development
> > of satipatthana. Some people think they have to make the "mind"
> > still so that they can watch nama(mentality) and rupa
> (materiality),
> > not realising that the mind is a concept and that namas and
rupas
> > are arising and passing away all the time they are trying to
> arrange
> > this still 'mind', that the nama that 'knows' has disappeared
> before
> > they even had time to think of it. .
> > We can become intent on trying to do this or that because of
> > clinging to self view and its corollary, wrong practice,
> > silabataparamasa. It is like you indicate in your post below -
> > subtle wrong ideas that take us out of the present moment
> > If we could see now that we do not have to make seeing happen,
or
> > hearing or hardness, that they are conditioned in complex ways,
> then
> > we would comprehend that all dhammas are similary
> > conditioned and arise without any self doing anything. The
> > understanding of this - which develops as the different dhammas
are
> > investigated - is very relaxing, and comes with a detachment
that
> is
> > not dependent on the 'situation', on whether one is sitting or
> > standing, alone, or with others, or whether one is healthy or
ill.
> > If it reaches sufficient level then it will be with with strong
> > samadhi, for brief moments; but it is a samadhi that is not the
> same
> > as trying to concentrate on an object.
> >
> > Silabataparamsa is an aspect of wrong view and cannot exist if
> > anatta, not self, is deeply insighted. The Sammohavinodani
> (page227):
> > "The ordinary man is like a madman and without considering 'Is
this
> > right or not' and aspiring by means of clinging ...he performs
any
> > of the kinds of kamma (good or bad)... Thus silabataparamasa
> > (clinging to rules and rituals)is a condition for all three,
namely
> > the sense desire world, fine material and immaterial kinds of
> > existence with their divisions and what they include" Thus
> > silabataparamasa can lead to both good and bad states, it can
lead
> > even to the highest pleasant feelings experienced in jhana but
it
> > cannot lead out of samsara. All ways of kusala (wholesome) can
> > support the development of insight, but they
> > won't if they are clung to or mistaken as the path. As you say,
it
> > is all about understanding the here and now.
> > best wishes
> > robert
> >
> >