I meditate, why listen to someone who only reads books

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#367

Hi H and All,

I can take the below to mean that I should not bother continuing this
discussion. Or I can take it to mean that I can fire away without fear of
hurting you or anyone else. I choose the latter. An example of how feelings
condition cetana for a preferred interpretation..?;-)

But seriously though, I think everyone on DSG is sincere and express
themselves as they see / understand things. I admit to having very little
metta arise in a day, but I can’t wait for more to arise before writing an
email. So I’ll have to depend on any metta on your part and that of others’
to compensate for some of what is lacking in me. 🙂

With this I go ahead with more questions and comments:

=========================

> I hope you don’t see this as me finding fault with your practice.
—————————————-
H:
LOLOL! Why would I take seriously criticism of a my practice by a
non-practitioner?

Suk: First of all, who / what according to you is a practitioner /
non-practitioner? Do you consider if asked, “Who amongst you meditates
regularly?” those that raise their hands to be practitioners and the rest
not? I have noted an unwillingness to question the validity of each other’s
methods as long as there is agreement that one *does* meditate and is a
Buddhist. It seems almost as if each school of ‘practitioners’ are insecure
about their own position and therefore agree not to question one another,
else they themselves are put into an uncomfortable position.

As far as experiences go, no one can ever adequately describe to another
person what it feels like to say, experience Earl Grey tea. Yet when two
people who are talking about it, they can agree that it is good or bad etc.
This is however allowable, as we all have to go by agreed upon conventions
where ‘personal experience’ rather than ‘understanding’ is taken into
consideration. When it comes to the study of Dhamma however, the development
of wisdom / insight being the goal, and characteristic of Dhammas is what is
“known” in order to be detached, such kind of vagueness is not to be
overlooked.

And by precision I do not mean being able to identify or describe exactly,
but rather being inclined to “understand” better. Meanwhile there is also
some recognition of the notoriety of ignorance, one therefore feels
disinclined to come to a definite conclusion about one’s own experience and
instead patiently and courageously turn to the Dhamma. This I feel is what
we all should be doing here.

You H., on the one hand often demand precision on the part of
Abhidhammikas to make clear their use of certain terms and ideas, yet are
willing to be quite vague when it comes to your own beliefs about practice.
From one perspective I feel this is understandable, since you and most
mediators appear to approach the Dhamma from the standpoint of
‘experiencing’ rather then development of ‘understanding’.

When still relatively new to Abhidhamma and DSG, one day I read Jon comment
to the effect that when in doubt about something, he turns to the Tipitaka
for guidance. It took me a little while to appreciate the significance and
implication of this, but finally I agreed with it. Since then, I have learnt
to recognize and hence not attach too much importance so called
‘experiences’. I think Jon’s statement was a result of a level of
understanding which realizes in more or less the same way, this fact of the
vipallasas arising over and over again. At the same time there is greater
confidence in the Dhamma and this can’t be had without some level of direct
understanding / practice imo.

Such attitude I don’t see in any meditator, in fact just the opposite in
most cases. There is leaning toward ‘attachment’ rather, to one’s experience
(*during meditation*) more and more, and less interest in what the Tipitaka
says. When they *do* study the Texts, it is done with an eye to foster their
own preconceived ideas or else to satisfy any inherent curiosity.

So who really knows his own mind and who really practices? You know where my
vote is. 😉

===================================

> Sukin: I think you realize that your interpretation of your own
> experience does not match with the Abhidhamma description of the way
> things are.
————————————-
H:
Ahh! I am utterly bereft. It doesn’t fall far from the sutta
description.

Suk: You mean the sutta description that you read into? Maybe I should have
said Dhamma instead of Abhidhamma? 🙂

===================

H:

But, in any case, I described for you how my meditating works. The
description is based on that reality.

Suk: You mean “that perception” instead of “that reality”?

===========================

H:

I presumed you wanted to hear the truth.

Suk: This may sound arrogant, but I was hoping that my comments might be a
proximate cause for you to reconsider that truth.

==================

> Particularly object condition and all that. I’ll leave out this >
> and the question about how mindfulness of concept can lead to
> satipatthana. I’ll also not go into the fact of there being bhavanga and
> other mind door processes in between any two sense door experience.
———————————-
H:
Oh, boy! I hold myself in check from saying more.

Suk: What *can* you say? (Trying to be as dramatic as you here ;-))

==============================

H:
The states of calm I typically enter into are not absorptive jhanas,
though they do match sutta descriptions of jhana. Hindrances are mollified,
but
not fully removed. At times, though, I do enter into classical
absorptive jhana, and then there are no hindrances in evidence at all. I do
take your
point. If hindrances do not arise at all, they are not available for
inspection. Of course, even the tradition of absorptive jhanas allows for
inspection
upon exit from such a jhana with a mind having been made a fit instrument by
the
jhana.

Suk: Your comment here again appears to go against the Abhidhamma
perspective of there being one citta experiencing one object at a time. You
have yet to answer me about the relationship between ‘ease’ and ‘clarity’
and perhaps then the matter will be clear to me?

=========================

> Sukin: What do you mean, the “increase” in which way and in relation
> to what? Do you mean realities are observed with ever greater
> precision?
———————————
H:
Sukin, I cannot and will not try to explain the sound of music to a
person who never listens to music. I can’t do it, no more than I could
describe
red and green to a red/green color-blind person. To you this is all theory.

Suk: As I implied earlier in this post, I do not ask to be told about any
‘description of experience’, I look more to any “understanding” that may
arise, and to this end, I am happy if I see a willingness to discuss in
light of what the Buddha taught in the Tipitaka. The above seem to me to be
an instance of hiding behind vagueness.

And while were at it, at this point allow me to comment on one matter more.
You mentioned a few times, the fact of being *told* by your mediation
teacher, Leigh Brasington, that you experienced the 1st and 5th jhanas.
First, it would have been impossible to correctly describe such a state
especially given that you were unsure. Secondly, he not being enlightened,
could not have known exactly. Third, if indeed you experienced jhana even if
it be the 1st level, you *would have known* without doubt, since this
implies a very high level of panna. This panna *KNOWS*! To me this
experience of yours was a case of the blind leading the blind. And yes, this
is theory on my part, but not just. 😉

==============================

> Sukin: What is the significance of this? It is at this stage surely, not a

> matter of experiencing nama or rupa i.e. satipatthana. Why the need to
> go along with this?
——————————————-
H:
I don’t know what you want. It is natural to do – it requires no
effort. It happens unless I stop it. And it goes along with what the Buddha
taught.

Suk: My point was that since you are presumably practicing to ‘know’ one
reality at a time, yet you go along with this thought about “sensations
suffusing the whole body” as if this is in any way related to the
development of that kind of wisdom.

=========================
> H:
> Sometimes at this point, there is no longer any need to *apply*
> attention at all. Instead, the meditating seems to “coast”, to proceed
> effortlessly on its own.>>
>
> Sukin: :-/ What does this mean?
————————————
H:
How can I tell you? It seems to match a cessation in vitakka and
vicara. Now that I speak your lingo, perhaps you get it. But unless you
experience
it for yourself, you really cannot get it.

Suk: I don’t care what term is used; in fact when it comes to describing
“thinking”, being unsure about the mechanism, I myself refer to the citta
and not any particular cetasikas. My questioning the above was in relation
to your distinction between deliberateness and without. You talk as if there
are some states controllable and some not. Also you appear to conclude that
one *lead* to the other. Moreover you identified ‘effort’ in the one as if
the other did not exhibit any characteristic of effort. All this seemed to
go against the Buddha’s teachings on conditionality on more than one level.

=================
> Sukin: According to which Sutta / Suttas? Not the Satipatthana Sutta
> surely?
——————————————-
H:
Yes, indeed! In any case, as far as I’m concerned, all your reading,
from now till “kingdom come”, will, without actual practice – without
getting
your feet wet and your hands dirty, amount to very little. No “kingdom” WILL

come.

Suk: If getting wet means ‘formal meditation’ or striving for jhana, then
I’m happy to remain ‘dry’ or “sukha”. :-))

Metta,

Sukinder
=====================

> But seriously though, I think everyone on DSG is sincere and express
> themselves as they see / understand things. I admit to having very little
> metta arise in a day, but I can’t wait for more to arise before writing an
> email. So I’ll have to depend on any metta on your part and that of
others’
> to compensate for some of what is lacking in me. 🙂
—————————————–
H:
So, are you saying up-front that you are writing me without good will,
or at least not much? Is that likely to encourage my participation? 🙂

S: No. After having considered everyone’s sincerity, I was reflecting on my
own mental state. Realizing that I don’t have the required level of wisdom,
I thought that I should at least write with metta. But metta too seems to
arise very little and far between, therefore there was going to be much,
much more akusala compared. It was with this that I then asked for ‘some’
metta from you and others.

===========================

> Suk: First of all, who / what according to you is a practitioner /
> non-practitioner? Do you consider if asked, “Who amongst you meditates
> regularly?” those that raise their hands to be practitioners and the rest
> not?
——————————-
H:
Sukin, it is exactly meditation that you asked me about. That is what
we’ve been discussing. In any case, I certainly do not seek a meditation
critique from a non-meditator. Is that more clear?

S: No Howard, I didn’t ask to hear about your experience in meditation. As
far as experiences go, I am not interested in anyone’s even an ariyan’s.
What I am interested in is views / understandings gained from no matter
during what experience and when. If you went back to post 72564, you will
see that I asked about the “relationship between ‘calm’ and ‘clarity'”. It
was a Dhamma question.

When you wrote back and described your experience in meditation, I was a
little surprised and in fact felt that it was sincere of you to be doing
this for me, a non-meditator. I however also took that as a response though
not directly to my question, but nevertheless as something I could comment
on in general.

=======================

> I have noted an unwillingness to question the validity of each other’s>
> methods as long as there is agreement that one *does* meditate and is a
> Buddhist.
——————————-
H:
I frequently discuss meditaion issues with other meditators, though
only a little on DSG. Do you find that a surprise?

S: Perhaps you do. However what I like to see discussed is not so much any
fine tuning of techniques, but rather the fundamentals of each approach.
That of Goenka, Mahasi, Buddhadasa, the Thai Forest Monks or even Ven. V,
how is it possible that they could all lead to the same goal? I don’t
believe that the Buddha’s Teachings on the law of causation and
conditionality is arbitrary that these different approaches (some would even
include Zen and Mahayana into the fold) could be seen as more or less
equally valid. From my perspective, there are yet other basic problems, but
I expect of you and others some questioning at this level at least..?

=================

> It seems almost as if each school of ‘practitioners’ are insecure
> about their own position and therefore agree not to question one another,
> else they themselves are put into an uncomfortable position.
———————————
H:
Sukin, do you enjoy looking to criticize others? Is that *your*
practice. I find it annoying. I think you would as well. Jesus once said to
look not
at the sliver in someone else’s eye, but to look first to remove the stake
in
one’s own. Not bad advice, IMO.

S: I do admit to limitless akusala; however there are also intentions
towards helping. This you may consider arrogant of me. I doubt however, that
I do enjoy criticizing others. I see no good in putting anyone in an
embarrassing position, if it happens however, I can’t help it. But my
intention always has been to discuss and promote better understanding of
Dhamma. Besides you can be sure that typing these posts is physically very
demanding of me, I never do it with any ease.

===================

> And by precision I do not mean being able to identify or describe exactly,
> but rather being inclined to “understand” better. Meanwhile there is also
> some recognition of the notoriety of ignorance, one therefore feels
> disinclined to come to a definite conclusion about one’s own experience
and
> instead patiently and courageously turn to the Dhamma. This I feel is what
> we all should be doing here.
—————————————-
H:
Well, I was simply describing my meditation to you as best I could, in
response to your request.

S: And like I said, I appreciated it.

====================
> You Howard, on the one hand often demand precision on the part of
> Abhidhammikas to make clear their use of certain terms and ideas, yet are
> willing to be quite vague when it comes to your own beliefs about
practice.
——————————————
H:
I was vague??? I haven’t a clue then of what you want. I did the best
I could. Do you find the Buddha’s descriptions of meditation vague?

S: Perhaps it is because you thought that I was asking for a description of
your meditation experience, but I was in fact enquiring about the
‘understanding’ behind the very decision to do so. Do you now see why what
you said could be considered vague to me?

When you refer to the “Buddha’s description of meditation”, I think you mean
those part in the Suttas where the jhanas are described. I don’t think the
Buddha intended for his audience to see those descriptions as “milestones”,
but simply described them as a matter of fact, his aim being for his
disciples to ‘insight’ at any stage the experience of jhana. The kind of
descriptions that I’m interested in is for example the various vipassana
nanas. These tell me more about the development of wisdom and are useful
even now. Moreover this kind of thing does not arouse any fascination or
curiosity about “experience”, but does condition some corresponding level of
detachment.

==================
> From one perspective I feel this is understandable, since you and most
> mediators appear to approach the Dhamma from the standpoint of
> ‘experiencing’ rather then development of ‘understanding’.
————————————–
H:
Shall I now say that your notion of understanding is that of book
learning? I’m really tiring of your criticisms. I’m not keen to continue
like
this. I do find your approach lacking in friendliness. Not pleasant, Sukin.
————————————-

S: Please accept my apology. I know that I can be quite annoying, but blame
it on the accumulations :-). Yes let’s not continue with this after I’m done
with this post. So please take all my questions to you as being merely
rhetorical. And yes you could say that the understanding is only
intellectual (though not ‘book knowledge’).

============================

> Such attitude I don’t see in any meditator, in fact just the opposite in
> most cases.
————————————–
H:
I guess you don’t know many, then, or not very well. Hurling more
slings and arrows, Sukin? Very tiresome!!!

S: Sorry again, but I still stand by what I said.

========================
> There is leaning toward ‘attachment’ rather, to one’s experience>
> (*during meditation*) more and more, and less interest in what the
Tipitaka
> says. When they *do* study the Texts, it is done with an eye to foster
their
> own preconceived ideas or else to satisfy any inherent curiosity.
———————————
Ho:
SO unlike the non-meditators I’ve come across! You know: Free of ego,
and never clinging to view. Practically defilement-free.WHAT an examplary
bunch! If only we could ALL be like those simply great folks!
Man, Sukin! So full of opinions and conceit! Simply unbelievable.
Where is the humility, Sukin? Where is accepting the possibility of being in

error? Clearly, it’s well hidden.

S: Indeed I have quite a big ego, this is the Truth. However I am not
burdened by “experience” got from any kind of formal practice. The
experience got from a self prescribed activity does invariably condition
clinging when after all ‘understanding’ is not the driving force. I can’t
see it any other way.

Regarding “humility”, it is there when I recognize any akusala in me, and
this happens very rarely. You are right, any kusala is quite well hidden.
🙁

==================

> Suk: This may sound arrogant, but I was hoping that my comments might be a
> proximate cause for you to reconsider that truth.
———————————————-
H:
Yes, arrogant and conceited … to the nth degree.

S: I don’t know about this. But is my arrogance much more than others in
this group? What about those who come into here and criticize the
Abhidhamma, the commentaries ? Am I more arrogant and conceited
than these people?
====================

> And while were at it, at this point allow me to comment on one matter
more.
> You mentioned a few times, the fact of being *told* by your mediation
> teacher, Leigh Brasington, that you experienced the 1st and 5th jhanas.

——————————————–
H:
He is not my meditation teacher. I attended one very brief retreat
with him. And, no, it was a shuttling between the 2nd and the 5th, and we
both
agreed that it was more of a “stumbling into” than any sort of mastery.What
of
it?

S: No need to get more into this, I have said enough. As far as I’m
concerned, it is now up to you to take from it what you will. But maybe I’ll
add one more comment:

I think this whole business about ‘meditation’ is based on the idea that one
needs to try and “experience” the reality directly. I think this is very
misleading and a wrong footing unlikely capable of leading to insight. I
think the right attitude should be that one needs to “develop
understanding”; this at once can cause a firm footing and if conditions are
maintained, lead to insight.

And for this reason, I don’t think there is place for such reasoning as you
make that because one is not a meditator, he or she is not in a position to
discuss a meditators experience. Dhammas can be reduced to the khandas,
nama/rupa, dhatu and so on, and so imo can be discussed by anyone interested
in the subject.

===================

> First, it would have been impossible to correctly describe such a state
> especially given that you were unsure. Secondly, he not being enlightened,
> could not have known exactly. Third, if indeed you experienced jhana even
if
> it be the 1st level, you *would have known* without doubt, since this
> implies a very high level of panna. This panna *KNOWS*! To me this
> experience of yours was a case of the blind leading the blind. And yes,
this
> is theory on my part, but not just. 😉

———————————————-
H:
Your authority is mind-numbing, Sukin, only outdone by your conceit.
Your idea of a decent conversation is a continued arrogant critique. You
must
be great fun at social gatherings.

S: 🙂 You guessed right. I am *no fun* at any social gathering. But what
can I do? So I accept myself as I am.

However, I don’t believe my criticizing any meditation teacher, and I do
*all* of them, is necessarily due to conceit or arrogance..

==============================
> Suk: My point was that since you are presumably practicing to ‘know’ one
> reality at a time, yet you go along with this thought about “sensations
> suffusing the whole body” as if this is in any way related to the
> development of that kind of wisdom.
————————————-
H:
Have you ever read the Buddha’s descriptions of the jhanas, Sukin? The
bathpowder reference? I quote:
_________________________
Just as if a skilled bathman or bathman’s apprentice would pour bath powder
into a brass basin and knead it together, sprinkling it again and again with

water, so that his ball of bath powder – saturated, moisture-laden,
permeated
within and without – would nevertheless not drip; even so, the monk
permeates,
suffuses and fills this very body with the rapture and pleasure born of
withdrawal. There is nothing of his entire body unpervaded by rapture and
pleasure
born from withdrawal…

S: One can experience similar sensations even in a Goenka retreat and I
believe several other techniques will also do it. So should I take this
seriously? And as I said earlier, I don’t think the Buddha described such in
order that others evaluate their own “experiences”. He taught “insight”!!

=========================

> Suk: I don’t care what term is used; in fact when it comes to describing
> “thinking”, being unsure about the mechanism, I myself refer to the citta
> and not any particular cetasikas.
>
————————————–
H:
It is even more evident now that you haven’t read the Buddha’s
desciptions of the jhanas. Vittaka and vicara cease on entry to the 2nd
jhana. BTW, I
had thought that when you asked about my meditating, it might have been
because of some genuine interest. It is clear, now, however,that your
purpose was
to afford yourself an opportunity to attack meditating, to criticize a
fellow
list member, and to reinforce your so-tightly-clung-to beliefs. I sincerely
regret ever having given you a serious reply.

S: I hope what I’ve written so far has given you a clearer picture of my
intentions? Though I’ll admit at this point that I do quite often feel
irritated by what you write on the list…sorry.

=================
My questioning the above was in relation>
> to your distinction between deliberateness and without. You talk as if
there
> are some states controllable and some not. Also you appear to conclude
that
> one *lead* to the other. Moreover you identified ‘effort’ in the one as if
> the other did not exhibit any characteristic of effort. All this seemed to
> go against the Buddha’s teachings on conditionality on more than one
level.

========================
Over and out, Sukin. Definitely over and done with.

With metta,
Howard

S: Hope you don’t mind that I went ahead and responded?

Metta,

Sukinder

PS: I am deadly sleepy right now. So if anything I’ve said in this post has
offended you, blame it on the possibility of lapse of attention. 😉

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