studying Dhamma and doing a meditation technique is the same?


— In, “Mike” wrote:
> Mike: However, what I can not grasp is the implication that this problem
doesn’t apply equally to studying the Dhamma as to any other activity. It
certainly involves making choices, taking actions, and potentially producing an
“*I’m* a good studier of the Dhamma” view. How do you avoid that problem?
Dear Mike
I don’y want to interfere between you and KenH but perhaps I can add something.

The main point is that hearing/studying Dhamma is essential for right view to
develop. If one does not learn the theory accurately and in sufficient depth
then it is sure that one will either make no progess or progess in a wrong
direction. These wrong directions can be very enticing and have the outward
appearance of correctness. One may live a more serene and law-abiding life but
be as deluded about the way out of samsara as ever.

One may wonder whether everyone who studies, studies rightly. In fact very
obviously they don’t. But why is that?
Mainly it is because of the very deepseated nature of self-view, it must be
truly understood that there are only elements arising and passing away with no
one controlling or doing anything. These elments don’t want to study or not
study, they are mere conditioned phenomema that arise and perform their
function, and then they cease forever and a new element arises.
Kind of easy to write about and of course most Buddhists easily agree with this
( a few don’t) but then because of self-view people believe that they have to do
something /change something in order to understand this. But the real ‘change’
is not anything outward it is purely the arising of understanding.
And this type of understanding, as the suttas say, depends on hearing Dhamma.

Now three people may hear/read this and have totally different reactions: one
may properly understand, at some level. Another might say ‘yes, but..I still
want to do something’ Another might say ‘it is nonsense..’
This is due to accumulations from the near and distant past.

Even the one who understands correctly at the basic level may still go wrong.
They may think mere acceptance of these facts is already enough whereas it is
only the first step in a long path of studying and learning – both in theory
and directly the difference between concept and reality- and eventually the
difference between nama and rupa.

Now if you are sitting down can there be understanding – even direct
understanding of an element.? There can if there are conditions. You don’t have
to stand up to understand, or go and sit somewhere else. And if you were sitting
somewhere else you don’t need to come and sit here..
Or if you have desire arising, as we all do very often – can it be known as
desire, as an element, right there and then? Yes, it can if there are enough
conditions. But if one thought that ‘Oh, here is desire I must remove it’, then
one is no longer following the path toward vipassana. One is either having
aversion, or another more subtle desire (to get rid of the big desire) or at
best one might be developing samatha.

The conditions for right view are hearing the Dhamma are wise attention to it.
One of the classifications of progress is that of the three gocara(arammana, objects):
When talking about bhavana these are
1. Upanissaya gocara is the basis and is the hearing and wise considering of the teachings.
2. This leads to araki gocara which is the protection against akusala citta- in other words the first gocara conditions araki.
3.upanipanda gocara which is satipatthana.
But if one thought that ‘Oh, here is desire I must remove it’, then
one is no longer following the path toward vipassana. One is either having
aversion, or another more subtle desire (to get rid of the big desire) or at
best one might be developing samatha.

Hi Robert,

I agree with everything you wrote that I excised from the beginning of this quote, including “…then
one is no longer following the path toward vipassana…”.

One or two questions though:

(1) Do you think that there’s anything inherently wrong with the development of samatha (as opposed to “following the path toward vipassana”)? and

(2) Do you think that ‘subtle desire’ is an obstacle to the development of samatha?

Thanks in Advance,


Why did the Buddha teach meditation and all the other conventional subjects he
addressed in sutta? Why didn’t he just teach Abhidhamma?
> And: can you give me a quote from Buddhist scripture that states that
meditation is wrong practice, from *any* legitimate source including commentary
and subcommentary.
S: I think you’ll agree that the Buddha only encouraged the development of
wholesome states, so even whilst talking about “conventional subjects” or
“meditation”, it is essential to understand what kinds of dhammas are arising.
The Dhamma, the Abhidhamma, whether in Suttas, Vinaya or Abhidhamma Pitaka,
comes down to the understanding of this moment.

For example, we read in the .Gopakamoggallaana Sutta, MN 108:

(Ananda speaking):
“The Blessed One, Brahmin, did not praise every type of meditation (jhaana.m),
nor did he condemn every type of meditation. What kind of meditation did the
Blessed One not praise? Here, Brahmin, someone abides with his mind obsessed by
sensual lust
(kaamaraagapariyu.t.thitena cetasaa viharati), a prey to sensual lust, and he
does not understand as it actually is the escape from arisen sensual lust.

“While he harbours sensual lust within, he meditates, premeditates,
out-meditates, and mismeditates (jhaayanti pajjhaayanti nijjhaayanti
apajjhaayanti). He abides with his mind obsessed by sloth and torpor, a prey to
sloth and torpor….with his mind obsessed by
restlessness and remorse……obsessed by doubt, a prey to doubt, and he does
not understand as it actually is the escape from arisen doubt. While he harbours
doubt within, he meditates, premeditates, out-meditates, and mismeditates. The
Blessed One did not praise that kind of meditation.”

We also read in the texts that even wholesome states that are not the
development of the Eightfold Path, including the attainment of mundane jhanas,
are considered as “wrong practice” in that they do not lead out of Samsara – the
bricks of samsara are still being accumulated at such times. Only the
development of satipatthana, vipassana, is “right practice”.

SN 55:55:
“Bhikkhus, these four things, when developed and cultivated, lead to the
realization of the fruit of stream-entry. What four?
Association with superior persons, hearing the true Dhamma, careful attention,
practice in accordance with the Dhamma….”

As Jon wrote before: “In the expression “practice in accordance with the
Dhamma”, the term “practice” means the actual moment of consciousness
accompanied by insight that knows something about the true nature of a presently
arising dhamma. It does not mean undertaking some kind of activity with a view
to having that consciousness occur.”


Thank for your detail.
> May I ask once again ?
> I mean that however we be smart about Abhidhamma, but we don’t approach
> Samadhi(meditation) so we be smart for theory only. My point is practice not
> theory.

> I know, Abhidhamma is important but you have to know that abhidhamma
> born from pracrice/experience. Don’t you change, theory then practice. And
> it’s most important that The Buddha Sakyamuni have found dhamma on his
> effort and experince. So, we could find that what all The Buddha told are
> based on his experince. So, we can find dhamma not from theory(Abhidhamma)
> but from your effort by meditation. And we must know, every body have got
> experience theirself. Remember, we have the same of goal, but we have
> different way to achieve it. These sentences macth what The Buddha said.
> Be happier, be better everyday

N: Dear Purnomo, can we practice without listening first to the teachings?
Is the beginning of the development of understanding not listening and
considering? We are not like the Buddha who found the Truth all by himself.
We need to listen first. That is: learning, considering, verifying in our
own life what we hear. As you say, everybody has to experience the truth
himself. If we just sit in mmeditation but do not know our own cittas, how
can we be sure that we practise in the right way? For example, we may wish
to develop the meditation subject of metta, lovingkindness, but if we do not
know the different moments of citta we may confuse attachment to a person
and unselfish love. As the Visuddhimagga explains, attachment is the near
enemy of metta. This is just an example to show that there cannot be the
right meditation without learning what the Buddha taught about the different
cittas and other phenomena of our life.
What is our goal? The Buddha taught that only right understanding of
realities can eradicate ignorance and the other defilements. First clinging
to self has to be eradicated. We can learn that whatever arises is just a
conditioned reality, non-self. You say that we have different ways to
achieve the goal. It is very useful to remember that whatever we do is only
a conditioned reality. Suppose someone likes to sit in meditation and
believes that he can develop a calm state of mind. Why is that? Because it
is his accumulated inclination, he has done this before. If this is so, let
him than realize that it is not self who is doing this, only a conditioned
nama. He could also consider what his purpose is and what he comes to know
by sitting. Is there a subtle attachment to calm? Does he come to know his
own citta? Whatever you do, develop more understanding of your own citta,
that is the Abhidhamma in the practice. We have to be very sincere and find
out when we are clinging to the self. Not only when sitting but also when
working, talking or eating.
Thank you for your good wish to become better everyday. How? only by
understanding more my own citta. And evenso, there are ups and downs all the
way, don’t you find that?
Many religions teach: do good, do good. Only the Buddha taught the way:
understanding of realities. No matter he spoke about sila, the development
of calm, or vipassana, the development of understanding of realities was
always implied in his teachings. From beginning to end. Only the Buddha
could teach the true nature of realities, only the Buddha could teach that
realities are non-self.
With metta, Nina.
by Kumara » Mon Aug 12, 2013 4:42 pm
Though having spent a much shorter period in another tradition, I can relate well with what Balive wrote.

It’s about being somebody, isn’t it? All that aiming, all that striving, to be somebody.

It took quite a while for me to realise this, and quite some right effort to give it up. Like you said, having built up a sense of who you are with meditation, it’s scary to let go of that “me the meditator on the way to Nibbana”.

It’s bhavatanha, and all the teachers and fellow meditators of my past affiliation said nothing about it to me (as far as I can recall). Another who left also spoke about the sense of being elites among Buddhists, in fact among humankind. We got caught up in it—big time.

Looking back, I find it quite funny. A chapter in this spiritual journey. A great lesson.
Last edited by Kumara on Mon Aug 12, 2013 5:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Great topic, I guess that is very related to the issue and I would no see so much differences between hearing and reading (so it goes also in direction of “good” translation needed or not).

Ghosa Suttas: Voice

“Monks, there are these two conditions for the arising of wrong view. Which two? The voice of another[1] and inappropriate attention. These are the two conditions for the arising of wrong view.”
“Monks, there are these two conditions for the arising of right view. Which two? The voice of another and appropriate attention. These are the two conditions for the arising of right view.”


Note 1. Woodward, in the PTS translation, renders parato ghoso as “a voice from another world,” and in a footnote interprets it as “clairaudience from another (world).” To summarize his reasoning: If ordinary speech were meant, the word vaacaa or vaacii would have been used instead of ghoso; and if another person were meant, aññassa or aññatarassa would have been used instead of parato. Finally, he notes that this passage appears also in MN 43 following a statement of “abnormal powers,” which apparently is meant to show that, in context, this statement must refer to the type of psychic knowledge that derives from abnormal powers.
There are several problems with this interpretation, the first being that it leaves no room for an event happening many times in the Canon: people gaining right view simply on hearing the words of another person. One scholar has tried to get around this objection, saying that the voice from another world must refer to the voice of the Buddha or to one of the noble disciples who gained Awakening on hearing the Buddha’s own voice. The implication here is that only the words of these two classes of people can inspire right view. This position, however, is disproved by the fact that in Mv.I.23.5 Ven. Sariputta, who at that point has not yet met the Buddha, is able to inspire the arising of the Dhamma eye in Ven. Moggallana. This passage appears in the long origin story leading up to the rules dealing with ordination, and proves an important point in validating the tradition of ordination: that a person who has not met the Buddha can still inspire right view and even Awakening in the mind of another. So the Canon itself disproves both of these otherworldly interpretations of this statement.
As for Woodward’s linguistic arguments: It is hard for a non-native speaker of a dead language to know the reasoning in the mind of a native speaker in that language, but it might have been the case that the Buddha avoided the word aññassa for “other” because it could have easily been confused for another meaning of aññassa, “pertaining to the knowledge of an arahant.” As for vaacii and aññatarassa, neither of them fits the context. Vaacii is a stem-form used in compounds, and aññatarassa means “of a certain person.” This leaves vaacaa, “statement” as a possible alternative, but perhaps the Buddha chose ghoso to leave room for the possibility that there are times when one can bring another to his/her senses simply by clearing one’s throat.
Finally, concerning the passage from MN 43: This sutta is a long series of questions and answers that abruptly switch from topic to topic, so it’s hard to say that the sutta provides a clear sense of context for any of its statements. That said, however, it’s not even the case that this passage follows on a statement about abnormal powers. It actually follows on two questions about discernment, which in turn follow on a discussion of the formless jhanas — apparently the “abnormal powers” mentioned by Woodward — and as AN IX.36 and MN 140 show, it’s possible to develop discernment based on these attainments without psychic powers.

For appropriate attention the intention while study is very important. Is it to gain knowledge (possession, food for nourishment) or to let go of views (release)?
Is it to find an escape of the truth of the heart and excuses or to adopt things step by step based on saddha at the first place?

But perspectives counts for meditation as well.

One thing that is pretty sure is, that there would be normally no good possibilities to gain any amount of right view by simply doing meditation (except those who are able to gain private Buddha hood).
Summary we could say that those millions of mediators today, as long as they did not come in touch with the good teaching (or reject them) will hardly gain any right view even if they would meditate as long as they could.
very true Johann
Just came across some sentences while doing some services here in this gift

Monk, when it is said, “This man has four resolves,” in reference to what is it said? To the resolve for wisdom, the resolve for truth, the resolve for relinquishment, the resolve for calm…

We then read that the Buddha explained about the elements in detail. We read about the monk who develops the stages of jhana, but sees that these are “constructed”, conditioned phenomena. He sees their disadvantage, grasps after nothing in the world and attains nibbāna. We read that the monk is endowed with the highest resolve for wisdom, the highest resolve for truth, the highest resolve for relinquishment, the highest resolve for calm. All his defilements are eradicated at his attainment of Arahatship.

Each person should study only in as far as he is able to understand what he studies. A person with a great deal of paññā who is able to study the Dhamma in all details and who can truly understand what he has learnt, who can understand it profoundly, clearly and correctly, should study the Dhamma evermore in detail. If someone merely memorizes what he learns, it is not beneficial. Different people have different accumulations.

Nipat: We should not forget that we are only beginning to study. People who really study are the enlightened ones who are “learners” (sekha puggala), who are classified as seven, beginning with the person who has attained the Path-consciousness of the “Streamwinner”, the sotāpanna, up to the Path-consciousness of the arahatta. The person who has attained the fruition-consciousness, phala-citta, of the arahat is a non-learner, asekha. Therefore, we should not be downhearted about our study, because we only just begin to study. However, we should be firmly convinced of the truth that there are realities appearing through six doors, the doors of the eyes, the ears, the nose, the tongue, the body and the mind-door.

Sujin: Our study will be beneficial if it can be combined with the understanding of the level of patipatti, of the practice. The study is not merely knowing what is in the texts, but it is really the true investigation and consideration of realities. In this way someone who studies can develop the paññā that knows the characteristics of realities which are appearing. Some people who came to study in Khun Jack’s group in the U.S.A. said that they listened to the discussion on Dhamma but did not understand it, but that they found listening without understanding better than not listening at all. However, if someone listens without understanding he accumulates more ignorance, and is this in conformity with the goal of the study? How could it be beneficial to accumulate ever more ignorance. We should try to understand what we study so that there can be more understanding. We should understand what we hear by carefully considering it, and in that way we accumulate understanding.

Someone thought that remembrance, sañña, was rupa, he did not know that it was nama. This is an example which demonstrates that if someone does not understand the basic notions, he should go back to the beginning, he should begin again with the study. People can understand the Dhamma more profoundly if they develop Satipatthāna, because then they will begin to understand realities as they are. They will not understand realities if they just listen to the Dhamma. I said this to Khun Jack so that he would be interested at the understanding of Satipatthāna. He has already sufficiently studied Dhamma on the theoretical level, and now he should combine the study of the theory with the development of Satipatthāna.

Amara: When a reality appears we can verify our understanding of what we studied, no matter what kind of subject of the Dhamma we are studying.


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