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Re: [Pali] Re: Buddha and the present moment.

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  • Hugo
    Hello Bryan, The question who is it that is doing this? is not valid because asking who is implying a self. It is like asking: Have you stopped beating
    Message 1 of 37 , Sep 4, 2013
      Hello Bryan,

      The question "who is it that is doing this?" is not valid because asking "who" is implying a self.

      It is like asking:  "Have you stopped beating your wife?"

      If you answer yes, you imply that you used to beat her.

      If you answer no, implies that you currently beat her.

      Somebody that has never beat his wife, would deem this question "not valid".

      I can't remember the details but there is an anecdote about some layman that was very enthusiastic about a book he read that was titled "Who dies?", he took the book to a monk and suggested that he should read it, the monk took the book read the title and returned it to him saying "wrong question".


      On Tue, Sep 3, 2013 at 11:46 PM, Bryan Levman <bryan.levman@...> wrote:
      Dear Stefan and Nina,

      I also interpret Dhp 348 this way. The Buddha's teaching transcends any kind of duality and the "present" is simply another duality with the past or the future. This is also stated clearly in Sutta Nipāta 949, which is at least as old or older than Dhp 348:

      Yam pubbe, tam visosehi, pacchā te māhu kiñcanaṃ,

      majjhe ce no gahessasi, upasanto carissasi.
      Dry up the past, may the future be nothing. If you do not grasp in the present, you will
      wander in peace.

      This also brings up a point which I think Robert is alluding to: when we are mindful, have abandoned the atta, and transcended the duality of time (and space), who is it that is doing this?

      I'm not sure what the Buddha's answer to this might be. At Sn 2, 61 (Avijjapacayasutta) he is asked for whom is there old age and death, birth and volitional formations and he answers that this is "not a valid question" (no kallo pañho), and then he reiterates the 12nidānas. 

      In the  Utpadyananirudhyanasūtra of the Mahāvastu he is asked ( in Ven. Ananadajoti's translation  at http://www.ancient-buddhist-texts.net/Texts-and-Translations/Short-Pieces-in-Sanskrit/Utpadyananirudhyanasutram.htm)

      “Since bodily form, it seems, is surely not-self,
      (since) feeling, perception, (volitional) processes, and consciousness are not-self,
      then who is the maker, or the one who makes,
      who is the animator, or the originator, or the one who puts (them) down,
      who takes up these processes or puts them down,
      for whom are these processes empty, not capable of being self,
      or having a self or with a capability of being self?"

      to which he answers

      "The processes arise and the processes cease,
      they arise with causes, and they cease with causes,
      with causes for the process of rebirth, [thus] monks, does the Realised One [explain] ‘self’ and ‘the one who takes up.’" And then again, he repeats the nidānas.

      The phenomenologists assert that there must be some basic subjectivity which realizes these truths (not an atta, but nevertheless some fundamental awareness or beingness). Khristos has a very good article on this subject in the current issue of the Buddhist Studies Review.

      Nina, perhaps this question is addressed in the Abhidhamma?



       From: Nina van Gorkom <vangorko@...>
      To: Pali@yahoogroups.com
      Sent: Saturday, August 31, 2013 9:43:27 AM
      Subject: Re: [Pali] Re: Buddha and the present moment.

      Dear Stefan,
      Op 20 aug 2013, om 12:37 heeft stefan_karpik het volgende geschreven:

      > I think Dhammapada Verse 348. Reaching The Further Shore, advises
      > against present moment awareness:
      > Let go before, let go the after,
      > let go the middle, beyond the becoming.
      > With mind released in every way
      > you'll come no more to birth, decay.
      N: I would take it this way: do not cling even to the present.
      As I understand the teachings, the Buddha speaks all the time about seeing, hearing etc. of this moment. How otherwise could one realize their characteristics? If it would not be the present reality we can only think and speculate. The Buddha's teachings would be mere theory.
      You find that the citta is so fast. That is right. There can only be mindfulness of what has just gone but we can stll call it the present reality. Take attachment. It can and should be object of mindfulness, otherwise it could never be eradicated. Mindfulness accompanies kusala citta and it could not accompany akusala citta with attachment. But it can still be aware of the characteristic of the lobha that has just gone. Indeed, cittas arise and fall away succeeding one another extremely rapidly.
      We should not try to catch the present moment, than the self is at work. Mindfulness is anattaa it does not belong to anyone. It can only arise when there are the right conditions, namely, listening and considering the Dhamma over and over again. Above all, understanding that also sati and pa~n~naa are anattaa. Any wishing or trying works counteractive.


      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]


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    • Piya Tan
      Dharma Friends, I want to address only one interesting point, that is, Stefan s remark about difficulty of watching the present moment. The main difficulty
      Message 37 of 37 , Sep 17, 2013
        Dharma Friends,
        I want to address only one interesting point, that is, Stefan's remark about difficulty of watching the "present moment."
        The main difficulty here is that we are watching the "views" of the present moment, watching them as contents, rather than as process itself.
        If we watch the process, then all we see the rise and fall. (Emphasis is on "see" not "note," although this term can be helpful in its right context.)
        If we keep watching the rise and fall of the mind, then the mind should be able to calm itself in due course.
        Indeed, if we reflect on M 131, "past" and "future" are simply our views of them, We think that thought A is something about the past, thought B is about the future. These "past" and "future" are themselves concepts, not helpful here. In meditation, we need to clear the mind of all views, but gently (we cannot wish for it). Just let go. (See SD 40a.1)
        The "present" is our mental directing to whatever is going on, the passing of mental events, if you like. This is the so called "present moment awareness" (useful concept but don't get caught up with its philosophy).
        Dh 348 does not contradict M 131, but speaks in another way, reminding us that even the present moment should not be taken as a view. Let that go, too. M 131 lists the 15 wrong views, which is a sort of abridged version of the 16 doubts mentioned in M 2 (Sabbasava Sutta), etc (see Intro to SD 8.9). The 16 doubts deal with past, present and future: let go of all such thoughts in meditation.
        The 15 wrong-view method of M 131 exhorts us to let go of the past and future. For the present, we regard the 5 aggregates (one by one or as necessary) as impermanent.
        The bottom line is that we need to let go of all conceiving and thinking. Only when the mind if free from thoughts will the hindrances go away. Even if dhyana cannot be attained, the momentary stillness is itself of such profound joy. We use this to study the suttas, which are very useful in our understanding of meditation theory.
        I have two offerings, a translation of M 131 (SD 8.9) and an essay, "Notion of di.t.thi" (SD 40a.1), about letting go of views. Contact me offline if you want these files. Taste the joy of meditation, and the suttas becomes clearer. Enjoy the suttas, and meditation theory becomes easier.
        Hope this is helpful.
        With metta and mudita,

        On Mon, Sep 9, 2013 at 3:04 PM, Kumara Bhikkhu <kumara.bhikkhu@...> wrote:

        Dear stefan_karpik,

        One word for now/present in Pali is
        "paccuppanna", which can be literally translated as "just occurred".


        wrote thus at 06:37 PM 20-08-13:
        >Dear PG,
        >I wonder if 4 years is a record delay on this group!
        >As I have found the attempt to focus on the present moment unhelpful in
        >my own meditation practice, I've had my doubts that the Buddha ever
        >referred to living in the moment or awareness of the present moment or
        >present moment awareness. My problems are: sometimes the mind works so
        >fast that the experience I am being aware of has gone by the time I am
        >aware of it; also, if the past or future is in awareness now, I don't
        >see that present moment awareness adds anything to my practice. I was
        >tying myself in knots trying to achieve present-moment awareness that
        >made any difference.
        >I think Dhammapada Verse 348. Reaching The Further Shore, advises
        >against present moment awareness:
        >Let go before, let go the after,
        >let go the middle, beyond the becoming.
        >With mind released in every way
        >you'll come no more to birth, decay.
        >348. muñca pure muñca pacchato, majjhe muñca bhavassa
        >pÄ ragÅ«.
        > sabbattha vimuttamÄ naso, na punaṃ jÄ tijaraṃ
        >Here I am taking 'majjhe' as meaning what is between the present and
        >past, i.e. the present moment, which Joseph Goldstein does.
        >Joseph Goldstein in the first 10 minutes of his Talk 21 of the
        >Satipatthana series examines the advantages and disadvantages of present
        >moment awareness and concludes that he does not want a construct like
        >'present moment', he wants reality.
        ><http://dharmaseed.org/teacher/96/talk/300/> This where I got the
        >Dhammapada quote from.
        >Christopher Titmuss critiques present moment awareness in Dharma Enews
        >12 August 2007 in "Is the Now a lot of hype?"
        >So does Georges Dreyfus in "Is mindfulness present-centred and
        >There seems to be a view around of the Buddha as a kind of ancient
        >Eckhart Tolle and some translations seem to support this. Bhikkhu Bodhi
        >regularly translates 'dhammo.....sandit.t.hiko' as 'the dhamma visible
        >here and now' eg MLDB page 358 MN 38.25. However, 'sandit.t.hiko' is
        >literally 'completely visiible', which I interpret as 'obvious',
        >'transparent', 'open'; there is certainly no 'here' or 'now in the Pali.
        >Now I have used Dhp 348 to say the Buddha did not advocate present
        >moment awareness, but others in this group have used MN 131
        >Bhaddekaratta Sutta to claim the opposite. !f you look closely, there is
        >an ambiguity; the translation of 'paccuppannam' as 'presently-arisen'
        >(MLDB page 1039) can mean (1) 'present in awareness' or (2) ' in
        >present-moment awareness', as the English 'present' can refer to
        >existence or to time; meaning (1) supports my stance against present
        >moment awareness and meaning (2) supports the opposite! To be honest,
        >given Bhikkhu Bodhi's translation of 'sandit.t.hiko', I think he
        >intended meaning (2), but did the Buddha? The PED gives for
        >'paccuppanna' 'what has arisen (just now), existing, present (as opposed
        >to .. past and... future)', but still I doubt: PED gives the derivation
        >of 'paccuppanna' as 'pat.i + uppajjati' and the article on 'pat.i' does
        >not offer the meaning 'now' and only offers 'again' in a temporal sense;
        >so I wonder if the PED inadvertently slipped from meaning (1),
        >'existent', to meaning (2), 'present-moment', never imagining that a
        >whole philosophy of the now and present-moment awareness would be
        >hooked onto this anomalous interpretation of 'pat.i' as 'now' !
        >To sum up: either the Buddha contradicts himself between Dhp 348 and
        >MN131 on present-moment awareness or the PED contradicts itself in its
        >understanding of 'pat.i' and 'paccuppanna'. At the moment, PG, I can't
        >see MN 131 as supporting the modern idea of present moment awareness,
        >but that puts me in the difficult position of agreeing with the PED on
        >'pat.i', but disagreeing with the PED on 'paccuppanna', which I take to
        >mean 'come to mind, the contents of mind' without any temporal
        >reference; if temporal reference to 'now' were seriously meant, the Pali
        >would surely use 'vuttamaana'. I would really appreciate some feedback
        >on this point.
        >I'm sorry if I have muddied the waters for you and, if you find
        >'present-moment awareness' a useful concept, please keep it. But it is
        >not useful for me or some others and I genuinely doubt that the Buddha
        >taught it. I wonder if those who do see this concept in the Buddha's
        >teachings are projecting a modern zeitgeist onto the Buddha.
        >Better late than never,
        >With metta
        >Stefan Karpik

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