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Re: Textual basis for "bringing up lantent tendencies" and "purifying sangkharas"

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  • Bhikkhu Pesala
    Strictly speaking, I don t see how latent tendencies could be brought to the surface. If feelings give rise to craving or aversion in the present then that
    Message 1 of 5 , Nov 8, 2007
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      Strictly speaking, I don't see how latent tendencies could be brought to the
      surface. If feelings give rise to craving or aversion in the present then that
      craving or aversion is no longer latent, but has arisen. However, if there
      were no latent tendency to craving or aversion, then craving and aversion
      could not arise (in a Non-returner or Arahant).

      The key point, I think, is that we need to acquire skill in abandoning
      unskilful mental states such as craving and aversion. We can only do this if
      they are present, not if they are merely latent. In simple terms, we have
      to do what we don't wish to do, and abstain from doing what we wish to
      do.

      "When ill-will is present he knows, 'Ill-will is in me.' When ill-will is absent
      he knows, 'Ill-will is not in me.' And he knows how the unarisen ill-will
      comes to be, and how the arisen ill-will is abandoned, and how the
      abandoned ill-will does not come to arise again in the
      future." (Satipatthana Sutta Dhammanupassana Nivaranapabba)

      A similar passage is repeated for each of the other four hindrances.

      We need to understand the realities arising and passing away in the
      present moment. We can only understand them properly if we observe
      them systematically and patiently at the very moment when they arise.
      Sitting and walking for all of our waking hours, day after day, with little
      sleep, little food, and no distractions such as entertainments is arduous,
      but it is not self-mortification.

      Why does strenuous meditation bring up the five hindrances? Because we
      have latent tendencies to greed, hatred, and delusion. How can we uproot
      the latent tendencies? By gaining insight into the three universal
      characteristics: impermanence, suffering, and not-self.

      All conditioned things are impermanent, when one sees this with wisdom,
      one becomes dispassionate towards the painful. This is the Path to
      Purification. (Dhp 277)

      All conditioned things are suffering, when one sees this with wisdom, one
      becomes dispassionate towards the painful. This is the Path to Purification.
      (Dhp 278)

      All phenomena are not-self, when one sees this with wisdom, one becomes
      dispassionate towards the painful. This is the Path to Purification. (Dhp 279)

      When we are not meditating, but busy indulging in and following sensual
      pleasures, would we be able to rightly understand the arising and passing
      away of craving and aversion? If we are lying in a warm bed on a cold
      morning, could we clearly understand attachment to warmth and aversion
      to cold? I don't think it will be easy if it is even possible. We need to swim
      upstream against the current of desire.
    • mikenz66
      Dear Bhikkhu Pesala, Thank you very much for your reply. If I could try to clarify my thoughts... ... terms, ... Thank you, I think I understand the concept of
      Message 2 of 5 , Nov 8, 2007
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        Dear Bhikkhu Pesala,

        Thank you very much for your reply. If I could try to clarify my
        thoughts...

        --- In SanghaOnline@yahoogroups.com, "Bhikkhu Pesala" <pesala@...> wrote:
        > The key point, I think, is that we need to acquire skill in abandoning
        > unskilful mental states such as craving and aversion. We can only do
        > this if they are present, not if they are merely latent. In simple
        terms,
        > we have to do what we don't wish to do, and abstain from doing
        > what we wish to do.

        Thank you, I think I understand the concept of abandoning craving and
        aversion by developing equanimity. Practising it properly of course is
        not always so easy...

        > Why does strenuous meditation bring up the five hindrances?
        > Because we have latent tendencies to greed, hatred, and delusion.
        > How can we uproot the latent tendencies? By gaining insight into
        > the three universal characteristics: impermanence, suffering, and
        > not-self.

        I take it that you are saying that I won't find a specific statement in
        the Canon, Commentaries, Visuddhimagga, etc, that "stuff arises in
        meditation because...." and that perhaps I should be content with the
        "common sense" argument that when I quieten down my mind in meditation
        I simply start to notice things that in "everyday life" I was
        overlooking. For example, there is a pain in my arm because I've been
        holding it awkwardly while typing, there is a worry in the back of my
        mind over something I should have done in a different way...

        I.e. the profound wisdom of the Buddha is not that these things are
        there, but how to deal with them by seeing them as anicca, dukkha,
        anatta...

        In thinking about this I realise that if I am not careful it is easy
        to overlook the teaching on the characteristics and start thinking of
        meditation as simply "burning off bad kamma", which would
        be a Jain-style wrong view. As you say, purification is only possible
        via insight.

        Metta :)
        Mike
      • Peter Tomlinson
        Thank you so much for your plain talk and writing, Bhikkhu Pesala. This is the sort of explanation and illustration that helps me to get going again with
        Message 3 of 5 , Nov 9, 2007
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          Thank you so much for your plain talk and writing, Bhikkhu Pesala. This is the sort of explanation and illustration that helps me to get going again with meditation.

          I believe you are quite right in what you have so accurately portrayed here, and I appreciate the Sutta references particularly.

          Pete Tomlinson

          Bhikkhu Pesala <pesala@...> wrote: Strictly speaking, I don't see how latent tendencies could be brought to the
          surface. If feelings give rise to craving or aversion in the present then that
          craving or aversion is no longer latent, but has arisen. However, if there
          were no latent tendency to craving or aversion, then craving and aversion
          could not arise (in a Non-returner or Arahant).

          The key point, I think, is that we need to acquire skill in abandoning
          unskilful mental states such as craving and aversion. We can only do this if
          they are present, not if they are merely latent. In simple terms, we have
          to do what we don't wish to do, and abstain from doing what we wish to
          do.

          "When ill-will is present he knows, 'Ill-will is in me.' When ill-will is absent
          he knows, 'Ill-will is not in me.' And he knows how the unarisen ill-will
          comes to be, and how the arisen ill-will is abandoned, and how the
          abandoned ill-will does not come to arise again in the
          future." (Satipatthana Sutta Dhammanupassana Nivaranapabba)

          A similar passage is repeated for each of the other four hindrances.

          We need to understand the realities arising and passing away in the
          present moment. We can only understand them properly if we observe
          them systematically and patiently at the very moment when they arise.
          Sitting and walking for all of our waking hours, day after day, with little
          sleep, little food, and no distractions such as entertainments is arduous,
          but it is not self-mortification.

          Why does strenuous meditation bring up the five hindrances? Because we
          have latent tendencies to greed, hatred, and delusion. How can we uproot
          the latent tendencies? By gaining insight into the three universal
          characteristics: impermanence, suffering, and not-self.

          All conditioned things are impermanent, when one sees this with wisdom,
          one becomes dispassionate towards the painful. This is the Path to
          Purification. (Dhp 277)

          All conditioned things are suffering, when one sees this with wisdom, one
          becomes dispassionate towards the painful. This is the Path to Purification.
          (Dhp 278)

          All phenomena are not-self, when one sees this with wisdom, one becomes
          dispassionate towards the painful. This is the Path to Purification. (Dhp 279)

          When we are not meditating, but busy indulging in and following sensual
          pleasures, would we be able to rightly understand the arising and passing
          away of craving and aversion? If we are lying in a warm bed on a cold
          morning, could we clearly understand attachment to warmth and aversion
          to cold? I don't think it will be easy if it is even possible. We need to swim
          upstream against the current of desire.






          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Bhikkhu Pesala
          ... in ... I wouldn t go so far as to say that. There are very few, if any, monks who know everything that is said in the Canon, Commentaries, and the
          Message 4 of 5 , Nov 10, 2007
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            > I take it that you are saying that I won't find a specific statement
            in
            > the Canon, Commentaries, Visuddhimagga, etc, that "stuff arises in
            > meditation because...."
            I wouldn't go so far as to say that. There are very few, if any, monks
            who know everything that is said in the Canon, Commentaries, and the
            Visuddhimagga.

            I was going to quote the Culadukkhakkhandha Sutta, but I see that you
            realise the danger of that wrong view regarding burning up past kamma
            through self-mortification.

            Another quote from Chanmyay Sayadaw's Vipassana Meditation Guidelines

            • Pain is observed not to make it go away, but to realise its true
            nature.

            I'm also reminded of Ajahn Chah's saying about "The Equanimity of the
            Water Buffalo." It seems that a certain monk had a hole in the roof of
            his kuti, and when Ajahn Chah asked why he hadn't fixed it, he replied
            that he was practising equanimity. So we can
            even practice equanimity in the wrong way. 
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