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Re: delusion

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  • Bhikkhu Pesala
    There are many terms used in the scriptures for the various kinds of delusion. Delusion is the usual translation used for Moha, which is one of the three
    Message 1 of 13 , Nov 19, 2003
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      There are many terms used in the scriptures for the various kinds of
      delusion. Delusion is the usual translation used for Moha, which is
      one of the three unwholesome roots: Greed (lobha), hatred (dosa), and
      delusion (moha).

      Then there is ignorance (avijja), which is the root condition for
      volitional activities or mental formations (sankhara). Avijja is the
      opposite of insight knowledge (vijja).

      Wrong view (ditthi) also exists in several forms. One who holds a
      wrong view is, of course, deluded and also ignorant. We can
      distinguish three main wrong views:
      1. The belief that everything happens due to the will of Supreme Being
      or Almighty God.
      2. The belief that everthing happens due to previous kamma (fatalism).
      3. The belief that there is no cause or reason for anything.

      Buddhism rejects these three wrong views. It also reject the belief in
      a soul, or ego. What we call a person or being is empty and void of
      any permanent essence. When people do some good deed they often take
      great pride in it, and get very upset when others disparage them. This
      is nothing but egoism and false pride or vanity (mana), which is
      another form of delusion. We grasp onto perceptions: someone praises
      us and we are elated, thinking, "I am intelligent, beautiful, or
      whatever." These are only relative truths, not absolutes.

      There is also the term illusion (vipallasa). This means misperception
      of reality like seeing a stick at night and believing it to be a
      snake. People cherish many illusions. Life is short, unreliable, and
      not subject to one's control, but people enjoy sensual pleasures, and
      enjoy life even when they are getting old, let alone when they are
      young and healthy. They delight in perceptions of beauty, not seeing
      the other aspects that are hard to perceive.

      The purpose of insight meditation is to try to see beyond the surface,
      to gain "insight" to perceive things from a different perspective. The
      three characteristics of impermanence, unsatisfactoriness, and
      not-self are Universal Characteristics that apply to all conditioned
      phenomena, but we rarely perceive them, which means we are often
      deluded.
    • mettamelb
      Thank you Bhikkhu Pesala for your very helpful reply! (~_~) ... There are many terms used in the scriptures for the various kinds of delusion. Delusion is the
      Message 2 of 13 , Nov 19, 2003
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        Thank you Bhikkhu Pesala for your very helpful reply!
        (~_~)




        --- Bhikkhu Pesala <pesala@...> wrote:
        ---------------------------------
        There are many terms used in the scriptures for the
        various kinds of
        delusion. Delusion is the usual translation used for
        Moha, which is
        one of the three unwholesome roots: Greed (lobha),
        hatred (dosa), and
        delusion (moha).

        Then there is ignorance (avijja), which is the root
        condition for
        volitional activities or mental formations (sankhara).
        Avijja is the
        opposite of insight knowledge (vijja).

        Wrong view (ditthi) also exists in several forms. One
        who holds a
        wrong view is, of course, deluded and also ignorant.
        We can
        distinguish three main wrong views:
        1. The belief that everything happens due to the will
        of Supreme Being
        or Almighty God.
        2. The belief that everthing happens due to previous
        kamma (fatalism).
        3. The belief that there is no cause or reason for
        anything.

        Buddhism rejects these three wrong views. It also
        reject the belief in
        a soul, or ego. What we call a person or being is
        empty and void of
        any permanent essence. When people do some good deed
        they often take
        great pride in it, and get very upset when others
        disparage them. This
        is nothing but egoism and false pride or vanity
        (mana), which is
        another form of delusion. We grasp onto perceptions:
        someone praises
        us and we are elated, thinking, "I am intelligent,
        beautiful, or
        whatever." These are only relative truths, not
        absolutes.

        There is also the term illusion (vipallasa). This
        means misperception
        of reality like seeing a stick at night and believing
        it to be a
        snake. People cherish many illusions. Life is short,
        unreliable, and
        not subject to one's control, but people enjoy sensual
        pleasures, and
        enjoy life even when they are getting old, let alone
        when they are
        young and healthy. They delight in perceptions of
        beauty, not seeing
        the other aspects that are hard to perceive.

        The purpose of insight meditation is to try to see
        beyond the surface,
        to gain "insight" to perceive things from a different
        perspective. The
        three characteristics of impermanence,
        unsatisfactoriness, and
        not-self are Universal Characteristics that apply to
        all conditioned
        phenomena, but we rarely perceive them, which means we
        are often
        deluded.

        =====

        Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma-sambuddhassa




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      • mettamelb
        Dear Venerable Monks, In my limited experience with monks/nuns it seems that teachers vary greatly in the way they teach the Dhamma. Some teachers, for
        Message 3 of 13 , Nov 22, 2003
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          Dear Venerable Monks,

          In my limited experience with monks/nuns it seems that
          teachers vary greatly in the way they teach the
          Dhamma. Some teachers, for example, appear much more
          focussed on meditation, whilst others can seem much
          more focussed on the Suttas. I say this respectfully,
          knowing that meditation is central to the practice and
          that the words of the Buddha are very important.

          In my own experience with all the different speakers I
          have heard (both in person and through online talks),
          these have all individually had good things to offer,
          but they can differ greatly in their presentation
          and/or approach. I hear or read things where people
          say that to ‘really’ practice well a person ‘must’
          find a suitable teacher and learn from that person
          over time; ie. develop a good relationship with the
          teacher in order to benefit most and learn about the
          Dhamma in the best possible way.

          1. What then, would you advise are the main qualities
          that should be looked for in a monk/nun, when a lay
          person is looking for a good teacher?

          2. Is ‘challenge’ by the teacher essential to the
          practice?

          I ask this second question with the thought in mind
          that people have different learning styles. (For
          example, there are different learning styles evident
          within different cultural groups – some cultures have
          strengths in learning through observation, others
          learn through more active participation such as
          ongoing questioning, others learn by debate, etc.)

          I will be very grateful for your comments. Thank you
          very much.
          With metta,
          Donna.


          =====

          Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma-sambuddhassa




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        • Bhikkhu Pesala
          It is hard to find a perfect teacher like the Buddha or the Arahants these days. One should know how to derive the maximum benefit from any teacher one is
          Message 4 of 13 , Nov 23, 2003
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            It is hard to find a perfect teacher like the Buddha or the Arahants
            these days. One should know how to derive the maximum benefit from any
            teacher one is fortunate enough to meet. The Venerable Ledi Sayadaw
            gives the following advice in his Dhamma Dipani:

            The Simile of the Good House

            A man needs to build a house in the forest, and enters the forest in
            search of timber. If he can get all beams, posts, floorboards, planks,
            and shingles from a single tree, this is the best, and ideal. If he is
            unable to find such a tree, he should not fail to build his house. He
            must use whatever timber he can get from various trees that he finds.
            He must build his house anyhow by all means because not having a
            dwelling place leads to all kinds of trouble and hardship. Every man
            needs a home for rest, sleep, and comfort. So a wise seeker of
            building materials must carefully examine each tree he happens to find
            in the forest. If he finds long logs he must take them for posts. If
            he finds straight timber that is too short for posts he must take it
            for planks or shingles. He must ignore unsuitable materials or sizes
            in each tree that he finds. By selecting only useful logs of
            appropriate sizes, leaving behind the useless ones, he can build a
            good, strong house for his benefit with the wood from various trees.
            By wise discrimination a well-built house results.

            By choosing suitable materials for each purpose from various trees,
            one obtains a beautiful, strong house. He is no different to a person
            who finds all the suitable material from a single excellent tree. His
            house is not inferior in any way, because he obtains and dwells in a
            well-built house made from good materials. His house lasts long enough
            for his descendants too.

            The above simile is a practical illustration for a comfortable life.
            Following this wise method, a devotee should pay attention to the good
            features of a moral, but foolish, and bad monk. He should pay respect
            to the good points in a person, ignoring the lack of the factors
            required for good and wise status. He should honour the moral features
            in such a person, thus gaining a clear conscience and much benefit. He
            should not utter harsh or slanderous words against this monk for his
            other faults, weaknesses, and failures. They must be totally ignored.
            One should not lump together all good and bad features of a monk in
            one's mind.

            If he blames and abuses this monk by lumping together all features, he
            becomes a foolish and bad person himself. He suffers for his
            disrespect and for his harsh words. Moreover, he fails to get the
            benefit of honouring and respecting the aspect of morality in this
            monk, due to his own foolishness. The wise course for an intelligent,
            devoted person is to rely on a wise monk for wisdom and to associate
            with a good monk for his humility and gentleness. One should therefore
            take heed of these different causes and different effects, being ever
            vigilant when approaching a monk for almsgiving, and showing respect.

            One who helps a moral, but foolish and bad monk, may contradict the
            Mangala Dhamma calling for avoidance of fools because of the foolish
            aspect. By association with a foolish monk, this may appear to be so.
            The Mangala Sutta enjoins all to avoid foolish persons. Because of the
            words "to associate with the wise", one might think this contradicts
            the advice to follow the wise. However, such a devotee, because of his
            wise attitude and appropriate choice, does not break these two good
            rules mentioned in the Mangala Sutta and Jataka. In fact he obtains
            the blessing of association with the wise for his clear thinking and
            suitable deeds.

            What benefits does one gain by respecting a monk of the type shown
            above? The reason for getting benefits is that in the ultimate sense
            the essence of a wise person is moral conduct. This is explained in
            the Abhidhamma (M?tika) in relation to a pair of terms "b?la dhamma"
            and "pandita dhamma." So morality alone, in the ultimate sense, is
            wisdom. If a person pays attention to the characteristic of morality
            alone, he gets at least part of the blessing called "associating with
            the wise." If, however, he pays attention to a monk's foolishness and
            badness, he cannot attain this blessing as his mind mixes all sorts of
            factors, good and bad. Because of this, he becomes foolish and bad
            too.

            Regarding the remaining monks of three mixed qualities, one can
            probably understand the appropriate results, because all are similar
            to the above example.

            Some monks may lack all three good factors, being known as shameless,
            foolish, and bad. No one should pay respect to such a monk or honour
            him, as he does not possess a single redeeming virtue. Therefore one
            should just ignore this type of monk and refrain from speaking abusive
            words. If one relies on or honours this type of monk one is breaking
            the injunction of the Mangala Sutta, which enjoins one not to
            associate with fools.

            In each case one should make a detailed analysis and appropriate
            classification, since many combinations of vice and virtue can be
            found. The questioners asked about the classification of shameless and
            immoral, with the resultant types of foolish, wise, and bad persons.
            So in this answer I have given a detailed analysis and necessary
            comments for clarity's sake.

            If one understands the method of classification of monks in the first
            answer, one will have clear answers for the second and third
            questions. The essential points are the same.The Simile of the Good
            House

            A man needs to build a house in the forest, and enters the forest in
            search of timber. If he can get all beams, posts, floorboards, planks,
            and shingles from a single tree, this is the best, and ideal. If he is
            unable to find such a tree, he should not fail to build his house. He
            must use whatever timber he can get from various trees that he finds.
            He must build his house anyhow by all means because not having a
            dwelling place leads to all kinds of trouble and hardship. Every man
            needs a home for rest, sleep, and comfort. So a wise seeker of
            building materials must carefully examine each tree he happens to find
            in the forest. If he finds long logs he must take them for posts. If
            he finds straight timber that is too short for posts he must take it
            for planks or shingles. He must ignore unsuitable materials or sizes
            in each tree that he finds. By selecting only useful logs of
            appropriate sizes, leaving behind the useless ones, he can build a
            good, strong house for his benefit with the wood from various trees.
            By wise discrimination a well-built house results.

            By choosing suitable materials for each purpose from various trees,
            one obtains a beautiful, strong house. He is no different to a person
            who finds all the suitable material from a single excellent tree. His
            house is not inferior in any way, because he obtains and dwells in a
            well-built house made from good materials. His house lasts long enough
            for his descendants too.

            The above simile is a practical illustration for a comfortable life.
            Following this wise method, a devotee should pay attention to the good
            features of a moral, but foolish, and bad monk. He should pay respect
            to the good points in a person, ignoring the lack of the factors
            required for good and wise status. He should honour the moral features
            in such a person, thus gaining a clear conscience and much benefit. He
            should not utter harsh or slanderous words against this monk for his
            other faults, weaknesses, and failures. They must be totally ignored.
            One should not lump together all good and bad features of a monk in
            one's mind.

            If he blames and abuses this monk by lumping together all features, he
            becomes a foolish and bad person himself. He suffers for his
            disrespect and for his harsh words. Moreover, he fails to get the
            benefit of honouring and respecting the aspect of morality in this
            monk, due to his own foolishness. The wise course for an intelligent,
            devoted person is to rely on a wise monk for wisdom and to associate
            with a good monk for his humility and gentleness. One should therefore
            take heed of these different causes and different effects, being ever
            vigilant when approaching a monk for almsgiving, and showing respect.

            One who helps a moral, but foolish and bad monk, may contradict the
            Mangala Dhamma calling for avoidance of fools because of the foolish
            aspect. By association with a foolish monk, this may appear to be so.
            The Mangala Sutta enjoins all to avoid foolish persons. Because of the
            words "to associate with the wise", one might think this contradicts
            the advice to follow the wise. However, such a devotee, because of his
            wise attitude and appropriate choice, does not break these two good
            rules mentioned in the Mangala Sutta and Jataka. In fact he obtains
            the blessing of association with the wise for his clear thinking and
            suitable deeds.

            What benefits does one gain by respecting a monk of the type shown
            above? The reason for getting benefits is that in the ultimate sense
            the essence of a wise person is moral conduct. This is explained in
            the Abhidhamma (M?tika) in relation to a pair of terms "b?la dhamma"
            and "pandita dhamma." So morality alone, in the ultimate sense, is
            wisdom. If a person pays attention to the characteristic of morality
            alone, he gets at least part of the blessing called "associating with
            the wise." If, however, he pays attention to a monk's foolishness and
            badness, he cannot attain this blessing as his mind mixes all sorts of
            factors, good and bad. Because of this, he becomes foolish and bad
            too.

            Regarding the remaining monks of three mixed qualities, one can
            probably understand the appropriate results, because all are similar
            to the above example.

            Some monks may lack all three good factors, being known as shameless,
            foolish, and bad. No one should pay respect to such a monk or honour
            him, as he does not possess a single redeeming virtue. Therefore one
            should just ignore this type of monk and refrain from speaking abusive
            words. If one relies on or honours this type of monk one is breaking
            the injunction of the Mangala Sutta, which enjoins one not to
            associate with fools.

            In each case one should make a detailed analysis and appropriate
            classification, since many combinations of vice and virtue can be
            found. The questioners asked about the classification of shameless and
            immoral, with the resultant types of foolish, wise, and bad persons.
            So in this answer I have given a detailed analysis and necessary
            comments for clarity's sake.

            If one understands the method of classification of monks in the first
            answer, one will have clear answers for the second and third
            questions. The essential points are the same.
          • mettamelb
            Dear Bhikkhu Pesala, Thank you for sending on this interesting and helpful simile. It s a good one to remember. With metta, Donna. ... It is hard to find a
            Message 5 of 13 , Nov 24, 2003
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              Dear Bhikkhu Pesala,
              Thank you for sending on this interesting and helpful
              simile. It's a good one to remember.
              With metta,
              Donna.



              --- Bhikkhu Pesala <pesala@...> wrote:
              ---------------------------------
              It is hard to find a perfect teacher like the Buddha
              or the Arahants
              these days. ..................
            • mettamelb
              Dear Venerable Monks, I know a Buddhist woman who is very overweight. It was suggested to her by a monk who hardly knows her that she lose weight. This
              Message 6 of 13 , Dec 3, 2003
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                Dear Venerable Monks,
                I know a Buddhist woman who is very overweight. It was
                suggested to her by a monk who hardly knows her that
                she lose weight. This suggestion was made a number of
                times to her in a range of ways, and clearly linked
                with the assumption that her condition is because of
                'greed'.

                The woman is overweight because for many years she has
                had a problem with 'asthma', and for many years had to
                take medication prescribed by her doctor to help her
                lung condition. The side-effects of the medication she
                has to take included rapid weight gain that she has
                found difficult to shed, particularly because her
                breathing is worsened if she does vigorous exercise.
                She eats ordinary amounts of food, and feels deeply
                hurt by the monks inference about her body and mind.
                On a previous occasion, for example, he also has told
                her that her mind is 'dirty' and 'must be cleansed'.
                This latter statement was made to her when she first
                met him and in the presence of a lay person who did
                not help to alleviate the situation. She has reacted
                to this monk with patience and kindness and has shown
                him no anger, even though at times at home she has
                been feeling angry over how she is being treated.

                Being criticised in this way is causing her deep
                distress because when she meditates at the Buddhist
                centre where she attends, and especially if this monk
                is present, it is hard for her to relax and feel truly
                welcome at the centre. She is tearful. She finds her
                meditation begins with feelings of hurt and
                disappointment over the monk's comments. Whilst it
                could be said that it is her craving and attachment
                that keep her feeling upset, it is hard for her to let
                these feelings go when the monk continues with his
                criticisms, and she never knows when something new and
                hurtful will be said to her.

                I know her well and she is a very kind and loving
                person who puts in a great deal of effort and care
                into her meditation and relationships with others. She
                is generous and friendly and kind.

                What advice can I give her to help her address this
                situation which is causing her immense hurt? She is
                someone who has great respect for the Sangha. She
                becomes fearful that the monk will continue to say
                things like this that will distress her.

                Why would a monk behave in such a way? Is it ordinary
                practice for a monk to challenge an individual, even
                without knowing them well? She trys to find reasons to
                make her understand his behaviour, and has considered
                the possibility that this monk may also be 'trying to
                make her angry' or 'investigating her to see how she
                operates/reacts'.

                I hope the Venerable Monks can provide some kind and
                compassionate advice about this problem.
                With metta,
                Donna.

                =====

                Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma-sambuddhassa




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              • Nagasena
                Dear Donna According to your message, the monk s behaviour is unusual. I am not sure to comment on the monk since I don t know his intention. What I can
                Message 7 of 13 , Dec 4, 2003
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                  Dear Donna

                  According to your message, the monk's behaviour is unusual. I am not sure to comment on the monk since I don't know his intention. What I can suggest you is to find out his intention and belief. Our behaviour manifests from two things: belief and intention or purpose.

                  Monks may not think bad to do when he comments on her health because he believes his own way of understanding. He may even has a good intention in his comment. May be he is ignorant because he has his own belief and understanding which he does not regard other- right.

                  Whatever his behaviour may be, my comment is to have a dialogue with him if possible. Don't keep the emotion until too late. If she cannot stand anymore, she should remove from the place. However, firstly, tell him that it is not a good thing to interfere with others' affairs so that monk will learn something from her. If she cannot tell her directly, discuss with someone who can tell him about her intention. The other comment is to be wise for herself over the matter. I mean to teach him by showing a good, kind behaviour. Most importantly, she should learn how to control her emotions etc. through Dhamma before she react against him. I am proud that she is kind and a Dhamma practitioner. Please tell her to use her kindness and Dhamma. We all need to learn ourselves for our own peace.
                  I wish her to be successful and peaceful!

                  Venerable Nagasena
                • mettamelb
                  Dear Venerable Nagasena, Thank you so much for your kind and thoughtful response to my letter. It is helpful. Wishing you all the best, With Metta, Donna. ...
                  Message 8 of 13 , Dec 5, 2003
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                    Dear Venerable Nagasena,
                    Thank you so much for your kind and thoughtful
                    response to my letter. It is helpful.
                    Wishing you all the best,
                    With Metta,
                    Donna.


                    --- Nagasena <nagasena@...> wrote:
                    ---------------------------------
                    Dear Donna

                    According to your message, the monk's behaviour is
                    unusual. I am not sure to comment on the monk since I
                    don't know his intention. What I can suggest you is to
                    find out his intention and belief. Our behaviour
                    manifests from two things: belief and intention or
                    purpose.

                    Monks may not think bad to do when he comments on her
                    health because he believes his own way of
                    understanding. He may even has a good intention in his
                    comment. May be he is ignorant because he has his own
                    belief and understanding which he does not regard
                    other- right.

                    Whatever his behaviour may be, my comment is to have a
                    dialogue with him if possible. Don't keep the emotion
                    until too late. If she cannot stand anymore, she
                    should remove from the place. However, firstly, tell
                    him that it is not a good thing to interfere with
                    others' affairs so that monk will learn something from
                    her. If she cannot tell her directly, discuss with
                    someone who can tell him about her intention. The
                    other comment is to be wise for herself over the
                    matter. I mean to teach him by showing a good, kind
                    behaviour. Most importantly, she should learn how to
                    control her emotions etc. through Dhamma before she
                    react against him. I am proud that she is kind and a
                    Dhamma practitioner. Please tell her to use her
                    kindness and Dhamma. We all need to learn ourselves
                    for our own peace.
                    I wish her to be successful and peaceful!

                    Venerable Nagasena

                    =====

                    Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma-sambuddhassa




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