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134412RE: I'm back

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  • jonoabb
    Dec 21, 2013
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      Hi Rob M

      ---In dhammastudygroup@{{emailDomain}}, <moult_rob@...> wrote:

      Hi Jon and Ken H,

      Sorry for the delayed reply; I was travelling and wanted to return home to be able to consult Bhikkhu Bodhi and what he reports from the commentaries on this Sutta. Here are Bhikkhu Bodhi's notes:


      The purification of vision (dassana) usually means the attainment of stream-entry, the gaining of “the vision of the Dhamma” (dhammacakkhu). Here, however, the qualification “well purified” (suvisuddham) seems to imply that the question concerns the path to arahantship. It is so taken by [the commentary]. [The commentary] says that all the bhikkhus who replied were arahants; they answered in accordance with their own method of practice. The inquirer was dissatisfied with the reply of the first because it mentioned the formations only partially (pandesasankharesu thatva); he was dissatisfied with the other replies because they seemed to contradict each other.


      Based on this, I have the impression that my interpretation of this sutta finds some support from Bhikkhu Bodhi and the commentaries.


      Jon2: Yes, I was aware of Bhikkhu Bodhi's note when I wrote my previous reply. Thanks for quoting it in your reply.

      I think you would see your main support as coming from the expression "method of practice" because, without that expression, there's nothing in the commentary passage as quoted itself (vs. BB's interpretation of it) to indicate the question being asked -- or the answers being given -- are anything other than about what constitutes purification of vision (i.e., the actual moment of enlightenment, or mundane path moments leading to that).

      Nowadays the term "practice" is generally used to mean some mental activity undertaken in order to develop -- i.e., preliminary to the actual arising of -- tranquillity (samatha) or insight (vipassana), with awareness (satipatthana) being the classic such method to be employed.

      However, if we are to understand "method of practice" in those terms, the questions that would immediately arise would be:

      1. What then is the difference between:
      - a method of practice that is the discerning as it really is the origination & passing away of the six media of sensory contact [i.e., the ayatanas]
      - a method of practice that is the discerning as it really is the origination & passing away of the five clinging-aggregates [i.e., the khandhas]
      (to take the first 2 of the 4 answers, although the same question arises in respect of all 4).

      To my understanding, the classifications known as the ayatanas and the khandhas are just different ways of classifying the same dhammas.

      2. What does such a "practice" involve, given that 'discerning as it really is' can only be a reference to actually arisen panna, which would be the outcome rather than the input, if you see what I mean? Do the texts anywhere give an explanation?

      RM2:  I acknowledge that your "non-practice" interpretation of this sutta is also a valid perspective. I appreciate your comments; I find it valuable to challenge my own preconceptions... as long as we keep ourselves grounded in the texts.


      Jon2: Thanks for the sentiment, Rob, which I entirely share.

      As regards my having a "non-practice" interpretation, that is so only in the sense of "practice" as I've described it above. The term "practice" does appear in the suttas (e.g., "practice of the Dhamma in accordance with the Dhamma"), but generally speaking it has the meaning of the actual arising of understanding, and not something to be done preliminary to that, similar to the English 'practising doctor/lawyer', etc. And I'd be inclined to consider "method of practice" (if that's the actual expression used in the commentaries) in that light.

      So rather than a non-practice interpretation, I'd just say that my understanding/interpretation of 'practice' in the context of the path differs from that of the conventional meaning of the term :-))


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