- May 3, 2003To Ken H:
In a message dated 5/3/03 12:33:53 AM, kenhowardau@... writes:
<< Hello Jeff,
It's a pleasure to talk with you. Considering your
confident enthusiasm for meditation and your undoubted
accomplishment in that area, I imagine it must be quite
puzzling to see so many Dhamma students following a
meditation-free path. You have been very patient with
There *is* a meditation-free way of attaining the Eight-
fold Path -- the way of Bare Insight Training. In fact,
there are two such ways; if you count the way in which
firstly, insight is developed to the stage of Path-
consciousness, and only then, secondly, jhana is developed.
I gather that you flatly reject these two paths. So I
will not try to convince you -- there's no point in an,
'is, isn't, is, isn't,' style of conversation :-)
You know far better than I do, that there are many,
varied forms of mental training, several of which are
claimed to be Buddhist. Rather than look to various,
conflicting sources, I want to know only what the Buddha
Gotama taught and I'm confining my search strictly to the
ancient, Theravadin texts. Here at dsg, I have found
people who know those texts intimately -- I have found my
Shangrila :-) >>
I have walked a number of paths, sometimes there are conflicts. I usually
look toward my personal experience to see whether that path has given me
"value." I agree with you there is no sense in any claim that is based on
"mine is bigger (or better) than yours." I believe one only need reflect on
one's own personal success. If one has found even relative freedom from
suffering from one's path, then keep "working it."
The way in which I am being taught a sense of urgency is,
literally, like no other. In this way, one understands
that there is no control over the arising or non-arising
of mental states. They will arise when, and only when,
the conditions for their arising are present. This is
because all dhammas are anatta, without self.
Well, I agree with you. The idea of urgency and the rareness of the
opportunity to practice, the historic Buddha borrowed from the Vedas.
Urgency is a wise thing to cultivate, but I believe the typical implication
of that urgency is to inspire the practitioners to renounce their material
possessions and take up an intense monastic practice. But, I am not
proposing you leave your family, I am just proposing you might find your
study of Buddhism better informed if you practiced as well. Buddhism is
essentially a contemplative tradition, how can you expect to understand any
contemplative tradition without conducting its contemplative practice?
Far from trying to attain enlightenment before the light
turns green, I am happy to know that the future does not
exist -- that there are only the mental and physical
phenomena (nama and rupa), of the present moment. Is
there direct understanding (panna), of nama and rupa NOW?
If not, why not; what dhammas ARE present? These are the
things that interest me, not meditation.
I don't see how you can hope to penetrate the aggregates of the
psychophysiological conditions that are the underpinnings of your own
personal nama rupa without the practice of meditation. But, if you are happy
with celebrating the Buddha's birthday, I am sure your scholarship places you
in an excellent position to do so.
Best to you,
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