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676Re: [DhammaStudyGroup] Re: helping and not helping

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  • Sarah Procter Abbott
    Aug 3, 2000
      Dear Amara,

      this was a really interesting account of a day in the life of....
      You went to more funderals in one day than I've been to in the last ten
      years! By conditions and not because I avoid them. Excellent opportunities
      for maranasati for a start!

      I appreciated yr comments about uppekkha(equanimity, detachment). Like for
      you, this is a very wholesome cetasika, a brahma vihara, that does not
      develop easily for me! Still it's very useful to know at least theoretically
      at these times how valuable it is and how useless are the feelings of
      sadness. And of course wanting more uppekkha, trying to have it, thinking we
      should have it is quite useless and different from understanding the value
      of it as you discuss.

      I laughed at the part about the recital of the 24paccaya to the rhythm of
      the express train. Yes, it's not a matter of knowing the lists. I found
      myself briefly envying your opportunity to hear so much dhamma in a day
      before I reminded myself that the seeing and the visible object are just as
      real in my classroom or while I'm eating my 'dosa'..we don't need to wait
      for the dhamma discussion!

      You mentioned the decline of Buddhism. K.Sujin mentioned that this was very
      apparent on the last trip to India. I think it urges us all to help as we
      can, while we can and to keep debeloping more understanding.

      With regard to yr qu about utujarupa (food absorption not via the mouth) and
      whether it requires heat. This is just conventional amateur guesswork and
      not abhidhamma knowledge on my part. One knows that nutrients and foods can
      be absorbed thr' the skin and that the skin is in fact the biggest organ of
      the body. Jonothan, for example, has been applying special nuturients in a
      cream onto his leg with the tumour. I would expect that internal body heat
      would be essential for these nutrients to be absorbed. I doubt they would
      have effect on a half-dead body lying in the snow....and for an i.v.drip, I
      would think the body temperature would play a big part. But this is
      conjecture and I'd probably be wiser to leave this one! Rosan may provide
      the medical knowledge, but maybe I'm missing the point!

      Yes, we really live in a world of concepts...my friend's suicide is yet
      another story. However, as you rightly pointed out to Theresa, it's not a
      matter of not living in a world of concepts and it's not a matter of not
      thinking about stories any more. It's a matter of developing understanding
      of the realities that appear and knowing the concepts as concepts! There are
      always going to be 'sad' stories, but actually it's the dosa that's 'sad'
      rather than the story!

      many thanks to you, Robert and Theresa for all yr helpful comments.


      >I think Robert wrote some great answers and Theresa made some
      >good points, although when she said, 'there is no concept of "the
      >help", no helper and no one to receive help.' that is incorrect
      >because everything that touches our lives except at moments of sati
      >or panna are concepts, we all live in a world of pannati, so if the
      >idea of help, helper of the helped exists, it is here, as thoughts,
      >memories and concepts.
      >I would like to talk about another aspect: yesterday while you were
      >enjoying the 'dosa' I was probably attending the second of two
      >funerals of dhamma friends. It was a strange atmosphere, with the
      >bhikku rushing through the recitals that repeated the same verses
      >about kusala dhamma, akusala dhamma, abyagata dhamma, etc. to end
      >with the 24 paccaya enumerated to the rythm of an express train,
      >after which they talked among themselves until the next recital of
      >the very same verses, four times, and probably without the slightest
      >comprehension of what they were saying, or that what they were
      >repeating were the Buddha's words that could enlighten them if they
      >understood to realize the meanings. What really affected me was
      >that the person the departed friend left behind was a crippled old
      >lady who had just had a bad fall and hit her head, so that she was
      >unable to get up after she offered tributes to the bhikkhu, and was
      >there on the floor weeping helplessly, who now has to continue
      >without her benefactor. Someone remarked that her kamma (as usual
      >intending her vipaka) was not over yet. Luckily they were both
      >students of Khun Sujin's, and have never stopped listening to her
      >even after their health kept them from attending discussions in
      >person. Still I found that for me of the four brahma-vihara,
      >upekkha is the hardest in daily life, I seem to have no problem with
      >metta (friendliness without expecting anything in return, not even
      >familiarity), karuna (helping those in need of assistance), and
      >mudita (being happy with other's good fortunes). My big problem is
      >upekkha, being indifferent to others when none of the above is
      >It is true that yesterday was a busy day for me and I had to get up
      >quite early to attend the first funeral where Khun Sujin held a good
      >dhamma discussion before the offering of food to the bhikku because
      >the person who passed away and his entire family listened to her
      >teachings, and one of the sons is one of the foundation's lecturers.
      >After the bhikkhu who recited the texts left (the recitals were not
      >repetitive but one of the bhikkhu in front of the microphone kept
      >making throaty humming sounds, uninteligible as words, that is a
      >sort of poor imitation of the Tibetan recital, that was new to us),
      > the head of the wat gave a 'sermon' with no regards to the
      >abhidhamma at all, for example he said that the body dies and not
      >the mind, which lives on! Again the decline of Buddhism is really
      >disheartening to see.
      >During lunch Khun Sujin discussed a point she was studying, about
      >nutrition, which might interest those who study the abhidhamma:
      >there are two kinds, oja rupa, obtained from the digestion of food
      >taken by eating and swollowing, or the kavalinkalahara, and
      >utujarupa which is taken any other way for example a fetus in a womb
      >or a sick person fed intravenously, or a person receiving vitamins
      >from the sunlight. In the comentaries, if I remember correctly, the
      >food swallowed requires utu (or in this case heat, instead of just
      >temperature) to turn it into oja. Her question was whether the food
      >absorbed in other ways required heat to digest, which we for the
      >most part thought not. (Please comment and I will inform her
      >accordingly, everyone interested.) By the way I think there was a
      >passage when the Buddha was practicing extreme fasting before his
      >enlightenment and became very emanciated, the deva put nutrition in
      >his pores to restore him, so in this case as well as for several
      >kinds of small life forms, food can be absorbed through osmosis.
      >Here she also asked if such foods need to be digested, and therefore
      >require utu before being used by the body. Personally I think it
      >depends on the food as well as the organism receiving it. I doubt
      >the deva would give the Buddha anything requiring what little energy
      >he had left to digest it; but the micro-organisms, and some worms in
      >the vicinity of deep marine volcanic heat sources, live mouthless
      >and stomachless, obviously not needing kavalinkalahara, might
      >require some sort of heat source, either internal or external, to
      >digest whatever nutrition they get from their surroundings. Again,
      >according to the Tipitaka, only food taken by mouth requires utu to
      >digest, so we might assume that they do not. Also, can anyone
      >remember how different levels of deva take their nutrition?
      >After lunch we had the English dhamma discussions at the foundation,
      >during which Khun Sujin spoke about the 18 ahetuka citta, among
      >other things, and after dinner we went to the second funeral. For
      >me it was a day of extreme emotions, I had a very good time
      >discussing the dhamma, but the other vipaka were very disturbing to
      >say the least. But as we took her and her sister home, she said,
      >today we all performed much kusala, all day long. I was a bit tired
      >because it was 14 hours since I left home, but I could anumodana
      >with her panna in studying both the kusala and akusala interposing
      >throughout the day and finding so much kusala in it all, because
      >panna can arise to know any kind of aramana, pleasant or unpleasant,
      >and accumulate still more panna, and therefore kusala, from anything
      >that presented itself.
      >I guess my point is that even when thinking of something sad or that
      >we regret can bring panna and therefore kusala, when there is sati
      >knowing realities as they really are, as not the self and related
      >objects and beings. We really suffer because we still are attached
      >to whatever appears as others, as ourselves, as stories and events
      >because of our memories, whereas they only appear through the six
      >dvara and then are gone completely. All we can do is the best we
      >can at a given moment, and study to know the true characteristics of
      >realities we experience as much as we can. And turn to the four
      >brahma-vihara as much as we can so we might someday be able to say,
      >'today we performed kusala all day' too, and be more truthful than I
      >could yesterday, although I think I also did the best I could! I
      >still need to study so much more to be able to see that upekkha is
      >only natural if we had no preferences for what is to be experienced
      >through the five dvara.
      >This is probably more information than needed, I didn't intend to
      >write such a lengthy report! Hope you find something useful, Sarah,
      > > This was the daughter of one of my mother's friends. A few years
      >on a
      > > brief return trip to England she had particularly asked to meet me
      > > she'd heard about my interest and study of Buddhism. We had two
      >quite long
      > > chats and I remember giving her copies of a couple of Nina's books.
      > >
      > > There was no follow up. I didn't contact her again and of course
      >there was
      > > no internet then and telephone calls were expensive. She might have
      >felt shy
      > > to write or follow up herself or might not have been sufficiently
      > > without further direct contact.
      > >
      > > Anyway, I heard no more and then heard the sad news on this visit
      >I said.
      > >
      > > I am just so glad now that we have this group so that I can
      >encourage anyone
      > > to join/read if they have the inclination and also to be able to
      > > people to the web sites.
      > >
      > > It's easy to fall into the trap of 'perhaps I could have done more'
      > > forgetting about the complexity of conditions. And of course the
      > > and dosa are quite useless....Maybe it can be a prompt to me to
      > > little more effort next time, but who knows about conditions in the
      > >
      > > I'd appreciate any further comments.
      > >
      > > It also reminds me of when I used to teach in a psychiatric centre
      > > many years ago and a 21 year old lad I got to know well and used to
      > > discussions with also committed suicide when I was on sick leave. I
      > > perhaps I'd got 'too close' to him....Perhaps the real problem (for
      >me) is
      > > clinging to the view that in some way we are responsible for
      > > and it shows a lack of real confidence in the power of kamma and
      > > conditions. Certainly it shows the clinging to beings and self at
      > > times and the inadequate understanding of realities.
      > >
      > >
      > > Sarah
      > >
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