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Re: More Response to Robert Ep 3.

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  • Robert E
    Hi Sukin. ... Of course I did not. It is cited in great detail in many suttas and works derived from the suttas and Abhidhamma as to the different
    Message 1 of 1228 , Nov 1, 2010
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      Hi Sukin.

      --- In dhammastudygroup@yahoogroups.com, Sukinderpal <sukinder@...> wrote:
      >
      > Hi Robert Ep,
      >
      > Part 3.
      >
      > =========
      >
      > Robert Ep: You are only paying attention to the aspect of jhana that is
      > trance-like. You are ignoring the sequence the Buddha described in which
      > the awareness and qualities of mind become more subtle and refined with
      > each successive jhana, a pathway that he described as a preparation for
      > deepest insight.
      >
      > Suk: I wouldn't characterize Jhana as 'trance-like', and yes, progress
      > through the Jhanas involves ever greater levels of awareness. However
      > the awareness and understanding has as object not a characteristic of a
      > reality, but a concept. So why would you think to make this particular
      > connection between these two? The Buddha did talk about the different
      > Jhana levels and how insight could come in at any time to have any of
      > the realities involved as object. But he never drew the conclusion you
      > make, instead you have made it up yourself.

      Of course I did not. It is cited in great detail in many suttas and works derived from the suttas and Abhidhamma as to the different configurations under which different jhanic attainments are the basis for insight and enlightenment. The objects of awareness in the jhanas are not concepts. They are specific qualities of the jhanas that accompany each of the successive jhanas, and Buddha speaks of them in this way quite specifically.

      Here is Gunaratana again, who I think categorizes these methods very clearly:

      ==================================

      When the path is produced after emerging from the second, third, fourth and fifth jhanas (of the fivefold system) and using these as the basis for insight, then the path pertains to the level of the jhana used as a basis — the second, third, fourth of fifth. For a meditator using an immaterial jhana as basis the path will be a fifth jhana path. Thus in this first theory, when formations are comprehended by insight after emerging from a basic jhana, then it is the jhana attainment emerged from at the point nearest to the path, i.e., just before insight leading to emergence is reached, that makes the path similar in nature to itself.

      According to the second theory the path that arises is similar in nature to the states which are being comprehended with insight at the time insight leading to emergence occurs. Thus if the meditator, after emerging from a meditative attainment, is comprehending with insight sense-sphere phenomena or the constituents of the first jhana, then the path produced will occur at the level of the first jhana. On this theory, then, it is the comprehended jhana (sammasitajjhana) that determines the jhanic quality of the path. The one qualification that must be added is that a meditator cannot contemplate with insight a jhana higher than he is capable of attaining.

      According to the third theory, the path occurs at the level of whichever jhana the meditator wishes — either at the level of the jhana he has used as the basis for insight or at the level of the jhana he has made the object of insight comprehension. In other words, the jhanic quality of the path accords with his personal inclination. However, mere wish alone is not sufficient. For the path to occur at the jhanic level wished for, the mundane jhana must have been either made the basis for insight or used as the object of insight comprehension.

      The difference between the three theories can be understood through a simple example.[26] If a meditator reaches the supramundane path by contemplating with insight the first jhana after emerging from the fifth jhana, then according to the first theory his path will belong to the fifth jhana, while according to the second theory it will belong to the first jhana. Thus these two theories are incompatible when a difference obtains between basic jhana and comprehended jhana. But according to the third theory, the path becomes of whichever jhana the meditator wishes, either the first or the fifth. Thus this doctrine does not necessarily clash with the other two.

      Buddhaghosa himself does not make a decision among these three theories. He only points out that in all three doctrines, beneath their disagreements, there is the recognition that the insight immediately preceding the supramundane path determines the jhanic character of the path. For this insight is the proximate and the principal cause for the arising of the path, so whether it be the insight leading to emergence near the basic jhana or that occurring through the contemplated jhana or that fixed by the meditator's wish, it is in all cases this final phase of insight that gives definition to the supramundane path. Since the fruition that occurs immediately after the path has an identical constitution to the path, its own supramundane jhana is determined by the path. Thus a first jhana path produces a first jhana fruit, and so forth for the remaining jhanas.

      ==================================

      > =========
      >
      > Robert Ep: Well it is ignoring principles from your point of view and
      > from the dhamma theory that you subscribe to. I can't answer your
      > technical questions which I have snipped below, and indeed it *is* a
      > matter of not knowing the technicalities. However I will give this as a
      > general possibility: that jhana creates conditions for insight in the
      > immediate aftermath when the jhana state just exited is contemplated
      > with discernment. I don't know if that is done via nimitta or how it
      > creates conditions for insight, but I have seen this in sutta and
      > elsewhere, and can't repeat exactly how it takes place. It *does* make
      > sense to me, and if it doesn't to you, or violates what I still see as
      > your technical understanding of how things are supposed to work
      > according to dhamma theory, then I cannot reconcile that for you.
      >
      > Suk: Yes, and perhaps instead of all this, we should be discussing your
      > reason for not accepting the dhamma theory...?

      Which part of it don't I accept? That there are only namas and rupas in consciousness? I accept that. That dhammas arise and fall away and are subject to anicca and anatta? I accept that. That the kandhas are empty of self and arise and fall away based on conditions? I accept that. That kammas will produce vipakas that will arise according to accumulations and conditions? I accept that. What don't I accept in your view? And by the way, yes you neatly changed the subject without addressing it. I hope that is convenient for you! :-)

      Best,
      Robert E.

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    • Robert E
      Hi Jon. ... So, it seems you are saying here that the hindrances sloth and torpor are not hindrances for development of mindfulness? Isn t it a very basic
      Message 1228 of 1228 , Jan 17, 2012
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        Hi Jon.

        --- In dhammastudygroup@yahoogroups.com, "jonoabb" <jonabbott@...> wrote:
        >
        > Hi Rob E
        >
        > (118982)
        >
        > --- In dhammastudygroup@yahoogroups.com, "Robert E" <epsteinrob@> wrote:
        > >
        > > Hi Jon.
        > > ...
        > >
        > > BTW, this is an aside on another subject, a recurrent one, but I see that the Buddha clearly instructed Moggalana how to avoid drowsiness when meditating, rather than to allow whatever dhamma happened to be arising.
        > >
        > > Here's the end of a long passage of such advice:
        > >
        > > 8. "But if, by doing so, drowsiness does not vanish, you may, mindfully and clearly aware, lie down, lion-like, on your right side, placing foot on foot, keeping in mind the thought of rising; and on awakening, you should quickly get up, thinking 'I must not indulge in the comfort of resting and reclining, in the pleasure of sleeping.'
        > >
        > > "Thus, Moggallana, should you train yourself."
        > >
        > > â€" Anguttara Nikaya VII, 58
        > >
        > > Jon, this is very clearly a "formal meditation" instruction, an instruction to do a specific conventional activity in order to achieve a meditative aim with regard to a hindrance. He does not say "see it as an arising dhamma." He says "Do X to fight the drowsiness." The Buddha is full of such devices in the stanzas that precede this final one.
        > > ===============
        >
        > J: First, thanks for citing a specific sutta passage. Always better to be discussing the actual texts than exchanging summaries of (half-) remembered suttas once read :-)).
        >
        > Yes, they are suggestions for shaking off drowsiness (with kusala). But they are not teachings directly on the development of the path. There is no doctrinal statement being made in this part of the sutta, as far as I can see. Drowsiness may well be an obstacle to the development of samatha at levels approaching jhana, but it is not an obstacle to the awareness of currently arising dhammas.

        So, it seems you are saying here that the hindrances sloth and torpor are not hindrances for development of mindfulness? Isn't it a very basic understanding that the hindrances, including sloth and torpor, do inhibit the path from developing?

        > Also, I would read these suggestions as being things that are done with kusala mind-states (note, for example, the reference to lying down *mindfully and clearly aware*). So they are not to be taken as strategies for the aspiring (beginner) developer of samatha.

        Well, let's say for the sake of argument that they are only for an advanced monk, not a beginner, what would be the purpose in that case of advising him with all these strategies to defeat sleepiness?

        If such advice is only for the development of samatha, which you would say is not part of the path, why would Buddha care if he falls asleep or not? If sleepiness is not an obstacle for development of mindfulness, why would Buddha advise him how to defeat sleepiness and return to his sitting position? In addition, why would he not give him advice which would help him develop the path, such as the understanding that 'it is not necessary to defeat sleepiness, but only to be aware of the nature of the dhammas arising at that time.' Instead of even suggesting this, he gives him a number of conventional strategies for defeating his sleepiness - in my view so he can meditate effectively. In your view...what is the purpose? Is he just generically opposed to a monk taking a nap?

        In addition, since half the sutta is spent on this subject, why would Buddha teach, and why would the council select, a sutta that has no relation to the path? Did Buddha habitually give helpful advice to monks that had no relation to the path, and were they included in the sutta body just in case someone was feeling sleepy?

        In addition, if it is indeed advice against sleepiness given to an advanced monk developing samatha, does this not suggest that Buddha did indeed give conventional advice to monks about conventional obstacles that were not directly related to dhammas and the understanding of dhammas? If in fact, the entire path is about the understanding of dhammas as they arise in the moment, why would Buddha indulge in such an activity? Buddha said that he taught "only suffering and the end of suffering," so is this advice about the cessation of the clinging-kandhas and the suffering they carry, or did Buddha break his word and teach various helpful teachings that had no relation to the end of suffering - just side-tracks?

        > In any event, there’s no mention of anything to do with “meditation” in this passage, so I would not agree with your characterisation as an activity designed to achieve a meditative aim with regard to a hindrance.

        Well if Buddha saw with his eye of wisdom that Moggalana was nodding in a distant place while sitting, and Buddha considered it enough of a problem to magically transport himself to Moggalana's side to give him advice on how to maintain wakefulness, what do you suppose MOggalana was doing? Why would Buddha go to this trouble and mention the "advanced" states of mindfulness that you mentioned at the same time, if Moggalana were not involved in the dreaded "mindfulness practice" which you generally think did not exist? Why do you suppose Buddha did not want Moggalana to be defeated by sleepiness and wanted him to perservere? So he could be awake while sitting around instead of taking a nap? Or why? Why would Buddha transport himself to this purpose? He must have thought something important was going on.

        > > ===============
        > > [RE:] Here's another one in another area of activity:
        > > "Further, Moggallana, you should train yourself in this way. You should think, 'When calling at families (on the alms-round), I shall not be given to pride.'
        > > ===============
        >
        > J: The training being referred to here is the thinking about the tendency to conceit, not the doing of any activity. Note the words “You should think”.
        >
        > Of course, it's not a suggestion as to how you or I should try to *direct our thinking*, but a reference as to how a person who properly understands kusala and akusala might naturally and spontaneously think.

        Well, that is your translation, not what Buddha said. You can take his active admonitions and turn them into descriptions but that is not how the original reads - if you agree that the translation is accurate. Buddha does say "you should train yourself...you should think..." Then you say lthat is *not* a suggestion to direct one's thinking, but it sure seems like one! Why does Buddha say "you should" twice in a row. He says to train yourself, he says when on alms-round you should think a particular way. That very much seems that he is saying to direct one's thought and train oneself. I know you reject this, and this is why I think we have to actually look at the Buddha's words, not just what we think he means. How is it *not* a suggestion to do something when one says "you should?" There is really no adequate explanation for this except that you change the words and give them a different meaning.

        There's no way out of this kind of argument. If we cannot use the Buddha's words as evidence, but contradict them to give them a different meaning, how can we give any kind of evidence at all? The word "should" doesn't have a lot of ambiguity, it means "should." The Buddha could have easily said "When you adopt such a state of mind, or when such arises, pride will naturally cease to arise..." or something like that. He didn't. He said "You should train yourself...to think..." in a particular way, and you are saying that he does not mean that, that he means the exact opposite - based on what evidence?

        Best,
        Rob E.

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