Direct Textual Evidence (Re: [dsg] Re: wisdom and doing)
- Hello Howard, all,
>====================================================================You are right, and have spoken well. I'd like to add this important point. If the path required no individual effort in the now, the Buddha wouldn't use active-present verbs and imperative tone. I find it strange that some would take active-present & active-imperatives and make past-passives out of them in order to justify "no practice" approach.
>H:So, it seems you expect one to be without defilement in order work >to divest oneself of defilement! But one does not start without self >view.
With best wishes,
- Hi pt.
Okay, you win - with my help you have now created the mother of all marathon posts - at least so far this year!
--- In email@example.com, "ptaus1" <ptaus1@...> wrote:
> Hi RobE,
> > RE: Well, I understand your line of reasoning but it bypasses the problems of the philosophy and what affect it may have *on* practice in the moment.
> > I agree that understanding the nature of the object of the moment is the real issue, but I think it's side-stepping to say that the issue of how panna arises is unimportant, or that it doesn't influence the approach to the present. Can panna develop now, in the moment? Or is it just conditioned by past panna?
> pt: I think panna always develops only by virtue of present arising. So, yes, panna can develop now. As for what conditions the present arising of panna, one of the main conditions I think is past panna, whether that means panna with the previous citta, or some time further in the past. But there are of course other conditions, as in the object of citta, cetasikas like cetana, sanna, etc. Don't know much here, ask Nina. I think even "past panna" would in fact be termed in a certain way, like "decisive support condition" or something like that. I have to reread Nina's conditions, don't remember much.
> But anyway, regarding bhavana/skill analogy that we briefly touched on before, I think this accumulating of panna can be equated to playing of violin as a skill development - the more often panna arises now, the more it develops, kind of like the more one plays, the more the playing skill develops. However, the analogy cannot be extended into the temporal continuum - i.e. the moment I start thinking "I better play more (I better arouse more panna) in order to be better in the future", etc, well, that's now a concern not with the present, but with the future - past and future are domains of lobha and dosa, and panna and insight can only happen in the present moment, so analogy doesn't work anymore. anyway, that's what i think.
I would agree with this to a good extent; I would only add that I think that practice is very present-oriented. It is a not a thought-process about "doing more in the future." It is focused on the object of awareness now. If I practiced clarinet - or mindfulness for that matter - thinking about result instead of present object/present tone, present sensation, I would become a really lousy clarinet player. That's not how it works. In fact, practice focuses the mind much more on the present object than it normally is, by virtue of the practical necessity of the task at hand, with no special thought of self.
> > RE: I don't know. I think that such teachings muddy the water of what is happening now. It's important to know what the basic setup is. If it's speculative, then you're right it doesn't directly apply to what is happening now. But then why is this taught, and what is its relevance? It is not just a teaching about the general conditionality of experience, but a specific claim that disempowers the present action, the present arising of understanding, awareness, and continues to move in the direction of accepting what arises now as basically a past event delayed. I don't see how that helps the mind be aware of the present as something that is happening now.
> pt: It's interesting that one and the same teaching essentially leads the two us to completely opposite conclusions - for you it muddies the water and disempowers the present, while it helps me to make sense of the present.
Well I can see how it can inform the approach to the present if the information is held in the right context, and then not "applied intellectually" at the moment of seeing, but informs the moment of seeing as a background knowledge. I think that's what K. Sujin is driving at with some of her comments about 'not worrying about what things are called or thinking about them, but just seeing what is arising now.'
> > > > RE: and does not seem to be restricted in that way in the explanations in sutta - though I may just not have seen the relevant suttas. It's a very, once again, non-active approach to understanding, as far as this lifetime is concerned, and once again gets into the difficult territory of interpreting the teachings on what constitutes practice, now, in this lifetime which is where we currently are.
> > >
> > > pt:... So, imo, suttas and all other texts are primarily meant to encourage understanding now - so kusala citta now. If on the other hand they are taken as a philosophy, something to intellectualize about, and then try to implement it in the future in order to gain something in the future - well that's (usually) akusala citta now, simply because it's not kusala citta now.
> > RE: Well that seems to be the tenor of most discussions. I don't know if this is true of you in particular, but it seems that to focus so much on the technical details and give so much importance to exactly how this or that type of moment is produced, along with conditions and accompanying cetasikas, and then to say that the real emphasis is on the present moment, seems a real contradiction between actual emphasis and what you are saying is the real emphasis. Why are there so many massive volumes of detailed analysis and why is it so important, if it is all about seeing the general conditioned nature of what arises now?
> pt: I think I mentioned this in some of my other recent posts - my thinking is that there is so much detail in abhidhamma so that every possible aspect of experience could be covered in terms of anatta and conditionality, so that a meditator can look it up if he comes across it in his experience and conclude - oh, so this too is just conditioned and anatta, nothing to get too excited about then, etc.
That is an interesting way of looking at it. I'm not sure if others, who study the details to get a much more specific understanding of the working of all the various conditions and cetasikas are seeing it as a just a reference resource for experience. But that is a nice active approach to take.
> > RE: Well it's sort of confusing to sort out what you mean by "describing what is arising now." It would be more like giving an example of what might be arising now, since of course it's not describing one's own current experience. So it is taking the theoretical breakdown of a possible moment, and then, if I understand you correctly, encouraging you to look at the moment now in a similar way. That is very much at a remove from actually spontaneously looking at the moment now. In this way of thinking, everything is indirect and by hopeful coincidence or spurring some unintended process. Well I guess that's alright but it's much more roundabout than what I think would be more direct.
> pt: from experience, for me it's different. often reading or hearing something about an aspect of dhamma puts my attention to the described aspect of experience. So it is sort of instantaneous, and if I haven't read it, my attention would never end up there in the first place. If that makes sense.
That does make sense. That is more like the field biologist who reads about a certain kind of newt and then is excited about spotting one 'in the wild.' I think that approach, which is sometimes paid reference to as a kind of 'maybe it will happen sometime' is very worthwhile if it happens regularly. If the way it happens is by reading and then noticing, then that is a 'real practice' in my view.
> I remember once i read that anger is not self and it just suddenly made sense experientially at that instance. But then again, no matter how many times i read about the difference between vitakka and vicara for example, i still don't get it.
That's funny, because when I heard about vitakka I got extremely excited about it. I kept seeing the image in my mind of citta reaching out to an object and poking, beatin, turning it over, all the expressions they use for this, and exploring the nature of the object by this kind of poking around at it and seeing what it is really like. It's affected the way I think about things sometimes, and I think I may experience 'objects of thought' a little differently because of that idea.
Something similar happened to me when I first really heard about jhana in more detail a few years ago. I have little hope of experiencing jhana, at least that I know of, in my current regimen [you had a better chance with your long meditations in the past,] but for unknown reasons it touched off a sense of something and really brought up a lot of moments of thought, consideration, investigation, etc. I really don't know why. Maybe there is some accumulation that has been latent and was touched off to the next stage of preparation for jhana in the future...
> Which means there's no direct experience there, unlike in the first case. So, it's not like hearing the dhamma now is a magic pill.
Well maybe different items touch off different perceptions and thought-processes in different "people" [cittas.]
> > RE: All of the writings are either pre-facto or post-facto, none of them are actually about the moment as it is really occurring now. They're all writings. Practice can not come directly from reading as it is giving a spur or an understanding of theory or a push in the right direction, but it's not the understanding of a moment itself. It's at a remove from seeing this moment now.
> pt: I hope that my above example sort of illustrates the point in a different way than what you propose. Perhaps just difference of experiences between us so far.
Or just differences in how we think the info is used. I never dismissed the idea of the descriptions touching off perceptions and knowing of different kinds.
I am mostly concerned for whatever we "do" with the Dhamma - or that it does with us, if that is more like it - that it be real; have a real effect, be a real practice, and that whatever theory we have about it is somehow realized in the actuality of living so that the path is not just a guess or a belief, but it really does develop the enlightenment factors and move towards transformation and cessation.
I don't really care if it takes a bunch of lifetimes, but I also don't want to fool myself through philosophy into thinking something is happening that is just an idea.
> > > > RE: If in fact that is the case, then any additional purposeful effort would in fact also be arising on its own, since there is no other mechanism to make it arise, other than whatever accumulations and tendencies have led to that moment of practice/effort.
> > >
> > > pt: Yes, I think that's right. So, when we put it that way, then the best conclusion to be drawn, as applicable to the moment right now, is that whatever arises now is conditioned and anatta.
> > That is the right conclusion, but does drawing that conclusion cause one to realize it directly? Or move one in that direction? That is more to the point. Maybe it does, but it can also become a substitute for seeing. Always thinking about how it is.
> pt: Yes.
> > RE: There is the other way of approaching practice, and that is to put aside the books after understanding something and apply them to the moment itself. I think that's more direct.
> pt: For me, this is in fact the roundabout way :)
> > RE: The same principle applies, that the additional effort, the practice, is in fact arising on its own, and not because of a person who wills it, but the kind of volition involved is more direct and can be understood and encouraged, rather than seeing everything as an indirect result of factors removed from the moment itself. Straw man?
> pt: Well, a little bit, in case it is assumed that reading books always results only in intellectualizing, but that's not the problem. It's the issue of volition as you point out, and whether it is indeed kusala or not, which is down to each one of us to figure out. Or rather panna will, as Nina and Sarah tend to say.
Well I would have to agree with that! Either the cetana is kusala or akusala, and only the development of adequate panna can tell the difference. Here's hoping I [or whoever] don't get caught in the vicious cycle of akusala mistaken for kusala cetana! [The Abhidhamma version of hell...]
> > > pt: Such conclusion hopefully encourages panna right now that then arises with right effort automatically, knows the difference between kusala and akusala, etc. However, if the conclusion we draw out of the discussion is that purposeful effort is better than the non-purposeful one, or the other way around, then what we have encouraged in the present is not more understanding but simply more intellectualizing, most probably akusala. Do you see the difference as applicable to the arising of understanding right now?
> > RE: I understand the argument, but don't agree with the idea that there is either a choosing between purpose/non-purpose, or else there is the kusala approach, which would involve no judgment on what is skillful. Don't mean that as a straw man, I just draw the conclusions from what you say as best I can.
> pt: hm, that doesn't come across quite as what i was saying. Let me try again - it's like two different planes, or perhaps kinds of understanding - one is speculative that operates in extremes of choice/no choice, the other is direct understanding practically, where the issue of choice/no choice has no relevance.
If the latter, then I would probably agree. When there is direct action, direct seeing, direct application of Dhamma, whether through meditation or through spontaneous arising of understanding in everyday life, then I would say that is the "real moment" that citta is able to understand to develop more panna.
> > RE: But it seems that it gives a false choice between having no view about practice, or else having an akusala intention. I don't think the choice is that absolute or that polarized. It's more like seeing the efficacy of practice and engaging it. I don't see that as akusala.
> pt: hm, not sure, I haven't really had "having no view about practice" vs "having an akusala intention" in mind at all when writing the above. it's more about practice now vs intellectualizing the now, I guess.
Well, we may not agree on how that comes to be, but I think we would both agree that that is the correct path - direct "...practice now vs. intellectualizing the now..." That is good.
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