Re: Emptiness and Analytical practice (Jon)
- Hi Tony H
--- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "Tony H" wrote:
> Thanks for the reply Jon
> J: Intellectual understanding of dhammas, gained from having the teachings properly and appropriately explained.
> TH: Who is to decide that the teachings are being appropriately explained?
J: By 'appropriately explained' I meant not only correctly stated but presented in a way that enables the listener to understand some aspect of the teaching not previously understood.
Of course, the listener has to consider whether what he is hearing/has heard is consistent with the teachings as recorded in the texts. (Any btw, the same issue/question arises as regards things one hears concerning the 'practice'.)
> TH: In the Tibetan Tradition there is something called 'Intellectually Formed Delusions'. Very subtle and seductive explanations of (for example) why the craters on the moon are created by large elephants that live permanently on the dark side.... I am of course being facetious. But you get the idea. The best you can hope for regarding an intellectual understanding is like the difference between reading about swimming and actually experiencing it. There is no comparison. You can sit through a thousand lectures on the various technicalities of swimming and become an expert...but this will be of no help at all if you fall in the deep end :) Why? Because you have never experienced it, only understand it.
J: Right. Intellectual understanding is no substitute for direct understanding. I thought we had agreed on that some time ago :-))
In the Theravadin tradition, intellectual understanding is a prerequisite for direct understanding, and that is the case not just at the beginning of the development but throughout until final enlightenment.
There is no 'practice' in the sense of an activity or method designed to bring about direct understanding; there is only intellectual understanding and, through reflection on the practical significance of that intellectual understanding, direct understanding.
> TH: To be honest, not meditating sounds like avoidance. I have seen some of the side debates in here regarding what the Buddha taught about a formal practice. I have also seen some conversational gymnastics tweaking some of his words to imply he didn't really mean sitting meditation was necessary. I think this is undoubtedly a massive misinterpretation of his intention.
J: The question as to the proper intent of the Buddha is one that requires a careful and thorough reading of the texts. I'd be interested to know the passage or passages from the texts that in your view most clearly imply that sitting meditation/formal practice is part of his teaching.
> TH: A non-conceptual experience of Emptiness and by proxy an non-conceptual understanding of the nature of ALL phenomena cannot be understood by the intellect. Krishnamurti made this error too. It is by nature arrived at by conception but experienced non-conceptually. The mind is rarely quiet enough for this to happen whilst sat talking and intellectualising about reality. IMO (and others clearly) its only in a state of meditative equipoise that we can experience the difference between understanding and experiencing.
J: Yes, again, nobody is suggesting that intellectual understanding is any substitute for direct understanding (not sure why you see the need to keep stressing the difference between the 2 :-))
As regards any "experience of Emptiness", in the Theravada tradition this is a synonym for "experience of not-self as a characteristic of all dhammas", where "dhammas" means something having a characteristic that cannot be broken down into component parts.
Regarding, "its only in a state of meditative equipoise that we can experience the difference between understanding and experiencing", not sure whether you're quoting the texts or speaking from practical experience. But if you know any statement by the Buddha to this effect, I'd be very interested to hear it.