Re: The Twin Miracle (Yamaka Patihara)
- Hi Sarah.
--- In email@example.com, "sarah" <sarahprocterabbott@...> wrote:
> >R: No one would doubt the central importance of panna, either in its own right or as a support for other path factors. But the idea that panna is the whole of the path
> S: I haven't seen this said....
I think the impression may have been given that the development of right understanding will automatically create all the other necessary conditions for enlightenment - I guess that's along the lines of dry insight where all path factors arise due to panna. I may misunderstand how this works [I'm almost sure that I do] but what I often see is the idea that other aspects of the path [such as the sometime-debated arising of right understanding while working as a butcher and killing chickens] are not important to observe and that panna will wipe out all faults and trump all other akusala regardless of what one does or says.
> >and takes precedence over all other path factors is not borne out by these quotes, as far as I can tell.
> S: I think the quotes show:
> 1) it is panna, right understanding which eradicates defilements
> 2) other 'right' factors follow right understanding. Without right understanding, no other 'rights' at all.
This idea of "following" is pretty linear. My sense of the path is that the factors develop together, and that they support each other. Could one develop a high level of panna while killing chickens for a living? I guess it's theoretically possible, but seems doubtful to me. If one were in the throes of adulteress lust and going back to satisfy sexual desire continuously, would high-level insight develop in that situaton? Again, it's possible for panna to take any object, but it still seems to me that some level of defilements has to be controlled before a great deal of panna can accumulate and develop. Do you think this is not true? Is there an example of people living completely outside of the mundane "dictates" of the path and suddenly developing extremely high wisdom without first living a more kusala lifestyle?
It seems to me that the path factors on the mundane level are mutually supportive of development of understanding, and that panna by itself cannot "lift" all the other factors if they are really in a deep, dark place. I am happy to hear you contradict this if you think it's not the case.
Certainly would be more hopeful for me, and probably for a lot of other people if we can develop panna in the midst of greed, lust, anger and jealousy.
> Similarly, it is wrong understanding which leads to the development of all wrong factors and it is this wrong understanding which is the greatest hindrance to the development of the path:
> AN, Bk of 10s, 104 'The Seed' (PTS transl):
> " 'Monks, for a man, a person, who has wrong view, wrong thinking, speech,
> action, living, effort, mindfulness, concentration, wrong knowledge and
> wrong release, whatsoever bodily action is carried to completion and
> fulfillment according to that view, whatsoever action of speech, of mind,
> whatsoever intention, aspiration, resolve, whatsoever activities of mind
> (directed thereto) there may be - all those states conduce to what is
> unpleasant, not delightful, not charming, not profitable, to what is
> painful. What is the cause of that? Monks, the view is bad.
> S: The opposite is given. When there is right view, all the other 'rights'
Well that is not a scenario I would disagree with. But you still hae to ask, what causes right view to develop to the point where it lifts up other factors? Will it happen in the middle of someone who is drunk, screaming, yelling and getting into fist-fights? Or do the basics of the path have to arise together to support even an interest in right understanding?
> In this way, we see that it is right view/understanding which takes 'precedence' and is the 'leader' of the path.
And how does it come to be? I don't think we would even have these kinds of discussions if a certain amount of balance and interest hadn't developed first. Even for basic pariyatti there can't be no progress in the defilements, can there?
> >R: Neither do they establish that it is not necessary or important to develop the other mundane path factors in their own right in order to fully create the conditions for the path.
> S: There cannot even be the beginning of development of other mundane path factors without the development of right understanding.
> For example, without intellectual right understanding (pariyatti), there is not even any right consideration of what is right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration and so on - the pre-cursor of the development of the path with direct understanding and associated path factors.
I can see a scenario, for instance, where a person could develop a certain degree of samatha first, perhaps through meditation, and that the calm and centeredness that developed would lead to the arising of mindfulness. But I guess you might not agree with that. We were recently talking about I think the Samadhi sutta where the Buddha talks about the different orders in which the factors can arise - for some samatha first then vipassana, and for others vice versa. This is the kind of thing I am thinking about as I think the main path factors can support the development of the others from different angles, depending on the temperament and accumulations.
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- Hi Rob E,
--- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "Robert E" <epsteinrob@...> wrote:
> > S: Without panna, right understanding, how will there be any knowing whether it is right or wrong concentration, right or wrong mindfulness that is being developed?
>R: So you are saying that none of the other factors arise without right understanding being present? If there are conditions for right concentration to arise, it can arise and lead to the results of right concentration, even if it is not known that it is correct. Does knowing have to accompany a factor in order for it to be "right?"
S: For it to be a factor of the eightfold path, it has to arise with right understanding.
At any moment of path development, five factors always have to arise together - samma ditthi, samma sankappa, samma vayama, samma sati and samma samadhi.
> > S: Without right understanding of dhammas, there is no path, there is no knowing about any reality, any truth.
> > ...
>R: What I was asking was whether panna will remove the defilements caused by other transgressions. I would say that it cannot, unless it of course puts an end to those wrong actions. If one experienced right understanding and continued to kill chickens at the butcher shop, what would that situation represent? Or perhaps that is impossible - to have right understanding while continuing transgressions in such a definite way?
S: Remember that the path factors including panna, right understanding, arise for a moment and fall away. Afterwards there can be the arising of any defilements not yet eradicated.
At the stage of becoming a sotapanna, the tendency to kill is eradicated completely, so after this, there'd never be an inclination to kill chickens again.
So it depends on the strength of the panna and other factors that have been accumulated.
> > S: Yes - over aeons and aeons.....
> > ...
>R: That is why I have an equal interest in how accumulation and development take place, which involves the progression across many moments, in addition to the structure of the single citta in the moment.
S: It is the understanding of the reality now, such as the citta now, which leads to the understanding of how accumulations and development take place. Just as understanding which may arise now doesn't last for an instant, so too with other tendencies and accumulations.
> > S: One would assume that sila, morality and good behaviour, would be so firm that this would be so. However, we also know that cittas arise and fall away very quickly and accumulations are such that we can never make rules about situations. Think of Angulimala, killing until just before enlightenment. Always exceptions that only a Buddha could thoroughly comprehend the possibilities. Better to think in terms of dhammas - cittas, cetasikas and rupas - rather than in terms of "chicken-killing jobs".
> > ...
>R: The reason the chicken-killing issue arises is because some folks seem convinced that completely dismissing the "ordinary" dictates of Buddhism is just fine; that negative conventional behavior has nothing to do with Buddhism. I just find that to be a kind of disconnect.
S: I think that what the Buddha taught us to understand is about realities. When we talk about a situation, such as chicken-killing, there are many different cittas involved. So, it's not that it has nothing to do with Buddhism, but we can learn to be more and more precise.
For example, someone makes a donation to a charity. Is it always kusala? Which moments are kusala? Doesn't it depend on the cittas at the time?
>R: To me that makes the idea of panna kind of intellectual and detached from reality, not closer to it. If your life is as full of defilements as anyone else, are you really following the path? To me that doesn't make sense. I don't speak from any position of judgment, I have little discipline in these areas, but I still think it should be taken into account.
S: What I think is more interesting is not the comparing of defilements in various lives, but the understanding of these and all other dhammas as anatta - not belonging to anyone. These dhammas (realities) are all conditioned to arise and fall away instantly. I think that understanding definitely leads to being less judgmental, more understanding of tendencies.
> > S: Panna understands the value of all kinds of kusala and the importance of sila. With regard to the path, these are the 3 viratis (abstentions). If there is no abstaining from akusala, there is no development of right effort and other path factors. It is only panna which understands what is right and what is wrong at such moments, like now.
> Okay, well thanks for the good explanation. I will read through this a few more times.
S: Good to chat again!
Hope you and your family are all well, Rob.