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Re: Gradual teaching (was, Poor Venerable Aananda!)

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  • jonoabb
    Hi Rob E ... J: I don t think that the passage can be taken to suggest that the development of the path involves ascending through the various types of
    Message 1 of 52 , Jul 19, 2013
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      Hi Rob E

      --- In dhammastudygroup@yahoogroups.com, "Robert E" <epsteinrob@...> wrote:
      >
      > Hi Jon.
      > ...
      > > J: As I see it, this is a description of the different kinds of kusala, arranged in ascending order. So the teaching is a 'gradual' one in the sense that it leads by stages to the kusala that is awareness/insight into the true nature of dhammas, this being the "exalted teaching particular to the Buddhas (buddhānam sāmukkamsikā desanā)" and the highest level of kusala.
      >
      > RE: I don't know if you mean this in a different way, but as I read it, it seems that this gives some credence to the idea that by ascending through the various types of kusala, perhaps from simplest to more difficult, one gradually reaches the level of kusala that opens up the path.
      > ===============

      J: I don't think that the passage can be taken to suggest that the development of the path involves "ascending through the various types of kusala".

      Of course, context is all important. You may find it interesting to read a sutta in which the passage appears. Here's a link to a translation of the Upaali Sutta (M.56) (the relevant passage appears about half way through):
      http://www.vipassana.info/056-upali-e1.htm

      Let me know what you think!

      Jon
    • jonoabb
      Hi Rob E ... J: I haven t gone into the terms of the discussion between the Buddha and Upaali, because that discussion has no bearing on the gradual teaching
      Message 52 of 52 , Aug 22, 2013
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        Hi Rob E

        --- In dhammastudygroup@yahoogroups.com, "Robert E" <epsteinrob@...> wrote:
        >
        > Hi Jon.
        > ...
        > RE: So anyway, that's what it's about, but I can use some help understanding what the terms of the discussion mean, which don't quite add up for me.
        > ===============

        J: I haven't gone into the terms of the discussion between the Buddha and Upaali, because that discussion has no bearing on the gradual teaching given by the Buddha.

        As you'll recall, the gradual teaching began after the discussion had concluded and Upaali had professed himself to be a follower of the Buddha. Here's the link to the sutta again:
        http://www.vipassana.info/056-upali-e1.htm

        (Discussions involving followers of other teachings can be difficult to follow because they assume a detailed knowledge of the other teaching and its particular vocabulary and terms of dialogue/debate.)

        > ===============
        > RE: As for those of highly developed panna not needing to practice and getting enlightened from a short word from the Buddha, that doesn't surprise me so much, given two important factors:
        >
        > 1. The accumulation of panna in former lives.
        > 2. The BUDDHA being the one giving the short talk.
        > ===============

        J: Yes, both factors are important, although the former (previously accumulated panna) is indispensable, whereas the latter (hearing the teachings from the Buddha in person) is not: there are examples in the texts of people becoming enlightened after hearing a short piece of the Dhamma from a person other than the Buddha.

        > ===============
        > RE: I don't think anyone can overemphasize the influence of these two highly unusual factors, in the absence of which it may be necessary to do a lot of regular meditation to develop the missing panna.
        > ===============

        J: So as you understand the teachings, any "missing panna" can be made up for by "doing a lot of regular meditation"? If only it were that easy! Wishful thinking, I'm afraid!

        To get back to the point in issue, those such as Upaali who received the gradual teaching became enlightened (a) on the basis of considering and understanding by direct experience, there and then, the meaning of words being spoken by the Buddha, and (b) without there being any suggestion of past attainment of jhana or indeed any particular `practice' of samatha.

        > ===============
        > RE: The fact that so many of these highly developed monks at the time of the Buddha spent a large part of their day sitting cross-legged in a quiet place to develop samatha and vipassana says a lot in favor of such "meditation," or whatever one would like to call it.
        > ===============

        J: Given that, at the time of the Buddha, there were "highly developed" monks who were able, while sitting cross-legged in a quiet place, to develop samatha and vipassana, the question to then consider is what cause lead to what result.

        It cannot simply be assumed that this says a lot in favour of seated meditation(!).

        To my understanding, such monks must have developed both samatha and panna to a high degree in previous lives.

        As regards the possible significance of their sitting cross-legged in a quiet place, while a quiet place is one of the (many) conditions for the development of samatha *at its higher levels* (i.e., jhana), it is not among the conditions for the development of awareness/insight.

        Jon
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