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Re: Precepts

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  • christine_forsyth
    Hi RobM, Victor, James, KenH, and All, I took a copy of my original post and the replies (except KenH s which I hadn t yet seen) to a small Buddhist discussion
    Message 1 of 23 , Jun 1, 2003
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      Hi RobM, Victor, James, KenH, and All,

      I took a copy of my original post and the replies (except KenH's
      which I hadn't yet seen) to a small Buddhist discussion group this
      afternoon. Everyone agreed on the importance of Sila and the fact
      that all three 'legs' of of buddhist practice must be in evidence and
      in balance.

      RobM: Thank you for your advice - on reflection, I see that one
      should never be complacent about sila - unusual circumstances that
      undermind restraint can pop up at any time. I'm not sure I agree
      about lying being the most difficult precept to keep - this caused
      some discussion this afternoon. Some thought that an alcoholic may
      find the precept against intoxicating drugs to be the hardest, others
      thought it depended upon accumulations in general. Generally, people
      were concerned about other aspects of the Precept concerning Speech.
      This group ('the first Sunday of the month mob') wondered where it
      actually says that frivolous speech breaks the precept. And there
      were varying ideas on what frivolous speech actually is... They felt
      that more good comes out of what others (me :-)) might see as their
      frivolous speech, i.e. friendly supportive teasing, ironic
      understated humour, which creates lasting bonds. (Todays group
      included some of the Aussie blokes who also go to Cooran.)

      Victor: Thank you for your links. I printed Thanissaro's
      article 'The Healing Power of the Precepts' and they all took a copy.
      We had a stimulating discussion - particularly about the two kinds of
      denial when we don't measure up to certain standards of behaviour.
      [We all knew 'someone else' who fitted the description. :-)] The
      paragraphs about the Precepts being practical, clear-cut, humane, and
      worthy of respect, met with approval. One of the group, Klaas who is
      over eighty years of age, and is a volunteer lecturer in The
      University of the Third Age, intends to include some of the ideas and
      expressions in his next set of introductory talks. He liked the
      article. :-)

      James: :-) Thanks for your kind words :-)

      KenH: I don't disagree with your words - "there
      is a description of how mind states come and go by
      conditions. An understanding of that description, is
      the most potent condition for kusala states to arise now
      and in the future."
      BUT I still don't see how that is any different to other forms of
      practice (sitting meditation, keeping sila). Who is it that
      understands, and how do they go about gaining understanding? It
      reminds me of the question that I asked at Cooran ....
      "How are we to
      live an 'examined life if there is no-self, no-control?'
      Even 'listening to the true dhamma, reflecting ... discussing with
      Admirable friends ... and practising in accordance with the true
      Dhamma, seems to imply 'someone' who can have 'some control' and 'the
      ability to choose, plan and do' to some extent."

      metta and peace,
      Christine
      ---The trouble is that you think you have time ---

      --- In dhammastudygroup@yahoogroups.com, "kenhowardau"
      <kenhowardau@y...> wrote:
      > Dear RobM and Christine,
      >
      > Rob wrote:
      > > Examine the conditions that caused you to break a precept.
      > > Make a mental note to watch out for those conditions in the
      future
      > > and try to avoid falling into the same pattern that led you to
      > break
      > > a precept yesterday.
      >
      >
      > Obviously, that is good advice but is it the best advice?
      > There is no self who can learn from her mistakes and try
      > harder in the future. But, thanks to the Buddha, there
      > is a description of how mind states come and go by
      > conditions. An understanding of that description, is
      > the most potent condition for kusala states to arise now
      > and in the future.
      >
      > Sorry to be nit-picking, but we must remember that the
      > Middle Way is like no other:-)
      >
      > Kind regards,
      > Ken H
    • robmoult
      Hi Christine, ... others ... people ... Speech. ... felt ... their ... I agree that which precept is most difficult to keep depends on one s accumulations. I
      Message 2 of 23 , Jun 1, 2003
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        Hi Christine,

        --- In dhammastudygroup@yahoogroups.com, "christine_forsyth"
        <cforsyth@v...> wrote:
        > RobM: Thank you for your advice - on reflection, I see that one
        > should never be complacent about sila - unusual circumstances that
        > undermind restraint can pop up at any time. I'm not sure I agree
        > about lying being the most difficult precept to keep - this caused
        > some discussion this afternoon. Some thought that an alcoholic may
        > find the precept against intoxicating drugs to be the hardest,
        others
        > thought it depended upon accumulations in general. Generally,
        people
        > were concerned about other aspects of the Precept concerning
        Speech.
        > This group ('the first Sunday of the month mob') wondered where it
        > actually says that frivolous speech breaks the precept. And there
        > were varying ideas on what frivolous speech actually is... They
        felt
        > that more good comes out of what others (me :-)) might see as
        their
        > frivolous speech, i.e. friendly supportive teasing, ironic
        > understated humour, which creates lasting bonds. (Todays group
        > included some of the Aussie blokes who also go to Cooran.)

        I agree that which precept is most difficult to keep depends on
        one's accumulations. I have been a tea-totaler for twenty years and
        I am a faithful husband, so for me it is lying that is the toughest
        to keep.

        "Frivolous speech" is akusala kamma patha, one of the ten
        unwholesome deeds that can lead to rebirth in a woeful states
        but "Frivolous speech" is not one of the five precepts, nor is it
        one of the eight precepts which are only kept on holy days.
        Eliminating "frivolous speech" is part of the path factor of "Right
        Speech". "Frivolous speech" is not uprooted until one becomes an
        Arahant.

        The definition of "frivolous speech" that arises in the Suttas
        is, "tiracchana-katha: 'low talk', lit. 'beastly talk', is the name
        in the sutta-texts for the following: "Talk about kings and robbers,
        ministers and armies, danger and war, eating and drinking, clothes
        and dwellings, garlands and scents, relations, chariots, villages
        and markets, towns and districts, women and heroes, street talks,
        talks by the well, talk about those departed in days gone by, tittle-
        tattle, talks about world and sea, about gain and loss."

        Obviously, laypeople cannot avoid "frivolous speech".

        Hope that this helps.

        Metta,
        Rob M :-)
      • robmoult
        Hi Ken, The Buddha very often gave exhortations using conventional terms: - Strive on with diligence - Avoid evil, do good, purify the mind There are
        Message 3 of 23 , Jun 1, 2003
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          Hi Ken,

          The Buddha very often gave exhortations using conventional terms:
          - "Strive on with diligence"
          - "Avoid evil, do good, purify the mind"

          There are dozens, perhaps hundreds, of similar examples in the
          Suttas. I will do some checking, but I think that the Buddha even
          used this type of language when talking to those who had already
          attained the level of Sotapanna and had eliminated self-view.

          Metta,
          Rob M :-)

          --- In dhammastudygroup@yahoogroups.com, "kenhowardau"
          <kenhowardau@y...> wrote:
          > Dear RobM and Christine,
          >
          > Rob wrote:
          > > Examine the conditions that caused you to break a precept.
          > > Make a mental note to watch out for those conditions in the
          future
          > > and try to avoid falling into the same pattern that led you to
          > break
          > > a precept yesterday.
          >
          >
          > Obviously, that is good advice but is it the best advice?
          > There is no self who can learn from her mistakes and try
          > harder in the future. But, thanks to the Buddha, there
          > is a description of how mind states come and go by
          > conditions. An understanding of that description, is
          > the most potent condition for kusala states to arise now
          > and in the future.
          >
          > Sorry to be nit-picking, but we must remember that the
          > Middle Way is like no other:-)
          >
          > Kind regards,
          > Ken H
        • rjkjp1
          ... and ... Dear Christine, When we are concerned that sila be in evidence and in balance what are the dhammas at that moment. Is there genuine understanding
          Message 4 of 23 , Jun 1, 2003
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            --- In dhammastudygroup@yahoogroups.com, "christine_forsyth"
            <cforsyth@v...> wrote:
            > > I took a copy of my original post and the replies (except KenH's
            > which I hadn't yet seen) to a small Buddhist discussion group this
            > afternoon. Everyone agreed on the importance of Sila and the fact
            > that all three 'legs' of of buddhist practice must be in evidence
            and
            > in balance.
            > _______
            Dear Christine,
            When we are concerned that sila be in evidence and in balance what
            are the dhammas at that moment. Is there genuine understanding that
            simply sees that at this moment there is sila.
            Or is there a degree of conceit that is happy that now sila is
            evident. Or is there worry that it is not so evident. Or is there a
            subtle clinging to the idea of me having sila.

            Nina quoted "Kindred Sayings" (IV, Salåyatanavagga, Second Fifty, Ch
            2, §
            70:
            Then the venerable Upavåna came to see the Exalted One:- " 'Of
            immediate use
            is the Norm (Dhamma)! Of immediate use is the Norm!' is the saying,
            lord.
            Pray, lord, to what extent is the Norm of immediate use, apart from
            time,
            bidding one come and see, leading on (to the Goal), to be
            experienced, each
            for himself, by the wise?"
            "Now here (under my teaching), Upavåna, when a brother sees an
            object with
            the eye, he experiences objects, conceives a passion for objects,
            and of
            that passion for objects which exists for him personally he is
            aware, 'I
            have personally a passion for objects.'..."

            Are we as keen as those monks in the Buddha's time who really
            investigated the present moment including 'passion'. If not there
            won't be understanding of the anattaness of all dhammas.


            > > KenH: I don't disagree with your words - "there
            > is a description of how mind states come and go by
            > conditions. An understanding of that description, is
            > the most potent condition for kusala states to arise now
            > and in the future."
            > Christine: BUT I still don't see how that is any different to
            other forms of
            > practice (sitting meditation, keeping sila). Who is it that
            > understands, and how do they go about gaining understanding? It
            > reminds me of the question that I asked at Cooran ....
            > "How are we to
            > live an 'examined life if there is no-self, no-control?'
            > Even 'listening to the true dhamma, reflecting ... discussing with
            > Admirable friends ... and practising in accordance with the true
            > Dhamma, seems to imply 'someone' who can have 'some control'
            and 'the
            > ability to choose, plan and do' to some extent."
            > ______________
            You ask "who is it that understands"?
            This reminds me of the questions asked by venerable Moliyaphagunna
            (Samyuttanikaya Nidana Moliyaphagguna p541 bodhi)
            "'With the six bases (salayatana)as condition contact comes to be'.
            Ven. Moliyaphagguna: 'Venerable sir, who feels?'
            Buddha: 'I do not say 'One makes contact'. If I should say 'One makes
            contact' in that case this would be a valid question.....In this
            case the
            valid answer is 'With the six sense bases as condition, contact
            [comes to
            be]; with contact as condition feeling'.
            Moliyaphagguna: 'venerable sir, who craves?.
            Buddha: I do not say 'one craves...." endquote

            The Buddha says (SN 12:35 Bodhi p.575) that with the
            eradication of ignorance such ideas and vacillations as "what now are
            volitional formations (sankhara) , and for 'whom' are there
            volitional
            formations? or'Volitional formations are one thing, the one for whom
            there
            are these volitional formations is another'--all these are
            abandoned, cut
            off at the root...."endquote.

            It is ignorance of dhammas that is the heart of why this wheel keeps
            spinning. KenH was so compassionate to explain this and so, inspired
            by him, I add more.
            The Visuddhimagga notes about the
            development of vipassana: "there is no removal of false view in one
            who
            takes it thus "I see with insight, my insight'..there is removal of
            false
            view in one who takes it thus 'only formations see formations with
            insight, comprehend, define, discern and delimit them." XX83

            I might have mentioned a while back meeting a Hare Krishna in
            Auckland . He was about my age and had spent 20 years living at the
            center. He told me about his austere life which was quite impressive
            and by any outward measure full of sila. But to me he seemed trapped
            by his way of life. This doesn't mean he would be better off
            leaving and living some conventional life where frivilous talk and
            so on are common.
            However, I think it hints at what KenH said with regard to
            understanding the moment been most potent:

            Vis XV163 "The
            perfect ones behave like lions. When they make
            suffering cease and when they teach the the cessation
            of suffering, they deal with the cause, not the fruit.
            But the sectarians behave like dogs. When they make
            suffering cease and when they teach the cessation of
            suffering, by teaching devotion to self-mortification
            etc., they deal with the fruit not the cause."

            When there is a moment of insight there cannot be the breaking of
            sila. If it is genuine insight then it isn't forced and so the
            anattaness of sati is known too. This moments may not happen as
            regularly as tanha would wish - but that is ok because gradually
            tanha will come to be known too. That is, if there are the right
            conditions - such as having good friends, hearing true Dhamma,
            refelecting wisely. So if there is growing insight then confidence
            in the benefit of understanding the moment and of sila and of all
            kusala will develop. And this brings more patience and so the
            present moment can be seen better, and that leads to more insight,
            more confidence, which leads...
            But there is no one who can control any of that. Next year- if
            conditions are such- we might join the Hares.
            RobertK


            Majjhima
            Nikaya 148
            Chachakka Sutta
            The Blessed One said: "The six internal media should be known.
            The six external media should be known. The six classes of
            consciousness should be known. The six classes of contact should
            be known. The six classes of feeling should be known. The six
            classes of craving should be known."

            Note that it says the six classes of craving should be known. I
            think this is important, craving is part of the wheel. Usually we
            misperceive it as "my" craving. But craving, as much as other
            dhammas, can
            be an object for understanding. if it is seen through the lens of
            anatta
            it is not mistaken for "my" craving and so its true
            characteristic can be seen. (Craving, the English translation of
            tanha,
            may make us think of a very strong desire, but tanha includes even
            very
            minute aspects of unwholesome desire)

            Later the sutta says:

            "'The six classes of craving should be known.' Thus it was said.
            In reference to what was it said? Dependent on the eye & forms
            there arises consciousness at the eye. The meeting of the three
            is contact. With contact as a requisite condition there is
            feeling. With feeling as a requisite condition there is
            craving." and it repeats for the other senses of ear, nose, tongue,
            body,
            mind.

            "If anyone were to say, 'The eye is the self,' that wouldn't be
            tenable. The arising & falling away of the eye are discerned.
            And when its arising & falling away are discerned, it would
            follow that 'My self arises & falls away.' That's why it
            wouldn't be tenable if anyone were to say, 'The eye is the
            self.' So the eye is not-self. ......
            If anyone were to say, 'Craving is the self,' that wouldn't be
            tenable. The arising & falling away of craving are discerned.
            And when its arising & falling away are discerned, it would
            follow that 'My self arises & falls away.' That's why it
            wouldn't be tenable if anyone were to say, 'Craving is the
            self.' Thus the eye is not-self, forms are not-self,
            consciousness at the eye is not-self, contact at the eye is
            not-self, feeling is not self, craving is not-self. "

            What then should we do and what is right effort:

            Ogha-tarana Sutta
            Crossing the Flood
            This is the very first sutta of the Samyutta Nikaya
            A deva asks the Buddha how he crossed the flood (the four floods are
            sensuality, becoming, views, ignorance).

            "Sir, how did you cross the flood?
            Friend, by not remaining still, and by not putting forth strenuous
            effort,
            I crossed the flood."
            But Sir, in what way did you cross the flood, neither remaining
            still, nor
            putting forth strenuous effort.
            Friend, if I remained still. I sank;
            If I put forth strenuous effort, I was swept away
            Thus, by neither remaining still nor putting forth strenuous effort,
            I
            crossed the flood."
          • kenhowardau
            Hi Christine, ... and the ... I appreciate your concern but, unfortunately, I don t think we can allow you even that! I m thinking of the marionette metaphor
            Message 5 of 23 , Jun 1, 2003
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              Hi Christine,

              > "How are we to
              > live an 'examined life if there is no-self, no-control?'
              > Even 'listening to the true dhamma, reflecting ... discussing with
              > Admirable friends ... and practising in accordance with the true
              > Dhamma, seems to imply 'someone' who can have 'some control'
              and 'the
              > ability to choose, plan and do' to some extent."
              --------------

              I appreciate your concern but, unfortunately, I don't
              think we can allow you even that!

              I'm thinking of the marionette metaphor which explains
              that dhammas create the impression of having interest (concern),
              but really there is no interest there -- all dhammas are
              impersonal -- without self -- anatta.

              So, there is no control over, and no interest in, whether
              we are going to sit on a cushion or whether we will plan,
              arrange, attend Dhamma discussions -- or whether we will
              go to the pub. There is an overwhelming impression of
              interest but that's as far as it goes. Sorry :-)

              Kind regards,
              Ken H
            • kenhowardau
              Hi RobM, ... I realise that your advice to Christine was meant to be read in the light of anatta. It goes without saying that you would never suggest there is
              Message 6 of 23 , Jun 2, 2003
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                Hi RobM,

                > The Buddha very often gave exhortations using
                > conventional terms:
                > - "Strive on with diligence"
                > - "Avoid evil, do good, purify the mind"
                -------

                I realise that your advice to Christine was meant to be
                read in the light of anatta. It goes without saying that
                you would never suggest there is a self who can 'try to
                overcome akusala tendencies.'

                What I am not clear about is the particular significance
                you see in the Buddha's use of conventional terminology.

                Are you suggesting that a conventional approach to
                'striving with diligence' can have some efficacy in
                attaining the Eight-fold Path?

                That question is not meant to be patronising or
                rhetorical -- there are dsg members who believe exactly
                that. Some say that worldlings should not concern
                themselves with anatta; it will become clear when the
                final goal is reached.

                On the other hand, there are members who remind us that
                'striving with diligence' refers purely to cetasikas --
                because in the Buddha's explanation of reality, there are
                only namas and rupas.

                Dare I suggest that your advice to Christine betrayed a
                slight 'slipping back' into conventional ways? Were you
                not momentarily forgetting that Christine, just
                like 'chariot,' 'living being' was a mere designation?

                Kind regards,
                Ken H
              • robmoult
                Hi Ken H, I believe that the Buddha s approach of using a mixture of conventional and absolute terms to be extremely important. When the Buddha was in His
                Message 7 of 23 , Jun 2, 2003
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                  Hi Ken H,

                  I believe that the Buddha's approach of using a mixture of
                  conventional and absolute terms to be extremely important. When the
                  Buddha was in His "analysis mode", He used absolute terms. When the
                  Buddha was in His "exhorting mode", He used conventional terms.

                  Why did I volunteer to teach an Abhidhamma class each Sunday
                  morning? I must admit that there was some conceit (mana)
                  involved; "I can do a good job". Yes, there was a love of the
                  Dhamma, a desire to study the Dhamma and the knowledge that it was a
                  kusala thing to study and teach the Dhamma, but there was also an
                  element of mana.

                  Why do I work so hard researching for each week's lecture and why do
                  I work so hard preparing lecture notes? I must admit there there is
                  some dosa (fear) involved; "I am afraid of making a fool of myself
                  if I am not prepared". Yes, there is a love of the Dhamma, a desire
                  to study the Dhamma and the desire to avoid spreading wrong view,
                  but there was also an element of dosa.

                  I am convinced through my own experience that akusala (mana, dosa
                  and yes, "self-view") can be a strong condition for support of
                  kusala. I quote Visuddhi Magga XVII 102:
                  "Herein, for those of merit ignorance is a condition in two ways: it
                  is a condition in two ways, namely, as object condition and as
                  support condition. <snip description of how ignorance can be object
                  condition for kusala>... But it is a condition, as decisive support
                  condition, in two cases, that is to say, [for the sense-sphere
                  formation] in one who, for the purpose of surmounting ignorance,
                  fulfils the various instances of sense-sphere merit-making
                  consisting in giving, etc...."

                  From the Bhumija Sutta (MN126), it is clear that good results come
                  from proper practice, not good intentions. Does it make any
                  difference if "proper practice" happened to be partially motivated
                  (i.e. "decisive support condition") by akusala? I don't think so.

                  My favourite "Dhamma the Cat" cartoon (http://www.dharmathecat.com/)
                  is #49 (The Discourse): Bodhi the monk is at the chalkboard. He
                  says, "The first thing we'll discuss is getting beyond words and
                  concepts." Then Bodhi thinks, "Gee, where do I go from here?" The
                  commentary to this cartoon is "Words are one kind of bridge to one
                  level of understanding. On the Path, when you reach each such
                  level, you leave each bridge behind. But you can't leave your
                  bridge behind until you are beyond it."

                  Back to the Buddha and His "analysis mode" and His "exhorting mode".
                  It is easy to read "self-view" (a concept of a self who can change
                  things) into the Buddha's exhorting mode. When in the "exhorting
                  mode", I don't think that the Buddha was concerned about propogating
                  a wrong view of self who can change things. When the monks followed
                  the Buddha's exhortations and went to meditate, the monks would
                  recognize the Dhamma through direct experience.

                  If progress only comes from proper practice, why did the Buddha also
                  use "analysis mode"? We can stimulate ourselves intellectually for
                  hours, analyzing passages on anatta but this will not give us
                  the "bright faith", the understanding that comes from experience. To
                  use an analogy, I see analysis as "fertilizing the soil" - it is a
                  necessary but not sufficient condition for "bright faith" to arise.
                  The understanding of self-view will not arise until the stage of
                  Sotapanna is reached, but I can "fertilize the soil" now while still
                  a worldling.

                  In summary, I strongly support the use of conventional language in
                  exhortation mode to motivate worldlings such as Christine and
                  myself. Some may reject this approach because "it implies a self who
                  can change things". I disagree. I also strongly support the analysis
                  of anatta (and other aspects of the Dhamma) as this
                  activity "fertilizes the soil", facilitating and supporting the
                  arising of direct understanding (bright faith) when other conditions
                  support it.

                  Others may see it differently (perhaps because they have different
                  accumulations) but this approach seems right for me. I also believe
                  that my approach is not against the Buddha's teachings and I believe
                  that my approach is aligned with the Buddha's example.

                  Metta,
                  Rob M :-)

                  --- In dhammastudygroup@yahoogroups.com, "kenhowardau"
                  <kenhowardau@y...> wrote:
                  > Hi RobM,
                  >
                  > > The Buddha very often gave exhortations using
                  > > conventional terms:
                  > > - "Strive on with diligence"
                  > > - "Avoid evil, do good, purify the mind"
                  > -------
                  >
                  > I realise that your advice to Christine was meant to be
                  > read in the light of anatta. It goes without saying that
                  > you would never suggest there is a self who can 'try to
                  > overcome akusala tendencies.'
                  >
                  > What I am not clear about is the particular significance
                  > you see in the Buddha's use of conventional terminology.
                  >
                  > Are you suggesting that a conventional approach to
                  > 'striving with diligence' can have some efficacy in
                  > attaining the Eight-fold Path?
                  >
                  > That question is not meant to be patronising or
                  > rhetorical -- there are dsg members who believe exactly
                  > that. Some say that worldlings should not concern
                  > themselves with anatta; it will become clear when the
                  > final goal is reached.
                  >
                  > On the other hand, there are members who remind us that
                  > 'striving with diligence' refers purely to cetasikas --
                  > because in the Buddha's explanation of reality, there are
                  > only namas and rupas.
                  >
                  > Dare I suggest that your advice to Christine betrayed a
                  > slight 'slipping back' into conventional ways? Were you
                  > not momentarily forgetting that Christine, just
                  > like 'chariot,' 'living being' was a mere designation?
                  >
                  > Kind regards,
                  > Ken H
                • kenhowardau
                  Hi Rob M, I am very fortunate to have you and other Abhidhamma teachers so close at hand. Studying it on my own would be next to impossible. Some of the your
                  Message 8 of 23 , Jun 3, 2003
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                    Hi Rob M,

                    I am very fortunate to have you and other Abhidhamma
                    teachers so close at hand. Studying it on my own would
                    be next to impossible.

                    Some of the your explanations in this post, did not sink
                    in. They prompted me to do some reading on decisive
                    support condition (upanissaya-paccaya): The result:
                    mental blank :-)

                    What helps me more than anything else, is to be
                    continually reminded of; the present moment, nama and
                    rupa, and anatta. My gratitude for these reminders,
                    makes me only too keen to do the same for others. At some
                    of our local discussion meetings, one good friend of mine
                    has been known to storm out of the room!

                    In my opinion, for what it's worth, the best thing you
                    can do as an Abhidhamma teacher is to impress anatta on
                    your students at every opportunity. What use is a
                    knowledge of the Dhamma if there is the belief in a self
                    who has it?

                    Even more insidious: What use is a 'practice' of the
                    Dhamma if there is a belief in a self who is practising?

                    You write:
                    -------------
                    > From the Bhumija Sutta (MN126), it is clear that good
                    results come from proper practice, not good intentions.
                    Does it make any difference if "proper practice" happened
                    to be partially motivated (i.e. "decisive support
                    condition") by akusala? I don't think so. >
                    --------------
                    and later:
                    --------------
                    > When in the "exhorting mode", I don't think that the
                    Buddha was concerned about propogating a wrong view of
                    self who can change things. When the monks followed
                    the Buddha's exhortations and went to meditate, the monks
                    would recognize the Dhamma through direct experience. >
                    --------------

                    I'm not sure what to make of the above. The time to
                    practise is here and now -- there can be no other time
                    [for anything]. If there are akusala motives here and
                    now, then that's my world -- akusala.

                    Kind regards,
                    Ken

                    --- In dhammastudygroup@yahoogroups.com, "robmoult" <rob.moult@j...>
                    wrote:
                    > Hi Ken H,
                    >
                    > I believe that the Buddha's approach of using a mixture of
                    > conventional and absolute terms to be extremely important. When the
                    > Buddha was in His "analysis mode", He used absolute terms. When the
                    > Buddha was in His "exhorting mode", He used conventional terms.
                    >
                    > Why did I volunteer to teach an Abhidhamma class each Sunday
                    > morning? I must admit that there was
                  • christine_forsyth
                    Dear RobM, RobK, KenH and all, Thanks for your posts - I ve been thinking about them and following up the sutta refs. I smiled when KenH spoke of his friend
                    Message 9 of 23 , Jun 3, 2003
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                      Dear RobM, RobK, KenH and all,

                      Thanks for your posts - I've been thinking about them and following
                      up the sutta refs.
                      I smiled when KenH spoke of his friend who sometimes storms out of
                      the room - I empathise with him.:-) The posts on the Precepts thread
                      have given me a similar desire. :-) For me, it arises out of not
                      being able to understand - to feel there is truth, but not to be able
                      to form the questions to enable you all to elucidate further on what
                      you have already told me. My major difficulty still remains in how
                      is it possible for us to operate in this world if we have absolutely
                      no control. I think we need limited control to be able to make
                      choices, to regulate our lives, to have intentions. What is it that
                      I'm not understanding?

                      Your posts tell me that I, Christine, consist of momentarily existing
                      namas and rupas whose thoughts, feelings and actions are the result
                      of conditions; My understanding of 'no-control' is that my very
                      existence, everything that has happened to me, all the thoughts that
                      occur to me, all the emotions I feel, all the people and things that
                      surround me and exist on this plane, are the result of complicated
                      conditions in the past. But, is there nothing at all that can be
                      done, decisions, plans etc. in the present moment, i.e. from this
                      point looking forward? - even given that all is subject to previous
                      conditions. If not, what is the point of anything? If we are just
                      marionettes dangling on the strings of dosa, moha and lobha, why try
                      to keep sila, why study the tipitaka, why not just helplessly do what
                      arises. And why do we suffer the vipaka of actions that we had no
                      control over? Or (if 'we' die in every moment) why does 'somebody
                      else' suffer the vipaka from the actions that we had no control
                      over? Surely to operate in the world, we must be able to make
                      choices and plans. I seem to make present time decisions, even if my
                      desires and decisions are heavily influenced by past experiences.
                      And, if there is no way 'I' can do anything to make any progress on
                      the path towards liberation why did the Buddha bother teaching and
                      explaining. To listen to Dhamma is a choice. It doesn't just
                      happen. If there is no-one who can create conditions, then it makes
                      enlightenment seem an accident that happens to some and not to others.

                      metta and peace,
                      Christine
                      ---The trouble is that you think you have time ---

                      --- In dhammastudygroup@yahoogroups.com, "kenhowardau"
                      <
                    • yu_zhonghao
                      Hi Christine and all, The idea of no-control is not what the Buddha taught. It stems from misunderstanding and leads to confusion, to wrong effort. It is
                      Message 10 of 23 , Jun 4, 2003
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                        Hi Christine and all,

                        The idea of "no-control" is not what the Buddha taught. It stems
                        from misunderstanding and leads to confusion, to wrong effort. It
                        is not unreasonable that you questioned the very validity of this
                        idea of "no-control."

                        Here is a reference to the discourse
                        Majjhima Nikaya 20
                        Vitakkasanthana Sutta
                        The Relaxation of Thoughts
                        http://www.accesstoinsight.org/canon/majjhima/mn020.html
                        that I found relevant.

                        Peace,
                        Victor

                        --- In dhammastudygroup@yahoogroups.com, "christine_forsyth"
                        <cforsyth@v...> wrote:
                        > Dear RobM, RobK, KenH and all,
                        [snip]
                        >
                        > metta and peace,
                        > Christine
                      • rjkjp1
                        ... Dear Christine, These type of profound questions don t come out of nowhere, they come from conditions - including reflecting on profound Dhamma. ... For
                        Message 11 of 23 , Jun 4, 2003
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                          > In dhammastudygroup@yahoogroups.com, "christine_forsyth" <
                          Dear Christine,
                          These type of profound questions don't come out of nowhere, they
                          come from conditions - including reflecting on profound Dhamma.
                          ---------------------------------------
                          For me, it arises out of not
                          > being able to understand - to feel there is truth, but not to be
                          able
                          > to form the questions to enable you all to elucidate further on
                          what
                          > you have already told me. My major difficulty still remains in
                          how
                          > is it possible for us to operate in this world if we have
                          absolutely
                          > no control. I think we need limited control to be able to make
                          > choices, to regulate our lives, to have intentions. What is it
                          that
                          Ø I'm not understanding?
                          Ø _______________________

                          If it is wisdom that is developing then that will mean that life is
                          understood much better and so operating in the world will become
                          easier. Not us making it easier or trying to make it easier– rather
                          simply that wisdom , a dhamma, sees things clearer.

                          Always there are choices – and these are conditioned. Some people
                          believe they have to decide to become enlightened or be aware. This
                          is living in a world of concept revolving around selfview. Because
                          of selfview there will always be movement away from the present
                          moment, no satisfaction with what is here and now. There can be
                          awareness while making choices, as during any moment.
                          -----------------------------------

                          >
                          > Your posts tell me that I, Christine, consist of momentarily
                          existing
                          > namas and rupas whose thoughts, feelings and actions are the
                          result
                          > of conditions; My understanding of 'no-control' is that my very
                          > existence, everything that has happened to me, all the thoughts
                          that
                          > occur to me, all the emotions I feel, all the people and things
                          that
                          > surround me and exist on this plane, are the result of complicated
                          conditions in the past.
                          _________________________________
                          Why do you limit to past? Now there is cakkhu vinnana
                          arising and then following mind door processes which think about
                          what was seen. These are new conditions developing right
                          now.____________________________________________
                          >
                          But, is there nothing at all that can be
                          > done, decisions, plans etc. in the present moment, i.e. from this
                          > point looking forward? - even given that all is subject to
                          previous
                          conditions. If not, what is the point of anything?
                          ________________

                          Everything can be done! Do you think the present moment
                          disappears when one is walking or talking?
                          -----------------------
                          If we are just
                          > marionettes dangling on the strings of dosa, moha and lobha, why
                          try
                          > to keep sila, why study the tipitaka, why not just helplessly do
                          what
                          arises.
                          ___________

                          Can we see that when it is `us' doing something that this is another
                          spin of the wheel. Someone could indeed study the whole Tipitaka,
                          and keep sila, and `believe" in anatta – and yet still miss the
                          point. It is deepening understanding of conditions – as anatta –
                          which leads to a gradual dis-attachment to the five aggregates.
                          Because they are seen to be uncontrollable – no matter how much we
                          thought they are or should be controllable.
                          You write "helplessly do what arises". Is this is an assumption that
                          there was a self before who was in some type of control and now
                          there isn't. When we felt/feel in control there was ignorance of
                          the different complex conditions which arise to have that feeling.

                          When anatta-sannna, perception of anatta, is strong then one will
                          face the moment directly. And then accumulations show themselves as
                          they are and the puppet masters – ignorance and clinging– start to
                          be glimpsed. This is how slowly the difference between sati and
                          tanha is known.
                          ""Therefore, just as a marionette is void, soulless and without
                          curisosity, and while it works and stands merely through the
                          combination of strings and wood yet it seems as if it had curiosity
                          and interestedness, so too this materiality (rupa)- mentality (nama)
                          is void, soulless and without curiosity, and while it walks and
                          stands merely through the combination of the two together, yet it
                          seems as if it had curiosity and interestedness." Visuddhimagga
                          xviii31
                          ________________________________________________-



                          And why do we suffer the vipaka of actions that we had no
                          > control over? Or (if 'we' die in every moment) why does 'somebody
                          > else' suffer the vipaka from the actions that we had no control
                          > over? Surely to operate in the world, we must be able to make
                          >choices and plans.
                          ____________
                          Arahants make choices and plan. It would be unnatural to try
                          to stop making plans. That is self-view that thinks like that.
                          ____________


                          >>> I seem to make present time decisions, even if my
                          > desires and decisions are heavily influenced by past experiences.
                          > And, if there is no way 'I' can do anything to make any progress
                          on
                          > the path towards liberation why did the Buddha bother teaching and
                          > explaining. To listen to Dhamma is a choice. It doesn't just
                          happen.

                          _____
                          Of course. Someone else might choose not to listen: And be
                          convinced they made the right decision. Choice is a complex series
                          of different cittas and cetasikas conditioned by past and present
                          conditions. If there are sufficient conditions then saddha cetasika
                          (confidence) in the triple gem develops and this co-arises with
                          viriya(energy) to hear more, reflect more: To not turn away from
                          the present moment; to not be caught in some ritual. It can become a
                          power.
                          ----------------
                          >>> If there is no-one who can create conditions, then it makes
                          >> enlightenment seem an accident that happens to some and not
                          to others.
                          _____________________-
                          .
                          Someone might marvel at why Angulimala - a bloody
                          murderer – can become enlightened after a few sentences from the
                          Buddha; while Venerable Sunnakkhata – an early attendant to the
                          Buddha , and skilled in genuine jhana – leaves the order to follow
                          the leader of a strange sect. If we don't know of the countless
                          conditions and the way accumulations work it seems all by chance
                          In the deepest sense no others , no us. Just dhammas
                          arising – not by accident- but by conditions. All of these dhammas,
                          the five aggregates, are nothing good. The five khandhas are: "a
                          disease, a boil, a dart, as calamity, as
                          an affliction, as alien, as no protection, as empty, as void, as
                          having no
                          core, as Mara's bait, as not self...."Patisambhidhimagga XXIX8

                          The khandhas have the appearance of being desirable because of the
                          vipallasa (perversions of view)and because there is usually the
                          taking of a whole - a concept - as object.

                          It is seeing the uncontrollable, impermanent nature of all dhammas
                          that leads to turning away. But this is an incremental process.
                          I am still content to be a child playing with sandcastles, but like
                          a child, realising that slowly maturity is coming and oneday I'll
                          let the tide wash over them and not want to play anymore.
                          So the urgency; "like putting out a fire on ones head"
                          doesn't mean grab whatever's closest and throw on. It might be
                          gasoline one picks up. I think it is the urgency to be so very
                          patient.
                          RobertK

                          [SN XXIII.2]"It's just as when boys or girls are playing with
                          little sand castles. As long as they are not free from passion,
                          desire, love, thirst, fever, & craving for those little sand
                          castles, that's how long they have fun with those sand castles,
                          enjoy them, treasure them, feel possessive of them. But when they
                          become free from passion, desire, love, thirst, fever, & craving for
                          those little sand castles, then they smash them, scatter them,
                          demolish them with their hands or feet and make them unfit for play.

                          "In the same way, Radha, you too should smash, scatter, & demolish
                          form, and make it unfit for play. Practice for the ending of craving
                          for form.

                          "You should smash, scatter, & demolish feeling, and make it unfit
                          for play. Practice for the ending of craving for feeling.

                          "You should smash, scatter, & demolish perception, and make it unfit
                          for play. Practice for the ending of craving for perception.

                          "You should smash, scatter, & demolish fabrications, and make them
                          unfit for play. Practice for the ending of craving for fabrications.

                          "You should smash, scatter, & demolish consciousness and make it
                          unfit for play. Practice for the ending of craving for
                          consciousness -- because the ending of craving, Radha, is
                          Unbinding."





                          The characteristic of not-self becomes evident to him through seeing
                          rise according to conditions owing to his discovery that states have
                          no curiosity and have their existence depending upon conditions"
                          Vis.xx102
                        • christine_forsyth
                          Dear Robert, I just wanted to quickly say thanks for your excellent post, so calming and reassuring as always. I ll take a little while to read it over some
                          Message 12 of 23 , Jun 5, 2003
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                            Dear Robert,

                            I just wanted to quickly say thanks for your excellent post, so
                            calming and reassuring as always. I'll take a little while to read
                            it over some more, look up a few references, and think about it. I
                            wonder who this Ven. Radha was that he has a whole Samyutta - 36
                            suttas counting the repetitions? Must have been around the Buddha a
                            lot.

                            Probably, I'll have some more comments/questions.

                            metta and peace,
                            Christine
                            ---The trouble is that you think you have time ---
                          • christine_forsyth
                            Dear Robert, and all, A couple of initial thoughts on parts of your last post on Anatta. Lots in it that I m still thinking over. Funny what gaps there are
                            Message 13 of 23 , Jun 7, 2003
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                              Dear Robert, and all,

                              A couple of initial thoughts on parts of your last post on Anatta.
                              Lots in it that I'm still thinking over.
                              Funny what gaps there are even in the little intellectual
                              understanding I think I have - I had come to think that no control =
                              no choices whatsoever. I'm much more comfortable now that I see
                              there are choices, though these are conditioned. For example, I
                              presently would not kill myself or another, or sell my home and spend
                              the rest of my life travelling, or become a Catholic nun. Though
                              these things are possible to do, I could not do any of them at this
                              time, because of conditions i.e. I just don't want to because of
                              everything that has gone before into molding my inclinations, and the
                              circumstances of my life.. This may seem such a trivial thing but it
                              has been a big hurdle for me - I feel like someone who was looking at
                              swirling fragments that have for just a brief moment paused and
                              formed a actual picture. Eureka! [Hopefully no-one is going to tell
                              me I'm completely on the wrong track again}. :-) You say: "If it is
                              wisdom that is developing ...." This strikes a chord ... You see,
                              I'm sure I understood the conditionality of choice once before, but
                              then came to hold a different opinion. What exactly is panna? I
                              mean, how does one recognise whether one has it, and can it be lost?
                              I thought accumulations just accumulated and influenced action. Can
                              there be counterfeit panna?

                              This marionette simile we've talked about before - unforgetable, and
                              quite chilling. I begin to feel that anatta means each of us is
                              something very like a set of mechanical processes (nama-rupa) that
                              come into existence because something is wrong (kama -> vipaka,
                              defilements). e.g. the movement sensor system in my house is comatose
                              until a certain stimulus makes it react fairly predictably and set in
                              train fairly predictable actions. If there was no stimulus, it
                              wouldn't 'come to life' (so to speak) i.e. -> note unauthorised
                              movement -> set off siren and blue flashing lights on outside of
                              house -> cause alarm at security centre -> cause telephone message to
                              be sent to nominated people -> initiate sending of armed officer to
                              my address.
                              What I am trying to say is that Anatta is arid and lonely. No-one,
                              nothing personal in it. [No sign of the old "God is Love" (?nibanna
                              is love) of the Christians that is so attractive and comforting.]
                              But no 'curiosity' makes it seem even worse - no interest or
                              awareness - how does nibanna, in the light of anatta, differ from
                              annihilation?
                              Has anyone ever thought that it might be a whole lot less scary to
                              just keep doing good actions with the aim of constant pleasant re-
                              births?

                              metta and peace,
                              Christine
                              ---The trouble is that you think you have time

                              --- In dhammastudygroup@yahoogroups.com, "rjkjp1" <rjkjp1@y...> wrote:
                              > <<<SNIP FOR BREVITY ONLY>>>
                              and the way accumulations work it seems all by chance
                              > In the deepest sense no others , no us. Just dhammas
                              > arising – not by accident- but by conditions. All of these
                              dhammas,
                              > the five aggregates, are nothing good. The five khandhas are: "a
                              > disease, a boil, a dart, as calamity, as
                              > an affliction, as alien, as no protection, as empty, as void, as
                              > having no
                              > core, as Mara's bait, as not self...."Patisambhidhimagga XXIX8
                              >

                              > [SN XXIII.2]"It's just as when boys or girls are playing with
                              > little sand castles. As long as they are not free from passion,
                              > desire, love, thirst, fever, & craving for those little sand
                              > castles, that's how long they have fun with those sand castles,
                              > enjoy them, treasure them, feel possessive of them. But when they
                              > become free from passion, desire, love, thirst, fever, & craving
                              for
                              > those little sand castles, then they smash them, scatter them,
                              > demolish them with their hands or feet and make them unfit for
                              play.
                              >
                              > "In the same way, Radha, you too should smash, scatter, & demolish
                              > form, and make it unfit for play. Practice for the ending of
                              craving
                              > for form.
                              >
                              > "You should smash, scatter, & demolish feeling, and make it unfit
                              > for play. Practice for the ending of craving for feeling.
                              >
                              > "You should smash, scatter, & demolish perception, and make it
                              unfit
                              > for play. Practice for the ending of craving for perception.
                              >
                              > "You should smash, scatter, & demolish fabrications, and make them
                              > unfit for play. Practice for the ending of craving for
                              fabrications.
                              >
                              > "You should smash, scatter, & demolish consciousness and make it
                              > unfit for play. Practice for the ending of craving for
                              > consciousness -- because the ending of craving, Radha, is
                              > Unbinding."
                              >

                              > The characteristic of not-self becomes evident to him through
                              seeing
                              > rise according to conditions owing to his discovery that states
                              have
                              > no curiosity and have their existence depending upon conditions"
                              > Vis.xx102
                            • rjkjp1
                              ... I m much more comfortable now that I see ... spend ... this ... __________ Dear Christine, Yes, that s right. We might imagine that if there is no self and
                              Message 14 of 23 , Jun 7, 2003
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                                --- In dhammastudygroup@yahoogroups.com, "christine_forsyth"
                                <cforsyth@v...> wrote:
                                > Dear Robert, and all,
                                >
                                I'm much more comfortable now that I see
                                > there are choices, though these are conditioned. For example, I
                                > presently would not kill myself or another, or sell my home and
                                spend
                                > the rest of my life travelling, or become a Catholic nun. Though
                                > these things are possible to do, I could not do any of them at
                                this
                                > time, because of conditions i.e.

                                __________
                                Dear Christine,
                                Yes, that's right. We might imagine that if there is no self and no
                                control that then anything can happen. Maybe we'll grab a gun and go
                                on a rampage. But no, life is just like before but with gradually
                                less selfview thinking that there is control. And if there is more
                                understanding than there should be gradually less conditions for bad
                                behaviour because akusala depends largely on self view; "how dare he
                                do that: to ME!" "I should go and...". "Why can't THEY undersatand
                                that..."
                                Not so much getting caught up because sati that sees the
                                conditionality of the moment and breaks through the delusions. So we
                                can be patient with others kilesa and our own.
                                _____________

                                You say: "If it is
                                > wisdom that is developing ...." This strikes a chord ... You
                                see,
                                > I'm sure I understood the conditionality of choice once before,
                                but
                                > then came to hold a different opinion. What exactly is panna? I
                                > mean, how does one recognise whether one has it, and can it be
                                lost?
                                > I thought accumulations just accumulated and influenced action.
                                Can
                                > there be counterfeit panna?
                                ___________

                                What is that factor that starts to recognize what is Dhamma and what
                                is not? It is panna, it comes in different levels.
                                Counterfeit panna says there is no-self but believes dhammas are
                                under their mastery.
                                I think accumulations reveal themselves slowly once there is less
                                idea of a self who has to do this, don't do that.
                                _______________

                                >
                                > This marionette simile we've talked about before - unforgetable,
                                and
                                > quite chilling. I begin to feel that anatta means each of us is
                                > something very like a set of mechanical processes (nama-rupa) that
                                > come into existence because something is wrong (kama -> vipaka,
                                > defilements). e.g. the movement sensor system in my house is
                                comatose
                                > until a certain stimulus makes it react fairly predictably and set
                                in
                                > train fairly predictable actions. If there was no stimulus, it
                                > wouldn't 'come to life' (so to speak) i.e. -> note unauthorised
                                > movement -> set off siren and blue flashing lights on outside of
                                > house -> cause alarm at security centre -> cause telephone message
                                to
                                > be sent to nominated people -> initiate sending of armed officer
                                to
                                > my address.
                                > What I am trying to say is that Anatta is arid and lonely. No-
                                one,
                                > nothing personal in it. [No sign of the old "God is Love" (?
                                nibanna
                                > is love) of the Christians that is so attractive and comforting.]
                                > But no 'curiosity' makes it seem even worse - no interest or
                                > awareness - how does nibanna, in the light of anatta, differ from
                                > annihilation?
                                > Has anyone ever thought that it might be a whole lot less scary to
                                > just keep doing good actions with the aim of constant pleasant re-
                                > births?
                                > ___________
                                Yes, the idea "nibbana", "enlightenment" sounds nice but how many
                                are ready to give up everything. It's exciting to hear of 'stages of
                                insight' but those same stages show absolutely there is only nama
                                and rupa, and no self, no children, no friends.

                                If only the self could be at its own funeral to enjoy the eulogy! It
                                doesn't work that way. Mike said in a post once: ".
                                So, 'I' dont mind giving up the idea of self, just so
                                long as 'I'm' allowed to choose to do so (and receive
                                the credit)...! ""
                                RobertK
                              • Sarah
                                Hi Chris, (RobK and All) ... there are even in the little intellectual ... ...... Just after the passage quoted to Dave, I thought the next part was relevant
                                Message 15 of 23 , Jun 9, 2003
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                                  Hi Chris, (RobK and All)

                                  --- christine_forsyth <cforsyth@...> wrote:> Funny what gaps
                                  there are even in the little intellectual
                                  > understanding I think I have - I had come to think that no control =
                                  > no choices whatsoever. I'm much more comfortable now that I see
                                  > there are choices, though these are conditioned.
                                  ......
                                  Just after the passage quoted to Dave, I thought the next part was
                                  relevant to this thread:
                                  *****
                                  Q.: What do you mean by understanding seeing as only a reality?

                                  A. (A.Sujin): One begins to understand that there is not my seeing which
                                  can stay on and which is so important. The idea of self cannot be
                                  eradicated immediately, but one begins to see that there are realities
                                  appearing one at a time. One begins to understand that seeing or visible
                                  object can only arise when there are conditions for their arising and that
                                  one cannot control them. Realities are beyond control, they cannot arise
                                  because of anyone’s wish. Also awareness and understanding are realities
                                  which can only arise when there are the right conditions, they are beyond
                                  control. Beyond control is another way of saying that there is “only a
                                  reality”. The realities of our life are momentary and insignificant.
                                  They arise and then disappear forever.”
                                  *****

                                  with metta,

                                  Sarah
                                  =========


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