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Re: [dsg] On the Momentariness of Mind States

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  • Sarah
    Hi Howard, ... ..... No problem. I think that reading and considering the details can help us to more clearly distinguish between the thinking about
    Message 1 of 13 , Jan 15, 2004
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      Hi Howard,

      --- upasaka@... wrote: > Hi, Sarah -
      >
      > Thank you for the following detailed and well-thought-out post.
      > The
      > bottom line, I think, however, is that we simply disagree on this one.
      > The
      > instantaneous, film-frame view of mindstates that you believe in I do
      > not. I do not
      > see the necessity for it, and I do see a number of problems with it.
      .....
      No problem. I think that reading and considering the details can help us
      to more clearly distinguish between the thinking about impermanence and
      direct realization of this characteristic of all namas and rupas.

      There is a debate in the Kathavatthu on the duration of consciousness. The
      Andhakas are said to believe in the ‘appaent continuity both of
      consciousness in Jhana and of sub-consciousness, a single state of
      consciousness lasted for a length of time’.

      It quotes AN i.10 :
      “I consider, bhikkhus, that there is no phenomenon that comes and goes so
      quickly as mind. It is not easy to find a simile to show how quickly mind
      comes and goes.”

      Also SN ii.95
      “Just as a monkey faring through the dense forest catches one bough, and,
      letting it go, catches another, and then another, even so bhikkhus, with
      what is called thought, or mind , or consciousness, by day as by night,
      one arises when another perishes.”

      In the Visuddhimagga, XX94, we read under ‘Knowledge or Rise and Fall’:

      “..Here in the text: ‘How is it that understanding of contemplating
      present states’ change is knowledge of contemplation of rise and fall?
      Present materiality is born [materiality]; the characteristic of its
      generation is rise, the characteristic of its change is fall, the
      contemplation is knowledge. Present feeling ... perception ....
      formations......consciousness....eye....(etc)....Present becoming is born
      [becoming]; the characteristic of its generation is rise, the
      characteristic of its change is fall, the contemplation is
      knowledge.(Psi54)”

      This comes under the fourth vipassana ~naa.na (knowledge) which clearly
      understands the arising and falling away of the rapid succession of namas
      and rupas.

      There are a lot more details in the Vism. There can only be this degree of
      insight or vipassana when sufficient detachment to all conditioned
      phenomena has been developed and after the tender insights have been
      realized, clearly distinguishing namas and rupas, understanding their
      conditioned nature, and comprehension by groups as a result of knowing
      directly rather than theoretically, the fast succession of cittas,
      cetasikas and rupas.

      I think the theoretical appreciation of realities changing so rapidly
      helps again to condition detachment from an idea of self and to help us
      appreciate how thinking about, say the breakdown of a computer or the
      changing nature of sounds right now is not the same as the deep insight
      into the impermanence of presently arising and falling namas and rupas.

      I know that we have no problem disagreeing anytime, Howard;-)

      ' "Life, person, pleasure, pain - just these alone
      join in one conscious moment that flicks by.
      Ceased aggregates of those dead or alive
      Are all alike, gone never to return...'"Vism, V111 39

      We've quote these lines a lot and yet each time I read them, they're a
      reminder to me of the very shortness of life and all we hold dear, just
      the present aggregates flicking by already. Nothing else exists but these
      very temporary, very conditioned, very impermanent khandhas now, without
      self, core, store or sub-conscious.

      Metta,

      Sarah

      H: > Non-duration is not what makes a phenomenon "real" or not.
      Abhidhamma,
      > itself, allows
      > for a rupa to last for the duration of 17 mindstates. So ... do rupas
      > become
      > "unreal" due to that.
      > In any case, whether namas or rupas are instantaneous or not
      > (though I
      > don't think we*ever* observe anything that has zero duration), is really
      > not
      > a critical matter. What is critical is that all (conditioned) phenomena
      > are
      > impermanent, unsatisfying, and impersonal and insubstantial, and that we
      > should
      > not attempt to grasp the ungraspable, for that is the source of our
      > suffering.
      ===============


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    • nina van gorkom
      Dear James, ... N: No, you did not ramble and since the subject is mental development, yes, it seems like a confession, but we are just talking about the many
      Message 2 of 13 , Jan 15, 2004
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        Dear James,
        op 14-01-2004 22:13 schreef buddhatrue op buddhatrue@...:

        > I hope I haven't rambled on too much (Gosh, I feel like this
        > is `Buddhist True Confessions' or something! ;-))
        N: No, you did not ramble and since the subject is mental development, yes,
        it seems like a confession, but we are just talking about the many changing
        states of mind. I appreciate your sincere post.
        First of all, I really sympathize with your fear. I have little knowledge
        and no experience with the meditation you describe. But now I try to think
        of saying something in general which may be helpful, or not, I do not know.
        I asked Lodewijk, and he said:
        <When you have such anguishes it shows how difficult meditation is, much
        more difficult than people think. And this is an essential point: it all has
        to be very natural. It cannot be that efforts to apply the teachings lead to
        disturbance of mind. If that is the case, it seems to be that there is
        something wrong.
        As soon as you have those fears, go back to basics, to the teachings
        themselves. Always check with the teachings, what is in it. Check your own
        mind. >
        I could add something. It is wise that you are doing this already, with the
        Suttas. We have to check ourselves all the time, are we overreaching,
        wanting more than we are up to? Then lobha is around the corner. I overreach
        in other fields, like my study, trying too hard to answer all Emails,
        wanting to do things too perfectly.
        As to the negative kind of fear, that is, accompanied by unhappy feeling,
        fear that disturbs, it is a sign. It is dangerous, because one will easily
        accumulate more of that. It is a warning sign I would say. It could become
        worse and worse. We have to find out what conditions it. As Lodewijk said,
        we always have to check our mind. Clinging is a condition for fear. It has
        to do with overreaching. Then we are not on the right track.
        At times, I realize that I am clinging to awareness, but I also know that
        this is not the right Path. I find that every little bit of understanding is
        a gain, it helps me in my daily life. I am very grateful to the Buddha for
        that. Also this contact in dsg helps me to consider the Dhamma more, to
        reflect more, to develop understanding. This is also thanks to the excellent
        way Sarah and Jon are leading this forum, it is good to say this sometimes.
        Lodewijk also sends you his best regards,
        Nina.
      • Sarah
        Hi Herman, You raise good qus about the mixing of conceptual terms with ‘absolutes’. It’s inevitable that we often use conceptual terms for shorthand and
        Message 3 of 13 , Jan 15, 2004
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          Hi Herman,

          You raise good qus about the mixing of conceptual terms with ‘absolutes’.
          It’s inevitable that we often use conceptual terms for shorthand and we
          read this throughout the texts as well, even in the Abhidhamma.

          --- Herman Hofman <hhofman@...> wrote:
          ========================================================================
          > =
          >
          > H> We have recently been discussing space and time. At no time did
          > anyone suggest time was anything but a concept. So when we are
          > discussing rupas (absolutes) how can there be a series (concept) of
          > them? Where did time suddenly creep in? And how can rupas (absolutes) be
          > falling away in time (concept), all the time (concept)?
          > ========================================================================
          > =
          S: The series referred to “a series (vithi) of mind moments”, which refers
          to the sense door and mind door cittas which condition the next one and so
          on (absolutely). Series is a short-hand concept to refer to these cittas
          (absolutes).
          Production, continuity, decay and impermanence are characteristics
          (absolutes) of all rupas (absolutes) whenever they occur (absolutely) and
          can be directly known by developed wisdom (absolute). Rupas are
          conditioned in various ways (absolutely) by cittas, kamma, temperature and
          nutrition (absolutes).
          ========================================================================
          > ===
          >
          > H> Is a moment an absolute or a concept? How is it that absolutes arise
          > and fall within concepts?
          >
          > ========================================================================
          > ===
          S: Moment (concept) is shorthand here for saying that cittas arise and
          fall away (absolutely) extremely rapidly, conditioning the next without
          interval. The cittas (absolutes) don’t arise and fall within concepts. The
          concepts, such as the ones I gave yesterday from the suttas to indicate
          the great speed, are just to give an indication of the nature of these
          absolutes only. In the Abhidhamma, the term ‘kha.nikapaccuppanna’ is used
          to refer to the momentary present when absolutes occur. If you have
          Bodhi’s CMA, see ch 111,Comp.of the Misc.,17.
          ========================================================================
          > ====
          > H> Here you say that dhammas (absolutes) are brief. Is that briefness
          > (brevity) a characteristic of that dhamma? To me briefness is a
          > comparative measurement and surely that is conceptual?
          >
          > ========================================================================
          > ====
          S: A conceptual term referring to the absolute characteristics of dhammas
          which fall away as soon as they’ve arisen and can be experienced as such.
          ========================================================================
          > ====
          > H> Same again. Speed is a comparative measurement. Is high speed a
          > characteristic of dhammas? Or is it a characteristic of observation? Or
          > what?
          > ========================================================================
          > =
          S: In CMA, iV, Guide to 6, Bodhi gives more detail on all these points. He
          adds:
          “ ‘There are three conditioned characteristics of the conditioned:
          arising, passing away, and the alteration of that which stands’
          (A.3:47/i,152). Here the presence moment is identified with ‘the
          alteration of that which stands’ (.thitassa a~nnathatta). “

          When there is insight, there is no thought of time, but the nature of
          rapidly changing succession of namas and rupas can be known directly at
          the third stage onwards and so there is no doubt about the speed at which
          they occur. I understand your good and challenging questions, but I think
          these only arise in the thinking rather than the direct experiencing of
          these absolutes. More on ‘time’ in Nyanaponika’s ‘Abhidhamma Studies’ and
          under ‘Time’ in UP (oops!)Again as Htoo wrote, the more understanding
          there is of paramattha dhammas, the less confusion there will be about
          what concepts are too.
          ========================================================================
          > ====
          > H> Now I think I can understand, but isn't the "dhamma itself" therefore
          > an inference and not a reality?
          > ========================================================================
          > ====
          S: It depends whether there is any understanding and awareness now. There
          can be thinking about ‘hardness’ (concept) as we type or there can be
          direct awareness of the characteristic (absolute) as it’s experienced.
          Only panna (understanding) can differentiate and know which.
          ========================================================================
          > ==
          > H> Now this I really do understand. You are speaking conventionally. In
          > the whole paragraph!!! I hope you have an absolute wow of a time in
          > Bangkok. :-)
          ....
          S: You got it! Thanks, Herman and hope you can join us some time,
          somewhere (lots more concepts). Let me know if you don’t agree absolutely
          or conceptually with anything here. You’re raising important issues in
          this and in other posts and I liked your verse in reply to Christine’s;-)

          Metta (absolute)

          Sarah (concept)
          ============


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