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[dsg] Re: Please don't....

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  • ken_aitch
    Hi Dan, Sarah and all, The following is a rambling post to Dan that I decided not to send, but which Sarah told me to send anyway. So now it is a rambling post
    Message 1 of 60 , Jun 2, 2006
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      Hi Dan, Sarah and all,

      The following is a rambling post to Dan that I decided not to send,
      but which Sarah told me to send anyway. So now it is a rambling post
      with rambling explanatory bits (meant to tidy it up) added on.

      Sensible DSG readers will now skip to the next message. :-)

      -----
      D: > Sorry my response was so long in coming. I was in a mad rush to
      get ready for a holiday weekend last Friday
      -----

      No worries! My only excuse for being slow to respond has been the
      complicated nature of this thread. I think my problem has been more in
      defining the issues we are talking about than in dealing with them.

      I thought Sarah clarified the issues in the following exchange:
      -------
      D:> > Our point of contention is that I think that understanding
      concept and understanding reality are quite distinct. The difference
      is not a matter of degree but is a fundamental distinction.
      ....
      S: > With respect, I don't think I've ever suggested otherwise. I
      thought the point of contention here was whether one needed to hear
      the DhammaVinaya in order to develop satipatthana in this very life.
      --------

      Now, instead of tidying up, I am going to open another can of worms.
      Sarah may not have "suggested otherwise" but I have. In my previous
      post, I said that right intellectual understanding was a degree of
      Path consciousness - even if only a tiny degree. Certainly there is a
      "fundamental distinction" in that path consciousness is supramundane
      and has nibbana as its object, whereas the other is ordinary and has a
      concept as its object. However, they both have the rare and wonderful
      cetasika, samma-ditthi (in a form that only occurs during a Buddha's
      sasana), and therefore, in that way, their difference is "a matter of
      degree."

      Having said that, I am really not bothered either way. As far as I am
      concerned, we can call it a matter of degree or we can call it a
      fundamental distinction.

      Sarah went on to say that the main point of contention in this thread
      has been whether we needed to hear the Dhamma Vinaya in order to
      develop satipatthana in this very life.

      It would suit me to discuss just that, but I'm still not sure: is the
      question of "matter of degree" v's "fundamental distinction" important
      in this thread? Is it central in deciding whether the Dhamma Vinaya
      has to be heard before satipatthana can occur?

      Getting back to my earlier attempt: It tried in the following way to
      summarise our conversation:

      You said there could be no such thing as right conceptual explanation.
      However, you did concede that some explanations could be more helpful
      (in illuming the world) than others.

      I said that being helpful in that way would make them right.

      You said you saw *two distinctions* between right and helpful:

      --------------------
      D: > First, is that "right" is so closely allied with "samma" as in
      samma-ditthi, samma-vayama, etc. of the path. I think it would be a
      terrible mistake to mix up a "right concept" with the path sammas;
      --------------------

      The possibility of such a mistake is very remote. When talking about
      path consciousness, we use "right" to describe the eight cetasikas
      that act as path factors. We never use it to describe the objects
      (nibanna and conditioned dhammas) they experience.

      When talking about Dhamma explanations (e.g., "Volition is a universal
      cetasika") we say, "That is right" or "That is correct." And sometimes
      (e.g., "Volition is control over the arising of dhammas") we say,
      "That is wrong."

      I don't see a problem with that use of right and wrong.

      ---------------------------
      D: > otherwise, one would be sorely tempted to think of thinking of
      Dhamma, reading about Dhamma, analyzing Dhamma as "techniques" of the
      "path."
      ---------------------------

      Neither you nor I regard Dhamma study as a "technique for
      enlightenment." To do so would entail belief in a self [that is
      presently unenlightened and will, one day, become enlightened].

      Without regarding right conceptualisation of Dhamma as a technique, we
      can regard it as a citta that is accompanied by panna and that has a
      concept (of Dhamma) as its object. In that way, we can understand it
      to be a factor that leads to enlightenment.

      We can, and must, understand (from the Kitagiri and other Suttas) that
      association with good friends, hearing the true Dhamma and wise
      consideration of the Dhamma are factors leading to enlightenment.
      Without those three forms of pariyatti there can be no fourth factor,
      patipatti (satipatthana), and without pariyatti and patipatti there
      can be no pativedha (enlightenment).

      -----------------------
      D: > For
      this reason I don't like the formulation "right conceptual
      formulation." I don't think we can stress too strongly that the path
      is a path of realization, not of cogitation or any other techniques
      for conjuring understanding from a prescriptive practice.
      ------------------------

      But Dan, cogitation does not have to be a technique. It can be an
      intellectual realisation and, therefore, pariyatti - a first step
      towards the eightfold path.

      Whenever there is wise consideration of the Dhamma (a factor for
      enlightenment) there is no idea of a technique for bringing about
      future enlightenment. There is panna-cetasika, which rightly
      understands in theory that the present moment is the entire world.

      Getting a bit personal here, Dan: I have always assumed you to
      understand this subtle but vital distinction. However, lately, I have
      begun to suspect you don't have a firm grip on it after all. You seem
      to equate Dhamma study with formal practice. That means you are
      missing the vital distinction between pariyatti and technique.

      -----------------------------
      D: > The sammas of the path are notably different from conceptual
      understandings
      ------------------------------

      Different, yes, but right understandings all the same. Dhammas can be
      understood directly or indirectly. In both cases it is the same
      cetasika - panna (samma-ditthi) - that does the understanding.

      Is the "notable difference" a suddenly occurring one? Remember the
      gradual training (Kitagiri Sutta MN 70). I imagine that intellectual
      understanding develops to an extent that is way beyond anything we are
      currently used to. At that stage, direct understanding will flow
      almost seamlessly, as a natural progression.

      ----------------------------------------
      D: > and do not arise from conceptual understandings,
      -----------------------------------------

      It is obvious to me that greater understandings develop from lesser
      understandings. Why do you find that so unacceptable?

      ------------
      <. . .>
      D: > Second, a particular explanation can be helpful to a particular
      person at a particular time but be the cause for a different person to
      stumble on a different occasion. Is that explanation right, or is it
      wrong? I'd say that it was wrong but helpful to the first person; and
      wrong as well as unhelpful to the second person.
      ------------

      I can see why you might not want to call a concept right (because
      ultimately it has no right or wrong characteristics), but I can't see
      why you are calling all concepts wrong.

      Moving on: You then wrote something that I misread, and thereby
      sidetracked the discussion. You wrote:
      -----------------------------------------
      > > > 2. I don't believe that "right conceptualization" is a condition
      for samma-ditthi. However, I do think conceptualization plays a role
      in defining the limits to how deep insight can go.
      > > >
      -----------------------------------------

      I took "defining the limits" to mean, "extending the range" and so I
      wrote:
      ----------------
      > > Here again, to the uninformed observer, the second sentence seems
      to contradict the first. Doesn't 'plays a role in' mean the same as
      'is a condition for?'
      > >
      ----------------

      You replied:
      ---------------------
      D: > No, no. The subsiding of clinging to a conceptual formulation
      (i.e., the non-arising of ditthi) is indeed a condition for samma-ditthi.
      But I don't see the building of detailed and elaborate conceptual
      models and then the subsequent clinging to the models as "right
      conceptualizations" that are necessary precursors of samma-ditthi
      (i.e., as part of the path) as helpful or desirable. More of a
      hindrance. The building of thicker and thicker conceptualizations
      under the guise of "development of Right Understanding via Right
      Cogitation and Intellectualization" assigns an extra factor into the
      path (samma-papanca) and makes it more difficult to see rightly
      (samma-ditthi).
      -------------

      Whew, this is heavy going! Or is it just me? Or is it just a matter of
      your not seeing the distinction between pariyatti and technique?

      ---------------------
      D: > The "plays a role in defining limits" does not mean "is a
      condition for." I think everyone who pops into dsg and participates in
      the discussions has developed a degree of samma-ditthi through
      satipatthana.
      ---------------------

      Whoa there! Before, you were saying that satipatthana could occur
      outside a Buddha's dispensation. I thought that was an understandable
      misconception, considering that there have been so many great thinkers
      throughout history. Now you are saying satipatthana is commonplace.
      You are saying we have all experienced satipatthana. (!) You are
      saying that at various times in all of our pasts panna has arisen to
      directly know a paramattha dhamma. (!)

      But we DSG people can't even agree on what a paramattha dhamma is - or
      even whether there is such a thing as a paramattha dhamma! What
      evidence is there that we have had profound insights despite our
      abysmal ignorance?

      -------------------------------
      D: > Samma-ditthi arises and passes away whether there is
      Buddhist cogitation about it beforehand or not. Then, there are two
      questions: (1) how deep was the understanding?
      -------------------------------

      It is very deep! Direct knowledge of paramattha dhammas is profound -
      the exclusive domain of the wise.

      -------------------------------------
      D: > (2) what happened in the aftermath of the understanding? My
      working hypothesis is that
      these two questions play off one another. If a particular
      conceptualization is firmly held to and grasped because of years of
      accumulated habit and expectation and speculation about it, then
      clinging to that conceptualization (i.e., ditthi) is more likely to
      rush in and co-opt the nascent understanding, remaking it in the
      ditthi image.

      One way this could play out is as follows. Suppose someone
      thinks: "The arising of samma-ditthi depends on having a detailed
      theoretical knowledge first. Samma-ditthi then arises out of
      samma-papanca in some mysterious way that I will never be able to
      understand because satipatthana is incredibly deep, and I can't really
      hope to experience it in this lifetime." If someone were to hold such
      an opinion, I would think that development of understanding would be
      virtually precluded because any time understanding did
      arise, it would immediately be swamped by doubt and ditthi.
      ---------------

      Dan, that sounds to me like, "Beware the Dhamma-Vinaya!"

      It really isn't necessary to equate thinking (which can be kusala or
      akusala) with papanca (which is always akusala).

      ----------------------
      D: > Or, suppose if someone thinks: "The arising of kusala is beyond
      the control of Self. God alone is the author of kusala." When a moment
      of understanding arose, ditthi would rush in, prompting "Kusala is
      not-self. Praise God!" Clinging to Self would be diminished, but
      insight to the level of "sabbe dhammaa anatta" would be virtually
      precluded.
      -----------------------

      I won't comment on what might happen if an eternity-believer were to
      experience satipatthana because I don't agree that could ever happen.
      I don't believe there could be a sudden jump from strong eternity view
      to right view at the level of satipatthana. (Not in a path that the
      Buddha described as "gradual.")

      -------------
      KH: > > The term 'right conceptualisation' is a new one that seems to
      have originated in this DSG thread. I assume it is same as the more
      commonly used, 'right intellectual understanding.' The only difference
      might be that it refers to the citta as a whole more than to just
      panna-cetasika.

      To my mind, 'right conceptualisation' must ultimately refer to any
      mind-door citta that has panna (that at least knows the difference
      between concepts and realities) as one of its cetasikas and that has a
      concept as its object. The Eightfold Path, also, is a mind-door citta
      that has panna as one of its cetasikas, but it has nibbana as its
      object. Surely, therefore, right conceptualisation can be seen as a
      degree of Path consciousness. (?)
      > >

      D: > I don't think this makes any sense, Ken. The characterization of
      a path moment as samma or miccha does not depend on the object that is
      cognized. It depends on the mode of cognition (e.g., accompanied by
      lobha, or accompanied by the samma path factors, etc.).
      --------------

      That's right, it doesn't depend on the object cognised, it depends on
      the presence or absence of panna. Panna with nibbana as object is a
      factor of the eightfold path. Panna with a conditioned dhamma as
      object is a factor of the mundane (five-or-sixfold) path. Panna with a
      concept of dhammas as object is a factor of the intellectual path
      (pariyatti).

      ----------------
      KH: > > Admittedly, it would be a tiny degree of Path consciousness,
      but, even so, one that was precious and very difficult to obtain. Just
      look at all the hard working Dhamma students here at DSG. With so much
      disagreement over the basic concepts, there would, at most, be a small
      number of us who had attained the stage of Right Conceptualisation. :-)
      > >

      D: > You are just making stuff up about "Right Conceptualization,"
      aren't you! There's not a word about it in the Tipitaka. I only read
      about samma-ditthi, samma-vayama, samma-samadhi, samma-sati. Nothing about
      samma-papanca or samma-panyati! But so much effort to build a theory
      to accomodate these new sammas...
      ------------------

      Putting aside made-up theories of "right conceptualisation," what is
      your opinion on samma-ditthi arising to take a concept as its object?
      When the Buddha spoke about things hitherto unknown - dukkha and the
      five khandhas - did his audience understand his words? Was there, at
      such times, samma-ditthi with concepts as object? You have described
      something like that to Ken O, but you made it sound more like a
      dangerous wrong view that a profound step towards enlightenment.

      Ken H
    • sarah abbott
      Hi Ken O, ... .... S: We often select the same texts:-). I referred to this same one in my recent correspondence with Dan, but if you check back, you ll
      Message 60 of 60 , Jun 13, 2006
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        Hi Ken O,

        --- Ken O <ashkenn2k@...> wrote:

        > Hi All
        >
        > Recently I read in the mail that why should only Buddha's teaching
        > can help liberate beings and not others.
        >
        > from Numerical Discourses of the Buddhha - Anguttara Nikaya, Chapter
        > of the Tens, pg 263, Not Outside the Buddha Discipline
        >
        > <<Ten things monk do not have purity and clairty outside the
        > Discipline of the Sublime Master. What are the ten?
        <....>
        ....
        S: We often select the same texts:-). I referred to this same one in my
        recent correspondence with Dan, but if you check back, you'll see his
        spirited defence of why he considers it only applies to enlightenment.
        (Several posts back and forth).

        When he returns, you're most welcome to take it up again with him...

        Metta,

        Sarah
        =======
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