Re: report on Bangkok and Kaeng Krajan
- Hi Howard,
<. . .>
H: > If I may insert some reflections on this:
It seems to me that we do observe paramattha dhammas (e.g., various
forms of earth element, warmth of various degrees, sights, sounds
tastes,smells, etc as well as recalling, thinking, feeling (as
pleasant, unpleasant, neutral), liking, disliking, fearing, etc, all
the time! When we are paying attention to what's happening, there is
No, I can't agree. No amount of attentiveness to concepts will bring
understanding of dhammas. They are like cheese and chalk.
I was writing this reply to you when I thought of the fellow in the
joke (who chose to look under the streetlamp because the light was
better). I decided to send that to Ven. P instead. But can you see
how it was analogous to any formal (contrived) attempts at seeing
anicca, dukkha and anatta? No amount of concept-study will ever lead
to Middle Way insight.
H: > but when we are not, due
to tiredness, laziness, excitement, or whatever, the observing is
What we typically do *not* observe are sharp beginnings and endings of
individual namas and rupas - we seems to miss the paramattha dhammas
as units or packets. Perhaps that will develop, or, perhaps it is a
merely theoretical (a.k.a., conceptual) construct - I don't know. I
do believe, however, as it is taught in Abhidhamma (and I *think* in
the suttas), that there are no consciousness gaps. (There is at most
a spike in consciousness, or a steady dimming of consciousness
followed by a spike, when "losing consciousness." I find
it interesting to attend to the "loss of consciousness" when that is
underway, for example when being put out during an endoscopy.
The "dimming" is quite observable, I find, followed by what I can
only call a "spike," followed immediately by alert consciousness back
in effect. Really fascinating!)
This reminds me of my meditation days when I was with the Dhammadinna
House group. On one of our retreats we followed a meditation handbook
that had us breaking down the sounds we heard. A brief birdcall, for
example, was to be heard in three separate stages - beginning, middle
But that is a misreading of the texts. I know better now, and I will
never return to those old days. I am just as sure of that as I am
sure I will never look for keys where I know they are not to be found
simply because the light is better.
H: > The matter of observing paramattha dhammas as packets aside, we
certainly can, when attention and non-distraction are there, 1)
observe that paramattha dhammas are present when they previously were
not, that they are no longer present, having previously been present,
these two being the observing of a phenomenon or its absence
as "new," 2) observe that they are ungraspable, 3)observe that they
are not sources of genuine satisfaction and actually hurtful if there
is grasping at them or craving (emotional desire) for their
elimination or for their growth, and contingent - depending utterly on
Much of the "observing" of these involves a good deal of inference,
but developing wisdom, precise & probing on occasion, can play an
increasing role, it seems.
If you replace the word "observe" with "understand" then we will have
more in common. Even then, however, understanding would have to be
understood as a conditioned dhamma, not as something that could be
- Hi Ken H,
--- On Thu, 29/5/08, kenhowardau <kenhowardau@...> wrote:
K:> Let me ask another way: Has there been a change in emphasis in K
Sujin's talks lately? Or has she always made this point about some
aramannas being more commonly-occurring than others?
S: I think you are referring to say visible object vs olfactory object or odour.
I don't think there's been a change in emphasis, but I think that we tend to pick up on those aspects we're ready to hear at the time. 'Nimitta' would be an example of this. We only started asking more about nimitta recently, but I hear KS referring to nimitta on old recordings too.
Actually, KS has always stressed on the understanding of visible object. If visible object is not understood clearly (and seeing), it's unlikely any other dhammas are understood. Why? Because it occurs so frequently in a day and we attach such importance to what is seen, always conjuring up stories about visible objects. It's much more common than odour and this is the reason it's always given first in the texts.
K:>Maybe I just haven't been listening properly to the recordings all these years. It was a bit of a shock, that's all. It was as if we were suddenly adopting a more "personal" (shock, horror!) approach to satipatthana with emphasis on *my* most frequent aramannas, "my* best chances of directly knowing a dhamma etc.
S: No, I don't think it's like this at all. It's not a matter of counting or thinking in terms of 'my' anything. However, realistically, some dhammas appear more than others. For example, gross rupas are more apparent than subtle rupas. Of the gross rupas, the sense objects are more apparent than the sense-bases and so on. I used to question this kind of thing a lot, but then I read about it all in texts like the Sammohavinodani. So it all has basis and, I think, can be seen to be true.
K:>Even as I write this I can see that it didn't have to be interpreted
that way. We can learn about most-commonly- occurring aramannas
without necessarily thinking "Oh good, here's my chance!"
S: Exactly. I also think the reason that KS is reluctant to talk about the 'most-commonly-occurring arammanas' is exactly for this reason. Anything gets misinterpreted by moha.
K: >But there was something going on, wasn't there? Other people seemed to be having difficulty too. Or did I just imagine it?
S: I'm not sure. Sometimes if there's a response that isn't what I expect, I just like to consider it and bring it up again later from a different angle. Sometimes there's just been a misunderstanding or communication problem too. Sometimes she knows someone is just speculating or asking out of curiosity, rather than discussing what really appears now. Anyway, I'll try to pursue it for you when I next visit, i.e no odour being present as a conventional idea. Correct me if I've misunderstood you.
S: > p.s How's the surf in Noosa? I still have a problematic hip, so
my surfing career may be curtailed before it ever properly started;-)
K:>Oh, that's a shame. I still have a secret hope that you and Jon will
retire one day to "sunny Queensland" and we can see-out our days
together riding pipelines at Tea Tree Bay.
S: Lovely fantasy for us too.....discussing visible objects and odours as we ride the pipeline into the sunset:-)
And however despondent you get, you always have that wave of the day to remember:-) And if some become enlightened when burning the curry, no reason why others can't become enlightened when riding waves or remembering them....all so very anatta!
Best of luck for getting through the rest of your Vism chapter:-)