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[dsg] Re: The object of meditation in metta meditation

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  • kenhowardau
    Hi Herman, ... H: Here s wishing you a happy New Year. ... Thanks, Herman, and the same to you. ... KH: There is nothing wrong with the present reality.
    Message 1 of 174 , Jan 1, 2009
      Hi Herman,

      H: > Here's wishing you a happy New Year.

      Thanks, Herman, and the same to you.

      KH: > > There is nothing wrong with the present reality.

      H: > It depends on who is talking.

      Or it depends on what is meant. In this case I meant 'for the
      purposes of satipatthana.'

      <. . .>
      H: > With the arising of satipatthana, one sees that the present
      reality consists only of a continuous flight from the past to the

      A "flight?" That doesn't sound right to me. The past no longer exists
      and the future has never existed. The present reality is all there is!

      H: > And that the engine for this continuous movement is craving. As
      long as there is craving, there is the flight towards future
      becoming. And that is because there is something wrong with the
      present, namely that it is void of self.

      Conditioned reality is always devoid of self. So too is nibbana. That
      is the way things are. It's the Dhamma! There is nothing wrong with
      the Dhamma. :-)

      Ken H
    • jonoabb
      Hi Stephen ... mentioned before, the fact that dhammas are said to be not susceptible to ... Jon: Would you mind expanding on that comment. In what sense do
      Message 174 of 174 , May 24
        Hi Stephen

        > Hello Jon, all
        > --------------------
        > > Jon: Regarding, "If dhamma theory can't account for facts of this
        > > world then it minimally needs to be modified to be useful", as I've
        mentioned before, the fact that dhammas are said to be not susceptible to
        > > mastery (aka ˜no control") does not contradict the ˜facts of the world".
        > --------------------
        > Ste: It does.

        Jon:  Would you mind expanding on that comment.  In what sense do you consider that dhammas being not susceptible to mastery (aka “no control") contradicts the “facts of the world"?

        > > Jon: Taking the two examples of ˜worldly facts" you have raised, namely,
        > > that we can control a car in order to drive it and that we can control
        our fingers in order to type, the teaching explains that the dhammas that
        > > are taken to be the you or me who is driving a car or typing are merely
        conditioned phenomena.
        > --------------------
        > Ste: Everything is conditioned, so there is no "mere." A popular abhidhamma
        (and bad translation) strategy is to add "mere" to sentences to change
        their meaning, as a devaluation.

        Jon:  If you object to the ‘merely’ in my last message, then what do you say there is apart from conditioned phenomena?

        To my understanding, when the teachings speak of ‘conditioned’ it is a reference to dhammas, not to conventional objects.

        > > Jon: Their arising occurs by virtue of conditions that
        > > are unseen by and unknown to the individual concerned.
        > > --------------------
        > Ste: Factually false. Just to take one sutta practice, there is guarding the
        senses, part of which is avoiding situations and stimuli that provoke
        akusala mental states, actions. Clearly we have a good idea of how
        situations, both ex/internal, condition us, and how to go about changing
        those conditions.

        Jon:  Regarding your reference to a sutta practice of “guarding the senses, part of which is avoiding situations and stimuli that provoke akusala mental states, actions”, this doesn’t sound right to me.  Would you mind giving a sutta reference or two so that we may discuss.  Thanks.

        Also, to my understanding, the Buddha never spoke of ‘changing the conditions that condition us’.  Any sutta reference for this?  Such a notion would seem to go against the spirit of his teaching on conditionality and not-self.

        > > Jon: Given that, those phenomena cannot be regarded as "under control".
        > > Nor does ˜no control" contradict the teaching that beings are
        > > responsible for their own deeds (in case you have been suggesting there
        is a contradiction here?).
        > --------------------
        > Ste: Then there is no moral responsibility: we are only responsible for what we can control.

        Jon:  The nearest equivalent in the teachings to the western notion of ‘moral responsibility’ is the passage from MN 135 I have quoted recently:

        “Beings are owners of their actions, heirs of their actions; they originate from their actions, are bound to their actions, have their actions as their refuge. It is action that distinguishes beings as inferior and superior.”
        MN 135 Cuu.lakammavibhanga Sutta (‘The Shorter Exposition of Action’)

        Here, ‘actions’ is a translation of the Pali ‘kamma’, and this is elsewhere in the suttas explained as being ‘cetana’ (intention).

        As you will notice, this statement does not include any such principle as the one you mention above (i.e. ‘we are only responsible for what we can control’).

        As a general comment, I find that substituting western notions (e.g. ‘moral responsibility’, ‘free will’, ‘meditation’, ‘form of practice’) for the terms used in the teachings leads to confusion and takes the discussion away from the Buddha’s intended message.

        > > Jon: Regarding, “People choose to do the moral action, or not; bosons and
        > > leptons are needed to do this, but don't choose, nor is control, or
        virtue to be found at the micro level of hypothetical dhammas.”, I
        couldn’t quite unravel this.
        > --------------------
        > Ste: I was too clever by half. The physical world bottoms out at bosons and
        lepton (let's just say atoms). Without them there is no world. But we
        can't even explain biology as physics, as there are emergent phenomena at
        more complex levels of organization, let alone psychology, nor can we
        explain sentience or freewill in terms of biological laws for the same
        reason. If we look for an explanation of love or hate or choice at the
        level of atoms it will be pointless. So even if dhammas are real, looking
        there is the same.

        Jon:  It is not a question of *looking at* dhammas.  Dhammas can be ‘seen’ only by panna.  Without panna there can only be a conceptualised story about the present moment.  

        The teaching given by the Buddha sets out the way things are, as seen by the Buddha.  This will of course be different from the way we ourselves are inclined to see things.  But it allows us to consider, over time, whether the Buddha’s explanation can be borne out by our own experience.

        The starting point, then, is not to *try and see* whatever we read about in the teachings, but to consider what is there explained, to the extent that it is capable of verification by us given our present (modest) level of understanding.


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