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Re: Understanding Insight

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  • Jeffrey Brooks
    Hello friends, Dave, Swan and others. Thank-you for observing the dialog on this list and making your contribution. In response to Swan s contribution:
    Message 1 of 5 , Nov 1, 2006
      Hello friends, Dave, Swan and others.  Thank-you for observing the dialog on this list and making your contribution.  In response to Swan's contribution:  While Swan writes with authority, one need only provide canonical support for one's premises to bolster one’s arguments, otherwise one’s arguments might just filibustering.

      Swan has provided one paragraph with an unsupported premise. In support of his premises, Jeff Brooks provided a three-page essay that sited a sutta quote, a dictionary reference, a commentarial reference, and five essays that delve deeper into the subject area of the essay. While I would agree with Swan that Theravadan doctrine states "Sati and Vipassana are parts and parcel of 'Satipassana,'" (I guess you must mean Satipatthana) or even conflate the two terms, nonetheless my point was this premise cannot stand up to a critical comparison with their suttic sources.  

      When we examine the dogma of the three vehicles of Buddhism we find only superficial similarities, as we dig deeper into the doctrine of the three vehicles of Buddhism we find profound differences in their doctrines.  We also find some pretty hefty posturing, and as Dave calls it, a lot of “peacock words,” which are colorful terms that elicit emotional responses, such as ‘Hinayana,’ which literally means ‘ass cart.’  

      The Sanskrit term ‘Hinayana,’ is used by the Mahayanist schools of Buddhism to present themselves as superior to the original schools of Buddhism.  We could say the term ‘Mahayana’ is a peacock term as well because it means the ‘superior school.’ However, when we critically review the doctrine of the Mahayanist and Vajrayanist schools we find only superficial agreement with the original literature of Buddhism, thus they are really only examples of colloquial forms of Buddhism that do not seem to reflect accurately the original teachings of the Buddha.

      In the case of Theravadan Buddhism, while they endeavor to preserve the original teachings of the Buddha, we find in their interpretation of that teaching a profound disconnect between their doctrine and the Buddha’s, as recorded in the Pali Canon, which they endeavor so well to preserve. So, Swan, which vehicle of Buddhism are we going to believe?  Or, should we just chuck the whole lot of dogma into the ass cart (Hinayana) and go back to the original discourses?  The later has been my choice, and I believe it is the wisest choice.

      Doctrinal issues are not really the point of this list anyway.  We are simply interested in studying the phenomena of meditative absorption (jhana, samadhi).  The point in examining the original literature of Buddhism, as reflected in the Pali Canon, is simply to get at the Buddha’s original description of the experience of absorption.  Since it is a matter of record that the Buddha was a Magadan, and he taught in the common language of the people, which was Magadan, and the liturgical language Pali is based upon Magadan, then we can conclude the Pali Canon is at least the oldest, and thus closest we can get to the original teachings of the Buddha.

      Why do we want to examine the original teachings of the Buddha? Because, the premise of most of the mystics is meditation produces an altered state of consciousness, and it is that altered state of consciousness that we want to study and gather case histories and neurophysiological data on.  We thus must unpack and even re-translate, if necessary, the description of the experience of that altered state by as many authoritative sources as we can.  The Discourses of the Buddha seem to be one of the most authoritative and lucid accounts of the experience of meditative absorption (jhana, samadhi), as well as the practice of meditation (sati).

      The relevancy of exposing the chinks in the armor of the doctrine of the Three vehicles of Buddhism: as revealed in errors in doctrinal issues, such as revealed in Theravada’s conflation of insight (vipassana) with mindfulness (sati); institutionalized breaches in ethics, as revealed in 700 years of pedophilia in Japanese Zen Buddhism; and general hypocrisy, as revealed in an over-all misinterpretation of meditative absorption by the priesthood of the three vehicles of Buddhism; is to reveal that the doctrine of Theravadan Buddhism, as well as that other two vehicles of Buddhism cannot be relied upon as authoritative sources for the description of the experience of meditative absorption.

      Thus, revealing that the term "vipassana" does not even appear in the four suttas on sati, even though the concept is sold as if it were the Buddha’s central meditation practice, reveals that the arguments provided by the priesthood of Buddhism against the model that the GWV is advancing simply cannot stand up because they are founded upon 21 centuries of falsehood.  As evidence I can provide URLs for the Buddha’s four discourses on the practice of meditation in recent English translation, as well as for the Romanized Pali.

      We can conclude, unless one can provide evidence in support of one’s claims, one’s claims are just empty words. And, standing upon tradition is clearly not be enough. If we do not critically review our sources we cannot hope to engage in meaningful research.

      Dhammapada Verse 372
      Natthi jhaanam apan~n~assa, pan~n~aa natthi ajhaayato,
      Yamhi jhaanan~ ca pan~n~an~ ca sa ve nibbaanasantike.

      "There is no meditative absorption (jhana) without wisdom (panna),
      No wisdom without meditative absorption.
      One who is close to enlightenment (nibbana/nirvana)
      Has both wisdom and meditative absorption."
      http://www.greatwesternvehicle.org/dhammapada372.htm


      Sources, where we find no evidence the Buddha conflated insight (vipassana) with the practice of meditation (sat), or considered insight a practice strategy:

      Anapanasati Sutta (MN 118) “Mindfulness of the breath”
      http://www.greatwesternvehicle.org/pali/Phala_Nikaya/anapanasatisutta.htm
      the BJT & PTS Romanized Pali for this sutta is at this URL:
      http://www.greatwesternvehicle.org/pali/tipitaka/2Sutta-Pitaka/2Majjhima-Nikaya/Majjhima3/118-anappanasati-p.htm

      Kayagata-sati Sutta (MN 119) “Mindfulness of the Body”
      http://www.greatwesternvehicle.org/pali/Phala_Nikaya/kayagatasati.htm
      the BJT & PTS Romanized Pali for this sutta is at this URL:
      http://www.greatwesternvehicle.org/pali/tipitaka/2Sutta-Pitaka/2Majjhima-Nikaya/Majjhima3/119-kayagatasati-p.htm

      Maha-satipatthana Sutta (DN 22), “Larger Discourse on the Four Paths of Mindfulness” updated 10-27-04
      http://www.greatwesternvehicle.org/pali/Phala_Nikaya/mahasatipatthanasutta.htm
      the BJT & PTS Romanized Pali for this sutta is at this URL:
      http://www.greatwesternvehicle.org/Pali/tipitaka/2Sutta-Pitaka/1Digha-Nikaya/Digha2/22-mahasatipatthana-p.htm

      Satipatthana Sutta (MN 10) “Larger Discourse on the Four Paths of Mindfulness”
      http://www.greatwesternvehicle.org/pali/Phala_Nikaya/satipatthanasutta.htm
      the BJT & PTS Romanized Pali for this sutta is at this URL:
      http://www.greatwesternvehicle.org/pali/tipitaka/2Sutta-Pitaka/2Majjhima-Nikaya/Majjhima1/010-satipatthana-p.htm

      Best regards, Jeff Brooks


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    • You are, aren't you?
      Dear Friend and teacher Jeff: Thanks for sharing your knowledge and history of Buddhism. If you can site a reference to this paragraph below it would be
      Message 2 of 5 , Nov 3, 2006
        Dear Friend and teacher Jeff:
        Thanks for sharing your knowledge and history of Buddhism.
        If you can site a reference to this paragraph below it would be appreciated. I mean the term Vipassana that predated the Buddha by 1500 years.
         
        Thanks in advance.
        Metta,
        Alton
         
         
        "Many Buddhist teachers and priests make some pretty wild claims regarding insight (vipassana). While many Buddhist teachers claim the Buddha invented insight, or insight was his central gift to mankind, it turns out The Buddha only occasionally referred to the Sanskrit term 'vipassaná,' and that term predated him by about 1,500 years".
      • Jeffrey Brooks
        Hello dearest friend Alton, it is very difficult to argue a negative, or the absence of something other than to point to the document and say, OK, where is
        Message 3 of 5 , Nov 4, 2006
          Hello dearest friend Alton, it is very difficult to argue a negative, or the absence of something other than to point to the document and say, "OK, where is it?"  If one examines the original Pali in the four suttas on the subject of meditation that are attributed to the Buddha one will not even find the term 'vipassana.'  That should be enough evidence to prove the Buddha did not conflate insight with the practice of meditation (sati).  You can find those four suttas in recent English translation and the original Pali at the following URLs:

          Anapanasati Sutta (MN 118) “Mindfulness of the breath”
          http://www.greatwesternvehicle.org/pali/Phala_Nikaya/anapanasatisutta.htm
          the BJT & PTS Romanized Pali for this sutta is at this URL:
          http://www.greatwesternvehicle.org/pali/tipitaka/2Sutta-Pitaka/2Majjhima-Nikaya/Majjhima3/118-anappanasati-p.htm

          Kayagata-sati Sutta (MN 119) “Mindfulness of the Body”
          http://www.greatwesternvehicle.org/pali/Phala_Nikaya/kayagatasati.htm
          the BJT & PTS Romanized Pali for this sutta is at this URL:
          http://www.greatwesternvehicle.org/pali/tipitaka/2Sutta-Pitaka/2Majjhima-Nikaya/Majjhima3/119-kayagatasati-p.htm

          Maha-satipatthana Sutta (DN 22), “Larger Discourse on the Four Paths of Mindfulness” updated 10-27-04
          http://www.greatwesternvehicle.org/pali/Phala_Nikaya/mahasatipatthanasutta.htm
          the BJT & PTS Romanized Pali for this sutta is at this URL:
          http://www.greatwesternvehicle.org/Pali/tipitaka/2Sutta-Pitaka/1Digha-Nikaya/Digha2/22-mahasatipatthana-p.htm

          Satipatthana Sutta (MN 10) “Larger Discourse on the Four Paths of Mindfulness”
          http://www.greatwesternvehicle.org/pali/Phala_Nikaya/satipatthanasutta.htm
          the BJT & PTS Romanized Pali for this sutta is at this URL:
          http://www.greatwesternvehicle.org/pali/tipitaka/2Sutta-Pitaka/2Majjhima-Nikaya/Majjhima1/010-satipatthana-p.htm

          Additionally the Buddha defined the fulfillment of the Noble Eightfold path in terms of meditative absorption (Jhana), not insight (vipassana), and he did so in the Maha-satipatthana Sutta (DN 22).  Here is an updated translation of the description for the eighth fold of the Noble Eightfold Path as defined by the Buddha, which is meditative absorption (jhana).  Please note: you wont find the term ‘vipassana’ anywhere in this section of the sutta.  The Pali has been included for those who wish to check my work.

          Maha-satipatthana Sutta (DN 22.22)
          (1st Jhana)
          [22]"And what (Katamo ca) Bhikkhus is right absorption (sammàsamàdhi)? There is the case where (Idha) a contemplative (bhikkhave bhikkhu) is withdrawn (vivicceva) from sensuality (kàmehi), withdrawn from unwholesome mental states and beliefs (akusalehi dhammehi) with applied and sustained attention (savitakkaü savicàraü) and bliss and joy (pãtisukhaü) one resides (viharati) in the clarity (upasampajja) of the first ecstasy (pañhamaü jhànaü).

          Katamo ca bhikkhave sammàsamàdhi? Idha bhikkhave bhikkhu vivicceva kàmehi vivicca akusalehi dhammehi savitakkaü savicàraü vivekajaü pãtisukhaü pañhamaü jhànaü upasampajja viharati,

          (2nd Jhana)
          originating from (ekodibhàvaü) withdrawal, clear intention (vitakkavicàrànaü våpasamà) and a noble tranquil mind (sampasàdanaü cetaso), and in the absence of applied and sustained attention (avitakkaü avicàraü) with absorption (samàdhijaü) in bliss and joy (pãtisukhaü), one resides (viharati) in the clarity (upasampajja) of the second ecstasy (dutiyaü jhànaü):

          vitakkavicàrànaü våpasamà ajjhattaü sampasàdanaü cetaso ekodibhàvaü avitakkaü avicàraü samàdhijaü pãtisukhaü dutiyaü jhànaü upasampajja viharati.

          (3rd Jhana)
          Residing in (viharati) bliss (Pãtiyà), dispassion (viràgà) and equanimity (upekkhako); and with a luminous (sampajàno) joy-filled body (sukha°Ëca kàyena) a noble one (ariya) proclaims a joyful abiding in the equanimity and mindfulness and clarity (upasampajja) of the third ecstasy (jhana).

          Pãtiyà ca viràgà upekkhako ca viharati. Sato ca sampajàno sukha°Ëca kàyena pañisaüvedeti, yantaü ariyà àcikkanti upekkhako satimà sukhavihàrãti, taü tatiyaü jhànaü upasampajja viharati,

          (4th Jhana)
          With the abandoning (pahànà) of pleasure (sukhassa) and anxiety (dukkhassa); and the earlier abandoning (pahànà pubbeva) of manic-depression (somanassadomanassànaü), agitation (atthaïgamà), suffering and unhappiness (adukkhamasukhaü); one arrives at (viharati) the clarity (upasampajja) and complete purity of mindful equanimity (upekkhàsatipàrisuddhiü) of the fourth ecstasy (catutthaü jhànaü). This Bhikkhus is called right absorption (sammàsamàdhi)."

          sukhassa ca pahànà dukkhassa ca pahànà pubbeva somanassadomanassànaü atthaïgamà adukkhamasukhaü upekkhàsatipàrisuddhiü catutthaü jhànaü upasampajja viharati. Ayaü vuccati bhikkhave sammàsamàdhi.

          "Bhikkhus, this is called the noble truth (ariyasaccaü) of the path of generation of the extinction of anxiety (dukkhanirodhagàminãpañipadà).

          Idaü vuccati bhikkhave dukkhanirodhagàminãpañipadà ariyasaccaü.

          Kindest regards, Jhananda


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